We kicked off this new cartoon last week with something that was ‘decent, with potential’. Do we, this week, see this potential explored as Spidey goes toe-to-toe with the Jackal, the Shocker and…Clash? Are we sure about that? Clash? Really? Oh wow, let’s dive right in!
MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN – ‘THE OSBORN ACADEMY’
Plot: We catch up with Peter as he is swinging through the city after the Jackal, a new villain who is on the run after stealing Stark tech. Unfortunately this stops Peter from being at the unveiling of the Osborn Academy, Harry’s Dad’s new school for geniuses (geniusi?). In the middle of a fray, a helicopter falls, almost taking out Gwen Stacey – but she is saved by the Jackal! In turn Peter saves her from the Jackal, but she only points out that he did a pretty ineffective job of saving the day. Pete arrives at the Osborn Academy late, where he, Harry and Norman Osborn catch up on the student interviews. Two such interviewees are Herman Shultz and Clayton Cole, two best friends auditioning with their vibration and sound manipulation tech. Norman is impressed, but states that he will only give one of them a place. This causes Clayton and Herman to quickly succumb to conflict, during which things spiral out of control and Pete and two scientists are sent flying out the window. Pete makes a quick change into Spider-Man, gives the scientists web-parachutes and swings back up in time to save his friends from the sonic villains. Clayton and Herman escape, only for their tech to be snatched by the Jackal. Harry and Spider-Man fight, with Harry threatening the wall-crawler, until he has to save some innocent bystanders from a wayward vehicle. Spider-Man and the Jackal fight and the villain escapes, but Spidey is able to destroy the sonic tech. Spidey, Clayton and Heman return to the Osborn Academy, where Norman announces he’s sticking to his original promise and only choosing one of the friends– he chooses Herman. This annoys Max, who righteously storms off. Once everyone’s left, Norman reveals to Harry that he’d acquired all his old experiments for Harry to continue on… Meanwhile, Gwen goes to meet her Uncle Raymond, but little does she know that he is the Jackal… In the end, Peter and Harry promise to not let anything get in the way of their friendship (that couldn’t possibly be foreshadowing, could it?).
Thoughts: Here we have it, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Now we have the pilot and its setup out of the way, what are we actually going to get from this new cartoon? Well, the answer remains pretty much the same as last time – okay, but not quite reaching the heights it could reach yet.
Before we go any further, I’m going to have to say this – I will not compare this show to Spectacular or Ultimate from here on out. Both shows perfectly show what can go right or wrong with a Spider-Man cartoon, but this is a show that stands on it its own and I am going to treat it as such. Now with that out of the way, let’s break down this episode.
Straight out of the gate, I felt more comfortable with the pre-established characters. Peter/Spider-Man feels a lot more like the hero we know and love, with some quips and lines that actually don’t revolve around science mumbo jumbo. The same can be said for Harry, whose close friendship with Peter and hatred for Spider-Man make him one of the more compelling characters on the show. The Horizon crew are pretty forgettable and interchangeable, if I didn’t already recognize these characters from the comics, but I’m holding out hope that they’ll be better explored in future installments.
In this episode we are introduced to Gwen Stacey. I’m glad she wasn’t introduced in the pilot, as we were already being bombarded with new characters and exposition, so the introduction of a significant love interest for our main character might have been overkill. It also makes her introduction to Peter feel that little bit more important. Cartoon Gwen is more akin to Emma Stone’s ASM version of the character rather than her comic book counterpart. This works, as frankly comic book Gwen is a little boring (put your pitchforks away, that’s just my opinion!). They’ll probably drag the ‘will-they, won’t they?’ aspect of Peter and Gwen’s relationship out for a bit, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Now we get to the Jackal. Whilst I’ve always had a soft spot for the conniving cloner, I don’t think he is as much of a fan favourite as Slott or anyone else at Marvel seems to think he is. But it seems like he is one of the main antagonists of this show and I’m kind of glad. It’s different from what we’ve seen recently, with the Goblin and the Sinister Six seeming to be the go-to villains in Ultimate Spider-Man, so it could add another unique aspect to this already quite different show. It’s also refreshing for him not to be hiding in the shadows for half the season, as is an all too familiar trope of contemporary television. I like how they establish his relationship with Gwen, first with him saving her in the middle of an action scene and later revealing their relationship in the episode’s closing moments. He did feel more like the Ultimate Goblin than the Jackal, but this was probably a conscious choice so they could have more action sequences with him. But the most important question this character’s arrival raises is: will we be seeing a clone saga this early on in the show? Quite a risky move. We’ll have to wait to find out.
Norman Osborn is introduced in this episode, voiced by Josh Keaton. He’s a serviceable enough soon-to-be-villain, but I get the hint from this episode that it’s Harry who’ll be going green first.
Talking of villains, this episode also brought in Herman Schultz, A.K.A. Shocker, and Clayton Cole, A.K.A Clash. I know right, I’d forgotten about Clash too! Joking aside, it does make sense for these characters to come together, considering their shared ability to manipulate vibrations. Whilst Herman doesn’t really represent his comic book counterpart, and Clayton only does slightly, they do a fine job as villains of the week. I’m sure we’ll see the Shocker return, as I predict the Osborn Academy is going to become a breeding ground for a new Sinister Six.
Whilst the science stuff wasn’t really played up as much this week, some of Herman and Clayton’s science-based dialogue did irritate me a bit. I really hope they sort this out, because it just comes across as the show thinking it’s smarter than it actually is.
Overall, this was another decent outing for Marvel’s Spider-Man, but it has yet to explore that potential that could make it a great show. I give this episode a