Marvel’s Spider-Man – ‘Sandman’ + ‘Symbiotic Relationship’ Review


So I’ve taken a few weeks off and in that time I travelled to New York City, the home of Spidey. I saw Oscorp, the Daily Bugle and all the sights and scenes from our favourite, and least favourite Spider-Man films! But now I’m back and ready to see what Marvel’s Spider-Man has in store for me…

What? Venom? At episode 6? Oh, this is going to be a bumpy ride. Strap in folks, we’re diving in!

MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN – SANDMAN

Sandy-Plot: The Horizon crew are hanging out at Coney Island, throwing around some casual technobabble, when the fair comes under attack from Sandman. Spidey manages to save the occupants of a Ferris Wheel but Anya is knocked over in the chaos, briefly releasing the V-252. Spider-Man is exposed to it for just a short amount of time and he experiences a feeling like no other. It turns out that Sandman is hunting down a little girl, who manages to escape. Spidey stops him momentarily using a ‘Coagulation Gun’ (???) created by Gwen, Miles and Anya from spare fair parts during the fight (bull****). Here Spidey taking the responsibility away from his friends – this looks like an arc that will go somewhere, but it doesn’t pop up again. Flash Thompson’s stupidity leads to Sandman getting away (boy, he sure is stupid. I hope nobody gives him a symbiote anytime soon…)

Back at the lab, the V-252 reacts unusually to Peter, not that anybody notices. Pete catches up with Harry, whose working on an ominous looking glider for the upcoming Stark Expo. The V-252 crawls onto Pete’s jacket. The young girl meets up with Hammerhead (we’ll get to it later!), whilst Sandman looks on. At home, Peter experiments on some sand particles and the power of technobabble brings Sandman straight to his house. As usual, May doesn’t bat an eyelid about Spider-Man reaching her house so quickly or how much he sounds like Peter. During the fight Sandman reforms as Flint Marko and drops a tragic exposition bomb about how Hammerhead created him and his criminal life drew a wedge between him and Keemia, his daughter and the young girl he’d been hunting down. Spidey agrees to help and the two go to Hammerhead’s mansion but…

…Keemia is actually working for Hammerhead! It turns out shewas also affected by the accident that mutated her Dad. She feels like this is the manifestation of her Dad’s criminal life poisoning her so she…went and joined a criminal gang…I guess? Keemia kills her Dad (we don’t see him again! Are we just left to believe he’s dead?) and she attempts to do the same to Spidey but the V-252 chooses this moment to turn your friendly neighbourhood Spidey into VENOM! He kicks ass, sending the bad guys to jail and heads off into the world, under the influence of a certain symbiote…

Sandy-Thoughts: Whilst bitty and at times dry (heh, like sand), this actually was quite an enjoyable episode of Marvel’s Spider-Man. For the most part.

Of course this episode is weighed down by the usual problems. The Horizon crew are dull as dishwater, never really contributing anything to the narrative other than pestering Peter and jabbering about nerdy stuff. The technobabble is present, although not really as bad as previous episodes – apart from the Coagulation Gun debacle. Having Harry separate from the rest of the cast makes checking in on him feel like a tick on a to-do list rather than a scene that contributes anything to the greater story.

Now I have the usual complaints out the way, let’s talk some positives. I really enjoyed everything to do with Sandman this episode. Flint Marko has always been one of the more sympathetic Spidey-villains so this is definitely a good direction to take the character in. His final moments with Keemia are poignant and feel a refreshing change from the somewhat clunky villain-of-the-week stories we’ve been given the last couple of weeks. The decision to end the episode with Keemia still a bad guy was the right one, as it allows for this arc to be developed in future installments.

The animation on the Sand family was stellar – the action scenes were fluid and exciting to watch. But the animation on Hammerhead? Jeez it was ugly! The lines are so thick and awkward that I just burst into laughter whenever he was on screen He makes the Spectacular iteration with the forehead beak look kinda normal. Brilliant stuff animation team, please don’t keep it up.

Also Venom. We’ll get into this more next episode, but this is definitely too early to introduce such a pivotal element of Spider-lore and as a result, the closing scenes feel unfulfilling. There is no visible parallel between the Sandman and Venom stories, meaning the two pieces don’t quite click together. I’m not angry, Marvel’s Spider-Man, I’m just disappointed.

So this week we got a solid standalone that was marred by unnecessary serialized storytelling. For that reason I’m giving this episode a

C-

MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN – ‘SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP’

Symbiotic-Plot: Your friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man is now all-new, all-different and in a black suit! He’s faster, stronger and going by the rather stupid name of Spidey 2.0. When he’s not rescuing children from burning buildings and stopping Spider-masked criminals, he’s taking down a platoon of A.I.M. scientists. Out fighting crime he spots Vulture soaring through the skies so he does his Spider-duty and takes him down. Only it turns out that Vulture has been let out on bail and has still been allowed to fly around New York in his HIGHLY WEAPONISED SUPER-SUIT! I knew the American criminal justice system was flawed but come on! 

Harry meets Pete in the coffee shop but…oh no…the Venom has made him go…full Spider-Man 3! A cocky swagger, sunglasses and poorly written dialogue! I never thought I’d see this day come again.

At the Osborn Academy, Norman commands Vulture to break into Horizon High and steal the V-252 before the Stark Expo. Toomes refuses but young Alistair Smythe is more than willing. That night, Max Modell is in the lab whilst Vulture is there and is witness to a fight between Spidey 2.0 and the winged villain. Spidey goes ‘too far’ during the brawl, much to Max’s objections, but Smythe ultimately gets away.

Spidey follows him to the Osborn Academy where he encounters Toomes. Mistaking him for the Horizon burglar, he beats him up and is only stopped by Harry using the Vulture scream (I’m sure Black  Canary can sue for copyright infringement here). Spidey looses control of the symbiote and it attacks Harry. Back home he tries to remove it, finally realizing its potential for evil, but the symbiote isn’t quite ready for the break-up.

Toomes snatches Spider-Man whilst web-swinging and brings him to Norman. He goes toe-to-toe with the Toomes and Smythe but ultimately decides the best decision is to remove the symbiote using the sonic scream. Of course he doesn’t let Norman get hold of the symbiote and he returns it to Max, with a warning to not use it.

Symbiote -Thoughts: As with all Venom story lines, this had the potential to be pretty damn good. However, it’s not. Most of this episode falls flat for a whole number of reasons I’m about to dive into.

 

Positives first. The action was okay. It was good to see more of Josh Keaton as Norman Osborn, even if he is a little two-dimensional. And that’s it really. 

Now, why didn’t this episode work? First things first, I’m starting to see the negative impact of the schools. When conflicts are presented as school rivalries, it severely undercuts the importance of any event. In this episode the Green Goblin and the Vulture are attempting to steal some kids’ project for a science fair. When you look at the plot like that, it all seems a bit trivial. Adding the whiny Alistair into the mix and giving him a Vulture suit further minimizes event’s importance. 

Then we have the fact that this is episode 7. Peter and his supporting cast are clearly not established enough for any major conflicts to resonate. The Horizon crew are still one-note (with the exception of Gwen)and Harry is removed from the rest of the cast so we don’t really feel much of a connection to him. There isn’t enough of a playground for the writers yet and this episode’s severe lack of ambition suggests they weren’t willing to use what they already had.

Joking aside, Peter’s behavioral changes were far too reminiscent of Spider-Man 3. The dialogue, and the sunglasses, were insufferably dorky.  He felt more like a nuisance than a hero possessed by a deadly alien.

This episode isn’t very adventurous. We’re told Spidey went ‘too far’ in his attacks but we never actually see it. Harry is injured in the conflict but that is entirely down to Venom and not Peter’s fault. It’s a Venom story! We should see the inner turmoil of our lead exposed – it should be the worst time in Peter’s life! There should be consequences! But it just feels like an episode. A standard, run-of-the-mill, forgettable episode. 

That’s why this story line needed to be postponed. Further down the road we might care for these characters more and there might actually be a chance to drive a wedge between Peter and his friends. But it isn’t. So that’s why I’m unfortunately giving this episode an

E

Let’s all hope for a better lot next time folks!

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