Monday, August 10, 2015

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Awesome"

First of all, readers, let me begin by apologizing for how disorganized everything's been lately. Between that crossover with the Unshaved Mouse, the rash of thunderstorms playing havoc with my internet, jury duty, and my sister moving to Texas, it's been pretty busy in my neck of the woods.

Still, just in the past three days, I've been working on no fewer than six Recaps/Reviews to some degree in order to get back on track a bit. So rest assured, I'll be giving my full, undivided attention to today's episode of Ultimate Spider-Man. And rest assured, I'll wish I hadn't by the time I'm done.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Because I literally have nothing better to do right now.
Our episode opens up as most of them seem to, on a shot of New York City. And…. Man, one second in and I’m baffled. I’m going to tell you exactly what’s happening. No exaggeration, no snark. This is exactly what’s happening on the screen.

A shot of New York at night time. A chibi Spider-Man swings in and smashes the shot, revealing New York during the day. And after that, we cut to our regularly-drawn Spider-Man swinging over to some kind of crisis.

Just… why? Why was that shot so necessary? Was that a joke? An attempt at quirkiness? I… just… what? You know, I’ve been covering the Marvel Animation Universe for a little less than two years. And somehow, it still can find new ways to make me scratch my head. You know what? I’m actually impressed by that. As such, I’m implementing an award. From now on, any time a show manages to do something so stupid, odd, or out-of-the-blue that I don’t even know what they were trying to go for, they’ll get the coveted NewtCave Award for Considerable Confusion.

Congrats, episode.
So, in the episode itself, Spider-Man is summing up his week while in the middle of a crisis. Monday, Whirlwind came along. Tuesday, he posed for a painting for Aunt May. He forgets what happened Wednesday, and today, the Juggernaut (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) is robbing a bank. And he’s not in the mood for Spider-Man’s snark.

Juggernaut: “I’m gonna squeeze the funny right outta ya.”

I guarantee you could squeeze more water out of a rock.
Spider-Man tries to take him down with a web-powered kick, but only ends up hurting his toes, reminding me of the part in the PS1 Spider-Man game where he’d chase Venom through a building and say “Oooh! Toe! Toe! Toe! Ow!” randomly. …I’m sorry, I just flashed back to a time in my childhood when Spider-Man actually brought me happy memories.

In the midst of the fight, Spider-Man gets a call from Power Man on his wrist.

Power Man: “Have you forgotten a little something?”
Spider-Man: “Kinda busy, Luke. Can I call you back?”

As Power Man reminds him, Spidey forgot all about the Science Fair. We then get some elaboration from Principal Coulson in a flashback where he explains how the Science Fair will go down.

Coulson: “The winners head to the State final and eternal glory.”

"And may the odds ever be in your favor!"
Sam and Ava get put together, Harry and Danny become a team….

And do their Bill and Ted impression.
And Luke and Peter... um....

Do their impression of beast Boy and Cyborg on Teen Titans GO!
Spider-Man: “Don’t get your sunglasses all fogged up! We’ve got something like three weeks!”
Power Man: “It’s tomorrow. I’ve been buggin’ you about it every day, and you keep telling me that it’s ‘in the bag.’”

Wow. Peter is really irresponsible.

"Pete, how many times do I have to die before you learn your lesson?"
Juggernaut slams Spidey into a wall, Spidey realizes how little time he has, and then we cut to the next day. Peter is sneaking into his house early in the morning after a long night of being beaten up by the Juggernaut. When Aunt May finds him, though, he pretends to have just gotten around for school. The fact that he wears that same pink shirt every day makes it easy, I bet.

Luke calls Peter and asks what happened to the Juggernaut.

Peter: “He’s a…. work in progress.”

After a flashback to Peter’s utter humiliation at the Juggernaut’s hands, Luke gets to the question he really wanted to ask.

Luke: “How ‘bout the other work in progress? Our science fair project?”

You know, Luke, you could have had a little initiative yourself. After all, it’s your project, too. You shouldn’t expect Peter to put in all the effort. Actually, as he realizes that Peter probably won’t come through, he gets after himself because he let Peter talk him into sitting back while Peter did the whole thing. So at least there's one character on this show who has common sense.

Peter insists that all he needs is to whip up some kind of new super-chemical with the chemistry kit he used to invent his own web fluid. Yeah, because I really believe that this idiot slacker could invent his own web fluid. But when he asks Aunt May where it is, she says that she sold it at a yard sale. Because she apparently has no regard for her nephew’s belongings.

After another transition with the chibi-Spidey…

Seriously, what?
Peter tells Luke that he’ll whip something up in the school’s science lab. But on the way to school, he finds himself having to fight the Juggernaut again.

Spider-Man: “Next Science Fair, I’m gonna make myself a Spidey clone.”

For the love of Galactus, don’t bring the Clone Saga into this show.

Over at the Science Fair, Danny and Harry are setting up the X-Ray video camera they invented.

Killing all of their sperm from radiation exposure and increasing their risk for cancer.
As they do that, Ava and Sam get their nitrogen/Freon-powered ice cube maker to work.

Hey, Fun Fact. Freon is a registered trademark of DuPont. You're not allowed to say those on TV shows without permission. Like "Band-Aid," or "Xerox," or Jell-O." And since there was no disclaimer in the credits, that means that DuPont actually has grounds to sue Marvel over this episode.

Because that's what people want to read about on my blog: Legal technicalities!
Sam starts goofing off with their project, but Ava makes him stop.

Ava: “It’s 109 degrees below zero, you dunce.”
Sam: “Hey, I was gonna put that in my lemonade!”

What the heck is with these kids’ projects anyway? I mean, I can believe that Norman Osborn might have been persuaded to hand over one of Oscorp’s inventions to help his son's miserable grade, but how did Ava get her hands on liquid nitrogen? Or Freon? Idiot teenagers have been known to huff Freon to get high, so who the heck sold that much of it to Ava? They sure as heck didn’t sell it to Sam. No one’s that stupid. With the possible exception of Sam.

To set up a plot point for later, Ava smashes a frozen rose against his face.

Serves him right.
Still, he starts outlining a plan to make some money by using the machine to make slushies. Ava has to remind him that their machine’s purpose is altruistic.

Ava: “Our experiment is about ways to reduce global warming by freezing the extra carbon emissions in the atmosphere….”

Let me explain something. I’m going to put it so simply that even Sam could understand it.

You can’t destroy energy. Heat is energy. Therefore, you can’t destroy heat. Refrigerators work because they basically funnel all the heat into one place. Ever feel the back of your fridge? It’s pretty roasting. That’s because all the heat you’re sucking out of the inside of the fridge has to go somewhere.

In short, you can’t combat global warming by freezing the air in the atmosphere. In fact, her method of freezing the gasses would consume electricity, thus putting more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

And to top it all off, "Freon" is a blanket term for all sorts of refrigerants, including CFC's. You know, the gasses that wrecked the ozone layer? So if Aya got her massive amount of Freon by scavenging old refrigerators, there's a very good chance her machine functions thanks to those gasses she's trying to combat.

Ava, how can you be so smart... and yet so dumb?
Back to the actual plot of the episode, Luke is understandably mad at Peter, who hasn’t even shown up yet because he’s still fighting the Juggernaut. He manages to trip the big guy up, but he’s out of web fluid, meaning he can’t pass the web fluid off as his project.

Spider-Man: “Probably for the best. I would have had to come up with some lame ‘My pal Spider-Man lent me one of his web-shooters’ stories, and those never….”

While Spider-Man is distracted by the Juggernaut’s sudden disappearance, let me just say right now that in the fifth episode of Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, “The Next Iron Spider,” Peter Parker passes off his Iron Spider outfit as his project, claiming that Spider-Man let him borrow it. Of course, Peter also said that an interview with Mary Jane would put the nail in the coffin for his superhero career, and I think we all know what happened a few episodes later.

Hmm... I'm detecting no continuity here.
Back in the episode, Spidey’s bummed that he lost Juggernaut again.

Spider-Man: “Aww, fail squared.”

Oh, yeah. Saving this picture for the next time I have to deal with Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Peter rushes to the gym, finding a very angry Luke waiting for him. They argue for a bit, and…. Now, look. I get that Peter has responsibilities as a superhero. But he also has responsibilities in his own life that get ignored all the time. In that way, Peter is incredibly irresponsible to those who depend on Peter Parker, not Spider-Man. So while I get that Peter has to save the city on a regular basis, he’s an absolute wreck when it comes to time management.

But Peter has a brand new idea. They’ve only got an hour, so it’s time for plagiarism! They’re going to steal something from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, despite Spidey’s conscience insisting otherwise. Among the things from Doc Connors’s lab he rejects are….

The Ultimate Nullifier, which can break the Law of Conservation of Matter to eliminate any target from existence.
Spider-Man: “Too tiny.”

The Cosmic Cube, which turns the holder’s wishes into reality.
Spider-Man: “Too bright.”

And finally ,Howard the Duck, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
Spider-Man: “Too weird.”

Finally, he decides on this weird wiggly brick thing which he dubs a “Mood Brick.” He steals it and quickly returns to school, where Sam seems to have had a bit of an accident while… I don’t know, trying to huff Freon.

I mean, would you put it past him?
Peter has a few fantasies regarding the Mood Brick and its unknown potential before the thing sprouts legs and wanders away, unseen. But Peter is the title character, so he has a guilt attack and tells Luke that they can’t use the stolen invention. As Peter explains the situation, the brick starts finding trash on the ground to eat. And with every bite, it gets bigger. And bigger. Soon enough, it’s eating Science Fair projects. And Coulson knows exactly who’s to blame, so he starts telling Peter exactly how royally he screwed up.

Agent Coulson: “It’s called the Awesome Android. An extremely dangerous piece of equipment.”
Peter: “‘Awesome Android’? More like ‘Awesome Andy!’”

Yes, that was the character’s nickname in the comics. But that only happened after he gained sentience and developed a personality. As it is, there is literally no reason for Peter to call him “Awesome Andy.”

Coulson explains that the rudimentary programming has the equivalent intelligence of a two-year-old child. Which, of course, is why it literally acts like a two-year-old, playing with a makeshift rattle and everything. So while the evacuation begins, Coulson takes it upon himself to distract the Android by… jangling his keys.

To be fair, jangling keys are about as entertaining as the rest of this episode
Luke throws a table at it, which it eats to grow even bigger. Coulson explains that it uses inorganic matter to fuel its own growth, conveniently explaining why the people it will end up eating will survive. Like Coulson, who quickly ends up munched. Why, yes. He does end up pooped out the other end. Naked.

I'd hate to be the student who currently has Coulson's gentleman's area rubbing against his or her diagram.
The Sandwich Club gets together to discuss strategy as the Android bursts out of the school and into the road, attempting to eat a train going by. Because Spidey’s still out of webbing, Nova flies Power Man over to stop the train in its tracks. To distract the Android, Spider-Man starts doing a little dance. Because why not.

The train passengers celebrate, all except for the big guy in the trench coat named Juggernaut. He jumps out to squash Spidey while Nova distracts the Android with his glow. Juggernaut ends up eaten and pooped out naked through the Android's foot.

Juggernaut: “My helmet? My powers!”

Jury’s out on whether or not the Juggernaut gets his powers from his helmet. It's not supposed to work like that, but I think it depends on the writer. So… I’ll let that one slide, show.

(After a comment inspired me to take a closer look, it seems as though Juggernaut getting his powers from his helmet is not, as I assumed, an occasional error that slips by, like how it's often said that Captain America's shield is part Adamantium. The Juggernaut's helmet only blocks psychic attacks. To my knowledge, this show is the only place to feature the Juggernaut's helmet as the source of his powers. So I revoke what I said about letting it slide. Azkaban Prisoner, you deserve a No-Prize.)

After seeing the spider symbol on Spidey’s costume, the Android lets loose a scream that breaks windows for miles around. Because why not.

I just… look. We’re about 16 minutes in, and I’m going to sum up the next part of the episode, because not much actually happens.

They fight the Android while learning a lesson about how neglected responsibilities grow out of control. Because metaphor and teamwork. After a minute or two, the Android steps on an ice cream truck, with his foot shrinking from the cold. So Luke gets the plan to use Ava’s machine on the Android while the others distract him with Danny’s glowing Iron Fist powers.

Spider-Man takes the Freon and liquid nitrogen and gets tossed inside the Android’s mouth. And he’s got a bucket on his head with convenient eye holes. Because why not.

Play "Jordan!"
And so, the Android barfs up everything it ate in a flood of grey goo, shrinking back down to a brick. Juggernaut and the Android end up in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, and the day is saved. After Coulson warns Spider-Man that he’ll have his eyes on him, Peter gets learned a lesson about responsibility and the episode ends.

Now let's Review.

8 comments:

  1. OK, why is there an episode with a lesson focusing on being responsible in a SPIDER-MAN show? Uncle Ben didn't die for this bullshit

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    1. He died so minute rice could be enjoyed by all!

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    2. Oh, don't worry. There are many other episodes to illustrate how irresponsible Spider-Man is. "Doomed," "Snow Day," and plenty more.

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    3. To be fair, "Snow Day" was more Sam's fault

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  2. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I'm almost certain that the backgrounds are taken from actual photographs and just traced over, like bad rotoscoping. I think that's why the backgrounds look lazy to me.

    I'm hoping the student who provided Coulson's modesty covering gets an automatic A- at the least. Also, Sam totally looks like Snow Miser in that above shot.

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    1. Good eye. I didn't actually realize how uninspired the backgrounds were myself until an episode of Avengers Assemble where a street sign that says "Broadway" was clearly visible, but the letters looked... off. Like somebody had just used a "Cartoon" filter in Photoshop and didn't even go back to fix the crappy details.

      And after seeing Fant4stic, at least I can say that naked Agent Coulson isn't the wost science fair judge I've ever seen.

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    2. Are you gonna post your thoughts on that? More specifically what they did to a certain catchphrase...

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    3. Why, yes. Expect my View Log on Saturday.

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