Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Great Power"

I gave this episode so many chances. I really did. When I sat down to watch it again for the Recap, I gave it a pass on the jarring cut away jokes, the poor pacing, the infodumps, the whole Mary Jane thing....  But, show, you gotta meet me halfway here! Look, I am not marking down this show because of the cancellation of The Spectacular Spider-Man, because that show was canceled for unrelated legal reasons having to do with Sony. Ultimate Spider-Man doesn't need Sony's help being sub-par.

The things that are wrong with this show aren't so-bad-it's-good, or hilariously awful, or even that mockable. When Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is terrible, it's something you can mock. This? This is just painful. And yet, this is the first Spidey show since ever to not get prematurely canceled. Go figure.

Let's talk about the plot:
Nick Fury offers Spider-Man some training, which he only accepts after a supervillain attack. Also, evil masterminds are scheming in the background. That's it.

Yeah, that's what happens when half the episode is made up of cut-away gags. Seriously, not even Family Guy has ADHD that badly. I may have mentioned the pacing issues once or twice.


Drake Bell. Oh boy, Drake Bell. 

Some love him, some hate him. My verdict? He does an okay job.

Part of the problem is that the script isn't that great, and another problem is that Drake Bell was once well-known for playing a parody of Spider-Man.

Yes, this guy ended up playing Spider-Man. You might as well cast Seth Green as Rick Jon... oh, wait.
But he does a fine job here. I've heard better, but I'd give him a B-, were I forced to use some kind of grading scale. As for the character himself, he's... different.

See, one of the things that usually defines the character of Spider-Man is that he has no mentor, because Uncle Ben is dead and he now has to learn the ropes on his own. This show takes a different path and that could be an interesting story to tell. We'll see how it shapes up.

When it comes to the humor... I'm not a fan. The fourth wall breaking humor is Deadpool's shtick. Spidey does the puns, and the wit, and the snark, and such. Funnily enough, the numerous complaints the writers got regarding the Deadpool-esque humor led to the eventual Deadpool team-up episode. But sometimes, a funny joke manages to spontaneously generate from the rapid-fire cutaway gags, so small miracles, I guess.

Nick Fury
Standard Nick Fury. Tough, cool, no nonsense, and the actor does fine. Nothing special, but I can't criticize him. Yet. Just wait until the next Review.

Aunt May
Why does this character exist? Aunt May is supposed to be a fragile old lady that Peter looks after, because great responsibility. If you make the character young, energetic, and active, then you've taken away the reason the character exists.

Is she emotional support for Peter, then, like the younger version from The Amazing Spider-Man? Not really. She's barely around, only showing up when the plot needs a complication.

So why does she exist? Because she has to. Aunt May is a staple of the Spider-Man universe, but the writers don't want to use her, so they altered the character to keep her from being a writing obstacle. They took the easy way out, and it shows.

Mary Jane Watson
Again, why does this character exist? She's not a love interest, and her character is a lame Lois Lane ripoff, so she's Mary Jane in name only. Why go to the trouble of introducing characters that you don't want to use, Man of Action? I really don't get it.

Harry Osborn
Blandy McBlanderson. I really can't tell you much about him, other than he's Peter's friend. Again, this seems to be a character the writers felt forced into including.

Why am I even reviewing this episode? It seems like all ll I can say is that it's either crap or average. Well, thankfully, there is one saving grace to the episode: The villains. Well, some of them.

Frightful Four
Bland characterization, but they serve their narrative purpose as hired thugs.

Norman Osborn
At least they got his characterization right. But once again, he's your typical Norman Osborn. Evil genius, evil plans, takes a liking to Peter, troubles with his son, etc.

Actually, now that I think about it, Norman seems to be the worst-developed and best-developed character. He's evil simply for the sake of being evil (well, I guess he wants to sell super-soldiers for money, but he's already rich, so what the heck?), but it's evident that he really does care about his son. Despite some ham-fisted characterization, what we have is an evil character who loves his son.  Sure, it's nothing new for Norman Osborn, but it's leaps and bounds above the characterization for some of the other characters. Except for...

Doctor Octavius  
Oh, yes. Amazingly enough, Tom Kenny, who does several of the most annoying voices ever, does a darn creepy Doc Ock. He's only on screen for a few brief seconds of menace, never interacting with the hero, but he has more of an impact than the other characters combined.

It's basically the exact opposite of Alfred Molina's live-action Doc Ock. Molina was warm and human. Kenny's Ock is cold, clinical, and almost inhuman in his actions and mannerisms. It's a Doc Ock that we've never seen, and it leaves an amazing impact. And like I said, he's only appeared in less than a minute of screen time as of yet. So, yes, I'm legitimately impressed. In fact, there will be times that I want to root for the villains, what with how well-developed they are in this show.

But we're not done here. The status quo doesn't really begin until the second episode, which is when I can start fairly judging this series. You hear that, show? Ya got ONE MORE CHANCE.

See you then.


  1. You know, I really loved this show when it first came out. I didn't understand all the criticism, I loved being able to see Spider-Man interact with the wider marvel universe, I thought the action was great and the wide variety of marvel characters was a breath of fresh air after the last few shows only featured characters from Spidey's corner of the Marvel U.

    Then, about a year later, I had grown as a writer, and developed critical thinking skills that allow me to see this show's flaws. I want to like this show. I really really do. Spider-Man is my favorite fictional character of all time. Not my favorite superhero, my favorite character. Even more than the Doctor, Mal Reynolds, or Twilight Sparkle. And this show... doesn't seem to get what makes Spider-Man and all those associated with him so great. There's no effort put into it, at least none that I can see. And I just don't understand why that is. To quote Code MENT, "What is the point of this thing?!"

    But hey, we got the Ice King as Dr. Octopus. That's one goof thing to come out of this.

    - That One Anon

    1. Did you fucking forget that the show is called ULTIMATE, as in it takes place in an alternate universe. Because the show wants to expand with its concepts, not be restricted by them.

    2. A fair point, good sir. But I think that part of Anon's issue (if I may, my unknown sir/madam) is that this show is named after a comic series that this show has little-to-nothing to do with.

      You know, I will say this about Ultimate Spider-Man. I may take a few shots at it, but there really are times where it successfully breaks the mold. Heck, I actually really like the attempted rehabilitation of Sandman and Green Goblin. I was rooting for them to become heroes! And having read what's in store for Season 3, I'm legitimately excited.

      Personally, I can't speak for Anon or anyone else, my issues with the show aren't with the concepts so much as the execution of those concepts. Sometimes, the concepts shine. Sometimes, they don't.