Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Venom"

I will be reviewing the episode proper, but I need to get something off my chest. At some point, I'm planning on writing some kind of post on Jeph Loeb's work. But for now, there's an elephant in the room. And it's time to talk about it.

Jeph Loeb has brought us such comic book legends like Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman/Batman, Batman: Hush, and more. On June 17th, 2005, Jeph Loeb's son Sam passed away. Loeb retired, but Joe Quesada convinced him to come back. Loeb's work wasn't the same after that. It's quite obvious that the death of his son deeply affected him. As if to drive the point home, he wrote Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, Ultimatum (where Magneto avenges the death of the Scarlet Witch), and Captain America: White (where Cap comes to terms with losing Bucky). And then he created the new Nova: Sam Alexander, named after Loeb's son.

Hello, can of worms.
I'm reminded of an episode of Friends where Phoebe starts believing that a cat is the reincarnation of her dead mother. The writer who came up with the episode had just lost her own mother, so no one in the writing staff had the heart to turn down the episode. And that brings me to Nova.

I've heard good things about the comic book adaptation of Nova. But in this show, he's insufferable. He's loud, brash, obnoxious, and yet he has at least two episodes telling us how great and noble a hero he is (the Guardians of the Galaxy crossover episodes, if you're wondering). I don't know if there's some behind-the-scenes hesitation to call the character out on his jerkiness, but Nova gets less flak than Spider-Man, even though Nova's a worse human being. And that brings me to my main point. This character that was created with the best of intentions is just not very good. Nova is a horrible human being, more so than the other members of the Sandwich Club combined.

Many people, including myself, have blamed Jeph Loeb for the lackluster quality of the Marvel Animated Universe. But Jeph Loeb is not trying to ruin Marvel Animation, despite what internet backlash will tell you. As he said himself in a Newsrama interview....

Jeph Loeb: The reality is that we're on a network, Disney XD, which is largely known as being a kids' network. We're not going to shy away from that. We want to be able to bring that audience in, because in many cases, it's going to be their first opportunity to get to know the Marvel Universe. And that's a pretty big thing.

And yet, here I am, having already criticized three episodes as not being very good. But I also place blame on Man of Action, so there you go. Regardless of how good the character is in the comics, in this show, Nova is the most despicable of all the characters. Though I do respect all the good intentions involved, the road to Hell has been paved.

And with all that out of the way, let's finally actually review this episode.

Harry Osborn
The best character in this thing. Why? Because he's actually three-dimensional. We see him jealous, bitter, resentful, but understandably so. When the Sandwich Club steals Peter from him, he starts his own club. With Blackjack. And hookers! In fact, forget the club!

But he gets redeemed by the end, when he accepts Peter back into his life. The character arc is more human and realistic than anything so far in the show.

Sandwich Club
I'm not sure who the biggest parasite is, these guys or Venom. I made my position clear in the Recap, but I'll summarize. Just because they're a team, that doesn't mean they get to control every waking moment of Peter's life.

But there's an easy way to fix this problem. Instead of the others literally forcing Peter to hang out with them, the episode should have done the opposite and had Peter brush them off, only to later realize that they don't have any other friends. Peter would end up feeling like crap and befriending them of his own free will. That way, Peter learns a lesson, and the Sandwich Club doesn't look like a bunch of @$$holes.

He's a mindless monster. Though I do think it's pretty funny that Flash Thompson was the first person it bonded to.

All in all, not a bad episode, but it pales in comparison to Venom's origins in pretty much every other Spider-Man cartoon. Oh well. Next time, Nathan Petrelli voices Iron Man for the first time since Marvel Anime.


  1. Nova is very grating and obnoxious in this cartoon. His character in the comics is not like this at all, he's actually pretty relatable with a . Which is a shame, as this show is giving the character tons of exposure.

  2. Hoo boy, Mr. Loeb...

    Let's think about a few acclaimed cartoons of years past. Gargoyles. Samurai Jack. Transformers Beast Wars. Adventure Time. The entire freakin' DCAU. Heck, even My Little Pony! And yeah, Spectacular Spider-Man. Do you know what they all had in common?



    - That One Anon