Monday, November 3, 2014

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Flight of the Iron Spider"

Today, we return to Ultimate Spider-Man. When we last left our heroes, Nick Fury was a two-faced liar and the Sandwich Club was comprised of genre-blind fools who barely tolerate each other. Today, let's see if things can improve with the addition of an Avenger.

Avengers Assemble! Well, just the one.
We open on the face of J Jonah Jameson yelling from the Bugletron, as he is wont to do. What's odd is that the camera's more dynamic and Jameson's face is rather sedate when compared to his usual howling rage. As Spider-Man swings in, followed by green energy blasts, the reason for this becomes apparent. Anyone who remembers the pre-show promotion for Ultimate Spider-Man will remember this as the scene that Marvel put into pretty much every trailer for the show. As such, it's no surprise to people who remember that promotion when the Living Laser tries to make him into human toast.

If I may dwell on this for a bit, that was it. That was the moment. Spider-Man momentarily literally turning into toast was the moment when a million voices cried out as if to say, "Aw, crap." At this moment, we realized that this latest Spider-Man cartoon was going to be bad. Spider-Man is supposed to rely on his situational observations and wit for humor. Turning into toast? We have now entered Looney Tunes territory. To be fair, the rest of the show does manage to keep the goofier stuff contained to Spider-Man's internal fantasies... but that just leaves us with a completely random toastification. I mean, at least Loki's usually around to justify the other transformations. On the plus side, though, the animation in this part is really fluid. Probably so they could show it off in all those promos.

Anyway, Living Laser manages to land a hit on Spidey, heralding the arrival of the Sandwich Club. We get a quick cutaway in the form of a S.H.I.E.L.D. mini-briefing video from Agent Coulson about how Arthur Parks turned into the Living Laser, an energy being. It's a nice little moment of world building, but it's ultimately pointless. (Hey, "ultimately pointless." Kind of sums up the show, huh?)

Before Living Laser can grow into a giant energy-guy and destroy the heroes, a blue beam shoots out of the sky and dissipates him. Then from out of the sky flies the armored Avenger, Iron Man. Spidey is instantly smitten.

Spider-Man: "You know he built that armor himself? I-i-in a cave with a paper clip and some empty soda cans."

Uh, know your meme, Spidey. I believe you mean that he built it IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS! Incidentally, that's Tony Stark Fact # 71.

He's very good at building.
Spider-Man: "What do you think they're, y'know, talking about?" 
White Tiger: "Probably some national security issues." 
Iron Man: "...So that was last night. The night before, it was February's cover of Model Monthly." 
Nick Fury: "Are you done bragging about your social life?"

Yes, even in a cartoon, Tony Stark has a reputation as a manwhore.

They discuss the handling of the situation, and Spider-Man walks over to butt into the conversation and suggest a technobabble way to track the Living Laser. Stark takes a liking to the kid, but Fury tells him off. Before he flies off, though, he tells Spidey to stop on by the lab on Saturday for some new threads.

Saturday arrives, and Spidey gets a tour through... well, let's just say that the Stark Industries lab is to science what the Wonka factory is to chocolate. Spidey dances with an ED-209 like the Cat dancing with a Blue Midget, he sees the world's largest pill, a hard-light hologram hand, and... a tank. Way to not get out of the weapons business, Stark. Unless that's for testing the Iron Man armors. Complaint withdrawn.

But the absolute jewel of Tony Stark's lab is a weird sciencey tunnel he calls the "Molecular Disruption Chamber."

Tony: "Unless you fine tune the frequency, it'll scatter you into multiple parallel dimensions."

Among other possibilities....
This leads to a bit where Spidey imagines himself in the universes of Spider-Ham, the Super Hero Squad, and a place where everyone dances like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Could be worse, there's probably at least one out there that's nothing but shrimp.

Fun Fact: Due to rights issues, this is the only appearance of SHSS Spidey.
Finally, Tony has a little gift for Spidey. Back at the helicarrier, the rest of the Sandwich Club takes out some training bots. When they finish, Spider-Man shows up with his new toy: the Iron Spider armor.

That is some spandex-thin armor.
He then proceeds to crash into everything, being unable to stabilize his flight. Yeah. He can fly. ...kind of. We then get a montage of Spider-Man begging his team to let him keep the suit interspersed with Spidey's assorted fails at saving the day while wearing it. After that, we see the rest of the Sandwich Club complaining to Fury about the darn thing. As they complain, an alarm goes off, alerting them that Living Laser is back. Fury sends them in.

White Tiger: "What about Spider-Man?" 
Nick Fury: "I'm only sending you."

But once the Sandwich Club arrives, Spider-Man shows up anyway. As you might imagine, this goes badly. Spider-Man fails to hit his target, fails to fly correctly, ends up causing collateral damage, the usual. Living Laser zaps away, and the rest of the Club rightly tells Spidey that he needs to get rid of his unreliable armor because it makes him fight like an epileptic frog. Though not in so many words.

Spider-Man: "You guys just don't get it, do you? Tony Stark built this for me." 
Nova: "Yeah, well, you sure picked him over us in a hurry, didn't you?"

Is this episode about trust now? I thought it was supposed to be about arrogance.

Anyway, as Spider-Man tries to fly away, he loses control of the armor. But this time, it's for a different reason. As it turns out, Living Laser zapped into its systems. Over with Iron Man, he's flying around while getting yelled at by Fury over his intercom. Then he gets tackled by Spider-Man, who explains the situation, following said assault. They fight for a while, but Living Laser issues his ultimatum: If Iron Man doesn't let Living Laser inside his armor's systems, he kills Spider-Man by overheating the Iron Spider suit. So Tony stands down, getting knocked out for his troubles.

Living Laser flies off in the suit, with an unconscious Tony Stark inside, and Spidey heads back to base to attempt to fix his suit. His teammates find him, and they offer to go with him to stop Living Laser's current assault on Stark Industries. Speaking of which, Living Laser is trying to bypass JARVIS, Tony's AI butler program, while attempting to hack into the Stark mainframe for valuable blueprints and such. The Sandwich Club arrives, and the newly-improved Iron Spider leads the charge. He scans the Iron Man armor, and discovers a medical system that should be able to zap him back into consciousness.

JARVIS: "I do not recommend this option."

But, of course, Spidey goes through with activating it while the others hold off Living Laser. Tony wakes up and reactivates his firewalls, forcing the Living Laser out.

"Hey, not cool, man!"
Thinking quickly, Spidey remembers what Tony said about his Molecular Disruption Chamber, and formulates a plan. Tony flies through the chamber, and Spidey activates it once he's clear, zapping the Living Laser on his tail through parallel dimensions. Specifically, the Super Hero Squad dimension.

The last place anyone would want to be. I'm including the Shrimp Universe.
SHS Thor: "I say thee nay, vile villain!"

As everyone meets back up, Tony's a little miffed that Spidey modified the suit, but gets over it. Probably because it's easier than admitting that he made a piece of crap. Back at the helicarrier, Spidey apologizes for being an arrogant jerk, and Fury takes him aside. Not to yell at him, surprisingly enough, but to show him his brand-new, fully-functional, not-a-lemon Iron Spider suit. It turns into a backpack now! Because we need to sell merchandise. Fury recommends that they save the armor until he's ready, and Spider-Man proves Fury's point by crashing into and knocking over a Mandroid suit.

And after Nick Fury tells him to clean it up, the episode ends. Review time.

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