Saturday, February 14, 2015

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Attack of the Beetle"

Happy Valentine's Day, readers.

To one and all.
I hope you all have someone special to spend it with. If not, then here's something to occupy your time today.

"Thanks for rubbing it in first...."
Anyway, let's return to Ultimate-Spider Man, where I know that there will be no surprises in store for anyone.

Shoot, did I just tempt fate?
Our episode opens on the exterior of a fancy restaurant as Spider-Man gives some monologue.

Spider-Man: "My name is Spider-Man."

Because we totally wouldn't know that after 23 episodes. In all seriousness, one of this show's biggest flaws is that it feels the need to re-explain plot points from episode to episode. I get that Jeph Loeb hates having shows that people can't just jump right into without watching previous episodes (he even admits that this was why he retooled Avengers: EMH so much), but I think we know who Spider-Man is at this point.

Anyway, as it turns out, Spidey is here to stake out the place to protect one of the diners: Aunt May. But not only is he causing a scene by being inside the restaurant, there's an armored terrorist known as the Beetle starting to cause some havoc. His target? Also Aunt May. His weapon? A small missile. Sense this makes? None.

After the titles, Spider-Man is considerate enough to rewind the story to earlier that day so we can catch up to the action. About an hour after school got out, Peter Parker is heading to Principal Coulson's office to talk with him.

Peter: "Agent Coulson, what are you doing in there?"

His job. His job, Peter. His job as the Acting Principal of Midtown High School. Seriously, that was a dumb question.

Coulson explains that he's doing, what else, his job. And today, that means parent-teacher conferences. And what a coincidence, Aunt May just arrived for the same thing.

Peter: "This is the ultimate Spidey nightmare! Worlds are colliding!"

Calm down, George Costanza.

Peter: "Wait a minute. What am I worried about?"

I was wondering the same thing.

Peter: "I get good grades. And Coulson's whole gig is about keeping things on the down low."

Yeah. Overreact much?

Peter: "This is no biggie."

So, basically, we're still no closer to a plot than when we started. Always a good sign.

Aunt May and Coulson are introduced to each other.

Peter: "Yeah, and this is Aunt May. My Aunt May."

Uh, no reason to get so protective. What happened to "no biggie"?

For some reason, Coulson rambles for a bit about the origins of the name "May," then finishes it up with... well...

Coulson: "I think I was named after a gas station."

...Coulson gas? Cole gas? Co... Oh, Phil! Like a "fill-up station." Sorry, it took me a second. Also, that's a terrible joke. I can't tell, but I think it's supposed to be terrible. For you see, "Phil" and "May" here are hitting it off well. Really well.

Peter: "Is this part of your job description? Phil?"

Dude, you're not your Aunt's babysitter. Or her dad. That would be weird and gross and incesty.

The meeting starts in Coulson's office, sans Peter. Though he is trying to drop some eaves. In almost no time, the meeting is over, and Coulson and May leave the office and begin their goodbyes.

Aunt May: "You know, we could continue the conversation over dinner."

Rest assured, readers, that this is a hot Aunt May asking Coulson out. Don't give me that look! Sure, in the comics, Aunt May's more than a bit past "cougar." But this is a younger, hipper Aunt May. I mean, look at her.

Not bad.
Honestly, you give her a new hairstyle, and she'd be looking pretty good.

A bit 80's, but not bad.
Her voice doesn't even sound like an "old lady" voice. Let's see what I can find on her voice actor, Misty Lee. ...Why does her name sound so familiar? Wait a minute....

A magician? That can't possibly be ri...




So... um, I was a little shocked to discover this... but I've posted a picture of Aunt May's voice actress, Misty Lee, on my blog before. You might remember it.

Yep, she's a magician, all right.
Ladies and gentlemen, Aunt May's voice actress is Paul Dini's wife. And she's a magician. In fact, she looks just like Zatanna, Paul Dini's favorite DC character. Also a magician. Who he put in Batman: The Animated Series. Which he produced years before coming to work on Ultimate Spider-Man. Which has his wife as a voice actress, and she looks like Zatanna, who was Paul Dini's favorite B:TAS character....

I... ju... Peter was right.

Newt's gettin' upset, Jerry!
Let's... let's move on from that bombshell. Coulson agrees to pick her up at 7:30, and the evening is planned.

Peter: "A date? What kind of kid wants their Aunt dating their principal?"

Fair point. Here's another fair point. They're two adults that can do whatever the heck they want.

Peter: "I gotta stop this at all costs!"

Oh, great, one of these plots. You know, the one where someone doesn't want other people to hook up, so they try to sabotage the date? I believe it's on page 67 of "200 Hack TV Plots," the must-have guide for any writer for the Marvel Animated Universe. Let's get the "hilarity" started.

Spider-Man spies on them entering the restaurant with nothing but hatred and disdain.

Spider-Man: "What are they even laughing about? He's not funny. I'm funny."

Spoken like a true stalker.

But when Coulson escorts her in with his hand on her back, that's the last straw for Spider-Man! Spidey gets into action my stealing their complimentary bread and faking a call from Nick Fury. Badly. Then spilling water on Coulson and locking him in the bathroom. All right, let's hash out these issues and come to an understanding.

Coulson: "What's your problem? She's a lovely, interesting woman."
Spider-Man: "Ewww, la la la la can't hear you."

Or, you know, Spidey can be a childish ass. That works.

Spidey suspects that Agent Coulson might be an imposter, and tries to unmask him. After this fails...

...for obvious reasons...
...Coulson plants a truth bomb.

Coulson: "I genuinely like your Aunt. And it seems she like me, too."

But before any more progress can be made, Spidey's spider-sense starts tingling. Hard. Suddenly, the Beetle crashes into the bathroom. As Spider-Man pauses the episode to explain, the Beetle is a mercenary that he defeated in a previous episode, so he must be out for revenge.

A fight ensues, spilling out into the restaurant. Welcome back to the scene at the beginning, where Beetle shoots a missile at Aunt May.

Spider-Man: "Yeah, it's even worse than I remember."

Sums up my experiences recapping the Marvel Animated Universe.

But Coulson throws a plate in true Captain America-fanboy fashion, deflecting the missile outside. For you see....

When Agent Coulson throws his mighty plate, all those who hate to unabate his plate must wait! When he's dating your aunt, in a fairly nice dress, he'll save her life, and not make a mess, when Agent Coulson throws his mighty plate!


Spidey evacuates the place and quickly leaps into action.

Spider-Man: "I'm the one he's after."

He fights Beetle some more while May and Coulson get to safety. The fight soon spills outside, and I'll skip Peter's imaginary sketch when he notices that May and Coulson are holding hands. You're welcome. Coulson gets May to safety, but heads back to the fight because he "forgot his wallet."

Coulson: "It's been a long time. Last time I checked, you were locked up in a maximum security prison."

As Spidey fails to beat the Beetle, Coulson begins taking him on hand-to-hand.

Coulson: "I'm the only agent who ever took him down."

Because Phil Coulson is just that awesome.
Coulson: "I told you there was a lot you didn't know about me."

They fight, and Coulson, without powers, does better than Spidey ever did.

Coulson: "I have black belts in ju-jitsu, karate, and kung-fu."

And yet, he simply disables Beetle's armor with a fork to some circuitry.

Coulson: "Cooking school. One year."

Beetle manages to make a getaway, and he captures Aunt May. Probably because he saw Spider-Man 1 and knows that you attack the heart, and saw that Aunt May is ridiculously easy to kidnap in Spider-Man 2.

Coulson and Spidey give chase on the Spider-Cycle, and Coulson uses the S.H.I.E.L.D. satellites to triangulate their location: the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Excelsior. No doubt docked right next to the U.S.S. True Believer and the U.S.S. 'Nuff Said.

Beetle ties Aunt May's hands up and quickly starts doing repairs on his suit while Aunt May tries to compliment her way out while trying to undo her wrists. When that doesn't work, she simply kicks him in the face and runs towards the nearest fighter jet for cover. Before Beetle can shoot her, Spidey and Coulson arrive to settle the score. Coulson unties Aunt May and tells her to get to safety. Then he whips out a staff and joins the fight, Ray Park style. And when it gets cut in half, he simply switches to fencing. Even Spider-Man admits that Agent Coulson is pretty cool.

They have a very impressive fight, involving webs, explosions, missiles, and more, but Beetle seems to gain the upper hand against our heroes. He's so happy, he even gets a line!

Beetle: "I win, Coulson."

But Aunt May "accidentally" turns on one of the jets while hiding, catching Beetle in its flame exhaust, allowing Spidey and Coulson to knock him out.

So, the inside of the armor was flameproof, but the outside wasn't?
Agent Coulson and Spider-Man make amends, S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives for clean-up, and Peter goes home to wait for Coulson to drop off Aunt May. In front of the house, Coulson asks May for another shot at dinner, but she declines.

Aunt May: "I think Peter probably feels a little bit awkward about all this."

But Peter, dropping some eaves, finally realizes how happy Aunt May is with Phil and what she's willing to give up to make Peter happy, and feels like a total jerkface for everything. May goes inside, and Peter finally does the responsible thing.

Peter: "But I know you're not just my Aunt. You have a life of your own. And while I would rather you didn't date the principal of my high school, which could be the worst thing ever for me, if it makes you happy, then I'm happy. K?"

She kisses Peter on the cheek, then runs back out for a bit of... "dessert" with Coulson. And yes, Peter goes to follow as Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: "What? A lot can happen at dessert."

...Peter, if "dessert" isn't actually dessert, then you might not want to see what they go do. Just saying. They might be going to... you know.

Either figuratively or literally.
Now let's review and talk about how you'll never know whether or not fondue happened.

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