Thursday, June 18, 2015

Recap: The Spectacular Spider-Man: "Competition"

Our economics class continues as Spider-Man gains a competitive edge on the field while losing it off the field. And I don't mean, like, performance-enhancing drugs when I say he "gains a competitive edge."

Well, I guess the spider bite could count.

Winners don't use, Spider-Man.
The episode begins as so many episodes of any given Spider-Man cartoon do, with our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler spinning webs, swinging from the highest ledge, he can leap above our heads.

Ahh ahh ahh ahhhhhh.

But below the streets, Alex O’Hirn and Flint Marko are up to their old tricks, robbing some vault and escaping into the sewers. But alas, Spider-Man arrives as per usual to put a crimp in their plans.

Can I just say right now that I love O’Hirn and Marko? They’re like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the show. And considering that Greg Weisman is a huge Shakespeare buff, that may very well be intentional on his part.

"Give us this day our daily mask."
Soon enough, Marko and O’Hirn are not only partners in crime, but also cellmates. But this doesn’t last long, seeing as how a mysterious somebody paid their bail.

"Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else."
And when they walk outside, a limo is waiting, and they’re pretty sure it’s for them.

Pretty sure.
They enter the limousine, finding somebody waiting for them.

Hammerhead: “Get in, boys.”

"How've you been?"
"As the indifferent children of the Earth."
"Happy in that we are not overhappy. In Fortune's cap, we are not the very button."
"We've been better."
Hammerhead: “Oh, and welcome… to the big time.”

They’re on their way, they’re making it huh!

After the opening theme song, we cut to Peter Parker alone in his room, shooting his webs everywhere for fun, as most teenagers his age do. Yes, I know I already used that joke. But I figured that if Marvel could recycle the scene, I could recycle my comment.

And just like in the film, Aunt May comes along to interrupt. Peter quickly thwips up a solution by webbing everything to the ceiling. Aunt May inspects his room, and is quite impressed with her nephew. And because Peter’s been so responsible with being home on time, Aunt May has decided to let him start staying out until ten. As Aunt May was talking, Peter secretly caught a flyer for his school’s Fall formal that fell off the ceiling.

Peter: “But… I’m not going. I don’t have a date….”

Not for lack of trying, though.

"Sorry, Peter. I'm busy that night. I've got a lot of not dating minors to do."
But Aunt May suggests Peter take her friend Anna’s niece, Mary Jane. But Peter’s not too thrilled with the idea of being seen with a girl with such a “wonderful personality.”

And I'd imagine Joe Quesada isn't keen on the pairing, either.
As Peter heads to school, Rosen-Marko and Guilden-O’Hirn are taken to the seedier part of town, complete with secret elevators for Hammerhead’s evil limo. But Hammerhead only takes Marko with him. Apparently, the “Big Man” has a special job for Mr. Marko.

Peter soon arrives at school and sits with his… well, I hesitate to say “friends,” seeing as how Harry and Gwen still have good reason to hate Peter. But after Harry got some advice from his dad to “cowboy up,” he’s feeling a lot better, and isn't holding a grudge. An announcement over the intercom informs that students that because of the star football player’s injury, and blah blah blah, there’s going to be football tryouts. And in a fit of self-confidence….

Harry: “I am so there.”

Gwen points out that Harry Osborn is basically a dry twig given life, but Harry won’t listen. He even asks Peter to try out with him. This leads to an imaginary sequence, where Spider-Man zips over all the football players and scores a touchdown with some web-slinging. What is this, Ultimate Spider-Man all of a sudden?

Peter: "I’ll pass. No pun intended.”

Would it be nice to be appreciated? Yes. Would being a 95-pound unstoppable football player be a little suspicious? Absolutely.

Later in the hallway, after Flash Thompson and Kenny “King” Kong laugh about how much fun tackling Harry at tryouts will be, Peter changes his mind and tells Harry that he’ll be there. Speaking of tryouts, Marko is busy being strapped into some kind of sciencey device that a scientist with robotic arms is going to try out on him. It's Doctor Otto Octavius, who really should have been wearing these tentacles a few episodes ago.

Yeah, I'd like to see you give him crap with clawed tentacles between you two.
Marko wonders what the robo-tentacles are all about, and Octavius responds that his tentacles let him multitask. And will keep him at a safe distance from what’s about to happen. As Hammerhead oversees the setup, Doc Ock explains that the process will shoot microscopic bits of silica into Marko, giving him a layer of crystalline armor underneath his skin, making him completely impervious.

Marko: “’Impervious’? What, is that a good thing?”
Hammerhead: “Yeah. Means nothin’ and no one can hurt ya. Including Spider-Man.”

Over at Peter’s school, tryouts are about to get underway as Flash and Kong get ready to fix the tryouts like a crooked boxing match. Despite their attempts to make most of the participants look bad, Peter and Harry actually do a pretty good job, while Kong’s girlfriend, Glory Grant (Cree Summer), is on the bleachers giving him “the look.” After the obligatory sports montage, halftime arrives. Glory upgrades the look to flat-out chewing her boyfriend out, and the coach has an eye on Harry and Peter.

Back with Marko, Norman Osborn himself has arrived to oversee the experiment. Looks like last episode’s talk about manufacturing supervillains is already going to pay off for everyone. The only people not thrilled about the whole thing are Marko, who’s getting cold feet, and Doc Ock, who doesn’t like the less-than-pristine conditions of the makeshift lab. But Norman doesn’t care.

Norman: “Press the button, doctor.”

Which is an odd statement, considering that Octavius turns the device on by pulling a lever.

The device above Marko begins swirling, bearing more than a passing resemblance from the device used on Flint Marko in Spider-Man 3. But it has a bit of a different effect. Instead of a clean disintegration, Marko is punctured over and over and over until Octavius’s control panel starts bursting and sparking. Norman continues the experiment, for he is being cruel to be kind. Thus, bad begins… and worse remains behind.

How appropriate that things go from bad to worse, then.
Eventually, Marko’s body starts bulging and deforming like a G.I. Joe on a griddle.

"This was a good plan!"
Suddenly, he disappears in a burst of sand. The guilt in Dr. Octavius’s voice is clear.

Dr. Octavius: “What have we done… What do we do?”
Norman Osborn: “We sweep up. And we try again.”

But the sand soon sweeps itself up into a pile. A pile that looks an awful lot like Flint Marko. Cue the obligatory big "no" in 3... 2... 1....


There it is.

Marko has a little tantrum as he bangs against the glass of the control room.

Hammerhead: “Hey. Mr. Sandman. Chill.”

Soon enough, Marko once again finds himself sharing a limousine with Hammerhead, who tells Marko that all things considered, it’s not so bad. After all, he’s alive. He’s still human. Human enough, anyway. And he’s got the power to take on Spider-Man and get revenge!

Marko: “Yeah!”

But then something clicks in Sandman’s head. Something simple.

Marko: “Nah, wait. Revenge is for chumps.”

Says the man who shares a voice with Bender Bending Rodriguez.

Marko: “I don’t care about Spider-Man! All I ever wanted was the big score.”

Says the man who shares a voice with Bender Bending Rodriguez.
Marko: “And now I got the power to get it!”

Hammerhead tries to put Marko in his place and do the Big Man’s bidding, but Marko’s not listening. In his first act as the “Sandman,” he escapes the limo and goes off to commit some robberies. But Hammerhead’s not worried. After all, the Big Man wants Spidey to be “distracted.” All things considered, a living mound of kitty litter robbing banks is pretty distracting.

Spider-Man is on a nearby rooftop, tossing a football to himself and wondering if he really should be using his powers for football. To play, or not to play. That is the question. But before he can get anywhere, a very loud alarm starts ringing at the Midtown Bank. So Spidey jumps into action.

Spider-Man: “Aw, Marko? This is so getting old. Where’s your partner?”

A few sandy punches and kicks happen, and Spider-Man learns why Marko doesn’t need a partner anymore. Not only that, but he runs out of web fluid and finds out what happens when you punch the beach.

One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
Needless to say, Spider-Man is beginning to suspect that maybe, just maybe, something’s different.

Spider-Man: “Let me guess! You were on a reality show. Changing Faces, or Completely Ridiculous Makeovers?”

Yeah, Sandman, God hath given you one face and you make yourself another, what’s up with that?

The only thing that saves Spider-Man from getting a lungful of sand is the fact that Sandman wants to rob more banks.

The next day, Peter Parker reads the latest copy of the Daily Bugle at his locker and vows to forget the second round of football tryouts and track down Sandman once and for all. Of course, that’s before Liz Allan comes along and tells him how much she admires his moves on the field.

Peter: “’Course, Sandman will still be around after tryouts, right?”

We get another football montage, interspersed with Sandman’s continued crime spree. At the end of tryouts, the coach says that he’s looking at Peter as a starter with Harry as a second-stringer. But there’s still one more day left to change his mind. As Peter and Harry walk away after school, Harry’s gone back into his usual mope-fest. After all, Harry was the one who wanted to try out in the first place.

But it’s not all bad. The football team’s going out to eat, and Harry’s invited, along with Peter. Though Harry jumps at the chance, Peter instead decides to talk to Gwen on the bus.

Gwen: “How come you aren’t hanging with your new friends?"
Peter: “’Cause I like my old friends.”

He finally apologizes to her about putting Bugle pictures before his friends, and she forgives him. She follows this up with an obvious verbal cue that she wants to ask him to the dance, which Peter naturally blows off by saying that he’s not going, seeing as how he’ll never be able to find a date.

Suddenly, an armored vehicle goes careening out of control. And with Gwen’s permission to go get Bugle pics (what with that promise he just made to not put Bugle pics ahead of his friends), Spider-Man soon leaps into action against Sandman’s crazy driving. But as Spider-Man fights Sandman inside the vehicle, “crazy driving” soon turns into “no driving,” and the van goes off the road and into a construction zone. More fighting happens, as Spider-Man learns that webs mean nothing against somebody made entirely out of sand.

Meanwhile, Harry schmoozes up to the football team with stories about being super rich and having chauffeurs. Actually, the fact that he’s paying for everybody’s food is what’s responsible for the schmoozing. Glory, still fed up with Kong, is hanging on his every word, though. In a fit of jealousy, Kong “accidentally” spills soda on Harry, which leads to yet another public chewing-out. So instead, she gets Harry to take her home.

Back with Spidey, the police have cordoned off the area and are just hoping that the webhead can take care of Sandman. A long fight ensues, where Spider-Man’s tricks keep failing him as Sandman keeps learning new ones. As per usual for Spider-Man vs. Sandman stories, Spider-Man gets the idea to trick Sandman into getting stuck in wet cement, saving the day.

Back at the Osborns’ place, Harry has returned home, greeting his father and ever-voiceless mother.

She was going to be voiced by Marina Sirtis in the next season, but a certain deal put the kibosh on that....
Norman: “What’s with the helmet? Going to a costume party?”
Harry: “Trying out for the team.”
Norman: “Football? Not really your strong suit, is it?”

Weren't you the one who told him to cowboy up and be a man? Father of the year.

Harry: “Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”

The next day, football montage numero tres happens. And Peter’s playing like crap today. In the end, Harry becomes the starter with Hobie Brown as the second-stringer. So ends Peter’s brief career as a football star.

Peter: “If I wanted all the glory, I wouldn’t wear a mask.”

But Harry does end up getting the glory. Glory Grant, that is. It seems that they’re an item now. Peter is left on the sidelines, but Gwen’s there next to him. And she has ice cream for him. Sweets to the sweet. Plain vanilla. No sprinkles.

The moral of the story, people.
And with that, the episode ends. And the Review begins.


  1. Vanilla ice cream without any sprinkles. Truly the flavour of disappointment.

    1. All you can taste is your own shame.