Friday, June 26, 2015

Recap: The Spectacular Spider-Man "The Invisible Hand"

The Economics arc of The Spectacular Spider-Man ends here with an episode that has nothing to do with General Grievous's spaceship. Although considering that Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, that's not to say that particular combination won't happen somewhere down the line....

I mean, who's to say the Reality Gem won't get up to some shenanigans....
The episode begins in a hidden laboratory beneath the streets of New York, where Doctor Otto Octavius is busy prepping Sandman's best buddy, Alex O'Hirn, for the latest round of Oscorp's illegal super power experiments. The good doctor is warning O'Hirn that the "suit" they're going to give him is really just a suit in name only. After it bonds to his skin, he'll never be able to remove it. Which is really something that they should have warned him about before strapping him to the science machines. OSHA's going to have a field day with this.

But it should be perfectly safe, right? I mean, sure, their sub-dermal armor ended up literally shattering Flint Marko, but you can't go wrong with a suit of armor, right? I mean, it's not like an inability to take off a bulletproof skintight coating is ever going to spectacularly backfire when your opponent starts using that to his advantage, right?

Octavius is the only one in the room having second thoughts about this. Hammerhead wants super-thugs, Norman Osborn wants results, and O'Hirn, unlike Flint Marko, is a chump who just wants revenge against Spider-Man.

The mad science soon begins as O'Hirn's body is flooded with the technobabble titanium resin, giving form to his new appearance. Hammerhead notices that there's a definite "animal" theme to O'Hirn's new outfit and wants to know what goofball was responsible for making the super-suit look like Janimals on steroids. To the surprise of no one, Octavius takes credit.

Norman: "The good doctor has his quirks. But this? Approaches competence."

He goes on to say that "Mr. Lincoln" will be pleased, before Hammerhead reminds him that they never use "the 'L' word."

Sounds like Hammerhead was disappointed with the reality show retool.
Of course, the reference to "Mr. Lincoln" should reveal to anybody who the identity of the Big Man actually is.

Evil Lincoln. Of course.
But O'Hirn is eager to test his new abilities out and escapes into the streets from the body shop being used as a secret base. (Get it?) And so, the Rhino is born.

And he won't be seen again for quite a bit. You'd think a seven-foot behemoth would catch somebody's attention, but maybe he was just off getting a snack while gloating over his new rhino-powers.

Yeah, that looks about right.
After the intro, some literal punks rob a store. As they drive off, they gloat about how Spider-Man's too busy dealing with those guys in costumes to deal with simple robbers. This, of course, is Spidey's cue to hop onto the hood of their getaway car and tell them to pull over. A fun little sequence ensues, which really just exists to remind us that not only are the petty thieves still running around, but Spider-Man is still taking it upon himself to take care of them.

Meanwhile, at Dr. Connors's lab, Eddie Brock and Gwen are cleaning the place up. As they work, Eddie asks Gwen if Peter asked her to the Fall formal yet. She tells him that Peter said he wasn't going.

Eddie: "Tell you what. Let me be your date."

I'm just going to let this pairing slide. After Googling what New York's age of consent laws had to say about a Peter Parker/Betty Brant pairing, my search history already looks creepy as Hell.

Hey, speaking of those two, Peter's over at the Daily Bugle, belaboring the topic some more.

Peter: "Plus, if you say 'yes,' I promise to stop asking."

As much as I appreciate this show's nod to the fact that Betty Brant was Peter Parker's first girlfriend in the original comics, Peter's one creepy shrine away from being a stalker.

Luckily, J. Jonah Jameson emerges from his office to yell for a bit.

Jameson: "Quit harassing my secretary and get me a page one web-head blowout!"

As Jameson goes off to complain about the sandwich one of his employees got for him, Peter goes right back to begging Betty for a date. He insists that their pairing would not be creepy because she's only four years older than he is. Peter is sixteen. She's twenty. Those four years are really important.

Betty: "Alright, I'll think about it."

And hopefully, she's still thinking about saying "no."

Peter runs off in a fit of glee, despite Betty calling out after him.

Betty: "It's just a 'maybe!'"

Peter transitions into webslinging and heads home. He's in such a great mood that he grabs Aunt May and starts dancing with her. She takes it in stride, but I'd be a bit worried about the strain that surprise dancing might put on her heart. Nah, what am I thinking; her ticker'll be fine. She'll outlive us all.

He hands her 90% of his money to pay the bills and brags about scoring a date.

Peter: "Almost. For sure."

Aunt May's happy for him, because she already took in Ben's old tuxedo to be resized. Tight budget, you know. Which is why May's wondering about how they're going to pay for the car service, the corsage, all the other things involved.... And Peter makes it very clear that Betty deserves the best.

Aunt May: "Betty? Who's Betty?"

"Well, I would go with Betty. But I'd be thinking of Wilma...."
One transition later, and Aunt May is at the Bugle, offering to buy Betty a cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee, Harry Osborn likes his women like he likes his coffee.

Not exactly where I was going with that.
He brags to Peter at the lunch table that he's going to the formal with the tall, dark, and sexy Glory Grant. Peter one-ups him with the announcement that he'll be going with Betty Brant.

Peter: "Our girls rhyme!"

And they're both alliterations, right, Peter Parker? You should go tell Kenny Kong, J. Jonah Jameson, and Robbie Robertson.

Flash comes up to give Peter a hard time about his alleged "date."

Peter: "You wouldn't know her, Flash. She's twenty years old and hot."

And totally real. She's a supermodel. She lives in Canada.

Flash bets that Peter either doesn't show up with a date or doesn't show up at all. And the loser has to dress up as a cheerleader for Halloween. Peter gets a text from Betty, saying that she's having coffee with Aunt May. And as we've established in Ultimate Spider-Man, Aunt May isn't allowed to enjoy the company of anybody, so Peter runs off to the city to keep his worlds from colliding.

Speaking of colliding, the Rhino walks up to the Daily Bugle building, having remembered that he was in this episode. He's actually very calm and polite as he does. When the security guard informs him that nobody can go up without a pass....

Rhino: "Make an exception."

He gets in the elevator and asks the occupant to please hit the button for the 22nd floor, because his fingers are too big. The occupant tells him that that was the floor he was going to.

Rhino: "Your name ain't... 'Parker,' is it?"

Meanwhile, Betty is handing Aunt May her coffee. They're still in the Daily Bugle offices because Starbucks is freakin' expensive. Suddenly, the Rhino bursts out of the elevator and starts smashing everything up, demanding to have a certain "Peter Parker" turned over to him. Aunt May is fully prepared to give what for to the brute over this, but Betty wisely leads her under a desk where they both hide.

Thankfully, Spider-Man is already web-slinging to the scene, having rushed over to keep his worlds apart.

If he ever hurts Aunt May, true love won't desert Aunt May. Except in Ultimate Spider-Man.
But he doesn't know about the trouble, so he unsuits before heading into the offices, where J. Jonah Jameson is busy demanding that Rhino write a check to pay for the damages. But after being lifted into the air, he changes his tune.

Rhino: "Peter Parker. Now."

Peter is behind the Rhino on the other side of the room, peeking in the door. Jameson sees him, and motions with his hands that Peter should leave the place ASAP while insisting to Rhino's face that he had never met Peter in person. As Aunt May is endangered by the Rhino's subsequent tantrum, Peter rushes back to the closet and changes back into Spider-Man before jumping out of a window to make a big entrance. Gotta protect that secret identity.

Rhino: "Whaddaya think, I'm stupid?!"
Spider-Man: "Well, you are dressed stupid."

Spidey arrives in the speed of time to save his boss by webbing him to the ceiling. And now that the web-head’s here, Rhino doesn’t need to find the kid who takes pictures of him. Right now, it’s time for this chump to get revenge.

Spider-Man wonders why low-life mooks are suddenly getting super powers, but he has to put that on the back burner for now. Much like the past two episodes, Spider-Man is learning slowly and painfully that his usual tricks of brute strength and webs simply aren’t cutting the mustard. So he uses the thing that’s been working for him lately: trickery. Rhino ends up crashing through a wall and, despite Spider-Man’s attempts to web him up, hits the ground below. Hard enough to end up below the road.

Soon enough, the police are on the scene, including a certain police detective that we'll be seeing more of soon....

Police Detective: “Attention, Rhino. Lay down flat… in your crater.”

Oddly enough, Rhino does not comply. But before he can smash the cops with their own cars, Spider-Man leaps down to lure him away. As Rhino chases Spidey, sweat pours down his face. Sure enough, he has to take a moment at a fire hydrant to cool off for a sec before continuing the chase. Property damage galore ensues, getting even worse when Rhino flings Spider-Man at a gym across the city and chases after him in a straight line, regardless of any and all obstacles

In a last ditch effort, Spider-Man grabs some bowling balls to try and trip Rhino up, but he crushes them into dust. And then prepares to do the same with Spidey’s head. Luckily, Spider-Man remembers the most important thing about Alex O’Hirn. He is as stupid as he dresses.

Spider-Man: “Wait! Wait!”

Sure enough, it works. Rhino pauses long enough for Spider-Man to knock over a big shelf of barbells onto the big lug before leaping to the ceiling. As Rhino takes a moment to chug some water, Spider-Man realizes that Rhino’s overheating in that suit. The chase resumes as Spidey leads the brute into the sewers, tricking him into jamming his horn into a pipe full of steam. The impromptu sauna continues as Rhino fails to learn his lesson and keeps crushing steam pipes in his attempts to swat Spider-Man.

His pores are going to be cleansed like you wouldn't believe.
Delirium sets in as Rhino falls over and starts mumbling about his mama. Spider-Man uses Rhino’s tentative gasp on reality to his advantage and asks who the Big Man is. With his brain overheating, Rhino simply scrambles up what he heard Hammerhead say earlier in the episode.

Rhino: “We don’t ever use the B-word…. Call him… Mr. Lincoln….”

After Spidey emerges from the sewers and tells the cops to get a crane, Hammerhead is once again meeting with Norman Osborn. It seems as though Oscorp quickly got themselves a nifty little contract to build a prison cell for the Rhino, which will probably come back to benefit the Big Man in some way. And it means Oscorp makes a pretty penny while they’re at it. Of course, the sudden rise in supervillains is getting a mite suspicious.

Norman: “Best to let things cool off for a bit.”
Hammerhead: “We cool off when the Big Man says so, see? Or do you want people to know who created Freak 1 and Freak 2?”

This would be a terrible time for Harry to burst in on his dad. So that’s precisely what Harry does. He bursts in and brags about his straight A’s, his spot on the football team, and his super-hot date to tonight’s formal. And as we’ve learned to expect, Norman brushes his son off. But when Norman tells his son to leave, Harry isn’t heartbroken. In fact, he’s got a sly little grin on his face….

Back at the Daily Bugle, Peter pretends that he was in a closet the whole time and timidly enters the Bugle office, where Aunt May and Betty are watching the attempt to unstick J. Jonah Jameson from the ceiling. Betty takes Peter aside and finally gets the lesson through Peter’s skull.

Betty: “I can’t go with you.”

"I've got better things to do than act out a gender-swapped Lolita."
Betty: “I’m too old for you, and it’s just… too weird.”

And illegal. Don’t forget illegal.

Aunt May heads home, and Betty returns to her job. Determined to make something go right, Peter quickly finds Frederick Foswell (the man in the elevator with Rhino earlier) and asks about “Mr. Lincoln.”

Foswell: “Our sixteenth president?”

Yeah,t he guy with the logs.
But Peter clarifies that he might also go by “the Big Man.” Foswell realizes exactly who Peter’s talking about. L. Thompson Lincoln. Every year or so, rumors about his supposed activities as a crime lord surface, but Foswell investigated the guy himself. He’s clean.

"That guys no more the Big Man than I am!"
Later that night, Spider-Man pays Mr. Lincoln’s office a visit, taking care to web up Lincoln’s bodyguards.

Spider-Man: “I’m here to see Mr. Lincoln.”
Lincoln: “Then you should make an appointment.”

Sharp teeth. Deathly pale skin. Nothing evil here.
Mr. Lincoln, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, is intrigued by Spidey’s visit and basically outright admits that he’s evil as they come.

Spider-Man: “Please, you’re the Big Man.”
Lincoln: “In my life, I’ve had many names. My favorite… is ‘Tombstone.’”

Just to show the kid who’s boss, Tombstone gets up and wipes the floor with him. Tombstone’s fast. And strong. And tough.

Heavy, too.
He makes his evil speech, which is a bit more complicated than “Join me, and we’ll rule together.” He explains that if Spider-Man keeps fighting crime, then he’ll keep making supervillains to distract Spidey from the muggers and petty thieves. And that’s counterproductive for most of the people involved.

The deal is this. Spider-Man gets bribe money, and in return, he lets them pull off a few heists now and again.

Tombstone: “On any occasion I choose.”
Spider-Man: “I can’t ever look the other way again.”

With his criminality having failed him, Tombstone calls in the cops that were right outside the office. Who apparently couldn’t hear Tombstone’s earlier fight. Very convenient.

Tombstone claims that Spider-Man just barged in illegally and assaulted his employees. And with this technically being true, the cops try to arrest the wall-crawler before he makes a quick escape. As he slings home, he counts this as a victory. He may have had to run from the cops, but now he knows who’s behind all this and what he wants.

Soon after sundown, Peter is already back home, dressed for the formal. Even though he doesn’t have a date. Except he does. Aunt May took the liberty of arranging for Peter to go with that “Mary Jane Watson” girl. And she soon arrives at the door.

Mary Jane: “Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot.”

Yes. Yes he did.
And with that recreation of one of the most iconic moments in comic book history, the episode ends. Now let's Review not only this episode, but the entire Econ 101 arc.


  1. You know what they say about age and dating. Don't date anyone younger than half-your-age-plus-seven.

    1. Well if that's the case, then Peter should ask Betty to the Senior Prom next year.

      Hah, just kidding. There's no "next year." Thanks, Sony!