Friday, June 26, 2015

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

Before we begin, I’d just like to unequivocally state that the views expressed in the previous Recap regarding Evil Lincoln do not reflect the views of the NewtCave toward our actual sixteenth President. The man was not only a great speaker, but he freed the slaves and slayed vampires before Sarah Michelle Gellar made it cool.

And he could probably beat me up.
Once again, we come to the end of the latest mini-arc. As such, this episode isn’t really about beating the bad guy. Previous episodes followed a pretty standard formula with villains. Spidey gets beat, Spidey stalemates, then Spidey uses his head and finds a clever way to win. This episode still had Spider-Man thinking outside the box, but this episode is primarily about moving the series forward. The Big Man’s identity is revealed, the pieces are in place for the war on Spider-Man, and Mary Jane Watson finally bothered to make an appearance. Truly, the plot thickens, whether we’re talking about Peter’s home life or hero life.

The titular Invisible Hand is an oft-misunderstood concept that has come to mean many things since the idea was developed. The obvious, if fairly inaccurate to the original meaning, symbolism is that the Big Man is the invisible hand pulling the strings of organized crime in New York. But “the Invisible Hand” originally referred to how the actions of an individual working for his own interests could still affect the outcome of a greater whole.

In the words of Hank Pym, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

Spider-Man isn’t a superhero because somebody wants him to be one. Quite the opposite, in fact. He’s doing it for himself because he knows it’s the right thing to do. And he’s changing the landscape of organized crime. They’re desperate. Let’s hope that in their desperation, they don’t turn to a man they don’t fully understand….

J. Jonah Jameson

We truly see Jameson’s hidden depths when he lies to Rhino to keep Peter safe. Is he looking out for a good kid? Or is he just protecting his only source of Spider-man pictures? You could probably back up either argument, but I like to think that JJJ’s acting out of the goodness of his heart. It gives the character a depth that you don’t often see. Certainly not when a certain other show decides that it’d be funny if JJJ pretended to stay in his office while a terrorist was gunning for him, putting his own employees at risk.

But that’s another show, and I’ll rant about that another time.

Alex O’Hirn/Rhino
He’s a chump who wants revenge.

A ginormous, invulnerable chump, but a chump nonetheless.
Standard motivation for Spidey’s foes in the comics, but it sets him apart from the self-interested Sandman or businesslike Hammerhead.

Harry Osborn
Football star. All-A student. And his dad still gives him less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. And yet, he’s not upset by this. Something’s up….

L. Thompson Lincoln/Big Man/Tombstone
The big bad. The man who hides behind a thick shield of legality.

Marvel fans will note that the character’s status as a crime lord hiding as a philanthropist is more than a bit similar to the Kingpin. Well, that’s because he’s a composite of Tombstone and Kingpin, seeing as how Kingpin’s rights are tied up with Daredevil’s. This despite the fact that Kingpin debuted in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, but what’re you gonna do. Rights issues would end up screwing this show over in worse ways.

Once again, Kevin Michael Richardson is voicing a well-dressed albino and doing a fine job of it. His voice brings an unsettling aura to a character that could easily have been a generic crime lord with a weird face.

As an aside, I liked the little in-joke with Frederick Foswell. In the comics, he actually was the Big Man. Here, he's the guy searching for him. Nice touch.

Mary Jane Watson
She finally shows up, recreating her famous first appearance in the comic.

Well, they didn't recreate the fact that she originally glowed like radium.
Of course, we still don’t know much about her, besides the fact that Vanessa Marshall does her voice.

Good as ever, though there was really nowhere for the animators to strut their stuff when compared to the last few episodes. The part where Spider-Man chased the punks in the car looked nice, but the Rhino didn’t really provide many opportunities for anything visually interesting.

Final Thoughts
While the major threat of the episode was a little lackluster compared to Shocker and Sandman, this episode delivers when it comes to setting up the next chapter of the story. The stakes are higher, the villains are tougher, and the Big Man has control of the board. It’s not necessarily something that I might go back and watch for its own sake, but it’s a good ending to our lesson in Econ 101.

For our next arc, it’s time to learn some chemistry. And it looks like we’ll be seeing green. See you then!


  1. man, this was probably my favourite episode of the first season, next to the sinister six episode. I just a humongous smile on my face the minute they did the homage to MJ's first appearance in the comics, it was one of my fave moments in the show too.

    I kinda wonder what would've happened with Rhino in season three. Do you think he would've been depressed his best friend found crime to have no more meaning and resented that Sandman left him? Do you think he might've quit too and joined up with Sandman?

    1. Well, I'd imagine that something would happen to him. SSM was really good about keeping the characters' motivations from decaying over time.

      But whether he rejoined Sandman or just fell into depression.... I can't say. They both sound like promising directions for the character, though. Perhaps somebody should see what they could do about unofficially continuing the story....