Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: The Spectacular Spider-Man "Market Forces"

Nearly every episode gives us a new villain, but it's going to be hard for the next batch of baddies to top this episode.

When people think of the classic Spider-Man plot, this is usually what comes to mind.

Struggling to take pictures for the Bugle, all the while juggling commitments to his friends and Aunt May.

And yet, at no point does this episode feel like we've been there, done that. By taking the classic Spider-Man responsibilities and directly setting them against each other instead of just having them exist, we see exactly how hectic such a life would be.

On the villains' side of things, I love how this show deals with the superhero paradox.

Did you ever notice that villains typically come along after the hero is established?

The Green Goblin didn't show until Tobey Maguire had already donned the red-and-blues, Jack Napier didn't get a smile on his face until Batman was running around, and so on and so forth. Sometimes, this is justified by having the villain being created in response to the hero escalating things, like how the Joker rose up in the ranks during The Dark Knight because the regular gangsters were outmatched.

Here, the bad guys are observant enough to realize that even though these "super villains" don't seem to be stopping the wall-crawler, they can slow him down enough for the regular thieves to go about their business in peace. And seeing as how they have an alliance with a certain Norman Osborn and his scientific resources, they can stop relying on happy accidents like the Vulture and the Lizard.

In economics, "market forces" are those oh-so-often-mentioned factors of supply and demand.

Supply and demand is a constant theme in this episode, whether it be the Big Man demanding that Shocker supply the wallcrawler, or Peter discovering that he can corner the market on pictures of Spider-Man.

Peter himself is in high demand. The Bugle, Harry, Aunt May; Peter has a lot of responsibilities that demand his time. But there's only one Peter, so he's in pretty short supply.

This episode does a good job of examining  the problems with "responsibility."

Peter Parker can't say "no." He'll offer to pay the bills, get you pictures of Spider-Man, be home before curfew, and tutor you. But he can't actually accomplish everything he promises. Whenever something else comes up, he'll push what he's doing at the moment away to the side in order to take care of that instead. And with Harry, well, we saw how that worked out. And as we'll see, this will have repercussions down the line.


Awesome. The Shocker never really had a unique personality, so this overhaul makes him more interesting than usual.

I like the fact that even though he's a villain, he has a moral code. I've mentioned before that I've got a soft spot for Western outlaws with a set of principles, and it really makes Shocker stand out among villains motivated by greed or revenge.

I absolutely adore the Shocker.

Apparently, so does Spidey.
Betty Brant 
Did you know that Betty was Peter's first girlfriend in the comics? Peter asking her to the formal was a nice little nod to that. Betty Brant has always had a surprisingly large following, thanks in no small part to this series and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films.

J. Jonah Jameson
Unfortunately, it's hard for me to listen to Daran Norris's take on Jameson. Mostly because it sounds almost like JK Simmons, but not quite. And that little bit of difference sort of ruins it for me. A shame, because otherwise the character works very well.

And making JJJ not actively hate Spider-Man but still want to profit off of his failures was an interesting take on the character that I don't think has been done before or since.

Norman Osborn
Clearly, there are some layers to the man that weren't evident before.

What does he hope to gain my making super mercenaries? Will his little talk have any effect on his son? And if so, will Stormin' Norman finally take note of Harry's accomplishments?

As beautiful and fluid as ever. Shockers effects were done in CGI rather than the traditional animation of the rest of the show, but it's integrated so smoothly that it doesn't look out of place. And that can be hard to do.

Final Thoughts
This trilogy of episodes begins amazingly with the debut of one of my favorite villains in Spectacular Spider-Man. In a series of amazing episodes from start to finish, this one stands out.

Next time, Peter discovers firsthand that life can be a real beach. See you then!


  1. It's weird to think the guy who did the voice for JJ here does the voice for Cosmo and Timmy's Dad on the Fairly Odd Parents, plays the janitor from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and the sleazy lawyer on Veronica Mars.

    1. Yeah, I think every voice actor has a couple roles on the resume that make you go "Wait, what?"

  2. It never ceases to amaze me (pun intended) just how perfectly Weisman & co. captured the essence of Spider-Man with this show. Now if only the Weisman curse hadn't ended it before it's time...

    - That One Anon

    1. I know, right?

      I'm always impressed how they weave together elements of the Spider-Man mythos into a coherent and thematically unified whole.

    2. Hehe, weave.

      - That One Anon