Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Me Time"

The moral of the story: Never go on vacation. It's almost as unlucky as being two days from retirement.

Peter discovers some cameras, quits S.H.I.E.L.D., and is compelled to change his mind about the cameras when an unrelated villain attacks. Yeah. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s cameras would not have caught Doc Ock on video, because Spider-Man was nowhere near his house when he was attacked.

Unless he has the coolest house ever.
Seriously, the only problem is that Peter didn't have his Dick Tracy camera-watch to contact Nick Fury with. So if Peter had just kept his communicator but smashed all the S.H.I.E.L.D. cameras, then we wouldn't have had a plot. Peter would have enjoyed his "Me Time," Doc Ock's deadline to abduct Spider-Man would have come and gone, and we would never have seen him again after Norman Osborn terminated both his contract and his life.

"Yep. Sure am glad that no villains are attacking me!"
Well, unintentionally, the theme seems to be "Good guys need to spy on people to keep them safe."

And... yeah, if that's the moral of the story, then I'm not touching the political ramifications with a ten-foot pole. Galactus forbid we start a flame war.

Actually, here's a question. If the writer did not intend this episode to be a lesson about surveillance for the greater good, then how the heck did he miss that subtext?

I mean, regardless of how you feel about the issue of secret surveillance in real life, this episode goes about it like a propaganda cartoon.

Spider-Man finds a camera watching him. S.H.I.E.L.D. tells him that it's for his own safety, but he doesn't want the cameras. Suddenly, an unrelated villain attacks. Spider-Man concludes that cameras in his house is a good thing, even though he was nowhere near his house when he was attacked.

I mean, replace "Spider-Man doesn't want cameras" with "Spider-Man does drugs," or "Spider-Man plays by downed power lines," then you've got the makings of a cheesy 1980's-style PSA. Or, given the fact that Big Brother is apparently watching Spider-Man in the tub, a 1984-style PSA.

And you know what? If they really wanted to justify the S.H.I.E.L.D. cameras, then all they had to do was have Spider-Man be attacked in his own house. That way, the resolution of Peter agreeing to a camera outside his house would have made more sense. With Aunt May being gone for a few days, the writers could have even kept Peter's secret identity safe from her, keeping the status quo. And it could have been a powerful moment in its own right to see Peter attacked in what was previously a safe place for him.

You could do so many metaphors for growing up, being on one's own, accepting responsibility, et cetera.

One more rewrite just to place Doc Ock's attack at Peter's house and take the camera out of Peter's bathroom. That's all it would take.

Sandwich Club
I've expressed my annoyance at the Sandwich Club's antics before. And I could do so again.

I could easily type a lengthy treatise on the topic of their mistreatment of Spider-Man. But I already have done so. In most of the episodes I've covered, actually.

I'm just going to add "laughing at Peter's private footage" to the list and call it a day.

Doctor Octopus
This truly is one of the more tragic incarnations of the character. The man is clearly an invalid who is very likely paralyzed from the neck down. All he has is his work. And it truly is heart-wrenching to see how much his work means to him, evil though it may be.

Big props to Tom Kenny's vocal performance for putting all the subtext into his lines.

Watching Otto Octavius go from being a mad scientist henchman to being a full-blown supervillain was an amazing, subtle transformation to behold. And I really do mean that. Despite all the mud I sling at this series, this really is one of the more interesting portrayals of the character. To see a character who is at the same time so powerful and yet so powerless... it's impressive.

Some people say that Doctor Octopus is one of the best things about this show. These people are 100% right.

There really is some nice animation during the fights between Doc Ock and Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus is a lot of fun to watch in adaptations because his tentacles aren't as fluid as Venom's tendrils, but are more flexible than arms or legs.

"Clockwork fluidity" is how I would describe how Ock's tentacles should move. They're flexible, but within a framework. And this episode nails how these tentacles work in tandem.

Final Thoughts
Doctor Octopus's introduction to supervillainy is tragic, creepy, and compelling to watch.

His attempts at banter, however, not so much.
The rest of this episode... definitely depends on whether or not the viewer agrees with the deal with the cameras. As well as the legal issues with a (possible) minor setting up surveillance cameras to be used on himself and his aunt without her knowledge.

Though the stuff with Ock is one of the best villain debuts this show gives us, I can't say I recommend this one.

Next time, things get a little strange as we delve into a world of magic and mystery. And Mark Hamill. See you then!


  1. "The man is clearly an invalid who is very likely paralyzed from the waist down."

    Paralyzed from the NECK down, I think

    1. Yep, that's what I meant to type. I'll fix it before you can say "cephalapodic prosthesis."

  2. I do kinda think Doc worked best as a behind the scenes villain better than the confrontations and losses he pulled later on.

    I wonder how the writing team can be so content with making most of the cast such utter jerkasses? I assume the actors are decent people (barring Josh Drake for his twitter insults against Caitlyn Jenner) and would've had second thoughts about their characters.

    I hear Man of Action is planning on making a cartoon based on the ongoing Archie Comics' Mega Man series and I fear how badly they'll screw up one of my favourite comics.

    1. Yeah, Ock loses a lot of his punch the more he shows up.

      I can't help but wonder if perhaps in the quest to make the show wacky and funny while also being serious at times, they simply didn't realize that all the characters are jerks.

      As for Mega Man.... Well, maybe heroes that can switch between several power sets is their forte? I've heard good things about Ben 10.