Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Venomous"

I find it really interesting how a single episode can hit both the point and low point for a series. How many episodes of any show can make that claim?

TeaserI’m absolutely serious when I say how good that teaser was. I mean, my God, it was like Man of Action raided the leftover scripts from Spectacular Spider-Man and said, “Hey. This is pretty good. Let’s do this. But with, like, Batroc the Leaper.”

Actually, any moment where Venom is onscreen is pretty much golden. And that’s what makes this episode really disappointing. With a few tweaks, this episode could have been a shining example of greatness. But then the rest of the episode has to rear its ugly head….

I mean, I want this show to be good. And the teaser showed just how good it could be! Just... gah.

At least I found a frame in this episode I could caption to express my disappointment.
In a vacuum, the idea of Spider-Man opposing not only Nick Fury, but his own teammates to save his best friend is a great one. It tests the character’s relationships and asks if they can really trust each other. This episode is all about trust to the very core. Unfortunately, it becomes glaringly obvious that Peter can’t trust anyone.

Spider-Man’s comic book struggle is making his own way without any help. Here, his struggle is simply going day-to-day while everyone uses him, belittles him, and treats him horribly. It’s actually kind of depressing.

So… look. The teaser’s great, the plot works well enough overall, the action’s exciting, and I appreciate that the final battle homage the actual Ultimate Spider-Man comics by having a rainy Venom fight at school.

I see what you did there, show.
And I'll even go into detail about this episode's best feature in another post. But now, it’s time to talk about the characters’ relationships with Spider-Man as a whole up to this point.

Iron Fist/ Danny Rand

Danny is actually the nicest person to Peter. He talks less than the others, but even when he criticizes Peter, he usually has some kind of constructive criticism to offer. In the form of some kind of proverb, usually.

Power Man/Luke Cage
Out of all the members of the Sandwich Club, Power Man is the quickest to follow orders. This is probably best seen when Fury’s order to kill Venom is met with a “Yes, sir.”

While he might not be the most verbally abusive to Peter, he still can be found joining in when the others are making fun of Peter or criticizing him.

White Tiger/Ava Ayala
Out of all the members of the Sandwich Club, she and Sam treat Peter the worst. While Danny and Luke don’t go out of their way to insult or belittle Peter, Ava does. The others will call Peter “affectionate” nicknames like “webhead,” but she’s really the only one who calls him things like “dork,” which are said with such a negative tone that they are quite obviously meant as insults and not terms of endearment.

In “Why I Hate Gym,” she talks about how Spider-Man keeps going it solo, but has made it clear many times that she doesn’t approve of his methods when they do work together. She is often the first to criticize Peter, such as when she told him to start leading in “Field Trip.” Despite the fact that she also refused to follow the orders that Peter was giving.

And she threatened to attack Peter when he refused to rat out somebody he obviously cared about as Venom. I'm sorry, are we supposed to actually like her?

Nova/Sam Alexander
I already analyzed the character, but a few points need to be brought up regarding him.

I wish I knew why the show went out of its way to portray him in the wrong almost all the time. He’s brash, mean, and not very smart. And the show gives him no redeeming qualities to make up for that. Out of all of the characters, Nova is the one who actively seems to try and ruin Peter’s life. Remember in “Venom,” when he tried to not only put the moves on Mary Jane, but also went out of his way to keep Peter from hanging out with Harry Osborn?

Nova is portrayed as Spider-Man’s rival. And because Spider-Man’s name is in the title, he’ll usually be in the right. So instead of two people who have different opinions but are still equally represented, Nova is always screwing up some way while also being a jerk to Spider-Man.

Hey, he said it, not me.
Sandwich Club
In my Review of “Great Responsibility,” I said they had no characterization, other than utter disdain for Peter. Well, after a few episodes, they have more character. And more disdain than ever. But allow me to bring up the main problem with the Sandwich Club.

They ask Peter to trust him. Because they’re his “friends.” And you don’t keep secrets from your “friends.”

Get a dictionary, Sandwich Club.
So let me ask you this.

What does Peter actually know about his teammates?

Their origins? No.

Their motivations? No.

Where they live? No.

What other friends and interests they have? No.

And yet, they know all of these things about Peter and demand to be let into his social life. They demand Peter’s trust and respect while they refuse to trust and respect him in turn.

And Peter's supposed to be the one who needs to learn a lesson?

I'm sorry, what?

As always with this show's Venom fights, the animation was fluidly beautiful. The rest of the episode was the same as ever.

Final Thoughts
Wasted opportunity, the Sandwich Club acting really despicable, but one of the best moments in the whole show. This episode was a bit of a mixed bag, to say the least. To say the most, I utterly despise this episode because the Sandwich Club’s actions have gone from simply annoying me to absolutely disgusting me. Except for Danny. He seems like a nice guy.

There's a lot to like in this episode, but I find that it's smothered in a lot of things to hate. As ever, I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments.

Next time, we’ll see what happens when Nick Fury gets to be just about as bad as the Sandwich Club was in this episode. See you then.

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