Thursday, October 15, 2015

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Damage"

Today, it's yet another episode with more than one title.

Today, it's "Damage," aka "Out of Damage Control."

It's like the guy who was paid to come up with titles got lazy and they threatened to fire him if he didn't provide them with alternatives to the one-word crap he'd been coming up with.

I mean, make a pun, for Odin's sake.
The episode begins with a picture of my girlfriend's cat, Teddy, being adorable.

I wish.
In reality, the episode opens as the Marvel Animation Universe does most of the time, on a shot of New York. At least Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. mixed it up every once in a while. Hopefully, Guardians of the Galaxy won't suddenly default to opening up in New York every episode. Although space tends to show up in a lot of establishing shots.... I'm getting off track.

Establishing shot of the New York skyline. Shot of panicked civilians. Shot of the Wrecking Crew.

One of the things I actually have to compliment this episode on is how it introduces the villains. They show up onscreen, their leader makes a boast that identifies them....

Wrecker: "Someone call for a Wrecking Crew?"

...and each one gets a quick little identifying caption in turn without Spider-Man wasting valuable story time by making dumb jokes as he identifies them to us, which is the way this usually goes down. It shows that they're actually trusting the audience to pay attention to the story without constant jokes. And that's more credit than the show usually gives us.

Credit where it's due, Ultimate Spider-Man. Good job. And thank you.

The Wrecking Crew is comprised of the Wrecker (John DiMaggio), Bulldozer (Kevin Michael Richardson), Piledriver (Cam Clarke), and Thunderball (Chi McBride).

At least Titania realizes that she's not on this team this time.
Hmmmm.... let me check my blog real quick.... Yep. Not only have I made jokes about Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" in reference to these guys, but I also made a reference to Thunderball in the same post. I need to learn to pace myself with my jokes.

Speaking of jokes, as the Sandwich Club arrives on the scene, Nova tries his hand at quipping beyond his usual insults.

Nova: "Did someone call for a... uh... eh... some people to stop a Wrecking Crew?"

Audible crickets.

Spider-Man: "Nice one, laser brain."

"Laser brain"? What is this, the 90's?

Spider-Man then introduces his own team with the same captions, and thank goodness that Spidey doesn't see fit to explain to the audience who these people are after giving their names.

It might look like I'm nitpicking... and I sort of am. But this show has a bit of a problem with reiterating the same information across episodes. "Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." got lengthy informative introductions multiple times (including that time they made fun of the fact that they kept doingit), and let us not forget how many episodes begin with our titular hero uttering some variant of the phrase "I'm Spider-Man."

And once the Green Goblin comes along (Spoiler Alert, although who didn't see that coming?), be prepared to be hit with the same spiel about how the Green Goblin is actually Norman Osborn who is actually Harry Osborn's dad.

In closing, this show says the same thing over and over more often than Hodor.

Anyway, fighting happens, and the various members of the Wrecking Crew do their thing. Bulldozer runs into a nearby building, Thunderball whacks a car into traffic, Bulldozer runs into a different building, and Piledriver performs his namesake on a semi. Pretty random. So either these guys are simply aiming to get a five-star GTA rating, or something's up.

As the random chaos goes on, and Power Man saves that doofy-faced kid with the bowlcut again....

Boy, this kid's a danger magnet.
...the Wrecker himself cracks open a building, knocking out a chunk. Spider-Man gets the idea to spin a web to suspend the massive building chunk from a single gargoyle. To the surprise of no one, the gargoyle breaks off.

Another brilliant plan from the guy who stole his science fair project.
Nova's plan to take care of the situation is to blast the chunk of the building to pieces, saving the school bus directly below, but endangering the numerous other civilians in the area. And I guess any possible civilians that were in the building chunk are dead now.

Nova: "What?"
Spider-Man: "Alright, alright. Sometimes you gotta take a shot, you know?"

Well... fair point.

Spider-Man: "Thanks for the back up anyway."

Um, excuse me, Ultimate Spider-Man. When I tune in, I expect to see these five treat each other like dirt, thank you very much. Let's not have these teammates treating each other like human beings, okay?

...wait, what the heck am I saying?

The Wrecking Crew decide to concede defeat and disappear in a convenient explosion, leaving the Sandwich Club to wonder why the villains just committed a hit-and-run on an entire random intersection.

Spider-Man: "That building looks okay."

Hmm. Hope no one was in there.
You know what? Some people might not like the inherent black comedy involved here, but I'm just glad they're not giving us some BS about how all the buildings were evacuated. I should have mentioned this in my Review of Avengers Assemble Season 1, but that show has a nasty little habit of including convenient evacuations and going out of its way to have a bodycount of explicitly zero.

Sure, you can infer that a lot of innocent people just got hurt and/or thanks to the Wrecking Crew here, but at least they're not insisting that the city was evacuated and they'll be able to fix the buildings in an hour. I prefer ignoring the implications rather than pretending there aren't any.

Speaking of the buildings, Nick Fury flies down in a jet to tell them off for what just happened.

Nick Fury: "What do we say about damage? The best damage is..."
Power Man: "Unavoidable?"
Iron Fist: "A byproduct of violence?"
Nova: "Not our fault?"

Since the team insists that the fact that the bank was left untouched by damage is fishy, Fury decides that the best way to teach the Sandwich Club that the correct answer is "no damage at all" is to have them work undercover to solve their little conspiracy theory. The Sandwich Club is exited by the prospect of undercover work until Fury reveals that they'll be going undercover as volunteers for the company that helps clean up after super hero fights.

Nick Fury: "As of right now, you're no longer S.H.I.E.L.D.-sanctioned super-agents. Welcome to Damage Control."
Spider-Man: "Damage what?"

So, here's the thing. Nick Fury is disguising the Sandwich Club as volunteer workers for Damage Control. I get that. Here's what I don't get. They're going "undercover" in costume.

I trust I don't need to tell you exactly why those uniforms aren't disguising them.
To explain the concept of Damage Control to the audience, we cut to  Damage Control commercial, featuring Damage Control founder and CEO Mac Porter (Kevin Michael Richardson), explaining that they're the officially S.H.I.E.L.D.-sanctioned clean-up crew.

What, did the Beetle give Doom the wrong address?
Calling it now, he's the villain. In fiction, evil CEOs always appear in their own commercials, like Max Capricorn in Doctor Who, or Michael Caine's character in On Deadly Ground.

"Please ignore my evil goatee and trust me."
Anyway, after the commercial gives us a quick cameo from Captain Ultra, we cut to the Sandwich Club cleaning up the mess as Jameson rants from the Bugletron about how Spider-Man should clean up more of his own messes. And he's got a camera crew on the scene to capture every second of Spider-Man's community service, because that's a good way to waste a news source's time and money.

Perhaps ol' JJJ's trying to catch Spider-Man in the act to save some face after that stunt he pulled where he endangered nearly all of his employees?

You know what?
This guy probably just wants to be out of the office for as long as possible after the Beetle's attack.
The Sandwich Club are all a little bummed at the current situation (except for Nova, who was made foreman for some unknown reason), but they get to work anyway. After all, they have to stick around to look for clues. As the work continues, Spidey nearly gets run over by one of the construction vehicles, earning himself a tongue-lashing from the operator, who sounds more than a little like Bender Bending Rodriguez.

"Bite my shiny metal bulldozer, meatbag."
Three other workers join in, too. Spider-Man notices that one of them has some weird lights, and the worker informs him that they're going to work until the job is done. And that includes at night. Spidey's not thrilled.

Stan the Janitor: "Don't sweat it, kid. A little manual labor never hurt anybody. You can see what it's done for me and my physique!"
Spider-Man: "Hey, aren't you the janitor from Midtown High?"
Stan the Janitor: "It's extra money. You think I'm a millionaire school janitor?"

Your net worth is literally around $50 million, Stan Lee. Next question.

After getting yelled at by the Bugletron again...

Jameson: "You can't hide from the truth!"

But you can hide from terrorists, right, Jameson?

...Spider-Man finds an odd device that appears to be a gun. Naturally, having no idea what it is, he finds the foreman and informs him of his discovery, because Spider-Man is smart and responsible.

lol jk
Being Spider-Man, he aims it at some random rubble and shrinks it. And when Nova startles him, he shrinks Nova down to a few inches tall. The rest of the Sandwich Club comes over and treats the whole thing for laughs, despite the fact that Nova just got hit with an unknown device and may or may not be permanently shrunk.

Though I'm admittedly a fan of seeing USM's equivalent of Scrappy Doo suffer a bit.
I'm not going to get into a whole 'nother rant (you can read my "One Little Thing" Recap and Review for that), but I just want to say that if you have any doubts as to how terrifying being shrunk without warning would be, then watch the scene in Ant-Man where Scott Lang uses the suit for the first time.

As the cleaning continues, Mac Porter himself is on the scene to tell his guys to stay out of a certain building, citing structural instability. Naturally, Spider-Man ignores the order and barges right in. But this isn't just a whim. The dangerous building is right next to that bank that the Wrecking Crew didn't damage at all. When Spidey enters and finds a large hole in the wall, though, it turns out that the bank was completely cleared out by somebody tunneling through the wall of the wrecked building. And since Mac Porter not only told everybody to keep out of this building, but had the means and the opportunity for committing this heist, Spider-Man starts getting a little suspicious.

The rest of the Sandwich Club enters to tell him off for avoiding work, but he manages to show them the big clue... shortly before the building collapses because of the whole "structural instability" thing. They make it out in time, but they make it out in time to get yelled at by Nick Fury.

Nick Fury: "What part of 'undercover' didn't you understand?"

Says the man who's having them do this in their distinctive masks.

Fury refuses to listen to them about the big clue they found, which isn't surprising when you consider that he stuck them on this assignment to learn a little humility and appreciation for what other people have to do when they don't avoid collateral damage.

Spider-Man's lip makes the situation worse, to the surprise of no one, so one goateed black guy is switched out for another as Mac Porter comes over to talk to them.

"Nick? Lemme tag in before you start misquoting the book of Ezekiel."
His conversation amounts to "No harm, no foul. Get back to work."

As the rest of the Sandwich Club continues cleaning up, Spider-Man starts asking questions regarding Mac. Why did he condemn the building that was used to commit a heist? Why did he intervene when they tried to tell Fury about the heist?

The other Sandwich Club members want to keep working on clearing up the mess, though, in the hopes that they can lull the perpetrator into a false sense of security. Spider-Man won't have it.

White Tiger:
"What is your problem? Can't you just get with the program?"

And so, with his team unwilling and/or unable to help him him yet again, Spider-Man is forced to take matters into his own hands once more.

See also: "Flight of the Iron Spider," "Exclusive," "Back in Black," "Freaky," "Venomous," "Me Time," "Strange Days," "For Your Eye Only"....

That night, the webhead crawls up the side of the Damage Control tower.

Spider-Man: "You know what I need at times like this? A super-catchy theme-song! That would make me cooler than I already am."

Agreed. How about something like.... "Living on the edge, fighting crime, spinning webs. Swinging from the highest ledge, he can leap above our heads"? Maybe follow that up with a few "aahhh-aahhh"s. Heck, I'd even take "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can." Just saying, Marvel. Your own characters are complaining about the lack of theme songs.

Using his S.H.I.E.L.D.-issued web-shooter, he fires a laser at a window, slicing out a circle and pressing the spider emblem on his chest, turning himself invisible.

Spider-Man: "My S.H.I.E.L.D. stealth suit is working perfectly."

With this mess again?
Oh, for the love of Galactus, why do we have to add a deus ex machina to Spidey's arsenal every other episode? By this point, Spider-Man should be a vibranium-armored, invisible ninja with a backup team equipped with magical weapons.

Anyway, Spidey uses his polarized mask lenses...

Ugh.... Add it to the list. spot and avoid the infrared laser grid before infiltrating Mac Porter's office. Once he enters, the first thing he does is turn off his invisibility, like an idiot, making the alarm sound and the automated missile launchers activate.

I really didn't want to get into this now, but the episode has forced my hand.

The invisibility suit.

Why did he turn it off?

Sure, we could make up some fanon about how it's expensive, hard to power, or shouldn't be used for very long, or whatever. But in the end, Spider-Man has an invisibility suit that is never explained. So without any stated barriers or obstacles, what's preventing Spider-Man from staying invisible? It would give him quite the advantage in a fight, it would let him infiltrate bad guy operations with ease, and would make his life so much easier.

Anyway, Spider-Man dodges all the heavy artillery, and some automated cleaning bots spruce up the office real quick before our hero gets to work going through Mac's computer. Finding nothing but the fun-sized Nova.

Nova: "Told ya!"
Spider-Man: "Did you stow away in my stealth suit? Where were you when everything was shooting and exploding and trying to destroy me?"

Better question: Where was he hiding in your skintight, pocketless unitard?

The two exit through the roof, disheartened that Mac was innocent after all. But don't worry, instead of starting over the investigation from scratch, the stolen goods suddenly appear on the roof of the Damage Control building. But it wasn't Mac who was responsible. Remember those four workers that Spidey had a little altercation with? Yep. They're the Wrecking Crew. And they're here for their money.

Spider-Man puts together the whole plan.

Step 1: Wreck the city.
Step 2: Show up as Damage Control workers.
Step 3: Shrink the money with the Damage Control shrink ray.
Step 4: Profit!

Spider-Man: "Actually, a pretty good plan."

Agreed. Not sure why or how Damage Control has a shrink ray, though.

"I let Damage Control have one to make cleaning up rubble easier."
Well, I guess that makes sense. So Nova is.... wait, aren't Pym Particles potentially the most dangerous thing in the world?

And you just gave a shrink ray to Damage Control?

"Yeah. For rubble."
Didn't that seem like a bad idea?

"Uh, no. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dispose of some highly volatile andunstable Pym Particles in a building that not only gets attacked on a regularbasis, but is home to two destructive forces of nature."
...Ant-Man, between this and the stuff that got you sent to prison, you make terrible life choices.

Speaking of shrunken individuals, Nova's excited that the shrink ray is temporary. But it looks like the Wrecking Crew is going to try and squash him and Spidey before he returns to normal.

Nova: "You do remember you're wearing a stealth suit, right?"
Spider-Man: "Oh, right!"

Seriously, why not just become invisible at the start of every battle? This makes no sense! And if it's because he's not always wearing the stealth suit, then why isn't he always wearing the stealth suit?

He lands a few good invisible hits on the Crew before a lucky swing from the Wrecker breaks the stealth mode. After a bit of the classic "I-don't-know-that-I'm-not-invisible-anymore" routine, the fight spills over the side of the building as Spidey and the Crew swing down to ground level, where the Sandwich Club just happens to be waiting, thanks to Nova giving them the message ahead of time.

Iron Fist: "Perhaps there are apologies to be tendered."


But before that happens, the Sandwich Club has a rematch with the Wrecking Crew, going out of their way to avoid collateral damage this time. It also helps that the Wrecking Crew isn't going out of their way to smash up random things. At first. Once they attempt to smash up a random building perched on upside-down pyramids because post-modern architecture...

First, how? Second, why?
...Mac comes in with a bulldozer to push them into the Sandwich Club's waiting fists.

Spidey webs up the villains, and Mac hits them with the shrink ray. Boy, Mac got here just in time, didn't he?

Mac: "Yeah, well, an alarm went off in my office."
Spider-Man: "Really? you don't say."

And the whole thing was broadcast on the Bugletron because that camera guy is still following Spidey around. But of course, Jameson tries to make claims about set-ups, shams, and hoaxes. Fury soon arrives and compliments the team, while Mac mentions that a certain Spider-Man broke into his office. He knows because of the security footage capturing Spider-Man decloaking.

Hmm. Almost as if he should stay invisible all the time.
Spidey apologizes, and Mac forgives him.

Mac: "You were just trying to do your job. Won't give it a second thought."

Nova turns to normal-size, Fury reinstates the team, and makes a grand, sweeping gesture as he does so, knocking some pipe into a nearby building, bringing the whole thing down, injuring Odin-knows-how-many people.

Luckily, Spider-Man is on hand to hand Fury some tools to begin the clean-up process. And with a final bit of text saying that this episode was dedicated to Dwayne McDuffie, the episode ends.

So now it's time to review this episode and find out where the damage truly lies.


  1. villains taking advantage of collateral damage makes me think of the Daredevil series. Do you think we'll see and animated version of the cast sometime when they crossover into the Marvel Movies?

    1. Not sure. Daredevil isn't as marketable to kids as the other MCU characters.

    2. I'm sure in that case, like Karen, they'll take their best shot at it.

    3. Hmmm... Now that I think about it, there are Luke Cage and Iron Fist Netflix shows coming up. I wonder if they might get their own show spun-off from Ultimate Spider-Man?

    4. Well, they could do a Heroes for Hire one, but I'm not sure how...

  2. "Better question: Where was he hiding in your skintight, pocketless unitard?"

    With his phone, clearly. See "Beetle Mania" recap for details.

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Maybe Spidey's a time Lord and his suit is bigger on the inside. It would fit with his ever-expanding array of technology.

  3. You're not fooling anyone Stan. We know you're mayor of Vista Verde.

    Or is it your twin brother, also named Stan?

    - Faceless Enigma

  4. "This is my brother Stan, and my other brother Stan."

    Nah, it's more likely that Stan Lee is simply a divine being who takes whatever form pleases him as he walks the worlds of his own creation.

    At least, that's what I think.

    1. Maybe, but I wanted to make a GF reference. :P

      - Featureless Conundrum

    2. Stanford Lee and Stanley Lee? Hmm....