Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Damage"

You know, I can kind of see why the title "Out of Damage Control" wasn't chosen for this episode. I mean, Spidey spends almost the whole thing in Damage Control.

Nick Fury tries to learn the Sandwich Club some responsibility by "letting" them work undercover.

With friends like these....
Then he gets angry when they look for clues.


You know, if this is the kind of training Fury wants to give him, then soon enough, this will be how Spider-Man reacts to crime.

"But nope, I'm supposed to clean up and not look for clues."
But apart from that, the villains actually had a pretty clever scheme going, and Mac Porter was set up as a nice red herring. It might be a simple mystery story, but it's a competent mystery story. The shrinking of the cash is effectively foreshadowed with the dropped shrink ray, and the real culprits are shown before the heroes solve the mystery.

Of course, this episode suffers from some of the usual problems of the show. Lame cutaway gags (that I straight-up ignored for being pointless), the Sandwich Club being less than helpful, and adding to Spider-Man's arsenal of deus ex machina devices...

Oh, I didn't bring it up int the Recap, but this laser's on the list, too, between the stealth-suit and the armor.
Not to mention the worst attempt at going undercover ever....

But the episode's structure keeps things moving and the plot keeps things interesting, even though anybody with half a brain could figure out that the four Damage Control workers are actually the Wrecking Crew.

"The best damage is no damage at all!"

They really want to drive the point home. I guess "be mindful and respectful of your surroundings" is the closest that we get to a lesson from that.

Actually, now that I think about it, this episode was a really effective "walk a mile in their shoes" situation regarding custodians. Custodians and janitors get paid less than they deserve, and are often either ignored or treated like garbage.

Cleaning up after other people sucks. So make it easier for the people who get paid to do it.

Wrecking Crew
While they're all effectively the same brute with a different coat of paint and slightly different powers, the Wrecking Crew was used quite effectively. Not only was their plan smart, but each member had their own way of fighting in the various battles, making them fun to watch.

Sure, they might not have much in the way of character interaction, but they were fun to watch. That alone puts them ahead of, say, the Frightful Four in the series premiere.

The fact that they were working for Damage control is a nice little nod to their Ultimate Universe counterparts, too.

Mac Porter (Kevin Michael Richardson)
Damage Control was created by prolific comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie, who also gave us the Justice League cartoon and, what I think is more important, the Milestone Universe.

We live in a world where diversity is recognized as something we need, but too often we take shortcuts. Whether it be tokenism, or changing the race of existing characters because of tokenism. Although you can change a characters race in a way that isn't just to fill a quota, that's often the case.

But Dwayne McDuffie, years before those shortcuts would be the norm, simply said, "Why don't we make new characters and have them be black, hispanic, or what-have-you?"

You could argue that such characters wouldn't be "as good" as the existing ones.

Dwayne McDuffie would ask "Why?" and then proceed to show you characters like John Stewart, Static, and Miles Morales, who some argue are better than Hal Jordan, Peter Parker, and... well, Static has no counterpart.

Dwayne McDuffie was all about pushing boundaries, and when he came up with a comic about a clean-up crew, he was doing more of the same.

Tragically, Dwayne passed away in 2011, but Ultimate Spider-Man honors him and his legacy with Mac Porter, based on Mr. McDuffie himself.

That's admittedly touching.
The character's a little flat, unfortunately, probably because the writers wrote him to honor a dear friend and remembered him as the wonderful person it's said he was. but in the end, he's a nice counterpoint to Nick Fury's barely-contained anger and frustration.

Same as ever. Though I will admit that I liked the visual effect for Spidey's invisibility, even if I didn't like the idea of it.

Final Thoughts
All things considered, this was actually a fairly solid episode. It still has some of the usual flaws, but there's really a lot to like in this touching little tribute.

Unfortunately, the next episode is the classic "hiding a pet" plot. With the Hulk. But since I've already recapped that, the next thing I cover will be the first animated appearance of Spider-Ham.

See you then.


  1. *desperately trying not to rant about why Peter Parker is better than Miles Morales*

    Well, not that you'd gather that from THIS show.

    - That One Anon

    1. While I prefer Peter Parker, I like Miles, too. I don't understand why people are treating it as an all-or-nothing deal, especially with the films. I wouldn't mind seeing a "Spider-MEN" movie.

    2. To be honest, I never really understood the appeal of the character. I mean sure, diversity is good and all that, but to me, Miles lacks the charm and depth that made Peter such a popular, even legendary hero. He just seems like a poor man's substitute for Silver Age Peter. In all fairness, however, I haven't read any stories featuring him aside from the Spider-Men and Verse crossovers, and the first issue of his Ultimate book. I may just be missing out on the good stuff.

      Wait. I just realized I said I wouldn't rant about this.

      Good thing this isn't on a bigger site, otherwise I'd be getting hate comments by now.

      - That One Anon

    3. I see your point, though I personally feel that Miles Morales is an excellent way to re-imagine Peter Parker's high school experience while letting the original character evolve and grow up.

      Yeah, as nice as it is that I'm getting more readers than ever, I live in fear of the day that I wake up to see a bunch of angry, argumentative comments on my blog.

    4. But don't let that stop you from commenting, of course! 😁

  2. Actually, that Spiderverse episode where Ultimate Spiderman met Miles Morales Spiderman was.... actually pretty good

    1. I'd say it was the best part of the Spider-Verse episodes. Of course, that isn't saying much.