Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man "Run Pig Run"

You know, it'd have been really funny if this episode actually featured the Ultimate Spider-Ham from the comics.

It would do wonders to troll the people who wanted Miles Morales to appear sooner.
Spider-Man becomes a pig. Hijinks ensue.

There are a lot of things regarding this plot that one could criticize, such as the fact that it can only happen because Spider-Man suddenly became an utter moron in particular.

But I already nitpicked this episode at length during the Recap, and I really don't feel like reiterating all those criticisms. So instead, I'm going to talk about my number one complaint about this comedic episode involving ancient mythology and a porcine transformation.

I liked it better when it was called "This Little Piggy."
This episode was meant to be a comedic romp with more focus on jokes and fun than usual. Which is really saying something for the already-jokey Ultimate Spider-Man. But the idea naturally falls a little flat, since the show is already often filled with jokes. So a straight-up comedic episode has to get really wacky to stand out.

In the case of "This Little Piggy," it didn't have to constantly throw random humor at you to let you know that this was supposed to be funnier than usual.

It just had to show Batman singing jazz in a nightclub.
It makes sense in context.
But "Run Pig Run" is constantly throwing jokes everywhere. Thor cracks jokes, Spidey cracks jokes, Spidey ends up covered in trash, and every pig joke you can imagine is said at some point. It's a bit much, though I'll admit that a lot of the jokes land. And I have to give props to the episode on the inclusion of Asgårdsreien to kick off the plot. That's actually kind of brilliant.

What's not as brilliant is the person involving Spidey with Asgårdsreien, but I'll get to that in a second.

This episode begins with Spider-Man lamenting that New York hates him, only to end with an entire helicarrier of people trying to save him. The lesson that there are people who care about you even when it doesn't seem like it is a good one... but the corollary lesson about letting yourself rely on these people falls a little flat when Spider-Man joins the fray himself, not only putting himself in danger to possibly render their struggles moot, but also putting them aside to take matters into his own hands.

The message is a little jumbled, but then again, you can't exactly let Spider-Man sit out during a climactic fight in his own show, can you?

...does not appear.

I mean, if Superman suddenly turned into a dog for an episode because of magical whatevers, would people call that an appearance of Krypto the Superdog? No, they'd call it a reference to Krypto. And that's what this is.

But having said that, I do appreciate this episode-length homage to ol' Peter Porker.

Warming us up for his actual appearance later.
Thor really doesn't do much other than distract the hunters, but it really is nice to have him reiterate the lesson from "Field Trip" to Spidey, showing how much the character has actually grown since then.

Sandwich Club
Jerks who laugh at Spider-Man's humiliation; nothing new here. Although they do manage to redeem themselves a bit by stepping up to protect Spidey when the moment calls for it.

The NewtCave would like to announce a cast alteration: Filling in for the role of Loki in this episode was Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Or so I can only imagine, because Loki's impish tricks and constant wisecracks were a sudden development since his last appearance in "Field Trip."

His failure to best Spider-Man was impressive for Spidey last time. Here, Loki's becoming kind of pitiful and petty. And not in Loki's usual petty way, where his goals are selfish and personal.

Imagine, if you will, something like this taking place in the Harry Potter universe.

Eleven-year-old Harry Potter manages to defeat Voldemort again and keep the Dark Lord from the Philosopher/Sorcerer's Stone. And so, three years later, Voldemort's minions trick Harry into being teleported away to their ritual site, whereupon they bring Voldemort back to life using Harry's blood. So, finally able to enact revenge upon the Bane of his existence, Voldemort... turns Harry into a talking Golden Snitch and teleports him onto the Quidditch pitch just as Slytherin and Gryffindor are playing the final game of the season.

Kind of a step down, huh?

Or imagine if Lex Luthor depowered Superman with Kryptonite and proceeded to tattoo a penis onto the Man of Steel's face. Or if the Joker discovered Batman's secret identity, broke into the manor, demanded that Alfred make him a cup of tea, peed on some antiques, stole the silverware, and left.

...Okay, forget that last one; the Joker would totally do that.

My point is that the only thing sadder than Loki obsessing with over-complicated revenge against Spider-Man is the fact that he fails after finding himself in a position to poison Spidey and be done with it. But instead, he enacts his most complicated plan since he tricked Höðr into killing Baldr with a mistletoe dart.

But alas, this is not the last of Loki's obsession with besting Spider-Man, for better or worse....

Principal Coulson
Welcome back, Coulson. it's been a while since you proved why you're awesome. Now if the writers would just put actual funny dialogue into the mouth of J.K. Simmons, we'll be golden.

Rather generic. Skurge doesn't have much more personality than the unnamed ones, though I must say that his refusal to kill Spider-Pig after the hunt was over was a nice touch.

Par for the course, though the focus on humor led to some real energy when Spider-Pig is dodging attacks from the hunters.

Final Thoughts
It's not the worst episode of Ultimate Spider-Man.

For every major point of criticism I have, I feel like there's something else that kind of makes up for it. Enough of the jokes successfully land, and I do appreciate that this is one of the rare occasions when a previous episode's lesson has an impact on the proceedings. But even so, after all the pros and cons, I can't say it's any better than just slightly above average.

Next time, Spider-Man gets a musical! And miraculously, few people get horribly injured. See you then!

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