Monday, August 8, 2016

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "The Iron Octopus"

Tony Stark and Doctor Octopus return!

So if you saw the title and were hoping for a crossover between Ultimate Spider-Man and Brute Force, you're sadly out of luck.

Try the Deadpool comics if you need your fix of everyone's favorite cyborg animals this side of We3.
The episode begins on a close up of Norman Osborn's Oscorp penthouse late at night.

Peter Parker: "My name is Peter Parker...."

Let me guess. You're going to tell us that you're Spider-Man?

Peter Parker: "And I'm about to die!"

I'd say "Hopefully, this means that the writers won't explain that Peter Parker is Spider-Man anymore," but I already recapped an episode after this where that happens. Still, I appreciate them defying what they've trained me to expect.

As it turns out, Peter is playing a video game with his best friend that he rarely spends time with, Harry Osborn. They're playing this universe's equivalent of Marvel vs. Capcom, and Deadpool (Harry) is kicking the ever-loving crap out of Spider-Man (Peter Parker).

You know, this is just a general thought and not a criticism of this episode, but I always think that it's a little weird when superhero universes have merchandise.

I'll admit, there are some cases where it makes sense. Like Captain America's game, "Shield of Honor," which is referenced in both Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble. Cap's a straight-up American icon; of course he has a video game. I wouldn't be surprised if he donates his share of the profits to, like, alien invasion disaster relief.

Spider-Man in a video game is a bit different, though. Even if we leave out all the potential legal grounds for Spider-Man to sue for unauthorized use of his likeness (because if he hasn't sued the Daily Bugle at this point, he's not suing anyone), Spider-Man has a shaky reputation at best. In-universe, he's not as marketable as Captain America or Iron Man.

But the real bit of weirdness here is Deadpool. I mean, the guy's a straight up assassin when he's not being a mercenary.

Seriously, could you imagine a real-life video game where two playable characters include both an actual vigilante, and an sctual mercenary? I doubt that the sales would be good enough to justify the bad press a game like that would get.

And don't get me started on all those kids in Gotham who dress up as the Joker for Halloween. That's like dressing up as the guy who committed the Aurora shooting. (Yes, I know people actually did that. That doesn't mean it's in good taste.)

Anyway, digression over. Even though Harry easily won the fight, he's not happy.

And it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that his bookshelf just has the same eleven books over and over.
Harry: "My consolation prize for missing the baseball game tonight."

Harry loudly, and quite sarcastically, thanks his dad for making him miss the big game, which just raises questions regarding the Osborns' living arrangements. I mean, Peter tells Harry to take it easy on his dad for all the work he has to do tonight. But unless I'm mistaken, don't super-rich people with families hire people to look after their kids?

You can't tell me that Norman Osborn is the only person looking after Harry. I mean, we've seen that the man's idea of feeding his son dinner is giving him an obscene amount of money and letting him do whatever.

Although perhaps this actually answers some important questions regarding Norman's relationship with Harry. I mean, it's clear that Norman is a bad father who doesn't make time for his own son because of his obsession with power. But if he's absent to the degree that he doesn't even consider hiring a helping hand to look after Harry or take him to sporting events... no wonder Harry has a hard time believing his dad really cares about him.

At the moment, Norman Osborn is in his office looking over the data he has on Spider-Man, which sort of drives the point home about the man's obsession. I mean, not only is he ignoring his son to look at this data, but this is data he's probably seen a hundred times over.

Harry: "It always happens. Trust me, Norman Osborn's not exactly 'Father of the Year.' You wouldn't understand."
Peter: "Your dad may not be perfect, but he's always been pretty cool to me."

"He told me I was the son he never had."
"Peter, stop talking before you become the corpse they never find."
As Peter continues to fail at making Harry feel better, his spider-sense goes off.

Now, I've criticized this show's nerfing of one of Spider-Man's most useful powers once or twice. From Phil Coulson being immune to it, to the time he ignored it and turned into a pig.

But this time, I'm just baffled.

I mean, his spider-sense goes off, he breaks the fourth wall to let us know that this means something bad is about to happen, and then... he does absolutely nothing in the few seconds before something crashes into the building. It's as if the writers don't understand that the most important part of Peter having spider-sense is for Peter to react to it with his enhanced reflexes.

It's like if somebody tapped you on the shoulder and said they were going to hit you in the face in five seconds. Simply knowing that you're going to get hit doesn't protect you; you have to use this information to your advantage.

I could fix the problem right now. Just add a bit where Peter says "Get down!" and have him tackle Harry to the ground right before the tower gets hit. Easy-peasy.

I mean, sure, you could say that maybe Peter still doesn't know what he's sensing, or where it's coming from, or that he's trying to protect his secret identity, but it's still odd to come right out and literally tell the audience that Peter senses danger... then have him do nothing with this information.

Anyway, Harry and Peter get separated as they run for cover after the fact, allowing Peter to run off and "call for help" while actually changing into his costume. Meaning that if Norman Osborn had security cameras set up, Peter's secret identity has been revealed. Even if the cameras didn't catch him changing, Norman can probably put two and two together when Spider-Man suddenly exits the tower before swinging around and confronting the intruder who just smashed his way into Norman's office.

But, as we all know, putting up surveillance equipment is something only good guys do, meaning that Spidey's identity is safe as he goes to rescue Norman Osborn from....

Spider-Man: "Iron Man!?"

Iron Man, oddly enough, is in no mood to banter with Spidey and focuses instead on launching his mini-missiles around. Which is odd for him, to say the least.

Norman Osborn: "Why would Stark do this to me?"
Spider-Man: "I don't think that this is the Iron Man you think this is. Not that there are a ton of yellow-and-red Avengers running around, but...."

True, considering that this reality doesn't have Firestar, Spider-Woman, or Firebird on the team.

While Spidey tries to fight him off, Norman presses a secret button and arms himself with a laser gatling gun. One that also launches missiles, because the one thing Osborn and Stark can agree on is that "peace" means "carrying a bigger stick than the other guy."

Norman Osborn: "I will not cower in my own home."

Spider-Man tries to keep Norman from simply blasting the armored Avenger to bits, but Norman fires away anyway.

A gatling laser that fires missiles. Nope, no supervillain tendencies here.
Spidey breaks the fourth wall to note that this doesn't exactly seem like the Norman Osborn he knows.

Spider-Man: "Is that what Harry meant when he said I wouldn't understand?"

After an imaginary bit where Norman blasts open a jar of pickles, Iron Man prepares to repulse Spider-Man's head off. But at the last second, Norman incapacitates the armor with an electrical gauntlet that I'm sure isn't going to be making any appearances in the two-part finale.

No foreshadowing to see here, move along.
Norman Osborn: "Something I've had my team working on. For self-defense, obviously."

When Iron Man gets back up for one final assassination attempt, Spider-Man knocks its block off, simultaneously deactivating the armor and revealing that it's hollow.

Otherwise, this show's rating would go up from Y-7.
Spider-Man: "First, big time relief that Iron Man didn't go nuts."

Nah, you'd know if Iron Man went nuts.
Spider-Man: "Followed immediately by curiosity, concern, and a touch of nausea."

With the Osborns safe, Spider-Man swings off to Tony Stark's labs, where Iron Man is busy fighting off his own armory. He tells Spider-Man that he might not want to stick around, but Spidey decides to stay and help, since the episode would be pretty boring if he decided to go home and watch TV from this point on.

Luckily for our heroes, Iron Man has not yet reached that point in his life where he keeps around a buttload of empty armors with stealth abilities and the like.

He always reaches it eventually.
Here and now, Tony seems to only have five active armors. Spider-Man just took one out and Tony's wearing another, leaving only three bad-guy-controlled armors left. There's the original Mark I, a retro-looking 60s/70s design...

Once you see the Mark I's mouth as a Hitler mustache, it's hard to unsee.
...and the fan-favorite known as the Hulkbuster.

Which has almost the exact same silhouette as Strong Mad.
I've mentioned the Hulkbuster before, since one of my earliest Marvel Animation Universe reviews was for their big appearance in "Hulk Busted."

One for each Hulk plus an extra.
Chronologically speaking, that episode comes after this one. So it would make sense that this Hulkbuster is weaker than Stark's later creations. What doesn't make sense is that it goes down in one hit from a volley of micro missiles.

The Mark I goes down surprisingly easy, too, as does the retro armor. In fact, they all go down within less than a minute, giving Spidey ample time to criticize some of their design aspects.

Spider-Man: "A nose? Really? Like, in case you have to blow your beak in the middle of a fight?"

Fun Fact: Iron Man gaining a nose in the comics was the result of a misinterpreted note from Stan Lee himself. He looked over a bit of art and didn't like it because he thought the helmet was drawn in a way that wouldn't leave room for Tony Stark's nose inside the armor. So he scribbled "Where's the nose?", which the staff ended up interpreting as "Stan Lee wants the armor to have a nose."

The explanation here is a little different.

Iron Man: "I was in an anatomical phase. Be thankful you didn't see the armor with the..."
Spider-Man: "Another time! Or maybe never."

I didn't know that Codpiece was using stolen Starktech.
Anyway, with the armors quickly beaten, our heroes turn their attention to the real problem: a betentacled robot that accessed the computer and took control of the armors.

Iron Man: "It's hacking my mainframe firewalls as we speak."

So... again, why don't you go ahead and do something about that?

Instead, they walk very slowly toward the robot, giving two of the defeated armors the opportunity to keep fighting. Iron Man blasts the Mark I's head off and sticks a small device on the Hulkbuster, frying its circuits.

"After you, Iron Man."
"No, I insist, after you."
"Why, thank you."
Boy, this Hulkbuster is just weaksauce. Though this does match up to how easily the Hulkbusters get defeated in "The Big Green Mile."

But the robot completes its work and disappears into the waste disposal vents, followed by Spider-Man. He manages to return with part of the thing's tentacle, which doesn't do much to offset the fact that the metal monster made off with Tony Stark's database.

Iron Man: "That robo-squid thing jsut snatched my entire database."
Spider-Man: "It's not a robo-squid. Octo-bot."

Yeah, count the tentacles.

1, 2, 3, 4.... Okay, I guess it's actually a quadro-bot.
After floating through the sewers like something out of The Matrix, it returns to its master: Doctor Octopus. And it gives him the schematics for Tony Stark's greatest achievement outside of wearable weapory: the arc reactor. And he's already designed a new outfit to go with it....

As Doc Ock builds himself a self-sustaining reactor, it seems as though Iron Man and the Osborns have been brought aboard the helicarrier. And egos are flying. Norman's ready to sue like there's no tomorrow, Tony tries to convince him that his armor was hacked, and they're all generally getting nowhere.

Spider-Man: "Stop! Grown-ups! Act grown up!"
Nick Fury: "For once, the Spider's right."
Spider-Man: "Huh?"

Despite the Osborns' protests that Tony Stark is to blame, the two of them are being kept aboard the helicarrier until S.H.I.E.L.D. can determine who sent the armor after them.

Iron Man: "Which begs the million-dollar question, Osborn, and I know you can afford it, who IS Doctor Octopus?"
Spider-Man: "Aaaaaand maybe the less-accusatory, more helpful question is why does he wanna kill you?"

But before Norman Osborn can plead ignorance, Dr. Connors comes in to tell them about a discovery he just made in his lab regarding the tentacle fragment that Spidey brought back.

So, back in "Me Time," I mentioned that Spider-Man managed to nab the claw off of one of Doctor Octopus's tentacles, and that Doc Connors was pretty excited to begin studying it.

Well, guess what?

Doc Connors: "It's exquisite work, and it matches the previous sample, which was too damaged to properly study."

So basically, it looked like Spidey's sample from "Me Time" was going to help S.H.I.E.L.D. make some progress in tracking Doc Ock... only for the writers to recycle the plot point by retconning in that the previous sample was pretty much useless.

The writers could have just said that this one was too damaged to accurately study, but that it matched the previous sample. That way, Spidey's previous effort isn't all for naught and they can still confirm that the same evil-doer is behind both this attack and Spidey's kidnapping.

Anyway, Connors confirms that an old colleague of his named "Otto Octavius" is involved with this.

Spider-Man: "I don't see the resemblance. Doc Ock might be his more-evil and less-hygienic cousin?"

And actually, Spider-Man has a point. Octavius wasn't bad-looking.

Hard to believe this is the same guy who will look like a plucked turkey with a butt-chin in season 4.
Apparently, Octavius went to work at Oscorp, which Norman confirms.

Norman Osborn: "Otto was like a son to me."

The only person who isn't like a son to him is his actual son, apparently.

Norman Osborn: "We were doing revolutionary work, but there was a terrible accident."

If only he had some heat/magnetism-proof tentacles to keep the nuclear energy contained.
Norman Osborn: "Otto perished in my arms. The notion that he's alive is utterly preposterous."

As they all try to figure out what's going on, the tentacle reactivates, breaks out of containment, and attempts to murder Norman Osborn until Spider-Man and Iron Man stop it.

Nick Fury: "I thought those were deactivated."
Iron Man: "They were. But someone powered them remotely with... arc reactor energy?"

What? How do you power something remotely?

It's not like we even saw some kind of energy beam powering it up. The tentacle just magically got some charge in its batteries.

Norman Osborn: "Your coveted arc reactor. Do we even need to bother with a trial? He's tried to kill me twice."
Iron Man: "Hold on. It's an arc reactor, not my arc reactor. Which means there's another one in close proximity."

Does this mean that Iron Man could remotely power anything he wanted with his arc reactor?

But the real culprit bursts through the helicarrier wall in a robotic octopus suit which reminds me of a booster seat. Iron Man apparently initiates "Offensive Pattern Delta-Niner" which, as we know, consists of simply flying in a straight line. Since this is a terrible tactic, Doc Ock is able to hit Iron Man with a few drones that rocket him into the stratosphere.

Nick Fury locks down the lab and tries to get some reinforcements in, but we''l never see them arrive. Probably because they hated Fury's pun of "Armed... really armed, and dangerous!"

Awww, he looks like he's in a booster seat!
Doc Ock manages to hold his own in the ensuing fight, thanks to a few hard-light weapons, a freeze ray, and a buttload of drones on his side. He ends up escaping with both Norman and Harry as his captors, so Nick has decided to call in different backup.

Nick Fury: "I'm calling the rest of the team."
Spider-Man: "By the time the team gets here, Harry and Norman'll be shredded."

Fun Fact: Four episodes from now, it will be revealed that that the Sandwich Club lives in the helicarrier.

But Spider-Man finally has an excuse to make a callback to "Flight of the Iron Spider" and walks over to the Iron Spider suit. Over at Oscorp Tower, Doc Ock wants to hear Norman beg for Harry's life.

And the editing suddenly turns into something from Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Norman tries to put a positive spin on everything he's done, like saving Otto, giving him tentacles, built machines that....

Doctor Octopus: "That enslaved me! Then you locked me away in secret so no one would know about me. Like a pet. And then you tried to destroy me. I'm here to return the favor."

Luckily for the Osborns, Spider-Man shows up with his Iron Duds, ready for the inevitable fight. And fight they do, mano a mano.

Or rather, tentáculo a tentáculo.
Spider-Man: "I just want to say for the record... they haven't invented for how cool this armor is. So I'll invent one right now. Iron Spider-Armor is squickety-awe-tastic!"

So it's not quite scrumtrulescent, then.

As they fight, Octavius spills the beans about Osborn being behind everything that's been plaguing Spider-Man all series.

Spider-Man: "Riiiiiiight, because insane dudes in octopus armors are always the ones you should listen to!"

Spidey tells Norman to get to safety, but still asks if there's any truth to Doc Ock's words.

Norman Osborn: "That man is psychotic and delusional."

That's not technically an answer.

Norman Osborn: "You have done more for my family than I can ever thank you for."

Still not an answer.

Norman Osborn: "You can trust me, Spider-Man. I swear on my life."

Are you sure? Wouldn't you rather swear on something meaningless to you?

Norman Osborn: "On my son's life."

Yeah, that'll do.

Anyway, after an appearance from the shoulder angel and devil, Spidey's spider-sense goes off. And as ever, he doesn't react to it, allowing Doctor Octopus to grab him and continue to threaten the Osborns.

Doctor Octopus: "Every man that word utters is a lie!"

Technically... no. Nearly everything Norman has said today was the truth. He'd never heard the name "Doc Ock" before today, Doc Ock is psychotic, and Spider-Man has done a lot for the Osborns.

But the fight continues as Ock's reactor overloads, and Iron Man flies in to both help Spidey out and explain why Ock's reactor is going critical.

Doctor Octopus: "It should be self-sustaining! I built it to your specifications!"
Iron Man: "Off the specs you stole. But I never put everything in a computer.

Which means that if Iron Man is ever killed, the world will lose the secret to free energy.

Iron Man: "All the good stuff stays up here."
Spider-Man: "Except for the armor activation codes, apparently. ...Shutting up."

The two of them team up to wreck Ock's armor, and Spidey lands the final blow, knocking Ock across the city and through a building. Hope no one was in there.

Spider-Man: "I did that?"
Iron Man: "You sure did. In my armor."
Spider-Man: "Which I upgraded."
Iron Man: "Which I upgraded after you upgraded it."
Spider-Man: "Touché."

Which would help to explain why it's not as much of a lemon as it used to be.

Spidey checks on the Osborns, and they seem to be doing well. S.H.I.E.L.D. comes in to do clean-up, but they can't find Ock at all.

Iron Man: "If it's any consolation, Osborn, I'm not gonna rest until I see that lunatic brought to justice."

Spoiler Alert: This never happens.

But Spider-Man will be keeping an eye on Stormin' Norman from now on. Just in case.

But later, Norman keeps an eye on Doc Ock as he heals in what I can only imagine is a bacta tank.

Norman Osborn: "You single-handedly took on two of the world's greatest heroes and, possibly best of all, you've upset Spider-Man. Made him nervous. You're amazing. Welcome back to the family, Otto. We have plenty of work ahead of us."

And despite the fact that that's a perfect note to end the episode on... it keeps going.

Spidey is still struggling to figure out whether to believe Ock or Osborn, so Iron Man puts his two cents in.

Iron Man: "Kid. We all have people in our life we look up to. Sometimes, they're not who we think they are. My advice: Use your head. Listen to your gut. Follow your heart."

Sounds like something Tony Stark would say.
Spider-Man: "Sooooo.... what, we hug now?"
Iron Man: "You do, and I'll unibeam you to Detroit."

Iron Man flies off with a "See ya around," which Spider-Man translates as meaning another team-up is in their future. And someday, when I reach Season 2, I'll get to that episode. But for now, the episode ends.


  1. Funny story: In Ultimate comics, it was officially said that Spider-Man is a public figure ergo was in public domain, meaning that someone could make a movie about him without his permission. And later down a line, Kingpin bought company that registered his likeness, and ended up making so much money, he decided that killing him would be bad for business.

    - Faceless Enigma

  2. Uhhh, and review where?

    1. On my hard drive, at the moment. I'll explain in a post tomorrow. Sorry!