Look at this disc art. You could fuel cars if scientists found a way to turn the collective sighs that people have made whenever they were about to insert this disc into an energy source. I seriously sat for three good minutes, staring at it, and hoping that, maybe, it would just go away, and that I could wake up back in 2012, when I decided to embark on the Whatever A Spider Can journey, and choose to just watch Marathon Man again. But here I am, guys. The dreams of man are tiny embers sent by the wind into the sky, where they are soon extinguished and forgotten. Also, this show is still terrible.
The episode starts with Spider-Man staking out a crime scene by hanging from the top of a building and pointing a flashlight down and across the street. Now, animation is a medium in which you can do anything. And from now on, whenever you read about, or watch any other part of this show, think to yourself Spider-Man could legitimately be doing anything else. Shining a flashlight down on the streets of New York to hunt crime is something that you’d imagine seeing out of a 60’s, live action Spider-Man TV show, before special effects would allow him to do cool stuff. It’s bargain bin Spider-Man activity. But here it is, for the children of the world. Out of every single awesome way that Spider-Man could choose to fight evil, the animators decided to have him shine a giant flashlight across the street. If that is the start of the episode, meant to get me interested, the end of it will be Stan Lee reaching through the computer screen to grab me, screaming “I’ve farted on these hands!”
The Fifth Avenue Phantom is a guy in a hood and cape, who controls a woman named Marie, who can shrink things with her vision. I know that “Marie” isn’t a very interesting name for a Spider-Man episode, but why can’t this be about her? She has a vastly cooler power than the Phantom, who seems to only have the ability to super exclaim and super point at things. Regardless, Spider-Man is knocked out and people think he stole some stuff. Spider-Man’s entire life in this cartoon is spent getting hit and then getting blamed for things. You know why there are less real life superheroes? Because people who saw two or more episodes of this series realized that fighting crime just meant getting framed for shit.
Turns out, the Phantom has an army of ladies with shrink/grow vision, and he’s making them shrink objects to steal, and then turning them back into full sized things in his third floor, NYC apartment laboratory. And he has a dollhouse full of stuff, but it’s in J. Jonah Jameson’s office, collected for Jameson’s toy drive. When your show only has three main characters, you really start having to strain to create stories that connect all of them. I don’t know who the focus groups for the 67’ Spider-Man cartoon were, but apparently, their only notes were “Much more Jameson” and “More Spider-Man holding a flashlight.” Well, dammit, they got their wish.
The Phantom steals the dollhouse and just runs down the street with it. Spider-Man walks down the street after him. I wish I could say that it’s more urgent than I’m making it sound, but it really is just two dudes who probably wish that they could be somewhere else, ambling after one another, with all the urgency of a colonoscopy, because what else would people do in a Spider-Man cartoon? Can you think of a better option? A more exciting option? I certainly can’t.
The Phantom sends his girls, situated at various locations in the city, to fight Spider-Man, and finally, Marie corners him and leads him back to the Phantom’s lair, where he tells of his plan to resell all the items that he stole. Yes, the Phantom’s plan is basically to open a pawn shop “and take over the world!” Spider-Man manages to stop him though, webbing him up and switching the girls, who turn out to be robots, off with the toy car-eqsue remote control, labelled “ROBOT CONTROL,” just in case the Phantom was to confusedly pick it up and shout “This doesn’t work the TV at all!”
It’s not really an animation error, but at one point, the Phantom bonks Spider-Man in the head with an office chair, and then a picture of Jameson crashes down on him. Add this to him trying to protect a dollhouse from a Nazgul Halloween costume, and you have Spider-Man’s most embarrassing hour.
AMAZING SPIDEY QUOTE:
Police Officer: Spidey has done it again!
If you relate this statement to the plots of the show, it becomes tremendously sad.
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