Howdy ladies and gentlemen, today I’m going to be giving you my review of the fourth episode of the Ultimate Spider-Man. (By the way sorry for my lateness, I swear I’ll get back up to date soon!)
Okay I am just going to say this right now. I do not like this episode. I think it is the worst one yet. After finishing the episode I felt like my time had been robbed and I wanted it back.
So the story in this episode features more of Peter’s life as he happens to be at odds with Harry because of the time he spends with his superhero teammates, meanwhile Doctor Octopus’ newest creation Venom shows up at one of Harry Osborn’s parties and attacks Spider-Man and the other trainees, jumping from host to host.
Now I was glad that the show decided to focus a little more on Peter’s personal life, I mean the show is about Spider-Man after all (though I think the creators of this show forget that on a good few occasions). Though the way this story was tackled was a little too childish and simplistic for my liking. Really I think that was down to major issues; 1) The Peter and Harry conflict and 2) The use of Venom. Firstly I think that the conflict in Peter and Harry’s friendship was a little premature, I can understand that Harry feels a little left out due to Peter’s commitment with his teammates because they’ve been best friends for so long, but the fact that he goes into a whole strop about it seemed really childish and out of character for him. And funnily enough I finally in this episode I can partially relate to Peter due to his need for his personal life to be his and not constantly have to be involved in his superhero antics. However the team keep saying that Peter made a commitment to them and S.H.I.E.L.D. as a superhero and I can see where the team are coming from, but they seem to be very heartless about Peter’s situation and it frustrates me how emotionless they are and how they couldn’t even try to find a compromise. It also bugs me how Peter and Harry eventually make up, it seems like the issues from before are completely forgot about and swept underneath the carpet without confronting the issues. While I know I know there’s only so much time in an episode to sort things like that out, I just hate how they resolve things so quickly like I am watching an episode of Recess where a lot of actions have no consequences or proper resolve.
Secondly the other major issue with this episode was the use of Venom. Now as an avid Spider-Man I LOVE Venom, he must be my favourite Spidey villain. There is such a great history of this character in the comics and the previous Spidey animated shows, so when I saw the trailer for the Ultimate Spider-Man I was interested to see what they’d do with the character… But what I did not expect was this.
Now I am all for change or updating the basic formula for the sake more interesting television, but this is just silly. In my opinion the character Venom has been butchered. Firstly the origin story was completely changed and I don’t like what was done here, it just seemed unlikely and a bit cheesy. Secondly there was no sign of Eddie Brock, the quintessential character that was responsible for Venom’ existence, what the hell!?! Thirdly the fact that the symbiote had to keep moving from person to person was a tad annoying, while was interesting to see what it did with everybody’s different abilities, I think it was done just to pass time rather than serving a purpose. I mean if the symbiote really wanted Spidey it could have had him. And lastly I want to talk about the way Venom eventually made it onscreen. Now it was a surprising twist, but for me it was a tad silly and just a cheap way to get the character onscreen. Again I can see where they were going with it because it was made from Spidey’s DNA and it’s meant to be dark version of Spidey. But for me I didn’t like what was done with the character and Venom really is a character that needs to introduced and tackled over more than one episode. Venom’s appearance was incredibly rushed and lacking in substance.
When it comes to characters they were alright to sub par. Norman Osborn and Doc Ock were the best characters in the episode and there were there for the least amount of time. I guess I like them because they are the bad guys operating from the shadows. When it comes to Spidey’s teammates I really don’t care that much about them, the only person I like Iron Fist. White Tiger still annoys be with her know-it-all attitude and Sam just has to talk to come across as a bad character. Harry Osborn in this episode was a bit of stroppy child but it was great to see him do things more in line with his character from the comics. Mary Jane in this episode just annoyed me, she has that annoying know-it-all attitude when talking with Peter and other characters. But the main offender of bad characters continues to be Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He doesn’t seem to be growing as a character, but still at square one like at the start of the series. There’s no sense of progression or cohesion with his teammates. He just talks and makes bad jokes and it doesn’t help that I still don’t like Drake Bell’s voice as our main character, it just doesn’t sit well with me. Another problem is with this version of Peter Parker is that for every time he says something smart it is followed by some stupid joke or form of foolish behavior that really doesn’t work in his favour.
It seems like the presentation is the only good thing that keeps me coming back to watch the Ultimate Spider-Man. The art and animation are pretty damn good and really is the best of any Spider-Man show to date. While I still don’t think the animator have taken the production to the highest degree yet, what we have seen in this episode has to be the best yet. There is a lot of fluid animation and continuous sequences travelling across the screen, there’s many scenes from dynamic and interesting camera angles and there is also some decent tracking and panning shots in the action scenes. Spidey’s fight with Venom and opening sequence with Spidey in the subway was pretty nice.
In conclusion I guess it’s pretty clear I didn’t like this episode. But it is for good reason to be honest. I guess it’s because I know the rich history of the story that came with Spider-Man and his time with the symbiote. It played a very big part in the comics and has been adapted very well in the 90s Spider-Man TV series and more recently the Spectacular Spider-Man TV series. The symbiote carries a lot of weight and easily shaped some of the best Spider-Man story arcs n the past with the way it affects Peter’s life and how it changes him as a person during and after his time with it. But unfortunately the Ultimate Spider-Man decides to through the basic rules out the window and give us very underwhelming experience in episode 4. With pretty sub par story, no character development and completely butchering of the Venom character, this show takes a huge step backwards and verges on bad animated TV programming. This needs to be rectified!