Welcome to Episode #4 of the most recent Spidey cartoon series. "Ultimate Spider-Man" ran four seasons and 104 episodes between 2012 and 2017 making it the longest-running of the many different cartoon depictions.
It features an irreverent, fourth-wall-breaking Spidey at Empire State University with his friends MJ and Harry, but also with his secret super-hero team-mates and fellow members of S.H.I.E.L.D. under the guidance of Captain Nick Fury.
|Writer:||Duncan Rouleau (as Man of Action), James Felder, Joe Casey (as Man of Action), Joe Kelly (as Man of Action), Steven T. Seagle (as Man of Action)|
|Adapted By:||Marvel Play Time (UK Magazine) #4|
|Adapted By:||Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man: Great Power (Screen Cap Digest) (Story 4)|
|Adapted By:||Ultimate Spider-Man #4: Venom!|
Spider-Man hurtles (on his Spider-Cycle, upside-down riding on the tunnel ceiling) through the subways of New York City, pursued by a tentacled robot that looks like something out of the second Matrix movie, all under the startled gaze of the assembled subway crowd gathers on the platform at the station.
Self-introducing through a broken fourth-wall Spidey flips to right-side-up mode, then to four-wheeled cycle mode, before coming to a crashing halt.
We break to an out-of-context gag sequence of Spider-Man battling various robots including the infamous H.E.R.B.I.E. from the 1978 Fantastic Four cartoon. You know... the floating robot who was created as a fill-in for the Human Torch since the license for Johnny Story had been sold separately and wasn't available. Yet another reminder of how badly Marvel messed up the media rights for their characters in the 70's!
It's back on the bike as Nick Fury checks in to see why Spidey is taking so long to fight the robot. Why (he asks) isn't he using his new weapons, such as his "electro-webs"? And indeed, a combined attack involving electro-webs + the "third rail" + a speeding subway "express" train manages to KO the robot.
A spectacular victory in front of the crowd. Unfortunately a strategic tear in the posterior section of his costume significantly undermines the success on the public relations front. Even more unfortunately, the robot has achieved it's goal – to obtain a sneaky bio-sample from the web-slinger. Oh dear, that can't be good.
We'll pick up that later. For now, Peter Parker is late for school. Fortunately, his best buddy Harry Osborn rescues him – and invites him to a marathon movie night at the Osborn penthouse apartment. But Peter's a popular guy. His super-team-mates also attend the school (in secret incognito unknown to Harry) and they're demanding his attention too. So it's time for Peter to play... "Wheel of Excuses"!
Meanwhile, what are the villains doing? Well, Doctor Octopus has high-tech processed the aforementioned bio-sample and created a nasty black goop out of Spider-Man's DNA.
He is working for (and hence presumably funded by) Norman Osborn. The plan is to create a living black bio-armor and weapon suit that can be controlled and wrapped around soldiers to create an elite mercenary army. But now the villains come into conflict. Doctor Octopus wants several months of time to refine and control the suit. But Norman pushes for results tonight, and Ock agrees.
Haven't they seen The Princess Bride? You rush a miracle worker, you get lousy miracles!
Back in the lunch room at ESU, Parker isn't a happy camper. His butt is all over the internet. And his super-hero team-mates are demanding priority over his friendship with Harry and Mary-Jane. And when Harry overhears a nasty comment, everything gets really complicated.
Harry's home life isn't much better. His father seems strangely distracted these days. Something on his mind, perhaps. Norman heads out for the evening and leaves Harry some spending money. Hey, party time! Harry calls... Flash Thompson! And the party is on! MJ, Peter, and the gang turn up too, but the "movie marathon" is now a party that is aaaaalmost out of hand. The whole school is there. Impressive. Harry is the new school hero!
Norman is, of course, heading off to see Doctor Octopus, to check out the new "thing" that he made from Spider-Man's DNA. But that isn't quite going to plan either. The "thing" has become a monster and has escaped. See. I told you not to rush miracles.
And where do we think the "monster" is going? Gee... I don't know... maybe it's in the mood to party?
Yeah, here it comes. Up out of the toilet in the Osborn penthouse apartment, where Flash Thompson is just about to give Peter a high-class swirly, just for old-time's sake. And... there we go. Venom attaches itself to Flash, and the battle begins.
The party-goers disperse quickly, leaving Spidey and super-friends to fight Venom-Flash. Except Venom doesn't stay with Flash. He takes over Nova (and Venom-Nova fights Spider-Man). Then it's Venom-Power-Man (until Iron Fist punches Venom off him). Can you see where this is going? Venom-Iron-Fist... then finally...
Actually, White Tiger doesn't get Venomized. She gets skipped, and Venom leaps directly to overtake Spider-Man. The battle rages on the rooftop, observed by MJ (who as a true young reporter is trying to grab the video with her phone) and Harry. Harry slips and falls from the roof-edge, but is rescued by MJ. Nice save.
Once again, a carefully-constructed electro-web short circuit "kills" Venom. Norman Osborn and the police arrive on the roof-top shortly afterwards. Norman declares his affection for Harry. Harry declares his affection for Peter Parker, but isn't quite such a fan of Spider-Man (nor of Peter's four "other" school friends).
But of course this isn't the end of Venom. In fact, it's double-not-the-end. First up, Norman visits Ock and instructs him to create a newer, better, more powerful version. But secondly, as Peter and Harry clean up the apartment together, Harry finds a left-over Venom fragment alive on the piano and surreptitiously stuffs it into a bottle for later investigation.
The episodes are getting increasingly complex with their plots and character interactions.
Between the Octo-bot, plus Doctor Octopus himself, plus Norman and Venom that really makes four "villains" in the episode. Venom possesses five different people (Flash, Nova, Power Man, Iron Fist, and Spidey).
Meanwhile we get the first real interactions between Peter's "old friends" and his "new friends", and there's the Osborn father/son thing going on, and Flash Thompson as well.
It's a well-packed 22 minute episode by the time all is said and done.
Strong plotting overall. But I have a couple of complaints to register.
I'm not entirely in sync with MJ's portrayal as a fellow nerd to Peter. The MJ that I know from my Spider-Man reading was a crazy party animal who would have been dancing on the piano, not awkwardly moping around the party making uncomfortable expressions and wishing everybody would leave. Harry's portrayal as the insecure rich kid is more convincing though.
Having "electro-webbing" be the answer in both of the fights shows a lack of creativity if you ask me. Venom's weaknesses are fire and sound, not electricity. Could they really not have done something with that?
Three and a half-webs I think.