Frame By Frame Review: Spider-Man TAS Return of the Spider Slayers
These reviews look at a single episode of a show, usually an incredibly silly one, and go through it bit by bit looking at each stupid moment in turn. This time we’re looking at the sequel to the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon episode, The Spider Slayer.
Previously on Spider-Man: Alistair Smythe lost his father when a giant spider robot they built to capture Spider-Man ended badly with him being blown up in his laboratory. They, along with Norman Osborn and Eddie Brock, abducted Flash Thompson mistaking him for Spidey, and somehow none of them got arrested for it. The Kingpin was behind it all, as usual, and offers Alistair a job in order for him to get revenge on Spider-Man.
And now we return with:
Warning this post is long and image heavy.
We open with a shot of the Black Widow robot flying through New York. As that happens Spider-Man is on a pay phone talking to Aunt May. She’s still trying to get him to go out with Mary Jane, “I’m sure Mrs Watson’s niece has a very nice personality, Aunt May.” Hey Spidey, stop stealing my stolen jokes! If you start writings blogs I’ll sue!
Anyway he agrees to this ‘horrible’ blind date and then has an inner monologue about how bad blind dates are, “Blind dates are like the lottery, the odds are so stacked against you you’re nuts if you ever expect to hit the jackpot.” Subtle. I wonder if that’s going to have any pay off at the end of the episode.
His Spider Sense goes off as the Black Widow attacks, he doges it and jumps to the roof of the building he was on. He comments how he thought he destroyed it months ago, so we now have a timeline for these events. I do have to credit the episode for at least trying to justify how the robot got rebuilt in-between episodes. That credits not going to last against the amount of stupid that’s thrown at us here.
In the space of ten seconds Spidey sees a “microwave relay dish” and points it at the Widow, disabling it.
Sadly this is the most dignified defeat the Black Widow had
Yes our main threat from the last episode, the big scary, ‘oh how will Spidey be able to beat it?’ giant robot, has been taken out within the first minute of the episode. This is not going to be a suspenseful episode, is it?
Why yes this was a toy too. How’d you guess?
Not even a second after shorting out the Widow another giant spider robot appears and rips the tower off the edge of the building. According to Wikipedia this one is called the Tarantula, it’s never mentioned in the episode but that’s what it was called in the toyline. Yes there were a lot of toys shoved into this show, as we’re going to see.
So Spidey is falling as a commercial break starts, then he webswings to safely at the end of the break. Making more bad jokes as he does so. Gripping drama and tension, folks. Spidey jumps out of the way of its missiles and drops a Spider Tracer onto it so he can track it later. I get the feeling this was done because someone noticed the gapping plothole from last time when Spidey magically knew where to find the Widow.
The 90s version of the Odd Couple never took off
We then cut to reveal the mastermind behind this, Alistair Smythe. He says everything is all going according to plan and the Kingpin wants results. Their arrangement is that Smythe gets this lab only if he destroys Spider-Man and he’s only working for Kingpin temporally. But since the lab is in Kingpin’s headquarters how would he not be working for him anyway? Bah, little plot details don’t matter in this show as Smythe gets the lab at the end anyway. Kingpin’s, ‘not tolerating failure’ policy is a very hollow threat as Smythe and all his underlings fail constantly in this show and he tolerates it just fine. He yells for a bit then next episode everyone still working for him like nothing happened.
Smythe’s also in that ‘fancy’ hover chair they were talking about last time. It looks just as stupid as the cgi hologram suggested. With the exception of the computer pad on the front it’d probably be a lot more convenient to have a standard wheelchair. We don’t really see it hover that much as it stays on the ground most of the time. So yeah Spencer Smythe should’ve just bought a standard electric wheelchair and stuck a laptop on the front of it instead of making giant Spider Slayer robots.
As Kingpin exits Smythe says he doesn’t care if it’s Kingpin’s money and lab, as it’ll be his vengeance for his father’s death. He starts up the Black Widow again… somehow. Never explained as apparently all he needed to do to unfry its circuits from microwave damage was push a few buttons. Both of them attack Spidey at once when a pointless and out of nowhere distraction pops up.
A mother, daughter and their pet dog come out of a building right next to the giant robots fighting in the street. How they didn’t notice this when the door was clearly glass I have no idea. The girl shouts about how she wants the “big bug” and their dog runs in front of the Widow barking at it. This cliché is only broken up by the mother running to get the dog instead of the daughter.
I think the dog might be able to take it
So Spidey swings in to save the two and the family runs away. I’m wondering why the robots keep getting distracted random things when their objective is to kill Spider-Man. First focusing on Aunt May last episode and now this. They don’t even attack; they just look at the distractions like they’re confused or something. I just find it weird that it keeps happening to these robots.
Spidey then gets captured by the Widow and he plants a tracer on it too as the Tarantula fires a knockout gas missile at him rendering him unconscious. And then we get to why having the Kingpin’s base be the Chrysler building is so stupid.
I’m sure no one will see that
Yes the side of the Chrysler building opens up as a ‘secret entrance’ for flying robots and helicopters in later episodes. This is the main way we see people enter and leave the base for the entire series run. The Chrysler building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in New York City and the only way the base could be less hidden was if it was in the Stature of Liberty instead. For three seasons no one finds this place except some other bad guys.
To further illustrate why this is so stupid this is the view from Jameson’s home from last episode:
Front roll seats to Crime Central
So all J Jonah Jameson needed to do in order to get the biggest news story of his lifetime was to look out his goddamn window. But no, nobody notices all the robots, choppers, and Goblins flying in and out of there constantly. We’ll get back to this later as an even stupider example will happen at the end of the episode.
Anyway Smythe has the robots put Spidey into a bed restraining thing and he calls up Jameson. No he doesn’t bother taking off the mask, why would he want to do a thing like that? Jameson is later brought in blindfolded by some goons and once the blindfold is off he gloats for a bit. That doesn’t last as Smythe has his robots strap Jonah to a bed too. Spidey then makes this joke when JJ asks what’s going on, “It’s obvious, he wants a mate. And you’re the lucky guy.” Was that a gay joke? Did I really just hear Spider-Man calling one of his villains gay in a Saturday morning cartoon? Or am I just looking into things too much again?
Smythe then attaches a bomb to them that’s set to go of in one hour.
You know a gun would be a lot easier
Their manacles are also highly explosive, which somehow makes a difference. Seriously if a bomb is strapped to your wrist then it’s going to kill you with or without extra explosive manacles.
Why Jonah? Well Smythe blames him for his father’s death as well as Spidey, Flash, Eddie, and Osborn. It doesn’t make any sense since JJ had no contact with either Smythe and he should blame the nameless cameraman who was there with Eddie more than he should Jonah. So why do this? Well this plot was stolen from Amazing Spider-Man #192 “24 Hours till Doomsday!” in which a dying Spencer Smythe does the exact some thing to JJ and Spidey. Of course in the comics Spencer actually had a legitimate reason to hate both of them since he started out making Spider Slayers for JJ in order to capture Spidey. This is just homage for the sake of it with no real plot reason for it.
Also remember that big gapping plothole I mentioned last time? Well this is the culmination of it. Why doesn’t Smythe hate the Kingpin and blame him for his father’s death too? He heard the goons say Kingpin was their boss when they raided Spencer’s lab and he can see Kingpin has the same goons. So why isn’t Kingpin strapped to a bomb with Spidey instead of Jameson? Because the plot says that’s why, and so we can have the Kingpin Smythe buddy stuff in every episode after this.
Smythe gasses them again and sends his robots to dump them somewhere in the city as he continues his petty vengeance fetish. They wake up on a rooftop and start bickering and bantering back and forth. Now this could at least justify the plothole of Jonah being there if the rest of the episode has these two going at each other. Let’s see how long this lasts.
Spidey checks his Spider Tracer Tracker and goes to rescue the next one on Smythe’s hit list. JJ objects to this, for some reason, so Spidey just picks him up:
The snapping is either his bones or my mind
Yeah the way they were shackled together the only way that could work is if Spidey snapped Jonah’s arm behind his back. No wonder he has that very pained expression. They swing off to ESU where Flash is just finishing up a date with Felicia, so I guess she didn’t actually dump him last episode. Or maybe they got back together because this is Felicia here and based on the last episode it seemed like break-ups, make-ups, and cheating, are regular things for her in this series.
The Widow then lands right in front of them and she asks, “Is this another one of your gags, Flash Thompson?” Yes that’s the appropriate reaction to seeing the same giant robot that attacked and ruined your charity event a month ago, not to mention nearly killing you. Thankfully she only had two lines in this episode so we’re spared any more of her idiocy. Flash tells her to run and he takes off in the other direction figuring it’s after him again. It snags his legs with its grapples and starts to pull him in just as Spidey and JJ arrive.
Spidey spots some lasers activating on it so he uses them to cut Jameson off of the bomb. Well we got a whole scene of them together before the writers got bored, so worth it.
Flash and JJ run off as Spidey spots a crane and he hooks it to one of the Widows legs. He then controls the crane and uses it to pick up and smash the Widow into a wall.
Why was it so hard to beat last episode?
Yes that does render it inoperable again. That’s twice it’s been taken down this episode, and fairly easily too. So much for the big bad Spider Slayers. So Jameson starts calling around to find Eddie and tells Osborn about the Slayers coming for him. For some reason he’s working late at Oscorp not really doing anything in particular.
We then cut to Eddie getting a new job at a newspaper and the editor tells him to just stay out of trouble. I can see where this is going. Also if he stays out of trouble then he’d be a useless reporter since they’re meant to find trouble and then blunder right into it. At least that’s what Lois Lane has taught me.
Not even a second later the Tarantula burst in and Eddie shuts the door to the editor’s office, because that’ll keep it out. Strangely enough this doesn’t work and it demolishes the entire wall of the office. So now he’s trapped in a room with no way out. Oh wait we get another commercial break and he’s now running out the front door away from it.
As it comes after him down the street Spidey swings in and dumps him on the pavement. Eddie starts blaming him for this because Eddie Brock must always blame Spidey for everything wrong in his life. Despite the fact that it’s clearly Smythe’s fault for both him getting fired from the Bugle and the Slayer coming after him, he must blame Spidey though.
It attacks Spidey and he grabs one of its legs and smashes it into a nearby high voltage electrical supply.
Smythe does not know what proper insulation is, apparently
Yes this again takes down another Slayer. You know this is really taking away from the menace of these robots. I’m surprised the episode is still going at this point given how easy this all seems.
The editor comes out of the wrecked newspaper building and fires Eddie, though technically I don’t think he was properly hired before the robot came in. Brock swears he’ll get even with Spidey. I’m sure nothing will come of that.
We then see Smythe finishing off another Slayer, this time it’s the Scorpion:
Jameson should sue. Only he gets to make Spider killing Scorpion super weapons
And yes we never hear that name in the show; it’s only in the toyline. It flies off to Oscorp just as Oscorp is sending out its “robot tanks” and surprisingly the Scorpion doesn’t crumple and die at the laser fire form the tanks. Given how the others were dealt with actual weapons fire should vaporise that robot. But no it destroys them easily, because only Spidey has plot convenience powers.
Speaking of that, Spidey shows up just as the Scorpion attacks and he looks at how much time he has left:
That’s some Prince of Persia BS right there
So it took them about fifteen minutes to go from the Chrysler building, to being knocked out on a random rooftop, then getting to ESU, then getting to Brock at the newspaper office. Plus beating two giant robots on top of that. Then Spidey says he’s only got minutes to stop that thing before the bomb blows. Yeah you’ve got more than double the time it took you defeat the last one. Unless you waste it doing noting you’ve got plenty of time.
Osborn sends out some “Helidrones” and seeing this Smythe reactivates the Widow and Tarantula, somehow. If he could do that with a few key strokes then why didn’t he do that in the first place? Or better yet send those two after their original targets now that Spidey is distracted by the Scorpion? But I suppose we wouldn’t get this:
My toy Slayers never fit together that well
Yes that’s a combination toy of all three. That’s what they were designed to do, toy wise, and that’s why we had to deal with three weak-ass robots in this episode. Anyway it makes short work out of the Oscorp robots as Spidey is standing around deciding what to deal with first, the bomb of the Slayer robot. It attacks him so he dives into an Oscorp lab.
Osborn comes running out of his company and drives away in his car as the Slayer shoots at him. Spidey then gets up out of the rubble from the blast and checks the bomb as we see… the hell?
What was he doing for 25 minutes?
So apparently swinging across the city and fighting robots took fifteen minutes, however standing around at Oscorp took twenty-five minutes. What the hell was he doing in all that time? If you’re going to make time a factor in your story then either think about it or just never show how much time there is left.
Anyway time for more stupid. He spots a tank of Liquid Oxygen and says it’s, “almost 200 below 0oC.” So he just sprays it on the bomb attached to his wrist:
I’m sure nothing bad could possibly happen
That should be splashing all over his arm and should actually make him lose it entirely. He’ll need to have it amputated before it gets gangrene and kills him. At the very least he should be getting a lot of nasty burns from it. Ignoring that having the bomb drenched in that would actually freeze it, stopping it from going off. So it shouldn’t be working now, well till it unfreezes.
But no his manacle just snaps off and the bomb keeps on ticking. “Better living through chemistry” my aching ass. I suppose I should give the writers some credit as Liquid Oxygen can cause materials to become very brittle. The science is kinda right, ish, although the way it was animated was terrible.
Osborn has made it to a bridge and the Slayer is right on top of him. It lands in front of him and he crashes into it, knocking him unconscious. He also apparently he can’t afford a car with airbags. Spidey swings in and gets Osborn out of the car before the Slayer can smash it. He climbs to the top of the bridge, leaves Osborn there, and tricks the Slayer to fly underneath so he can jump on it and drop the bomb on it.
He jumps off as it blows up really good. He sets Osborn down on the road as he swings away. Smythe has been watching all of this with the ‘secret entrance’ wide open as he sits on it with a pair of binoculars.
No one sees this at all?
There’s no way anyone could’ve missed that. He’s been sat there for about an hour, maybe forty minutes at least, and someone must’ve looked up at the Chrysler building in that amount of time. But nope, I guess everyone in this show is in idiot.
Kingpin comes in and tells Smythe a deals a deal and that he works for him till he destroys Spider-Man. I think they were trying to set up an antagonistic relationship between the two, but next time we see them, and every time after that, they’re pretty buddy buddy. Smythe doesn’t even seem to want vengeance on anyone for the death of his father either. It’s like they forgot that was the key point of his character. After this he’s fine working with Osborn and doesn’t try to kill Flash or Eddie again, well not for the death of his father in at least. He tries to kill Spider-Man only because he gets in the way of the Kingpin’s schemes. He also gets to keep the lab, thus making Kingpin’s threat earlier entirely pointless.
Spidey goes home complaining life has no rewards for him. As he’s repairing his costume Aunt May reminds him of his blind date. He moans some more then answers the door for her. And we get the full view of Mary Jane Watson:
I hope she has a wonderful personality
Yeah she’s not the sexy bombshell from the comics here, despite what the show wants us to believe. The cowboy boots and ugly yellow sweater are what we see her in most of the time. It’s a horrible design for her and her, “you just hit the jackpot” classic line feels forced due to the beginning of the episode.
And so we end on Peter’s smile at seeing his blind date:
I… I got nothing
I’m not sure if that’s a fake smile at seeing the ugly sweater, or if that’s how he genuinely smiles. Either way the episode’s finally over, thank god.
The show probably would’ve been better off without this episode since it creates so many plot holes and character inconsistencies. It’s just such a bore as well. There’s nothing to it other than fighting giant robots with only a minuscule amount of plot to sustain the entire episode. It’s not even a decent follow-up as Smythe’s petty vengeance fetish is stupid when you think about it; even Jameson points that out to him.
The big problem is the writers trying to fit in three giant robots since they keep having Spidey defeat then in a really short amount of time. If they’d have gone with one, maybe two, robots they might’ve been able to keep some tension. Yes they were forced to use all the toys for the combination but it could’ve been handled a lot better. Black Widow could’ve been saved for the very end with the combining scene since we’ve already had an episode focused on it. Or they could’ve spread out the introduction of the Slayers with them being robots Smythe made for Kingpin’s other schemes in other episodes, and then do a combination of them later. Although I think John Semper was just told to do episodes with these toys so he shoved them into this episode with a, “fine, now I don’t have to use them anymore!” attitude. Given what I’ve read from interviews with him that’s probably true. He really hated the toys he was forced to do stories around, which did lead to him compromising some characters and story points because of that hate.
But that’s a story for another review.