Frame By Frame Review Spider-Man TAS The Hobgoblin Part 2
Sorry for the lateness of this and no post last week. With my Netbook power cable literally melting, fixing my PC, Uni work, and real life shenanigans, things got a bit delayed. I’m currently working on ways to stop things like that from happening in the future. Or at least make sure the site gets updated on time. For now enjoy:
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. As well as poking fun and adding sarcastic comments to the mix. This time we’re looking at the second part of the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon 2 parter, The Hobgoblin.
Previously on Spider-Man: Norman Osborn hired the Hobgoblin to kill the Kingpin, but he failed because he’s an idiot. When Osborn wouldn’t pay him for failing he went to the Kingpin and was hired to kidnap Harry Osborn in order to blackmail Norman into signing over all his inventions to the Kingpin. When the Kingpin wouldn’t pay quickly enough Hobby went back to Norman in order to get a better toy/weapon to betray Kingpin. Also some stuff with Peter moving into Harry’s new apartment, Aunt May having a seizure when Hobby attacked, and some toy commercials.
Now back to the action with:
Before we start proper I should point out that this is one of the few episodes that Producer/Story Editor John Semper didn’t have a writing credit. Stan Berkowitz suggests that because of all the rewrites he had to do to get the script to work John felt sorry for him and gave him sole credit, Source. I have a different theory. Since Semper made no bones about how much he hated the Hobgoblin because he was forced to use him for toys, I think he just didn’t want his name on this. He was the one with full control over who got what credit so it was all up to him. I don’t know for sure and there’s no way for me to find out.
Back to the episode. So that cliffhanger where Spidey jumps into a building under construction as the “smart bombs” follows him and blow up? Yeah he gets out of it by running to the other end and jumps out as the building explodes. He lands in, as we see above, a place where there are no skyscrapers for him to swing off. Hobby attacks again with his toy glider blowing up whatever Spidey tries to hide behind and under. Eventually Spider-Man crawls under a van and Hobgoblin fires some “smart bombs” and destroys the van and he flies away thinking he’s killed Spidey. By the way I keep putting “smart bombs” in quotes because every time Hobby says it he makes a joke about how “smart” they are. After a while it becomes grating and unclever.
Of course Spidey isn’t destroyed; he just managed to escape by somehow fitting through a drainage grate that was underneath the van. When he gets out he says after what happened to Aunt May he won’t be gotten rid of so easily. Whatever.
Back at Oscorp Norman is watching the news from what looks like the security room, since it has about twenty monitors all showing security camera footage. Not sure why there’s no guards there monitoring them, or why when Spidey is spotted on them not one alarm is raised. Ah the gods of dramatic convenience are at work. So Spidey stealthily sneaks up behind Norman demanding to know why the Hobgoblin was there. Norman just evades with “its personal” and yeah it looks like any trace of a backbone is gone for good as Spidey just grabs him by the collar and lifts him off the floor.
Not seen is a little puddle forming around Norman’s legs
Norman says he made a deal with the Hobgoblin and how it’ll all be over by midnight. There’s some stuff here about how much does Norman actually love his son when he starts listing off the things he stands to loose if he didn’t trust the Hobgoblin. His company and inventions get named but his son falls under “everything else” which is pretty standard Norman. Spidey doesn’t buy this whole thing and promises to show up one minute after midnight, to gloat I think.
At the unnamed hospital Peter comes back to see Aunt May. MJ reports that there’s no change and Peter thanks her for being there. Then we get the really annoying part of the inner-monologue, there’s little distinction between Peter’s speaking voice and his inner voice. So when we switch between them it’s hard to tell if he’s speaking out load or not, especially if the animators mess up and have Peter’s mouth move when it shouldn’t be. Like they did here.
In Crime Central Hobby has just returned and found no one there, so he makes himself comfortable at Kingpin’s desk. Just as he’s about to put his feet up Kingpin comes up on his floor elevator talking about how it seems the Hobgoblin wants what he has. At which point I resist the urge to shout out “no duh!” He was very up front that he wants from the beginning; you even complimented him on his ambition. It was only one episode ago.
Anyway Hobby asks to get paid again, this is still only about a day, maybe two at the most, since he started working for the Kingpin. At which point Kingpin just plays the video of him scheming with Osborn. Hobby tries to weasel out of it, but Kingpin just says he demands loyalty and promptly fires him. Then Hobby makes this face in response.
Does this look like the face of a money grubbing schemer to you?
Seriously he acts all shocked at it like he wasn’t expecting the Kingpin to fire him for plotting against him. Another thing for some reason Hobby’s face in this episode is terribly off model. Every single moment of this episode he’s off model and most of the animation in general is pretty mediocre.
So Hobgoblin gets on his glider and flies about while the Kingpin’s goons shoot at him with lasers. All of them being rather ineffective as Hobby throws pumpkin bombs everywhere. He then flies downstairs to open the hanger door that’s on the side of the building so he can send his toy glider in. Kingpin and Smythe are surprised by this despite the fact that they watched him get the damn thing last episode. Also Smythe makes this pithy comment, “Another of Osborn’s toy’s no doubt.” It’s like the episode is doing my job for me.
As Hobby is throwing pumpkin bombs left right and centre scaring away all the goons, not actually doing anything with the toy glider other than linking up with it, Kingpin and Smythe retreat. Seeing this he throws one last bomb at them seemingly blowing them up. He them basks in his glory at how Crime Central’s all his now.
I can’t help but stare at the random chairs there
Hobgoblin starts gushing even more about how everything, every bite of information, is his. If he got happier he’d probably need to clean that room even more than it already has to be. He then lets Harry out of his cage and suddenly he’s back with his hands tied up and blindfolded again. Oh animation mistakes and editing errors, you’re the real reason I watch this show.
Why goes he let Harry out? Well he needs someone to monologue to, just like any good supervillain. He says that with the control panel on the desk he can control all the crime on the planet, which is stupid on so many levels. And also that the better he controls it the more money he makes. Well done writers, you’ve made the Kingpin’s job sound like all he does is play Sim-Criminal at his desk all day.
He also says he can stay there forever with that level of control. Which makes me wonder how he plans to hold his position of power. Criminal empires aren’t like immortals in Highlander. You can’t just kill the leader and take charge yourself. I’m sure some of the goons would try to kill him out of loyalty, which the Kingpin says he admires most out of people. Or at the very least quit and work for one of the other crime bosses, maybe even try to get a job at SHIELD. Hobby doesn’t inspire loyalty; he much prefers to One-Man-Army everything, which is a lot harder than he makes it sound.
Which leads to another pressing question. Since he thinks he’s killed the Kingpin what does he do about Fisk’s offices downstairs? Seriously we saw one of the less stupid entrances to Crime Central was in Fisk’s office, so if he’s dead what happens to that office? Hobby wouldn’t want Fisk’s son to have it since that’d mean he’d have a backdoor to destroy him at any point. Then there’s the whole problem with tying his legitimate businesses right to the centre of your criminal organisation. There’s no way this couldn’t backfire on the Kingpin. It’s not as stupid as Crime Central being in the Chrysler Building, with a wall that opens out for helicopters and flying giant robots, but it’s up there.
Back to the episode Harry asks what Hobby wants with his father, and he succinctly replies, “Revenge.”
At Oscorp Norman is pacing waiting for Hobby. He then gets a call on his video phone. Turns out Hobgoblin, in a shocking turn of events, has double (triple I think now) crossed him and wants Norman to sign over all of Oscorp to him. And Norman can’t use Hobby’s secret identity against him because Hobby has Harry hostage. Just as Norman is going to flip a table when Hobby ends the call, Fisk and Smythe show up.
Not destroyed at all? Didn’t see that coming
Yup those two aren’t dead after all. Smythe even berates him saying “Only a fool would bring this down on himself.” Oh just you wait Smythe, you’ll be eating those words in a few seasons. After Kingpin stops Norman from strangling Smythe he says they escaped thanks to a secret tunnel and they need a weapon from Osborn so they can stop the flying toy of his.
Hmm well let’s see. The glider’s on a remote control so there must be a way to disrupt that. There’s also the fact that it needs fuel and rearming with new pumpkin bombs, which Hobgoblin can’t do himself at the moment I would assume since he’s just gotten all his weaponry from other people. So just go in there with flash bangs, tear gas, a radio jammer and expendable mooks till he runs out of ammo, then put a cap in his brain pan.
Or they could just wait for Spidey to show up so Norman can just point him at Hobby to get him to do it for them. That does compromise security of Crime Central, even let’s Spidey know it exists. But what the hell, right? A crazy plan that’ll surely leave at least one of your enemies in a better position than before is surely better than a well thought out tactical plan.
Norman fills Spidey in on the hidden entrance, leaving out the Kingpin and Crime Central parts I assume since it happens off screen, and we get see this hidden entrance.
That’s a long walk to the Chrysler building
That must be a very long tunnel as it’s been very well established exactly where Crime Central is. This is the problem with setting it in a well known New York landmark. So Spidey enters the building and finds the secret tunnel. As he’s doing that Osborn gets in Kingpin’s limo and says things are going according to plan and he congratulates him on the “brilliant strategy” of pitting both their enemies together. I’m not sure how brilliant it is, but from what we’ve seen so far in this show it probably counts as brilliant.
As Spidey goes through the tunnel we get shots of the first episode, the one with the Lizard, of him going through the sewers. The show liked to recycle animation when get got back unusable stuff back from overseas, which was a lot of the time. It’s cropped up from time to time here, such as reused shots of Hobgoblin pressing a consol, but this the most blatant and terrible of them. You see as Spidey is complaining about not being able to get his bearings with so many twists and turns I’m wondering a few impractical things about this tunnel.
For a start: How does he know where to go? We see shots of the sewer, him going through random sections and running down pipes, but he doesn’t have a map or any markings to say he’s going the right way. Secondly how did Kingpin and Smythe get out? We see shots of Spidey climbing on sewer pipes to get around so that means this entre secret escape tunnel is extremely impractical. A man like the Kingpin or the hoverchair bound Smythe couldn’t have easily gotten through this maze of sewer tunnels, and it’s most in convenient if they’re running away from an assailant since it’ll slow them down and make them vulnerable to attack.
Getting back to the episode Spider-Man finally gets to a
lift elevator that deposits him right in the main part of Crime Central. As he lifts up a grate to get a look he sees the Hobgoblin sat Kingpin’s desk sorting out a deal. The deal is a typical video game type deal where Hobby’s got two people who need each others stuff but, for whatever reason, need to go through him as a middleman. It’s like the writers couldn’t actually think of any better criminal endeavour for him to be involved with.
Spidey, trying to be sneaky spots the regular glider and webs it up for… wait a minute:
Worst secret entrance/exit ever!
That’s where the secret entrance is? It’s not very secret or well hidden. Sure it looks like a wall with a grate/panel that conceals it but when going in or out you’re going to get noticed. Somehow I don’t think these details mattered to the people in charge.
So after webbing the glider it falls down and Hobby notices, immediately thinking its Spider-Man. He didn’t see the webbing, nor does he see where he is, so how does he know it’s Spidey? Oh right, bad writing.
After throwing a pumpkin gas bomb, that somehow doesn’t affect Spidey, he goes to the webbed glider not realising it’s stuck to the ground. Then Spidey delivers one of his worst one-liners as he kicks him, “Stuck? How ‘bout a kick-stuck.” That just hurt. I’m sure he can just stop fighting right now as his puns probably do more damage than he does.
Hobby throws some more of his bag of tricks at Spidey while trying to get his glider un-webbed. While all those explosives are going off we cut to Kingpin and Smythe in a helicopter outside watching the explosions flash from the top windows of the Chrysler building. Wait so if the explosions are close enough to the windows for flashes to be seen outside then how is that place remotely secure? Surely anyone outside can get a good look in to see the headquarters of the criminal empire that controls all the crime on the planet. Or just break the windows and get into the main office of the Kingpin.
Hobby finally gets on his glider, throws more bombs, and everything explodes around them, destroying most of things in the room. He moans that he’s lost everything and as Spidey’s coming at him again he sees he’s only got one razor sharp throwing blade left. So he uses it to cut Harry’s cage loose so Spidey has to catch it. Letting him get away on his toy glider as he opens the side of the building.
Again, HOW DOES NO ONE SEE THIS!
I hate to harp on this but it’s so stupid. Through the entire show no one sees the fact that one of New York’s most famous buildings is opening up constantly. The only explanation I can think of is that the Kingpin is constantly paying off the police to ignore all reports of it. But if you think about that then the deeper the rabbit hole goes as he’d also have to either pay off or kill the news reporters who will inevitably investigate too. Not to mention blind lawyers who dress in skin tight red leather.
Smythe sees Hobgoblin fleeing and says how the plan is working, Fisk responds, “Of course, you expected something less from the Kingpin?” No comment. Just, no comment.
Spidey gets an unconscious Harry from the glass cage and contemplates checking out more of the random place he’s in. But then more things on fire fall, so he decides it’s best to get Harry out. As he’s getting in the not so secret escape
lift elevator Kingpin and Smythe arrive in the hanger bay. Kingpin orders Smythe to release the lift elevator cable and it goes into freefall. Spidey webs away to save them and as they reach the tunnel Kingpin blows up the entire tunnel.
For some reason the tunnel is now just a long walkway for Spidey to run along holding Harry and not a maze of sewer systems and pipes you have to crawl on. Everything explodes, Harry and Spider-Man get out in time, and the status quo remains intact.
Smythe points out to Kingpin as he’s gloating that everything went to plan that it’s a picric victory. He just comments that they’re going to rebuild it bigger and better than before. Which means exactly the same as before as designs new backgrounds and environments costs money.
There’s a bit at the hospital with the doctor telling us there’s no change with Aunt May and MJ wanting to know where Peter is. Doesn’t really matter except to remind us of that plot. Back at Oscorp Spidey bring in a still unconscious Harry to Norman. Surely if he’s still unconscious then he might have some serious head trauma from the fall, maybe even a concussion, and clearly needs to be in a hospital. But I’m not a big time superhero, so what do I know.
Don’t mind Harry, he’s slowly dying, but WHAT ABOUT ME!?
Spidey wants answers and Norman’s not forthcoming. He says he’s still playing games, like he did with the Hobgoblin and Harry. Then Norman launches into a speech about how he had to make hard choices and that his work was all consuming, that maybe he made the wrong choices. Would be a nice character speech if, A) this wasn’t Norman Osborn and entirely out of character, and 2) what happens next.
Spider-Man’s Evil Sense goes off again and Hobgoblin attacks for no real reason other than to pad out the ending with a fight scene. At this point killing Norman or Harry would just mean his identity would be outted to the world. There’s absolutely nothing he could gain from this. As he attacks with a pumpkin bomb it dislodges part of the roof and it comes down on Harry, but Norman jumps in the way, crushing them both. Well except for Spidey grabbing it in the last second… I think. The animation is very sloppy here and I honestly can’t tell if Spidey grabbed the falling debris or is lifting it off of Norman. Since Norman is completely alright a second later I’d assume the former happened, but given this show the latter could’ve also happened.
Harry wakes up now as Norman says they’re both OK, and Spidey innermonologues that, “He finally made the right choice.” Yes, well done writers, you’ve ruined a lovely moment by entirely spelling it out to the audience. It’s such a ham-fisted comment that it retroactively ruins Norman’s speech.
Spidey webs up to have one final confrontation with the Hobgoblin. Let’s make this as short as possible. Hobby attacks, Spidey does nothing but dodge, says he can’t outmanoeuvre him, and starts climbing a smoke stack. Once at the top Hobby dives at him and at the last second Spidey jumps down so Hobby would slam into the side.
Why would he do that in the first place?
Why would he fly head on into it when it would’ve damaged the toy glider whether he hit Spidey or not? Also Spidey took a lot out on a limb since Hobby could’ve easily decided to shoot more bombs at him instead of ramming. Oh who cares it’s over! Hobgoblin crashes into the bay and the end, right?
Oh yeah there’s still some stupid to come, back at the hospital. Peter comes back and the doctor berates him for not being there, saying young people today don’t know how to make the right choices. OK now you’re just taking a sledgehammer and beating us over the head with it writers. This isn’t a theme of the episode! It’s only a theme for the last 2 minutes so stop bringing up “choices”! And before anyone starting thinking it was a subtle theme of these two parter think back over these last few scenes and let me know where the subtlety is. If it was so subtle they wouldn’t have brought up and kept saying “choices” so much.
Anyway Peter thanks MJ for staying, MJ says she’s not moving out anymore because she’s worried about leaving her own Aunt alone now. Then May wakes up and we get the stupid. She dramatically says how such a shock it was, Peter says it’s alright because the Hobgoblin’s gone now and then she says, “The Hobgoblin? Who’s talking about that? It was your apartment dear. I’ve never seen such a mess. I don’t think you’re ready to live on your own yet.”
A smirk and a shrug is more than this deserves
Yes that’s right. All this drama, all this suspense of May possibly dying while Peter is off getting vengeance on the Hobgoblin, and all of it’s a build up to one stupid joke! One of the running gags people have about the Stan Lee era is how often May has a heart attack and how a stiff breeze could put her in the hospital. But I don’t think anyone’s ever actually had her have a nearly die due to Peter leaving some shirts on the floor. That ‘joke’ just derails all the drama from this show, or at least the ones dealing with May’s health. When two episodes are spent on it and having Peter seeking vengeance on the Hobgoblin for most of that, the driving force of these episodes if you will, all of it turning out to be one bad gag. That’s just terrible. Then May finishes us off with telling Peter, out of absolutely nowhere except the fact that she didn’t say it before, that Peter did the right thing in saving Fisk’s life at the very beginning, that Uncle Ben would’ve been proud. Well no duh, why could’ve you have said that before instead of complaining he could’ve been hurt?
There’s also a closing shot of the Hobgoblin flying away telling Spider-Man not to forget him because he’s not going to. And then he goes on to make only 4 or 5 more appearances in this 5 season show.
Oh man where to begin? Well the high point is for some decent voice acting, especially from Mark Hamill as the Hobgoblin and Roscoe Lee Brown as the Kingpin. While Hamill’s doing his stock Joker voice he is probably what saves the character the most. Neil Ross also probably did his best work as Norman Osborn here, trying to bring some dramatic weight to him. Much as I harp on Norman’s character here Ross does his best to sell it.
There’s not much too really say about the plot, such as it is, since it’s just an endless string of the Hobgoblin betraying people because he isn’t getting paid fast enough. That might be a subtle dig at the fact that the character wouldn’t exist without money grubbing toy people, but these episodes had the subtlety of a sledgehammer. If that was the intent I wish they’d applied as much thought and effort into the show as they did with their digs on executives they didn’t like. Which is why I don’t think that’s the case.
There was a story about whether or not Peter is ready to move out and if that would mean losing time with his family, but that got lost in the Hobgoblin betrayal antics. It’s a “one step forward, two steps back” way of doing character growth. It looks like they’re doing something, but in fact it’s just an easy reset away to becoming meaningless. Peter even becomes more focused on finding the Hobgoblin because of what happened with Aunt May than the fact that he kidnapped his supposed friend.
The animation was really below average for this show. The reliance on reused footage was clearly creeping in and you can see a lot of points where there was no footage to reuse as the animation was terrible. Especially with Hobgoblin’s face throughout the entire episode, which was horribly off model most of the time.
Overall this didn’t need to be a two parter. Anything that could’ve come from it, such as Peter’s apartment and Hobgoblin taking over as the Kingpin, was woefully underdeveloped. It’s definitely the most toy commercial this show ever became, even the showrunner admits that.