Week two, time for three more reviews! That’s right folks, this week we will move onto what is classified as the “Tombstone/ Big Man Arc.” Which is good news as these are some incredibly strong episodes all around. What is great about the arc format in Spectacular in my opinion is how tight each episode is in terms of pacing while at the same time providing some nice details as to the larger plot. In this case it was the reveal of The Big Man, Spectacular’s version of The Kingpin since Wilson Fisk and all of his rights were tied up at FOX during the series run. It is fun to see how the got around the entire Kingpin problem especially given how bland of a villain Tombstone traditionally is. Seriously, look back at how Tombstone has been portrayed over his history, making him a boss is a major step up from hired goon. So let’s dive in shall we.
Damn, do I love “Market Forces”. There is just so much that is great about this episode from the introduction of The Bugle players, to Shocker being all around awesome, “Market Forces” does not stumble very easily. Shocker is often, much like Tombstone, a villain who exists simply to be the butt of all the jokes. However, with Montana adding his determination and idea of duty to the character, Shocker becomes a much more worthy adversary. The way he basically dominates Peter on multiple fronts only to lose due to his own powers is a welcome surprise and if you look at all of his appearances over the series he doesn’t loose to Peter easily. If anything Shocker is the villain who manages to teach Peter a sense of personal responsibility, and out of all the “kids lessons” which are taught in this series this is the one that I fell is well crafted enough.
Of course the big draw of this episode and later episodes like “The Invisible Hand” is the showcasing of The Daily Bugle staff. Each character gets their moment in the sun, Betty playing coy and Robbie being the sage advisor to Peter being of note. Without a doubt J. Jonah Jameson is the stand out of the entire bunch, with a surprising amount of manic energy that makes him come off like he just chugged 6 energy drinks. Although his screen time is brief we do manage to get a clear picture of who JJJ is as a person and he comes off as the right mixture of eccentric and douchey. Sadly the only portion of this episode which was not stellar was the Harry Osborn story, in which he is angry Pete left him out to dry again. This is not an uncommon occurrence and as Norman tells him he has to learn to rely on himself. Overall a really great episode.
Final Grade A-
Just gonna say it, I don’t like Sandman as a villain. I mean his power is interesting and he is voiced fantastically by John DiMaggio but as far as his stories go, they are not inspiring to say the least. The episode follows the usually patter of Peter facing off with a villain and finally overcoming. Sandman does occasionally get creative with his powers but those periods are few and far between and really not up to the scope of the other fights we have seen. However what drags down the episode for me is the Peter trying out for the football team section of the episode. I mean it is all well and good to show high school Peter enjoying his powers in day to day life, but nothing about Peter’s personality besides the fact he cares about Harry. Even that motivation had been questioned in the previous episode, but since I know where this motivation is leading I will let it partially slide.
Final Grade C
“The Invisible Hand”
In Spectacular, every three to four episodes has a big payoff story wise and in the case of the Tombstone arc it was actually getting to the point of Peter getting face to face with ol’ Tomb-y. Yes, “The Invisible Hand” ends on two major reveals, but it is all the material leading up to them that makes the episode so note worthy. With the introduction of Rhino we are given a type of bottle episode where Peter is forced to defend the city in what is basically a continuous action scene. It works surprisingly well considering how stupid Rhino has been up to this point but apparently with powers come deductive reasoning skills. Seriously, who would have thought that Rhino would be the one to think of going to The Bugle to find Pete. That’s more detective work than any other villain to this point in the series. The continuous action beat also allows us to see all of the destruction Rhino leaves in his wake and that scale is pretty great to watch.
The episode however did live and die on the reveal of Tombstone and MJ and luckily on both notes it was flawless execution. MJ was the easier of the two to accomplish as all that needed to happen was for her to call Peter “tiger” and act sultry, mission accomplished my friends. In terms of Tombstone, this was a little tougher as he literally be both physically and psychologically imposing. Tombstone proved that even though he could beat Spider-Man rather easily it would be more satisfying to take him down on a psychological level. Listening to Tombstone breakdown why he created the super villains was great and all the props in the world to Keith David and in his later appearances Kevin Michael Richardson for nailing that swagger.
Final Grade A-
Yep, two really good and one meh episode, I’ll take that for a week. Next week though Gobby is com in to town and Doc Ock too. So sound off in the comments and see you next week.
-“Market Forces” easily has one of my favorite bits of dialog in the entire series, I mean any time troglodytes is used in a proper sentence is a win for me.
-“Market Forces” also leads to one of my favorite jokes of season two, but we will touch on that when we get there
-Once again throughout all of these episodes Josh Keaton proves why he is possibly the best Spider-Man to date.