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RERUN REVIEWS: Spider-Man: The New Animated Series 1×12 “Mind Games – Part 1”, 1×13 “Mind Games – Part 2”

*Sobbing uncontrollably* AHHHUHUHUUUUUUUUH!!! It’s almost over! This is the last two episodes of Spider-Man: The New Animated Series! I don’t want it to end! Why does it have to end? Waaaaaaaaah!

Still, it’s been a hell of a ride, hasn’t it? And, yet me tell you, we are going out with a BANG! Be warned, I’ve made a point so far to avoid giving away the ending of each episode. That stops now. I hate to spoil plot details, but it’s unavoidable here. You’re gonna want to know everything. If you don’t then stop reading and go watch the episodes. Frankly though, you should have done that already. So this it is. The finale. The end of the road. This is Mind Games, part one and two. Buckle up, kids.

“Mind Games, Part One”

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We open with the Gaines twins, Roxanne (voiced by Kathy Griffin) and Roland (voiced by Jeremy Piven), being transported to a new prison. It turns out these two have psychic powers, allowing them to control the minds of others due to the KGB doing experiments on their parents. They break free and mentally command one of their guards to shoot the other. Whilst making their escape, they run into our favourite wall crawler. They attempt to subdue him mentally and almost succeed. But Spidey fights their control and they are recaptured by the police.

Later, Web Head and Mary Jane are standing on a roof having an… intimate moment. See there’s this running plot of Mary Jane being attracted to Spider-Man as well as Peter. Which doesn’t explain why he’s up there with her since he’s supposed to be dating Indy but hey ho. There’s a scream from far away so Spidey’s got to go deal with it. After Mary Jane asks to be taken off the roof, Spider-Man PUSHES HER OFF! I’m not kidding. He lets her fall several stories before catching her. And you want to know the strangest thing? After he catches her… she laughs. Like it was all fun and games. Never mind the fact that a few seconds ago she was screaming her head off. I’m just saying, if somebody pushed ME of a building for a joke, I wouldn’t laugh. I’d be more: “I kill you now, plus your whole family!”.

Back at ESU, Indy informs Peter and Harry that, after being captured, the Twins somehow managed to set Pterodax and Silver Sable free from prison. Which is odd considering Silver Sable was never arrested in the previous episode. But there isn’t much time to dwell on it since Pterodax have been spotted at ESU’s new science centre construction site. Peter goes off to change into Spider-Man whilst Harry goes to make sure the science centre, which is being built by Oscorp, doesn’t get damaged. Spidey manages to take care of the flying Russian mercenaries but not before Harry breaks his arm due to some falling construction. Peter makes it back home only to be confronted by Indy and Mary Jane. It turns out Peter has been spending a lot of time with both of them and, considering their mutual history, they tell him he has to make a choice between them.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kraven the Hunter (voiced by Michael Dorn) has escaped from the gulag that Spidey sent him to years ago. And as if THAT wasn’t bad enough, he’s teamed up with Silver Sable. And as if THAT wasn’t bad enough a meteorite starts heading towards Earth! Okay that last one doesn’t happen, but the situation is pretty bad nonetheless. Still, Spidey manages to beat them both, with Sable getting captured by the police. Kraven, however, gets away.

Spidey finds Mary Jane, wanting to warn her about Kraven. They get to talking about their relationship, Harry and Peter himself. This prompts Spider-Man to take her to an alley, whereupon he says: “Maybe if you only had one of us to deal with…”. He takes off his mask, revealing to Mary Jane that he is Peter. At first the two of them seem really happy. But suddenly, Kraven shows up. He taunts Peter and kills Mary Jane right in front of him.

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Later, Peter and Harry are at Mary Jane’s grave. Peter quietly leaves before exploding with rage and grief. But then, a mysterious man appears. He seems to know a lot about Peter and how Mary Jane died. He asks Peter if he wants revenge, encouraging him to seek retribution. Peter admits that he wants to kill Kraven. The man asks if he’s sure. Peter emphatically states he wants revenge. Suddenly, we see Spider-Man lying on the floor, with the Twins standing over him. It turns out that Spidey never beat the Twins in the first place. Everything that happened since then has been in his own mind. A construct of the Twins in order to make him want to kill Kraven, who is responsible for the experiments that claimed the lives of the Twins parents. As M. Night Shyamalan would say, what a twist!

They send Spidey out to kill Kraven, believing that he killed Mary Jane, who in reality is being held hostage by the Twins. The episode ends with Spider-Man racing through the city to find Kraven, determined to have revenge.

This is an awesome episode, full of drama, suspense and tragedy. All the plot holes are explained to be the product of the Twins’s manipulation so I’m not sure they count. But you want to know the best thing about this episode? That mysterious man we talked about? He’s voiced by none other than Stan Lee! While it’s not uncommon for him to cameo in various Marvel cartoons, this is especially intriguing because it’s a very dark role. He’s encouraging Peter to kill another person and… it’s awesome. Stan Lee does a really good bit of voice acting as his voice, whom we all associate with humour and good heartedness, becomes scheming and menacing. It’s not over done, it’s 100% believable and it gives me chills every time. Bravo th Stan Lee and bravo to the makers of this episode. But the best is yet to come…

 

“Mind Games, Part Two”

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Spider-Man finds Kraven at a warehouse. Kraven initially seems confident but Spidey charges him, screaming with rage, sending fear into Kraven’s eyes.

Meanwhile, the Twins are still holding Mary Jane hostage. It turns out that the reason that they are using Spider-Man to kill Kraven is because Kraven’s hunter instincts are too keen for them to get close enough to use their powers on him. While they are distracted, Mary Jane attempts to escape, only to be confronted by visions of the Lizard. She finds herself back unable to escape thanks to the Twins’s mind powers.

Back at the warehouse, Spidey is beating the crap out of Kraven, before he fashions a noose out of web and tries to hang him. However, as he looks outside, he can see the ESU science centre… undamaged. He thinks back to Harry breaking his arm and remembers that at first it seemed like his left arm was broken but at Mary Jane’s grave, his right one was in a cast. Confused, he lets Kraven go and demands answers. He asks when he and Kraven last met and Kraven tells him it was when he initially sent him to the gulag ages ago. When the police arrive, he asks them more questions. Pterodax never broke out of prison and Silver Sable was never found.

Even more confused, Peter heads to Empire State News to get Indy’s help. She helps him find the warehouse where he was being held by the Twins. More than that, she shows him the owner of the building who turns out to be the mysterious man from the graveyard. He heads out in search of the warehouse but is contacted by the Twins en route. They demand that he kill Kraven or they will kill Mary Jane. It’s too late though, as he burst into the warehouse and attacks them.

After freeing Mary Jane, he confronts them on the roof. Roxanne tries to use her powers on him, but he fights her off, accidentally knocking her off the roof in front of stunned onlookers. Suddenly Roxanne appears behind him, laughing. He turns around and sees that the person he knocked off the roof was Indy, who had followed him hoping to find a news story. Distraught, he jumps down to her, allowing the Twins to escape.

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At the hospital, Indy is in a coma, with Peter, Mary Jane and Harry looking over her. According to Peter, the doctors say she might never wake up. The whole city thinks Spider-Man tried to kill her and Harry reaffirms his hatred of him, saying: “He should leave town or hang up his webs for good.”. Peter silently agrees. But he has one last thing to do.

Spidey hunts the Twins down, who are planning to use Spider-Man being discredited as an opportunity to take control of crime in the city. Spider-Man manages to separate the to of them, going after the weaker Roland. He managed to sedate him but Roxanne attacks him with a truck. She crashes it, causing a tank of propane to explode, sending the whole warehouse up. Spidey narrowly avoids being caught in the blast.

Days later, with the lives of everyone around him shattered, Peter puts his costume in a briefcase and goes to a pier. Unwilling to cause any more pain, he tosses the briefcase into the water. He looks into the water and briefly sees his reflection as Spider-Man, before solemnly walking away.

This would have been a fantastic ending… IF THERE HAD BEEN MORE THAT ONE FLIPPING ARSEING BLOODY DAMN SEASON!!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!! This series ended with Harry still loathing Spider-Man, Mary Jane being rejected by Peter, Indy in a coma, the whole city hating Spider-Man and Peter having given up being a superhero!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good ending. It’s powerful and dramatic to its core! But why, oh, why didn’t they do another season? Imagine what they could have done with it! New villains? More interesting storylines? Even more character development? We’ll never know! All that’s left is me standing here like a lemon telling you chumps how great this show was. Well I’m tired of just telling you. You know what? I’m going to SHOW you.

 

THERE! YOU SEE? That’s the show in a nutshell. Beautifully designed. Intriguing characters. Mind blowing action. This show was special. We don’t see many others like it. And it ended too soon. Because it wasn’t just a good show. It understood what it meant to be Spider-Man. The excitement. The wonder. The tragedy. In my opinion, this is the best Spider-Man cartoon ever. And I hope, after listening to me rant about it for so long, you all agree with me.

 

There you have it folks. Let us know in the comments what you thought of the finale of a fantastic series. As for me, I’m going to crawl into a deep, dark hole and have myself a good, long cry.

 

About the author

Scott Meridew