Shows : Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 3

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Show Must Go On...

This review was first published on: Feb 2010.

Background...

Mysterio debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #13. He was identified as a movie stuntman. This is his small screen debut.

In Detail...

"The Menace of Mysterio"
Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 3
Sep 1967 : SM Title
Summary: First Aired Sep 23rd 1967 (Full-length story)
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This episode opens with Spider-Man robbing the Midtown Museum and attacking the responding officers. He is silent through the entire robbery.

This quickly makes the news and surprises many people. The most surprised is Peter Parker, who is Spider-Man. He receives an early morning call from Jameson demanding pictures. He decides to investigate and clear his name. His arrives at the museum but is discovered by the officer on guard duty who tries to arrest him on sight. Spider-Man webs his gun to his hand and leaves. He doesn't have the time to convince the police he's innocent.

In an abandoned dressing room, complete with cobwebs, we find the mastermind behind the impersonation. Using one of the phones from the theater, he personally calls Jonah to offer his services in capturing Spider-Man. [This was well before *69] When asked, he identifies himself as Mysterio [while his voice is modeled after Humphrey Bogart]. Jonah is so desperate to capture Spider-Man he agrees to pay Mysterio for his services – even at his premium prices. He insists that he will not pay until Spider-Man is captured and his identity revealed.

Spider-Man soon finds himself the target of a city-wide manhunt. The bulk of the New York police have been dispatched to capture him, complete with helicopter support. [They stuff he stole from the museum must have been very valuable]. With cops in the air and on the ground, he makes a desperate break for a nearby manhole cover and escapes to the sewers.

A short time later, he reemerges but the cops were able to anticipate his path and are waiting for him. When the cops open fire on him [This in a kid's cartoon?] he forms a web-shield to protect him [They did it in the Electro episode, so why not now?] He climbs up to the top of the subway track and hops aboard the next train to escape the police.

Mysterio – sans costume – is reading the news of Spider-Man's recent activities. [For some reason the animators think that underneath the fishbowl, Mysterio is a Vulcan since he has pointy ears to go with his bowl cut.] He realizes that he needs something from Jameson to help capture Spider-Man. Jameson quickly agrees to Mysterio's request and publishes a front-page invitation to Spider-Man. If he wants to learn the truth about the robbery, meet Mysterio on the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn tomorrow. Peter learns of this and has little choice but to comply.

The next morning at 6 AM we find Spider-Man atop the Brooklyn Bridge. The harbor patrol is waiting below in the event that Spider-Man does show and is defeated. The police copter is hovering nearby as well. Mysterio suddenly appears and warns him that his power is far greater than his [Alright!! I was waiting for someone to use that exact phrase] This ultimately proves to be true as Mysterio counters his every move. When Mysterio creates a massive cloud bank that conceals his presence, Spider-Man impatiently leaps toward Mysterio's voice, but finds himself falling off the bridge. He webs the underside of the bridge and swings to safety, promising that this isn't over.

Later at the Daily Bugle, Jameson is yelling at Peter for not having any pictures of the Spider-Man/Mysterio battle. Without warning, Mysterio appears insisting that he be paid for disposing of Spider-Man. Jonah won't pay him the full amount because they haven't found a body. Instead of simply paying half of the amount promised, he tears the bill in half. [Upon closer inspection - pausing the DVD - we find that it's a $1,000 bill. He did all this for $1,000? Will that even cover the cost of the costume? And it is still legal tender since he ripped it in half?] As Mysterio leaves, Peter plants a tracer on his cape.

Later on Spider-Man follows his tracer to a television studio. He observes as a stuntman making an incredible flip from the top of a lunar landing set. One of the production assistants compliments "Joe" on a job well done, stating that he's the best in the business. With filming wrapped for the day, Joe returns his space suit to the property room.

When Spider-Man arrives, Joe is resuming his Mysterio identity. [Wait. How can an actively used property room serve as Mysterio's hideout? Are people that dumb?] Although surprised, Mysterio boats that he can still defeat Spider-Man. He begins by creating another cloud bank. Spider-Man feigns defeat and tricks him into confessing he impersonated him during the museum robbery and records it on his portable tape recorder. This infuriates Mysterio and he attacks him full force.

At the Bugle, Jameson daydreams about a world without Spider-Man to influence the "misguided youth". He has been defeated in public and proven to be a thief. [I love the philosophy that a hero can be disgraced by a single defeat and thus abandon his crusade entirely]

On stage #2, decorated to resemble a saloon from the Old West, another crew is filming a western. They soon have to stop filming and look into the odd sounds they hear. When they open the door, Spider-Man and Mysterio's fight spills into their set giving the crew a true barroom brawl. At one point Mysterio brags that he's earned his reputation as the world's greatest stuntman. Spider-Man congratulates him for disclosing his identity [Ok, Dan-O, book Joe Greatest-Stuntman-in-the-world for aggravated burglary.] With that Spider-Man kay-ohs Mysterio and webs him up for the police.

Once the news of Mysterio's arrest breaks, Spider-Man visits the Bugle. Jonah is in shock having backed the wrong horse yet again. He attempts to obtain a written apology from Jonah for all the grief he caused him but Jonah won't comply. As an alternative form of payback, Spidey webs him to the ceiling.

In General...

For those that are curious, the $1,000 bill has President Grover Cleveland on the front and is worth $12,440.55 in 2010 US dollars. That is very sad now that I look at it in print, but I digress.

Circulation of that bill and it's high-value siblings was discontinued in 1969 by President Nixon to "combat crime". Not being well-versed in domestic security matters, I'm not sure how that works. You discontinue high-value bills - which I think would be easier to trace due to lower print runs - for more common lower-value bills which would be more difficult to trace. They were also using in high-value bank and intra-government transactions. Now with electronic transfer methods, these bills are obsolete. However it would be really cool to have one of those babies.

You're probably wondering why I went on a tangent about the history of US currency. The reason is simple: I was absolutely amazed that a $1,000 bill was used in this episode. Obviously a single bill is easier - therefore cheaper - to animate. However with Jameson being notoriously cheap, I can't imagine that if he had one, he'd part with it.

Yes I'm thinking way too much about a cartoon made over 40 years ago. This is my review and I can do this if I want.

Overall Rating...

4 webs. This is one of the best episodes I've seen so far. It follows the basic plot from the comic but makes adjustments where necessary. The episode flows quickly, but quite a bit happens.

When used properly - as they did here - Mysterio is very entertaining. Yes there are some story elements that make no sense, but I can ignore them because I'm sure the censors had considerable input into the show. Overall it was very enjoyable and it should be viewed repeatedly.