Shows : Spider-Man TV (1994) - Season 2, Episode 4

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

This review was first published on: Oct 2012.

Background...

Peter’s DNA is mutating, slowly transforming him into something inhuman. Desperate for a solution he seeks answers from the only people who can understand his situation…

In Detail...

Spider-Man TV (1994) - Season 2, Episode 4
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Spider-Man approaches the Charles Xavier Academy for Gifted Youngsters with the hope that Professor X, as a field leader in genetic mutations could provide a cure for his mutation. Unfortunately approaching the school by the roof trips the security systems and finds himself imprisoned before the X-Men: Professor X’s secret mutant peacekeeping taskforce. Wolverine is more than willing to beat the intrudes’ intentions out of him, a prospect Spidey is less than keen to experience, forcing him to make a run for it. With the X-Men in close pursuit Spider-Man hides in the holographic Danger Room; not the best solution to his problems as Gambit inadvertently left it on the robotic death machine programme, leaving Spider-Man to deal with a platoon of Sentinels. They prove to be too much for him but not for Storm’s lightning and the combined assault of the rest of the team while Jean Gray deactivates the programme. Charles calls off Wolverine and allows Spider-Man to explain himself, although his answer is not the one expected: he cannot cure mutation, only train mutants to use their powers safely. Riled that once again his previous good work has gone unrecognised, Spider-Man leaves with a word of warning that if he metamorphs into some dangerous arachnid monstrosity it’ll be their problem. Beast differs on Wolverine’s perspective that Spider-Man isn’t even a real mutant so is undeserving of their aid, leaving the school in search of Spider-Man.

Downtown Dr Herbert Landon meets with the Hobgoblin to trade off technology s his employer the Kingpin would otherwise abuse. This turns out to be a betrayal as Landon detonates the warehouse building, although he does not realise this assassination attempt has failed; the price of Hobgoblins’ silence of his double-cross has just increased. Kingpin has noticed Landon is away from his labs at the Brand Corporation, where he has the doctor working on the creation of an army of obedient super mutants, and calls to ensure Landon is aware that he has eyes and ears everywhere. Back at his labs Landon prepares for a press conference to leak some of his research, however he has a secret agenda he believes will benefit mankind, which is now moving into the final test phase.

Beast catches up with Spider-Man to tell him that the Brand Corporation may be of help; however Spider-Man is in no mood for the charity talk and leaves. Suddenly they are ambushed by Landons’ men and beast is abducted. Wallowing in self-pity, Peter returns home to bid farewell to Mary Jane and Aunt May, changing him mind when a memory of Uncle Ben reminds him never to stop fighting.

Wolverine reposts in the Beast never returned last night, already concerned that he’s been acting differently lately. Following his trail Wolverine believes Spider-Man lead him into a trap and vows vengeance on the web-slingers. At the same time Peter is attending the Brand Corp. press conference, off-put by the mutant-phobia attitude of most of the guests. Landon announces his cure for mutation is interrupted by a vengeful Hobgoblin to remind him their arrangement still stands, now at triple the fee. All Spider-Man can do is try to hold up the crumbling roof as Hobgoblin flees and the attendees bolt. At the critical moment something intervenes, allowing Spider-Man enough time to escape before the building collapses. Knowing Hobgoblin will likely strike at the Brand Corporation Spider-Man heads over and lies in wait.

Beast is being held in an electrified cage at Landon’s mercy. Landon explains that he has used Beast’s old research and perfected the technique, creating a formula that destroys all trace of genetic mutation with the additional consequence of killing the host. Beast is aghast at this proposed genocide, further horrified that he is to be the first test subject.

His gamble pays off, as Spidey snares Hobgoblin demanding answers. Turns out Hobgoblin is bankrolling Landon, taking cash in exchange for his silence over his plan to eradicate the mutants. Wolverine interrupts the unmasking of the goblin, certain that Spider-Man is working with Beast’s captors. This allows Hobgoblin to regain himself and line up both men in his sights as Wolverine goes for the killing blow against the wall-crawler.

Spider-Man’s desperation for a cure has driven him to the mutant team, the X-men, in hopes of reversing his metamorphosis. Finding they cannot cure his condition, only train him in using it for the benefit of humanity, Spider-Man leaves along with the empathetic Beast, unaware they are being tracked by Kingpins’ foot soldiers. Beast is captured as a test subject for Dr Herbert Landons’ mutant cure: Genocidal gene alterations of all mutants. Wolverine goes in search of Beast, believing Spider-Man to have kidnapped him on behalf of the pro-human movement. Hobgoblin is hired by Kingpin to eliminate the troublesome Dr. Langdon, and soon Spider-Man and Wolverine become entangled in a three-way face-off with the Hobgoblin training his gun sights on Spider-Man for a kill shot.

In General...

An exciting crossover between this series and X-men: The Animated Series (1992-97) that does not feel forced but natural to the running narrative. With nowhere else to turn at this point, Spider-Man is forced to seek out the only group that can understand his situation, despite the impression that he is somewhat phobic towards mutants (although it could just be curtness through anger at his situation). It gives the series an expanded universe feel which will be further explored during the ‘Secret Wars’ in the final season. The introduction of the X-men and their respective powers does drag after a few minutes as Spider-Man explores on set piece after the other, but the characters themselves do not stray from their own series’ counterparts; Beast in particular is his poetic, empathetic self down to a fault, and event the romance between Gambit and Rogue is touched upon. Having Wolverine taking on Spidey was pandering to the fans, seeing as the stout Canadian was as popular in the 90s as he is today, albeit with fewer comic team placements, but it hardly drags down the overall tone and pace of the story.

At times it did feel like this was more of an X-men: The Animated Series episode guest staring Spider-Man, so the presence of Kingpin helped prevent the story becoming more about the pro/anti-mutant movement and Landons’ plans for the “cure” for the mutant gene. Mark Hamill is as always a welcome addition to the action, hamming up splendidly as Hobgoblin (although I recalled his ties to Kingpin being severed in the season 1 finale). George Buzar is to my mind the definitive Beast; softly spoken - almost wounded -, poetic, musing and thoughtful, his addition to the show adds to the quality.

The plot itself centred round Spider-Man’s increasingly desperate search for a solution to his mutation, and having to balance this on top of introducing the X-men, Landon, anti-mutant sentiment, Kingpin and Hobgoblins’ involvement, and the Wolverine-Spidey brawl is no means feat for just 20 minutes. Nothing feels rushed, with enough time devoted to each segment to allow things to play out at their own speed. With set up now done the following episode looks to be more action-orientated.

Overall Rating...

A solid Marvel Team-Up, with the added delight of Mark Hamill and George Buzar staring.