Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Growing Pains

Season: 2
Episode Number: 19
Season Episode Number: 6
Production Number: 206
Airdate: February 22, 2009

Writer: Nicole Dubac
Director: Mike Goguen

Voices: Josh Keaton (Spider-Man), Lacey Chabert (Gwen Stacy), James Arnold Taylor (Harry Osborn), Alanna Ubach (Liz Allen), Joshua LeBar(Flash Thompson), Vanessa Marshall (Mary Jane Watson), Andrew Kishino (Kenny Kong), Grey DeLisle (Sally Avril), Cree Summer (Glory Grant), Kelly Hu (Sha Shan Nguyen), Jeff Bennett (St. John Devereaux), Ben Diskin (Venom), Tom Wilson (Stan Carter), Clancy Brown (Captain George Stacy), Daran Norris (J. Jonah Jameson, John Jameson), Dee Bradley Baker (Curt Conners), Steve Blum (Dilbert Trilby), Crispin Freeman (Electro), Brian George (Miles Warren).

Plot: Alien spores have infected Col. John Jameson, increasing his mass as well as his strength. And now he is out to get Spider-Man whom he believes is behind a series of attacks and robberies. But little does Jameson know that the real culprit is Venom!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I would get to see John Jameson don his Jupiter suit in any animated series! But here he is, and with a new name -- Colonel Jupiter!

Jameson's Jupiter suit makes its first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #42, an issue most famous for its last panel. You know, the one where Peter opens his front door to met the beautiful Mary Jane Watson for the first time, to which she utters the famous line "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!"

But what many people don't remember is that the main story features John Jameson who has been infected by spores from outer space that he contracted during his last space mission. He grows in stature and his body mass becomes incredibly dense, and Tony Stark gave him a suit that allows him to function normally despite his new physique. They call it the Jupiter suit because the scientists involved believe the spores come from Jupiter.

Growing Pains actually follows the plot of the comic book very closely. In the comic, Spider-Man is also being framed for a crime he didn't commit (in the comic it is just a corrupt bank guard) and JJJ is using his new super-powered son to bring Spider-Man down. However, the comic has John trusting his father about the Wall-Crawler right away and goes mad with power. Then JJJ realizes the truth and tries to stop his son but that proves to be a challenge, even for Spidey who eventually knocks out Jameson at an electrical power station.

While being faithful to the original story, Growing Pains adds the sub-plot of Venom framing Spider-Man. The Venom in this show is really well defined. He is mad but not crazy like Carnage, something that gets a little blurry in the comics sometimes. Eddie is a smart man in this series, so it makes sense that he would still have his smarts, even when influenced by the symbiote. And while we get a little scuffle in this episode, the real battle will be in the next episode, the conclusion to this three-part storyarc.

Just like in the last episode with the clips from Flash's birthday video, this episode is spliced together with clips of Midtown students reciting Shakespeare for a drama audition. It is a very clever way of storytelling as all of the quotes relate to the story. I hope to see more of this kind of non-linear storytelling in the future.

After her voiceless cameo in the previous episode, Sha Shan Nguyen finally gets to speak. For fans of the comics, you probably know that Sha Shan eventually falls for Flash and becomes his girlfriend, which Flash takes very seriously. I am looking forward to seeing how that plays out in this series.

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