Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shear Strength

Season: 2
Episode Number: 17
Season Episode Number: 4
Production Number: 204
Airdate: February 8, 2009

Writer: Randy Jandt
Director: Jennifer Coyle

Voices: Josh Keaton (Spider-Man), Lacey Chabert (Gwen Stacy), Vanessa Marshall (Mary Jane Watson), Alanna Ubach (Liz Allen), Joshua LeBar (Flash Thompson), Deborah Strang (May Parker), Alan Rachins (Norman Osborn), Peter MacNicol (Doctor Octopus, Master Planner), Crispin Freeman (Electro), Robert Englund (Vulture), Thom Adcox (Tinkerer), Tom Wilson (Stan Carter), (Stephanie Briggs), Clancy Brown (Captain George Stacy), Greg Weisman (Donald Menken), Bill Fagerbakke (Morris Bench)

Plot: The Master Planner sends the Vulture to kidnap Gwen Stacy in order to blackmail her father, Captain George Stacy, into giving up top secret information that would allow the Master Planner to take over the world!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): The first story arc of the second season comes to a close and it probably feels like a big weight has lifted off the shoulders of Spider-Man...literally!

Shear Strength adapts the famous Master Planner storyarc in Amazing Spider-Man #31-33 from 1966. A few details are changed, such as the inclusion of Electro and Vulture, and Gwen being in peril rather than Aunt May, but the basis of the story, and more importantly, Spider-Man's lesson in not giving up, remains the same.

Yes, that's right, Doctor Octopus reveals himself to be the Master Planner. Not a shocker for those who know this storyline, but a nice twist for new fans of the Webhead. After a mediocre attempt at leading the Sinister Six, Otto finally proves to the world that he is an actual threat and one of Spider-Man's deadliest enemies due to this brilliant mind and dangerous arms!

The pacing was well thought out in this episode. It was loaded with plot and action not just with the Master Planner plot, but there also with the ongoing saga of Peter's love life. And good work to the storyboard artists and director Jennifer Coyle who provided us with some amazing action scenes! The battle between Spider-Man and Electro was excellent, that is until Spider-Man started to fight Doc Ock's arms! Wow!

Of course, all of this culminates to the climax of the episode where Spidey is trapped under a pile of rubble and the flood waters are rising and Gwen Stacy is unconscious! This is the first time this classic scene from Amazing Spider-Man #33 has been shown in animation, and it is done perfectly! The viewer experiences the same sense of anxiety and determination that fans who read that issue of the comic book would have felt fifty years ago. Nothing was lost in the translation.

This episode was a great ending to a storyarc that started off light and had a shaky episode in the middle. Greg Weisman and his crew have upped the expectations for the reason of this season. Let's see if they can deliver.

(Oh yeah, and did you catch the name of the man who was wiring Osborne's bomb? Morris Bench, aka Hydro-Man!)

DVD Releases:
  • Spectacular Spider-Man, Volume Five

  • Back to Episode Guide

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