ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

Ever have a week from hell? Well, Peter Parker can definitely commiserate as he battles two villains while scrambling to find a project for the upcoming science fair.

“This is not my week.” Peter begins, as he faces off with an as-of-yet-unseen foe. Apparently Spidey’s been having a rough week, another clash with Whirlwind on Monday, having to pose in a toga for Aunt May’s art class on Tuesday, he forgets what happened on Wednesday and Thursday “But it probably involved getting my face punched.” and now, today, as he has to stop none other than the Juggernaut from robbing a bank. (Before you ask, the phrase “I’m the Juggernaut, b*tch!” is never uttered, as this show is for the youngins. But Spidey does tell him that his PG catchphrase is equally terrible.) While he’s trying to stop the leviathan, Luke calls him on his little SHIELD watch and asks him if he forgot about something. Turns out Peter had a prior engagement- the school science fair, which Coulson is all sorts of hyped up about. Luke and Peter are partners, as are Sam and Ava and Harry and Danny. “It’s tomorrow! I’ve been reminding you about it every day for weeks.” Looks like the week isn’t quite over yet.

Ultimate Spider-Man Awesome episodeWhen Peter finally gets home after no sleep, he checks in with Luke about their progress. He calls the Juggernaut a “work in progress”, ie he didn’t catch him yet and apparently had promised Luke that he’d do the whole science fair project himself. When he finds out that Aunt May sold his old chemistry kit, he has to go up to the school to work on something. On the way, he finds the Juggernaut still on the rampage. “Isn’t there ANYONE else who could take care of this? Doctor Strange? Iron Man? Thoooooorrrr?!” At the science fair, the other teams are putting the finishing touches on their projects. Danny and Harry seem to have come up with some sort of X-Ray camera. (a combination of Oscorp and SHIELD tech?) and Sam and Ava have what looks like a fancy ice-maker, which is really something Ava came up with to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce global warming. Poor Luke is there alone, waiting for Peter to show up. When he finally arrives, having taken care of the Juggernaut, Luke lays into him about trusting him to do all the work and letting him down. (Luke, honey, take this note for college. When one of your group members is being an unproductive load, you take charge.) But Peter has an idea.

That idea, of course, is sneak into SHIELD and snag something of theirs, something Peter can hack or mod. Apparently Dr. Connors gave him an open invitation if he needed help, but he just takes that as an invitation to an open door. (Among the things Peter considers stealing: the Cosmic Cube, the Ultimate Nullifier and Howard the Duck.) But what he finds most interesting is some sort of wiggly piece of space matter, which he calls a moon brick. He leaves an IOU and takes it, not noticing that the machine it was in is flashing a red skull symbol.

Peter brings the space brick back to the science fair and presents it to Luke. “It’s a brick.” (I laughed.) “We’re screwed and you’re Ultimate Spider-Man Awesome episodesmiling.” Luke sighs. “What does the brick do?” Peter describes it as a sort of memory foam- except its a brick, it can harden and expand and change shape and matter. The boys are pretty psyched and don’t notice the brick sprouting legs and a teeny little body. But when Peter considers how he’s going to take credit for something he didn’t do, he feels guilty. Meanwhile, the brick starts walking around. It has a mouth now and begins eating things off the floor, growing each time it consumes something new. Peter says he’ll tell Coulson and take the fall, only to realize that the brick creature is missing. It’s now huge and wandering around the floor. “I don’t suppose that’s someone else’s out of control brick?” But Coulson is already two steps ahead of them. It’s not a brick, it’s actually a kind of robot. The Awesome Android. It’s got a rudimentary system of functions and has the AI intelligence of a two year old, he tells them as he shakes some keys at it, trying to distract it. It can only eat inorganic matter (we find out, as it tries to eat Coulson but he phases through the Android, completely naked.) The team gets to work on trying to stop it as it busts through the school. The team, all suited up, finds the creature about to eat an entire train.

Nova puts Luke in the path of the train so he can slow it down while he and Spidey distract the Android, which is basically like a giant grey toddler. The train stops, and the civilians cheer. However, also on the train is none other than Juggernaut. “Work in progress, huh?” Luke tries to stop Juggernaut from pummeling Peter but is also bested. Juggernaut runs straight into the Awesome Android, who promptly devours him, making him lose the helmet which gives him his powers, allowing Spider-Man to finish him once and for all. But now they still ahve the Android to take care of, and while Peter wants to take all the responsibility himself, Luke says it wasn’t fair for him to expect to do all the heavy lifting. The team comes together, everyone putting their hands in.

When the Android squashes an ice cream truck, his foot begins to shrink. “Coulson said he was made of high absorbant compounds, the cold must cause them to contract.” Luke says. “I think you’re right!” Peter exclaims. “You sound surprised. I don’t just hit stuff!” he says back. (Luke, you may be the team bruiser, but you are way smarter than Sam.) Danny uses the Iron Fist to distract the Android, who is trying to use Nova as a toy. “If I live, Spider-Man doesn’t!” In the lab, Luke grabs Ava and Sam’s experiment, the freezing agent. “I only believe in two things, Spider-Man. You’re only as good as your word, and second chances. I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I didn’t offer the same to you.” Peter’s second chance is getting the machine inside the Android. He distracts the Android and Luke activates the machine befor hurling Peter into the grey matter. The android’s compounds fall apart, leaving Peter in a pile of grey goo. Luke pulls him out and Peter hold up the original brick.

Peter and Luke hand over the Juggernaut into SHIELD custody, hoping that Fury will at least be happy to have the criminal in custody. “I don’t think it’s Fury you have to worry about.” Luke says, gesturing to a still-naked Coulson, who glowers at him as they re-enter the helicarrier. Peter insists that he take the fall for this whole thing, but Luke refuses. “Did you learn anything? You’re still trying to do this all yourself. I’m not playin’ that.” he says, as Peter tries to evade him and he chokeholds him back on to the helicarrier.

Ultimate Spider-Man Awesome episodeFor an episode that featured two pretty generic and uninvolved villains, I actually liked this episode. And while it is my fervent prayer that this show will indulge in a little more character development and longer arcs, they’re starting to get a lot better at their episodic storytelling while still giving us good character stuff. I wish USM would realize that it could have its cake- the cutaways and the jokes- and eat it too- giving us really good stories given that they have such good source material to work with and a team of pretty talented animators. But as for this episode? Pretty good. The “science fair” trope is a little tired and I actually would like to know how the kids came up with some of that stuff, especially something that can freeze things using liquid nitrogen, but Ava is pretty genius and also this is a show about teenage superheroes. I will let it slide.

But it was a good teamwork episode, something we haven’t had in awhile, and finally, Luke Cage got a nice feature, using both his powers and his pretty noble sense of code to flesh out who he is as a person. The “I don’t just hit stuff!” line was appreciated because that’s all the show has really let him do. I like watching these kids rub off on each other, especially the more dynamic members like Ava and Sam. Luke’s line about believing in a man’s word and second chances is a really nice, subtle way of bringing to mind the character’s comic book origins, something I really wish we’d get a glimpse of for any of these kids, especially Luke’s impervious powers and Ava’s White Tiger powers. I wanna know, Marvel! Let me have this! You love origin stories!

I think I’ve basically come to terms with what this show wants to be, and I’ve made my peace with it, just like I’m settling into EMH’s eventual fate of cancellation. I feel like I shouldn’t have this many emotions over a kid’s cartoon.

If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Ultimate Spider-Man: Strange Days’ recap to catch up.