Spider-Man has been a pretty traditional show thus far. The majority of the stories have featured classic Spider-Man villains and many have been straight up adaptations of issues of Amazing Spider-Man. But now and then, they like to throw a curveball out there with a show that doesn’t feel very “Spider-Man” at all. (This practice will get much, much worse in seasons 2 and 3.) We saw such a case earlier with the ice aliens from Pluto episode. And now here, where a giant metal eating robot terrorizes the city.
There’s actually not a lot to say about this story. The monster shows up out of nowhere and the majority of the story is just Spider-Man running over town trying various ways to stop him.
For a one hundred foot robot, he sure is good at hiding when he wants to. He alludes Spider-Man several times by just running away. During one of those hide and seek periods, Peter returns to the Bugle and to give JJJ a pic he took of the back of the monster in Central Park. Luckily for Peter, the photo has morphed into a perfectly composited full profile front facing shot of the monster in the middle of the city.
When Spider-Man confronts the monster for what would be their final battle, he comments on how big the monster is now. The implication being that he is getting bigger from all the metal he has been eating around the city. And how does this work exactly? How can a robot grow? If anything, it points to the monster not being a robot at all. He’s no creature of Earth, so it looks like Spidey must be facing another alien?
The story ends with Spider-Man tying up the monster and using a tugboat to drag him out into the Hudson River. As the monster sinks into the water and his furnace mouth is extinguished, the day is saved.
This ending reminded me of an episode of Superman: The Animated Series that Tom and I recently watched. In that one, Superman defeats a gigantic alien who is going around Metropolis absorbing heat. Superman does so by leading him into the local water reservoir and then using chemicals to instantly turn the water to ice and trap the creature. The episodes ends with the alien trapped in the ice with no explanation given as to what happened next. What did they do with the alien? How did they get him out of there? And what about all the water that Superman just poisoned? Similarly for Spider-Man, is the monster now just sitting forever at the bottom of the Hudson? And if this was a sentient creature from another planet and not simply a robot, did Spider-Man just kill him?
The Green Goblin is arguably Spider-Man’s most popular villain, so it is a little surprising that it took this long for him to make an appearance. But the Green Goblin here seems to bare little resemblance to his comic book counterpart. The visuals are the same of course, but when has Norman Osborn ever been interested in witchcraft? This entire story centres around the Goblin stealing a book of witchcraft and a magical sceptre in an attempt to gain supernatural powers and control over the demons of the underworld.
Though his name and appearance would suggest otherwise, there has never been a demonic or supernatural tone to anything related to the Green Goblin that I can think of outside of the second Hobgoblin being turned into an actual demon. The only other thing that comes to mind is Norman Osborn’s participation in the Gathering of Five storyline in an attempt to gain ultimate power.
The show starts with what appears to be a date between Peter and Betty. Peter stammered around trying to ask her out previously, but this is the first we’ve seen of them out together. And while it may not have been a date, the cold shoulder that Betty gives Peter later in the episode after he ditched her to track down the Green Goblin, sure indicates it was.
Once the Goblin has the book of witchcraft that he needs, he still needs a medium to communicate with the spirit world and get further instructions. Goblin’s plan at this point is rather shaky. (Yes, I know this is a super hero cartoon from 1967 and that I shouldn’t think too much about these things.) He sends an ad to the Bugle that is written in Latin or something. We learn that only one in a million who read the ad will be affected and be useful to the Goblin. Luckily for the Goblin (and the plot) that person just happens to be JJJ. And the ad only ended up on Jameson’s desk because it was so odd that Classifieds wanted it approved first. And Jameson just happened to read it while the Green Goblin was hanging outside his window. All those coincidences aside, how was the Goblin planning to find that one in a million person in New York if it wasn’t Jameson and the ad did run in the Bugle?
(I tried to find some significance to what Jameson was reading, hoping for an Army Of Darkness– like “Klaatu barada nikto” situation, but had little success.)
While the Goblin has Jameson in a trance and is gathering the information he needs, Spider-Man interrupts and the two tangle in Jameson’s office. Spider-Man is eventually knocked unconscious by a desk moved by ghosts. The Goblin leaves and Jameson awakens from his trance. He sees Spider-Man passed out on the floor and calls the police. And then…just sits there and waits? I’m sure it took a while for the police to get there, and Spider-Man is unconscious the whole time. Why doesn’t Jameson take his mask off? He couldn’t wait to do it in Captured By J Jonah Jameson. Instead he waits for the police to come and attempt to arrest him.
Spider-Man will eventually confront the Goblin as he attempts to finish his ritual at the witching hour in a local graveyard. The Goblin is actually successful in summoning the demons of the underworld but they tell him he is not worthy (why exactly?) and disappear. The fight ends quickly after that as Spider-Man webs the Goblin up to be, as usual, easily taken away by the police.