The Revenge of Dr. Magneto
Hey, what’s X-Men villain Magneto doing here? Uh, wait…I don’t remember Magneto with giant black bushy eyebrows and matching mustache. And since when has Magneto needed a gun for his powers. And when did he become a doctor? I know he probably went to Evil Medical School but…I smell a rat!
Besides the spelling of his name and his love of magnetism, there really isn’t much else that compares him to the Erik Lenhsherr that we know and love. The doctor’s last name is actually Mageneto, it’s not a “code name”. Dr. Matto Magneto, the man with the teeth of James Bond villain Jaws. Which I don’t remember Erik having either. Also, his name is pronounced “Mag-netto” instead of “Mag-neeto.”
You have to wonder though, why the real Magneto wasn’t used? One would assume that they did not have the rights to the X-Men characters, but this was 1967, not today with superheroes making small fortunes for companies on the big and small screens. Not to mention the fact that the X-Men at the time weren’t hugely popular and their series would very shortly become a reprint book ala Spider-Man in Marvel Tales.
The show starts with ridiculous opening sequence where Spider-Man’s belt light is as powerful as that of a lighthouse bulb and guides a ship to safety in a huge thunderstorm. What follows is a very typical Spider-Man trope where Jonah twists a story to give all the publicity but also blame and negativity to Spidey, which enrages the villain.
Magneto ups the ante and destroys the elevated subway tracks in front of Yankee Stadium. Good thing Spider-Man was in the area and he does his best Superman impersonation and saves the train by using his webbing to fix the broken tracks. Can you guess what happens next? That’s right, old JJJ blames Spider-Man for destroying the tracks and then subsequently fixing them all as part of a publicity stunt. Villain enraged further. Ante upped again.
Next, Magneto decides to magnetize the statue of Prometheus from Rockefeller Center and drop it from the top of the Empire State Building at exactly noon. But once again Spider-Man steps in and saves the day by creating a spring out of his webbing that easily stops the decent of the statue and catches it. I know this is a cartoon from the 60’s, but the ridiculous uses of Spider-Man’s webbing really bother me. And it’s not just the silly springs or working propellers, Spider-Man defeats Magneto to end this episode by cooking up a batch of anti-magnetic webbing. Sigh, really?
In story one I wondered why X-Men villain Magneto was replaced with a cheap knock off (besides the fact that the lame ending wouldn’t have worked otherwise)? Was it that the show never had the rights to X-Men characters? That could be, and I can live with that. But how do you explain the use of original throwaway character Charles Cameo in this story that should obviously feature classic Spider-Man villain The Chameleon?
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one as it may be my least favorite story of the series so far. The best thing about it was the memories it stirred up of having this episode on View-Master back when I was a boy. (“When I was a boy”…like I’m an armadillo now.)
My biggest problem with this story is that from the very beginning Spider-Man knows that the Prime Minister is a fake, but spends the whole episode running away from body guards and police claiming that “they’ll never believe me”. I’ve got an idea Spider-Man. How about one of the several times that you capture the Prime Minister you simply remove his wig and make up? That seems like it would work. Hard to argue with that. But no, run off until the next time you capture him and repeat ad nausea. Why are you even bothering to capture him?
There is also more zaniness with Spider-Man’s webbing as he whips up a new batch to deal with the fake Prime Ministers cane. But deal with what aspect of it exactly? To protect him from the gas the PM used on him in their first encounter? You would guess, and Spider-Man even declares “It won’t work this time!” after the PM tries to gas him again, but Spider-Man doesn’t even use the webbing and just runs right through the gas!
And so how does this episode end? Spider-Man webs the fake Prime Minsiter up one more time and…removes his makeup. Like he could have done at least three times earlier. Ugh. Just bad storytelling.