Epic Spider-Man Rewatch: Spider-Man (1967) S1 E17

Our favourite two doctors are back!  Dr. Smarter and Doctor Octopus!  Ok, so maybe they’re not our favourites, but they’re back anyway!

Dr. Smarter has created a device called the Nullifier which seems to just intercept missiles in mid-air so they detonate before striking their intended target.  Doc Ock decides that’s something he just must have.  And why?  Well, it seems that Doc will use the Nullifier to control all space and no one will be allowed to orbit the Earth without his permission.  Which of course, comes at a price.

So, is this Nullifier reusable?  We see one blow up a missile in the demonstration and there is the one on display that Octopus comes to steal.  But how is his plan going to work once he shoots down one satellite or whatever?  He’s done at that point and it is back to business as usual for everyone else.

Luckily Peter Parker happens to be at Dr. Smarter’s demonstration of the Nullifier and slips away to change into Spider-Man.  He tries to stop Ock from getting away with the tried and true method of shooting webbing over Ock’s glasses to blind him.  Ock threatens to drop the Nullifier to the street below and while Spider-Man is busy building a web to catch the Nullifier should Ock actually drop it, the good Doctor manages to remove the webbing from his glasses and runs away.

Smartly Spider-Man planted a spider-tracer on Ock while he was blinded and subsequently follows him back to his hideout.  Warned by his spider-sense (hey, it actually works this episode!) Spider-Man realizes it is a trap and uses his web to make a functional sling shot and ball.  Firing the ball at what appears to be Doctor Octopus, a bomb is set off, leveling the place.

Ock is watching from the comforts of his living room as video of the explosion is being shown on his old cathode ray tube TV set, complete with…a wireless remote?  Which I’m surprised to find actually did exist back in 1968, though I doubt they were common.  I don’t think we had a wireless remote in my home until sometime in the 80’s.  In either case, having seen the explosion Ock assumes Spider-Man is dead.

Which, of course, he is not.  In the wreckage of Ock’s fake headquarters, Spider-Man finds a scrap of the Doctor’s cloak…which he places in a device and somehow uses it to track Ock down.  What exactly is it tracking?  Is Ock’s body odour that bad?  Is his clothing covered in radioactivity?

In a game of “fool me once, shame on you”, Spider-Man tries the “web the glasses” trick again, but the web bounces right off because Ock “spayed them”.  No matter, when Ock electrifies the wall behind Spider-Man (always good to have a wall of free flowing electricity in case your enemies show up), Spider-Man webs Ock’s tentacles together and fastens them to the electric wall.  In the process, incapacitating Ock until the police arrive and also proving the little known science fact that spider-webs are good conductors of electricity!

 

In a previous story entitled Farewell Performance, Spider-Man is recruited to help save the Castle Theatre from demolition.  At the end of the story it appears Spider-Man has succeeded and it seems like the type of thing that will never get mentioned again.  Well, it’s not exactly mentioned again here, but we see that the magician Blackwell is back performing to a packed audience at the Castle Theatre.

In the Green Goblin’s first appearance in the show in The Witching Hour I commented on how it seemed somewhat out of character for him to be obsessed with magic and the occult.  But that continues here as the Goblin breaks into Blackwell’s house to read some of his magic books so that he can quickly and easily go on a crime spree, robbing store window displays without even having to break the glass.  I guess it keeps the alarm from going off, but I’m sure the Goblin could smash and grab whatever he wanted and be gone before the police showed.  And if they know it was him?  Who cares?  He’s the Green Goblin, not like he is trying to remain anonymous.

When the Goblin successfully first tries out his new powers outside a jewellery store, there is a great scene where he parks his glider next to a parking meter and puts in a quarter.  “Mustn’t break the law.”  Though in true Grand Theft Auto fashion he steals the money out of the parking meter before he leaves.

So the Goblin has already broken into Blackwell’s house and read a book of spells that allowed him to steal several jewellery stores and banks.  But I’ve got an idea Goblin, why didn’t you just steal the books you wanted from Blackwell’s collection?  Instead he returns to the scene of the crime to read some more and is confronted by a waiting Spider-Man.

Using his newly acquired magic tricks, the Goblin binds Spider-Man in chains and traps him in a plastic tube that is filling with water.  Typically, the Goblin then leaves to go rob a few more banks and doesn’t stay to make sure Spider-Man dies.  With the cylinder full of water, Spider-Man manages to shoot his webs up onto the ceiling and then…the webbing just pulls him out of there.  How can it do that?  I guess you could argue that he pulls himself out by climbing up the web, but that’s not how it looks in the animation.  But his web can be used to make a functioning speed boat, so I guess it automatically pulling him up out of a trap is no big deal.  (And how strong are the chains that Spider-Man can’t simply break them?  Maybe because they are “magic” chains, and Spider-Man has to find a spell to remove them…though he eventually doesn’t need magic at all since they are “trick” chains and he just finds the release.)

Meanwhile, the Goblin continues his crime spree and once again heads back to Blackwell’s to read some more of the book.  Just take the book with you Goblin!  Shesh!  To his surprise, and no one else’s, the Goblin returns to Blackwell’s to find a very much alive and free Spider-Man.

The Goblin uses his magic to disappear.  Luckily Spider-Man must have stopped between episodes and gotten that not very reliable spider-sense tuned up.  It came in handy in the last story to save him from Ock’s booby trap, and here it allows him to find the Goblin’s hiding spot behind a faux wall…and to hit him in the behind with a giant ax!

Just as the Goblin appears to be getting the upper hand against Spider-Man in their battle, Blackwell returns home and does…nothing.  But Spider-Man uses the distraction to web the Goblin up.  Maybe Blackwell was the reason that Goblin’s “cannonball from a top hat” attack stopped when he found it loaded with a bunny instead, but that’s not clear.

While the characterization of the Goblin still feels a bit off with the whole magic angle, it is still a good episode featuring Spider-Man’s top two villains.

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