The budget on this series is notoriously low. Most episodes feature a lot of reused animation, which often times makes no sense. People may be wearing different clothing, or in completely different environments, or the dialogue track is completely different from the animation. We can live with all that, but this episode takes things to a ridiculous extreme.
This show is almost an exact duplicate of the prior episode “Menace From The Bottom Of The World”. And to make matters worse, that’s not an early season one episode or anything…it was literally two shows ago! Sure, they rearranged the sequence of a couple of events and changed the ending slightly, but the rest is almost shot for shot the same as that other episode. “But Jimmy, surely you can’t be serious. There were no ‘molemen’ in that episode so this one has to be different.” Well, we’ll see that those molemen are actually the Subterraneans. And…
Let’s recap Menace. Banks are disappearing all over New York, but Peter gets sent to a scientists house to investigate some strange recordings from below the surface of the Earth. Somehow (“spider-hearing”?) Peter can decipher the recordings to learn of the plan of the Subterraneans to pull the banks down to their underground caves. Peter, as Spider-Man descends into the caves, fights various creatures and reveals the Subterraneans leader to be Muggs Riley, the common green criminal. The Subterraneans thank Spider-Man for showing them that they’ve been conned by Riley and promise to never again steal from the surface world.
And this episode?
The exact same bank disappears into a huge hole in the ground, same as before. At least the show acknowledges that it is the same thing that happened with Muggs Riley, but it can’t be him, because he is still in prison. But instead of descending down into the hole to investigate…Spider-Man has to get over to the radio lab for some reason. When he arrives we have the exact same exchange between Peter and the scientist as he plays the recordings from below the surface. Why Peter even went there is unexplained, but good thing he did because his “spider-hearing” allows him to listen to the recordings again (and in this case, he literally thinks of it as his “spider-hearing”) and he hears that the Subterraneans are setting a trap for Spider-Man. Better take off in a rush and get back to the hole…that you were just at 2 minutes ago…
Luckily on his way back, the Skymaster’s blimp from episode four, just happens to be going by so they can reuse a bunch of footage from that show as Spider-Man hitches a ride across town…though he ends up almost impaling himself on the top of one of the buildings, knocking himself unconscious. The Subterraneans see this as their opportunity and pull the building down below the ground. Do they have a descending mechanism below every building in the city? That seems like an awful lot of work.
Spider-Man awakens in the tunnels and is absolutely shocked by the situation he finds himself in…even though it is exactly the same situation as last time.
With that Spider-Man starts exploring the tunnels looking for the Subterraneans. Or as he continues to call them, the Mole Men, even though they were never called that last time. Along the way he battles a giant bug with lazer eyes. He then fights a horde of little green elves (ok this is different than last time) but manages to escape when the elves are distracted battling the same giant guard that Spider-Man defeated before.
Spidey eventually makes his it to Mole City, only to be knocked unconscious by one of the Subterraneans. He pretty clearly then falls to his death, but he’s back after the commercial break.
When he awakens he is tied up along with other hostages from the buildings the Subterraneans have captured. In an amazing, spectacular coincidence, the hostages are all the exact same people that were hostages in Menace, including the reporter Hammond from the Daily Bugle.
The leader of the Subterraneans is thrilled to finally have Spider-Man helpless and completely under his power. Why the grudge against Spider-Man, who knows? And even the leader is referring to his people as the Mole Men. I guess that makes it all better. They are not the Subterraneans at all. Must be like the Vulcans and Romulans or something.
Spider-Man then uses his webbing to ensnare a giant axe and bring it swinging down towards him. Unfortunately the axe succeeds in chopping off both of Spider-Man’s hands…or that is what should have happened by the looks of it, but instead the awe someone just manages to cut through the ropes and free him.
After a short battle lifted directly from the last episode, Spider-Man saves the day and captures the Mole leader. The Mole Men then agree to free the surface people and return them and their buildings to the surface.
The only thing missing here from Menace is the reveal of Muggs Riley as the masked leader. We even get the same sequence where the leader manages to get free and pull a gold gun on Spider-Man. And then like the Skymaster, fires at Spider-Man, misses and destroys the main generator. Causing a major chain reaction that will destroy the whole place. There’s nothing Spidey can do beside give us a minute of reused swinging footage as he gets the hell out of there.
So, let’s get this straight. A giant series of tunnels underneath what could be at least all of New York city are about to blow up and be destroyed. This will have no affect on the subways, and streets and buildings above? I guess Spidey knows best.
And just to add that extra layer of insult, the episode is so short they need to replay the entire theme song and have Spider-Man swinging around the city some more for the last minute and a half. Ugh.