Whatever you say about this episode, Noah Boddy is a great name for an invisible man style character. And a doctor to boot. I wonder how much it costs and what the graduation requirements are for evil medical school? They sure do churn out their fair share of super villains.
Remember last episode when I said that if aliens saw this show they would think that J Jonah Jameson was the most powerful man in the world? That trend continues here as the show opens with Noah Boddy leaving a note for Jameson in his office. It’s a good thing Spider-Man is always around the Bugle either selling pictures as Peter Parker or just swinging past on his way to get a pizza, or he would never have any crimes to fight. (Except those times when he is out in the middle of nowhere and you have to wonder how he even got there?)
I think the big revelation in this opening scene is not the invisible man leaving Jameson a note to come to the art gallery at midnight, but that Spider-Man’s webshooters double as a flashlight! In this day and age it would probably be pretty easy to put a little LED light in there, but this was likely seen as witchcraft in 1967. Actually, at some point in the comics Peter upgraded his webshooters with a little indicator to tell him when they were running out of web fluid. I think most writers never knew about it or forgot, because it was never used.
In a change from the norm, the episode features Jonah being framed several times for robbery as opposed to Spider-Man doing his best Three’s Company impression and being falsely accused by the police for everything. (Jonah usually blames Spider-Man for everything too, but that’s another story.)
In the biz (because I knows all about the biz being from the east coast of Canada) there is a term called a “bottle episode”. (Expertly covered previously two years ago (two years?!?) by Mr. Tom Kelly.) Essentially, for one episode of a show the sets and effects and even characters are kept to an absolute minimum to save on budget to make up for overruns in prior or future episodes. That’s what this story reminded me of as they saved a “fortune” by not having to actually animate Noah Boddy. And when they do show him near the end, it is like a white finger painting done by an eight year old. In fact, the art in this episode seems worse than normal for some reason, so I guess they were really, really skimping on the budget.
After Jameson is twice bailed out of jail, Dr. Boddy takes his revenge to another level by attacking Jonah in the Bugle press room. Oh, I never mentioned that this whole episode was Boddy getting back at Jameson because Jameson didn’t believe he could turn invisible and said as much in his all powerful, world altering newspaper.
Luckily Peter just happens to be walking by and hears the ruckus and after changing into Spider-Man saves Jameson and smartly spills printers ink all over the floor. This allows him to follow the footprints of the the fleeing invisible man back to his warehouse headquarters. (Boddy never noticed he was leaving a trail of footprints behind him and simply had to remove his shoes?)
As smart as the trick with the ink was, the ending is a bit lame. After Spider-Man webs the controls of Boddy’s invisibility making machine, Boddy uses a torch to burn the webs away, but in the process shows Spider-Man exactly where he is standing. Spider-Man throws a web net over him and leaves him tied up for the police.
The One-Eyed Idol story a few episodes back is straight up racist in today’s terms. It wouldn’t surprise me if people felt similarly about The Fantastic Fakir, though this seems more to be representative of the clothing, voice and customs of an actual fakir from the country of India for example. Whether a late 1960’s American/Canadian cartoon show successfully pulled this off I will leave to other scholarly types. At least no one was told to be a “good doggie” by Spider-Man. Though he does make a comment about someone maybe being an “East Indian giver”. Oh Spider-Man.
Perhaps the money they saved from not having to draw Doctor Noah Boddy in the last story was used to pay for the original “snake charmer” music used throughout this one. Since the show’s music is generally canned and repeated every episode, to come up with the original tunes for the Fakir must have been a big departure from the norm for the shows creators.
After the Fakir steals a ruby donated by the Maharaja of the fake country of Jhin Jamir, the visiting Maharaja holds himself up on his yacht until the jewel is recovered. Jameson sends Peter on an impossible mission to get pictures of the yacht, the Maharaja and the stolen ruby.
The only way Peter can get on board the yacht is of course as Spider-Man. And to get to the yacht Spider-Man gets his swim in that he likes to do every episode or so. For someone trying to be stealthy, Spider-Man is discovered taking pictures of the Maharaja and the supposedly stolen ruby almost immediately. The Fakir is on board and uses his magical flute to send a rope like a snake and tie Spider-Man up. The Maharaja’s body guards then bring Spider-Man to the brig.
Now, do you think something like a few coils of rope would be enough to contain someone with the proportionate strength of a spider? Well, apparently so. Luckily, Spider-Man can use his web fluid to create a serrated knife and escape! It also helps that the brig door is not locked and he waltzes out like Fred Astaire.
Spider-Man overhears the Fakir plotting with his men to steal another jewel, The Star of Jhin Jamir. Spider-Man then continues the trend of not being very good at being stealthy and comes under attack as he is once again discovered by the Fakir’s men. But one thing Spider-Man is good at though…swimming! He’s off to the races again as he escapes the yacht. And it’s lucky he is such a strong swimmer as the Fakir sends a trio of crocodiles after him. But his swimming is not stronger than the reptiles and it takes some fancy web shooting to wrap the crocs mouths shut.
Now knowing where the Fakir will strike next, Spider-Man as Peter Parker has a plan of his own. Peter, representing the Bugle, arrives to photograph the Star Sapphire belonging to Ms. Van Mere. It’s not clear whether Peter actually convinced JJJ to allow him to take the pictures or it is just an elaborate scam so that he can plant his spider-tracer underneath the jewel.
Peter leaves and returns later as Spider-Man. But he must have fallen asleep on the couch first because by the time he gets back the Fakir has already stolen the jewels and had time to heat a bunch of coal and leave it on the pathway in front of Van Mere’s house for Spider-Man to walk on.
More swimming as Spider-Man heads back to the yacht. Why did he even need to plant the spider-tracer if he already knows their hideout? He even tells Lady Van Mere to call the police and send them to the yacht before he even attempts to track the signal from the spider-tracer. Anyways…
The spider-tracer leads him back to the Maharaja’s room and Spider-Man discovers that the Maharaja is a dummy.
The real Maharaja is still on his way after the Fakir sabotaged the engines on the real Maharaja’s yacht. Spider-Man then faces off against the Fakir and after he steps on another cliched stereotype (bed of nails) he manages to get the Fakir’s flute away from him, rendering him powerless.