It’s so far so good for season two of Spider-Man. We’ve had the Origin of Spiderman and in this episode, the first animated appearance of the classic Spider-Man (soon to be classic Daredevil) villain, the Kingpin.
Wilson Fisk made his first appearance in comics way back in the classic (that’s the last time I’ll say “classic”…d’oh!) Amazing Spider-Man #50.
This story is not an adaptation of that book and focuses on a fake medicine scam being run by the Kingpin. This includes the new medicine being taken by Peter’s Aunt May, who doesn’t seem to be getting better lately.
This episode also cements the fact that these new shows take place before season one as Peter applies for a job at the Daily Bugle and meets J Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant for the first time. I’ve seen this season described as being a prequel to season one, but I think that is too kind to it. I think it is more likely simply a case of ignoring whatever came before.
In a rare bit of internal continuity for either season of the show, this story picks up not long after the death of Uncle Ben last episode. Peter discusses the new job at the Bugle with Aunt May to help with the bills, including that medicine. Aunt May hasn’t made many appearances in the show, but is looking quite different here. Betty and Jonah are also redesigned. In typical Spider-Man fashion, Jonah’s appearance seems to bounce around from redesign to some reused season one footage. Betty and her groovy new haircut have been all new footage so far.
Another familiar face to Spider-Man fans is Frederick Foswell. He also makes his first appearance here. Foswell was an early staple in issues of Amazing Spider-Man and does appear in issue 50, albiet in a very different capacity. In that comic, Foswell, who had already served time after failing in his attempt to take over New York crime as the Big Man, attempts a comeback. With Spider-Man “retired” for the first of many times, Foswell informs Fisk that it is he, and not the Kingpin, who will be the new boss. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t go over well with the Kingpin and doesn’t end well for Foswell. In this show though, Foswell is simply a mole at the Bugle for the Kingpin and informs him that Jameson is about to blow the top off the fake medicine ring.
The Kingpin can’t have that and kidnaps Jameson and sabotages the Bugle printing presses. Not surprisingly, Spider-Man rescues Jonah and defuses the bomb before any damage is done. The story also makes note that this is the first time that either Jameson or Kingpin have ever seen Spider-Man. It appears to be his first adventure as a crime fighter.
As I noted when reviewing episode one of season two, the show has been redesigned to feel much darker than anything in season one, and it shows here.
Another major change for season two is that all the episodes are now full length and not split into two stories. This format will have it’s ups and downs, and will work better in the future, but is a disaster here. There simply isn’t enough story to fill up this episode. In fact, I don’t think there was even enough story to fill half an episode. I didn’t time it, but I’m pretty sure that over half the show is just “padding” with Spider-Man swinging around. Swinging after the car with Kingpin’s goons after they kidnap Jameson. Swinging to the Bugle to defuse the bomb. More swinging and the entire theme song played again. Swinging off into the sunset at the end. Upcoming episodes will handle this better by at least inserting some breaks for dialog or the like, but this one just seems to go on swinging endlessly.
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