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Spectacular Spider-Man 2.11: Subtext

Mark Allen has a serious gambling problem. He owes big to bookie Blackie Gaxton. However all debts will be cleared if he undergoes an experimental process to turn himself into the Molten Man. Yeah that's gonna end up working well for Marky in the end.

* For those who wish to see the second season of Spectacular Spider-Man. It hasn't aired yet in the US, but the show's first season is currently airing on Toon Disney. The second season  finally debuted on June 22, 2009 with back to back episodes (which is next Monday folks). For those in Canada, you've already seen all of Season Two on Teletoon and can rub it in US viewers' faces. So as of this moment, you're probably on Reinforcements.   

 

 

 

Yet again, Spectacular Spider-Man adapts another story ripped from the original comics. Though the head characters are changed with Liz and Mark Allen (subbing for Betty Brant and her's), and the villain (this one being the Green Goblin) but the same tragic end come's yet again with a twist. Instead, of the brother dying, Mark is transformed into the supervillain the Molten Man.

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Those who where comic book fans knew this moment was coming, just this soon was surprising to me. We've seen a lot of Mark Allen since he was introduced at in part two of the Venom arc. Up until now, he seemed a pretty nice guy, though we knew he got into trouble with gambling. Alas, to say his problem finally resurfaces full time and it costs him big time. He really was played the fool by Blackie Gaxton, Professor Miles Warren, and the Green Goblin this episode. With no other real choice but to do their bidding and torch the web slinger.

I have to admit, even though he is boxed into a corner with no options, Mark is pretty stupid to think there's no real catch just right after he's given super powers. With the kind of people he dealt with, there's always a catch with things. Alas to say, this one was too much for Mark to handle. As Molten Man, his powers are out of control, almost endangering everyone around him. However, I have to admit this is a nice contrast to Rhino and Sandman who had control over their abilities quite easily, while Mark struggles even when he's trying to help save people.

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It reminds me of the fable, King Midas’s touch which in the end was a terribly curse (everything he touched turned to gold). The very same ideal applies save everything Mark touches burns and sadly is destroyed. It truly make's him a truly tragic character, not really wanting Spidey's hide like the other rogues of Spidey. He's only blackmailed rather then pursued by greed, which is a nice new touch.

As for the real rogue of this episode, the Green Goblin, he utterly steals each scene he's in. It's a welcome return of seeing probably the most terrifying of Spidey villains from Season 1 return in such grand style now in this final arc as the new Big Man of crime. The Goblin is utterly chilling when he reveals the harsh truth to Mark of the experiment and much like the Joker you find yourself cringing a little at his jokes given they have that same deadly. Also separating himself from the rest of the top class of the gallery is he wants Spider-Man utterly dead, compared to Tombstone and Ock, who where willing to tolerate his existence unless they interfered in his affairs.

Though as much this is Mark's tale, it's also his sister, Liz Allen and Mary Jane's tale as well. Both are really put through the ringer with Mark's actions and it's horrific that both pay a price in this episode. Though for Pete sadly it's allows him back into Liz's life. And though he is so totally making you hate him given we all know he's more into Gwen than Liz, at the very least this time he's there for her and won't turn in said pictures like he did to the Connor's family way back in Season 1. At least some lessons are finally learned by him.

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I have to admit how unique this series tries with itself. Last episode we got an operatic score with truly stunning results. This week we have the episode starting literally in the heat of battle with Spidey and Molten Man. The remainder of the episode we have clips all leading to up to the start of said fight, which was a nice touch. Honestly, I will not even try to compare this episode to last one, which would be so unfair. That said, this episode was good on it's own standards. However, Mark utter gullibility it's the other elements that save this episode. From Professor Warren fully stepping into the opposite number of Doctor Connors (the later creating supervillains on accident with him on purpose and now making a nice profit from it). To the confrontation that follows from that truly lifts the episode beyond the heights of normalcy. Things are truly gearing up for the final run for this season. I cannot wait to see what the Goblin does next to Spidey now that the kid game is over with.

 

4.5 out of 5

 

Spectacular Trivia

- In the comics, Blackie Gaxton was a bookie who used the debts owed by Betty Brant's brother, Bennett, to be owed by springing Doctor Octopus out of jail and later himself. Blackie kills Bennett who shields his sister from a shower of gunshots. Gaxton first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #11.

- Mark Allen or Raxton as Molten Man in Amazing Spider-Man #28 before being revealed to be related to Liz Allen in #132. In the comics, Mark and Liz aren't related by blood, but actual stepchildren (hence, why his last name isn't Allan). Mark didn't have a gambling problem that led him to this end. Instead, he worked for Spencer Smythe (creator of the robotic Spider-Slayers). One night Raxton stole an alloy both he and Spencer where working on. However, like most events, he was caught by Smythe and in the ensuing struggle, the alloy was spilled covering his entire form causing the same chaotic powers. He mastered the powers and became somewhat of a hero in the 80s to early 90s.

However, being stepbrother to Liz Allan made him also Brother-in-law to the second Green Goblin Harry Osborn. Numerous times he helped Harry (Web of Spider-Man #66) and also took the brunt of Harry's abuse as the Goblin as well (Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1 #189). However it Norman Osborn caused his powers to become chaotic again which happened in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #441.

It fell to the recently returned and sane again Harry Osborn to cure his former brother in law of the alloy. Harry finally succeeds and Mark was cured in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #581-582.

- The owner of Big Sky Billard Room (aka the torched bar Molten Man and Spidey do battle in), is owned by none other than Montana aka Shocker. Numerous times Blackie make's mention of this during the episode.

- In the comics the Green Goblin did employ some supervillains to go after Spider-Man before taking a more direct assault upon him personally. One of these was named the Headsman and he did battle with the Wall Crawler in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #8. Near the tail end of the infamous Clone Saga Norman did this again. Using Hobgoblin IV (Jason Macendale), Cell-12, Gaunt, and the Scriers before going one on one with him.

 

 

 

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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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