Yet another Spider-man, and this episode is a 2-for-1 with two shorter episodes featuring the Vulture and Spencer Smythe. The real joy of these episodes are the villians, in fact it is through their names that my son remembers each episode.
In doing some surface research on the villains, I found it interesting that what is considered Spider-man’s greatest weakness is that he refuses to use his powers for profit—I guess that’s what makes him a my favorite super-hero these days. But more on the villains, the Vulture is an older villain who created a harness which both allows him to fly and gives him super-human strength. I particularly dig him because he is extra-ornery, and calls Spider-man a “boorish boob” and “webhead” (kind of like Electro always calling him a loser). He also has a moment when he gets his $2 million in ransom and says “And my mother thought I would never amount to anything!” I don’t know, there is something beautifully pathetic about the Vulture.
But it is actually the second part of this episode that has me most intrigued. In this episode the inventor Spencer Smythe approaches J. Jonah Jameson with a remotely-controlled robot that can track and capture Spider-man, moreover it can actually reproduce the talking visage of Jameson on its TV-like faceplate.
What’s cool about this is that the remote control console for the robot actually looks and plays like a video game, which seems kind of wild for 1967. What convinces me about the video game vision is that it employs an impossible technological point-of-view. Jameson and Smythe watch the robot capture Spider-man on the remote console screen from a perspective that would be technically impossible because the screen shows both the robot and Spider-man from afar, how can that be? It would actually depend on all kinds of satellite imaging for this kind of shot to be represented on their console, yet what it does suggest is an early Spider-man video game played by Jameson. It may just be video game obsessing or a really bad over-reading (I fully understand I’m splitting hairs about technical possibilities within broader reality of a terribly animated cartoon that has spider-tracking robots with octopus like arms—but I can’t help it). Anyway, it kinda tripped me out. Take a look at an edited clip featuring Jameson playing the remote-controlled unit: