Episode Title: The Prison Plot
Of all the villains in the Marvel Universe, one that is often listed as one of the most powerful is that master of metal…Magneto. This evil mutant is usually pitted against fellow mutants The X-Men. But remember, in this series Spidey’s got a few mutants in his corner. So it’s up to them to stop Magneto in The Prison Plot.
As our story begins, dozens of police officers are attending the National Police Chief and Warden Convention, which for some strange reason is being held at a prison. Peter, Bobby, and Angelica are working as gophers for the convention in an attempt to earn money to buy a present for Aunt May’s birthday. The entertainment for the convention is an escape artist called Proton the Great. Spidey, however, quickly recognizes him as Magneto. When Spidey confronts him, Magneto promptly seals the wall crawler in a giant hourglass with sand pouring down on him.
Magneto then sets his plan into action. He seals the prison in a magnetic shield and demands the release of three members of his brotherhood of evil mutants: Blob, Toad, and Mastermind. Before long Iceman and Firestar succeed in releasing Spidey. The trio then realize that Magneto is increasing his abilities by draining power from the Niagara Falls power plant. With time running out before the evil mutants are released, the Spider Friends must hurry to stop Magneto.
I’ve said many times that this is a kids show and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, this episode seems to be a low-point for the series. The story is extraordinarily contrived. I mean come on…a cop convention being held at a prison that our heroes just happen to be working at!?! But that’s not even the worst part…did I mention that a ferry boat carrying Aunt May and Miss Lion just happens to be floating nearby the Alcatraz-like prison complex. Of course, Miss Lion jumps overboard, swims beneath the water, goes through a pipe, and then meets up with the Spider Friends to help battle the bad guy. That’s going a bit too far.
At pretty much every turn, this episode just gets more and more ridiculous. At one point Spidey puts on a thick lead-lined suit, yet somehow this doesn’t impede his ability to crawl up the walls. Speaking of ridiculous, later in the episode Magneto makes Niagara Falls flow upward…the is before Iceman freezes it solid in half a second.
This episode also really does a number on old Magneto. He’s supposed to be one of Marvel’s most menacing villains, but here he comes off as a ridiculous, over-the-top, Snidely Whiplash type. He even has a “Mwah-ha-ha” sort of laugh. Also disappointing is that three other mutants are introduced, but they never do anything! What a waste!
I can deal with the quirks of Saturday morning kiddie fare. I was raised on this stuff, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. This episode, however, goes a bit too far, taking a classic Marvel villain and turning him into a cartoonish buffoon. Hopefully Spidey’s enemy Mysterio will do better in next week’s episode – Spidey Goes Hollywod. Hmm, maybe there’ll be a Sam Raimi cameo.