Episode Title: Spider-Man Unmasked
Well true believers, we’ve entered the home stretch for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The third season consisted of eight new episodes. Spidey, Iceman and Firestar are all back, but there is a new presence in these episodes as well. None other than Stan Lee himself. Beginning with season two of the show, Stan Lee began providing intros and narration to the episodes. The season one episodes were even changed to add Lee and keep everything consistent. However, the Stan Lee narrations no longer exist on the masters of the first two seasons, but season three survives. So, with a few bits of narration from Stan the Man, we start this seasons with Spider-Man Unmasked.
The episode begins with Peter, Bobby, and Anjelica enjoying a day at the beach. While they enjoy the sun, they hear a news report on the radio that the villainous Sandman has escaped from prison. They don’t have much time to worry about that, though, when a shark is spotted in the water pursuing none other than Flash Thompson. Our three heroes quickly dispatch with Jaws and change back to their alter egos. Problem is the Sandman is hiding among sand of the beach, so he spots Spidey change back into Peter. Now he knows the webslinger’s true identity.
The Sandman then follows Peter around, hiding in the form of sculptures and park benches, so he can learn more info about Peter. This leads to Sandman threatening to harm Aunt May unless Spidey butts out and never tries to stop him again. Peter is about to give up being Spider-Man all together, but Firestar hits on an idea to have Peter and Spidey show up in the same place at the same time, causing Sandman to think he was wrong about the two being one and the same. And who do they get to dress up as Spidey…that creep Flash Thompson.
Sandman has always been a favorite Spidey villain for me, so it’s good to see him finally show up in this series. He gets several opportunities to change his shape and smash various things. Ultimately, though, it’s in service of a pretty dull storyline. I gotta admit, I was nodding off a bit during this one. I mean so much time is devoted to the whole plot involving Flash posing as Spidey that it leaves little time for any real Superhero vs. Supervillain action.
It’s interesting to note a moment in this episode that is very similar to things that happen in Sam Raimi’s film Spider-Man 3, which featured the Sandman character. During the final battle, our three heroes battle a giant version of Sandman at a construction site, which happens in Raimi’s film, as well. What causes the villain’s undoing in this episode is that Spidey clangs a wrecking ball against a steel girder Sandman is holding. The villain exclaims, “That sound!” and then becomes unable to hold his human form. In Spider-Man 3, it is similar sonic vibrations which causes Venom, who has teamed up with Sandman, to start to become separated from its human host. I don’t know that I can say Raimi was inspired by this episode, but it’s an interesting coincidence.
Sadly, I found this first episode of season three to be pretty bland and disappointing…which I guess is what many people thought about Spider-Man 3, as well. I have high hopes for our next episode, however, as the team sets out to battle some classic movie monsters in The Bride of Dracula.