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Disney XD’s newest animated series, ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ (2012), continued April 8, 2012 at 11am with its third episode, “Doomed.”
The episode picks up where it left off in episode two, with teenaged Peter Parker (Drake Bell), aka Spider-Man, at his high school dealing with a new problem. Recently, Nick Fury (Chi McBride), director of the military organization with an interest in superheroes known as S.H.I.E.L.D, recruited Spider-Man to work with a team of new superheroes.
These heroes include White Tiger (Caitlyn Taylor Love), Nova (Logan Miller), Iron Fist (Greg Cipes), and Power Man (Ogie Banks), who are all teenagers just like Peter. Furthermore, Fury assigned Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) to be the new principal of Peter’s high school in order to keep an eye on them.
Peter’s new problem is that the hotheaded Nova, Sam Alexander when out of costume, has become friends with Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s best friend. Peter is displeased to see his teammate butting in on his personal life and the two start a nasty rivalry as a result. Nick Fury sends them and their other teammates to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier for a training exercise, which causes Peter and Sam to compete and fail the challenge due to not listening.
Fury then “grounds them” for not acting together and Nova decides the best way to get back on Fury’s good side is to catch a villain on his Most Wanted list to prove that they can handle a mission. White Tiger suggests an easy villain, but Nova insists that they should get the number one man on the list, Victor Von Doom (Maurice LaMarche), aka Dr. Doom, the nefarious ruler of Latveria. Naturally, White Tiger opposes but the team tricks her into getting on a S.H.I.E.L.D. plane and they head into Latveria.
When they arrive, the team struggles to defeat Doom and his impossibly powerful security system but eventually, they succeed in capturing him. They bring him back to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters only for Fury to become even angrier because he knows Doom would never allow himself to be captured.
Instead, the Dr. Doom they think they caught is actually compiled of a bunch of androids who immediately start tearing the headquarters apart. After a few more arguments, Spider-Man and Nova work together to come up with a plan to stop Doom’s androids from destroying the headquarters and manage to stop him.
Fury demands to know whose plan it was and just when Spider-Man steps forward to take the blame, the entire team stands up for him and Fury agrees to let them off the hook because they finally learned how to act as one.
The episode is decent, with plenty of funny moments and good action sequences, but it falls short with the characterization of Spider-Man and Nova. For example, it is understandable that Peter doesn’t like having his personal life and superhero life intersect, but he seems to overreact to Nova being friends with Mary Jane.
Matter of fact, the audience is never shown the nature of their interactions so we cannot tell if Peter is jealous or simply irritated with Nova’s presence in general. The excuse is that he is a hot-blooded teenager, but it still doesn’t justify why he reacted so strongly to them getting along.
Furthermore, the team’s lack of opposition to Nova’s borderline suicidal plan suggests that it might be a good thing that most superheroes in the Marvel universe aren’t teenagers.
They were lucky to not have caused an international incident as Latveria is a country and they went and kidnapped its ruler, which very easily could have been seen as an act of war if it had been the real Victor Von Doom. It is one thing to be impulsive teenagers and a completely different thing to be as reckless as they were in this episode.
Overall, the episode stands on shaky ground but is yet another decent installment to the new series. The young heroes definitely have a lot to learn and plenty of time to get better as the first season progresses.