Episode #17: Sheer Strength
Original Airdate: July 6th, 2009

It’s New Year’s Eve, and all is not right with world. The Master Planner and his henchmen are literally planning to take over the world! A highly motivated Spider-Man takes the fight to the Planner’s secret lair. But once he gets there, can he survive?

Written By Randy Jandt
Directed By Jennifer Coyle
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Moi Animation

Josh Keaton as Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Lacey Chabert as Gwen Stacy
Thom Adox as The Tinkerer
Allana Ubach as Liz Allan, Trina
Peter Macnicol as The Master Planner, Dr. Octopus
Joshua Lebarr as Flash Thompson
Crispin Freeman as Electro
Robert Englund as The Vulture
Clancy Brown as Captain Stacey
Bill Fagerbakke as Morris Bench
Grey Delisle as Sally Avril
Vanessa Marshall as Mary Jane Watson
Alan Rachins as Norman Osborn
Deborah Strang as May Parker
Greg Weisman as Donald Menken
Tom Wilson as Stan Carter

Review: Stu - Sheer Strength opens with a bang as the identity of The Master Planner is revealed. I admit I didn’t expect MP to be Doc Ock as I thought that would’ve been a little too obvious, as of course, Octavius was the original Master Planner from the comic books, and Peter MacNicol voices him in the show – I thought they were going to use these as swerves but they’ve caught me out here. I was genuinely surprised to see Dr. Octopus as the big reveal. It would appear that I’ve not seen the forest as I busy looking for trees.

Moving past the show’s awesome opening theme and we get to see more of Osborn mentoring Peter and the introducing Morrey Bench, who I didn’t expect to see in this show (twice in 2 weeks they’ve done that, it would appear Weisman might even be a bigger Spider-Man nerd than I!) and we come to an impressive explosion. While I do admit to be harsh on the designs for this show at times, its staging is second to none – even just something like Spidey dodging the debris from an explosion produces some sensational visuals.

As for the Master Planner’s master plan, I admit to actually thinking Octopus had discovered Peter’s secret when they mentioned that the target had been found down at the coffee shop and was glad to find out that they were after Gwen instead. Peter’s secret identity works when it’s… well, a secret. Having half his rouges’ gallery knowing who he is just defies the entire point of having a secret identity (are you reading Bendis?). I wasn’t sure what I expecting this master plan to be but it worked for me – I especially liked the involvement of the Stacey’s as it again ties into Peter’s wonderful little romantic dilemma that he finds himself in. I was expecting absolutely nothing from the romances in this show before it started but it’s actually done them arguably better than anyone before – even John Romita Sr. himself would be proud of the work they’ve done with the women in this show!

I would actually rank this as one of the show’s very best episodes – this is no small feat, as having recently sat down and watched each and every episode, there’s not really a bad one to be found. Some are weaker than others, sure, but each has been impressive throughout. Speaking of constantly impressing, Josh Keaton was outstanding in this episode – I’ve not really commented on him that much since the show started but he’s really knocked it out of the park. After having listened to some of the recent horrendous miscasting for Spider-Man (did any of you play Web Of Shadows? Jesus Christ, the casting for Spidey was beyond awful!) It makes you appreciate Keaton all the more. It all comes back to Peter’s love life by the episode’s conclusion and I admit it seemed logical that he ends up with Liz. Wait… I don’t think ends up with the correct term because I don’t see her and Pete lasting and after this weekend’s heartbreaking ending for Gwen I predict we’ll eventually see them together at some point. Hopefully it won’t be seconds before she dies but you never can tell with this show. I just hope they don’t rush it or ruin it by having her find out his secret identity.

While The Master Planner arc might now be concluded, it seems that things are only just getting started for Peter Parker. Bravo to all involved!

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