Baby Groot is sent to Earth by Star-Lord to deliver a message to Peter. Before he can decipher the message, the unlikely pairing of Baron Mordo and A.I.M. kidnap the little guy. Spider-Man teams up with Iron Heart, Amadeus Cho, and Doctor Strange for a rescue mission. In the end, Peter not only has new superhero friends to count on but he learns that Star-Lord’s message is a warning of a symbiote threat making its way to Earth.
[Slight Spoilers for 3.2 Ahead!]
Peter begins preparations for the impending symbiote invasion. He first gives Aunt May a special weapon he obtained from the space program that can protect her. Later he meets up with Iron Heart, Cho, Doctor Strange, Baby Groot, and Spy-D at Avenger’s Tower. The group are initializing safety measures that will hopefully help defend New York City.
Before they can activate a protective shield, the Avengers return from outer space and head directly to the tower. Unfortunately, they are venomized and serve as a scouting party for the symbiotes. They are to clear the remaining heroes on the planet and pave the way for an easy take over.
Though they make a valiant effort to fight back, all of Peter’s friends and the rest of Earth’s last guardians are taken down and quickly infected by the symbiotes. When it seems like Spider-Man is about to be overwhelmed, he receives an unexpected savior in Marc Spector. Afterwards, Peter must convince the man once known as Moon Knight to aid his and Max Modell’s quest to save the planet from the alien invaders.
Spider-Man: Maximum Venom has the tendency to be corny and cheesy but in “Vengeance of Venom” it seems perfectly placed. The entire episode has a B-movie feel in a good way with elements of an alien invasion and to a degree, a zombie outbreak. The symbiotes are highly transmissible and they corrupt everyone they infect. Spider-Man and his crew spend a lot of the first part on the run and you really feel the anxiety and franticness of the cat-and-mouse game. Especially when Peter’s friends go down one by one.
Going along with the B-movie theme, there is a lot of ridiculousness going on. Apparently the symbiote can also infect inanimate objects like vehicles. It’s entertaining to see venom-cycles in hot pursuit of Spider-Man. Then, in the final battle, a rag tag group of civilians aid Moon Knight and Peter to take on all the venomized superheroes. Is it believable that an average Joe can battle the Totally Awesome Hulk only using an umbrella? No, but it’s so outlandish that it works.
If you thought they included a lot of superheroes last episode, “Vengeance of Venom” crams even more in. We see Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, Captain America, Cloak, and Dagger along with the Spider Team. I think fans would enjoy seeing all these familiar faces even they are used more as the antagonists. All these recognizable characters along with the invasion angle gives a more epic scale to the story.
The pairing between Spider-Man and Marc Spector/Moon Knight serves as a nice contrast of motivations and philosophies. Both have seen their inability to act have tragic consequences but while one uses that experience to be optimistic and keep fighting, the other is more than ready to give up and just survive.
Though the two’s differing views effectively convey a moral of the episode, something common in children’s show, they do this in a clunky and unsubtle way. It’s as if Spector is too negative and goes through such a drastic change in the end.
Another aspect I didn’t like were the venomized character designs of the superheroes. They could have taken them further and make more distinguished symbiote versions but they all really look so similar. I feel it was a real missed opportunity but I can understand why. You don’t want to make the good guys look too evil and give the young viewers nightmares.
The third episode of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Maximum Venom is my favorite so far this season. The alien invasion/symbiote plague turn the show’s regular cheesiness into an advantage and the addition of Moon Knight brings a darker tone and a good foil to Peter Parker.
Watch Episode 3 tonight at 9pm (EST/PST) on Disney XD.