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Rocket Racer is the fifth episode of season three. This episode introduces the characters Rocket Racer and Big Wheel.

Plot

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Spider-Man pulls away from Felicia Hardy as she kisses him. Spider-Man tells Felicia that he can't have a girlfriend because it would put her in danger. At that moment a criminal called Big Wheel uses a giant mechanical wheel, also called the Big Wheel, to break into a nearby bank. Big Wheel's henchmen then use jatpacks to fly into the bank and steal bags of money. As they got the money the Big Wheel began to roll down the street and into another bank. Felicia Hardy's apartment was nearby and Spider-Man heard the explosion and he web swung to the scene of the crime. As Spider-Man arrived he began to fight the jetpack henchmen on top of a roof. However, the Big Wheel was able to drive up the side of the building and tried to crush Spider-Man. However, Spider-Man was able to get away.

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A short while later a teenage skater named Robert Farrell was at a pharmacy and picked up some medicine for his mother. As Robert skateboards down the sidewalk, he sees Spider-Man following the Big Wheel. Robert watches from a safe place as Spider-Man traps one of the thugs in his web. However, the thug is able to break free and as he leaves he accidentally drops the money he stole. Robert picks the money up but is quickly arrested by the police because they believed he stole it. At that moment Spider-Man ran out of web fluid and Big Wheel and his men were able to get away.

IMG 1821

Later that night Felicia Hardy and Ms. Farrell arrive at the police station. Felicia tells Ms. Farrell that the police must have made a mistake. However, Ms. Farrell tells Felicia that before he got involved in the Hardy Foundation's science program he was a criminal and feared that her son was turning back to his old ways. Felicia posts Roberts bail and as he is released from jail he explains to his mother that he didn't do anything. Robert then threatens to actually become a criminal to stick it to the police. However, Ms. Farrell yells at Robert and tells him that he won't become a criminal.

IMG 1822

The next morning Peter Parker goes to the Hardy Foundation Science Center which is where Peter volunteers as a science teacher. Peter then looks at Robert Farrell's science project involving gyroscopes. At that moment Felicia walks in and as Peter sees her he remembers the kiss she gave him while disguised as Spider-Man. Peter then asks Felicia on a date. However, Felicia turns him down and says that she is already seeing someone. A man named Jason Philips walks into the classroom and Felicia introduces him to Peter. She also tells Peter that Jason Philips is donating money to the science center. Jason then asks Felicia to have dinner with him which see accepts. Peter gets upset because he had just asked her on a date.

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Later that day Robert helps out his mother at their grocery store. Ms. Farrell tells Robert that he should go back to the science class at the Hardy Foundation. However, Robert tells his mother that she needs his help at the store a lot more. At that moment three thugs come in and demand Ms. Farrell give them protection money or else they would destroy it. The thugs then start to throw things around. As one of the thugs steals their money out of the cash register he tells Ms. Farrell that the next time they come she better have ten times that amount of money or else they will burn the store down. A little while later Peter arrives at the store to check on Robert. Robert then tells Peter that he doesn't need to go to the science center anymore because he needs to learn how to survive in the real world. Later that day Peter changes into his Spider-Man costume. As Spider-Man wings through New York City he thinks to himself that he must get Robert to realize that education is the key to survival.

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After work, Robert goes skateboarding. As Robert skates down the sidewalk, he accidentally bumps into a man. As the man drives off Robert follows him to a warehouse. Inside the warehouse, Big Wheel meets with his men and congratulates them on the success of their latest heist. Big Wheel then tells his gang that their next target will be the Diamond District. Robert was able to sneak into the warehouse and stole some equipment from Big Wheel. However, unknown to Robert there was a security camera recording him. Robert then snuck into the Hardy Foundation Science Center and began to put together the equipment he found at the warehouse and made a jet-powered skateboard. Additionally, when Robert got home he sewed together a costume. Ms. Farrell walked in and saw him sewing his costume but was unaware of what was really going on.

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That night Robert, calling himself Rocket Racer, test the jet-powered skateboard and used it and a rocket launcher to break into a jewelry store. Rocket Racer began to use his new equipment to steal the jewelry and believed that this would solve all their problems. However, Rocket Racer remembered that his mother said if he ever became a criminal it would destroy her. Rocket Racer realized that what he was doing was wrong. However, Rocket Racer tripped the silent alarm and the police arrived. As Rocket Racer escapes on the jet-powered skateboard J3 Communications catches him on camera and broadcast it over live news.

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Spider-Man sees the news report and believes that he is part of the Rocket Raiders gang he has been tracking. As Spider-Man finds Rocket Racer he follows after him. As Rocket Racer drives the skateboard up the side of a building he accidentally falls off the skateboard and his magnetic boots attach themselves to the bottom of an elevator that is on the outside of the building. Rocket Racer is unable to turn off the magnets in his boots and fears that he will be crushed when the elevator reaches the ground. Spider-Man arrives and tries to use his spider strength to stop the elevator but fails. However, Spider-Man is able to crawl into the elevator and press a button to shut it down. Rocket Racer is then able to detach himself from the elevator and is able to get away. However, Ms. Farrell watches the J3 Communications news report and recognizes that Rocket Racer is Robert. Rocket Racer then rides off on his jet-powered skateboard and Spider-Man follows after him.

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Back at the warehouse, Big Wheel realizes that the jet-powered skateboard he invented was missing and looked at the footage from the security camera. Big Wheel recognizes Robert Farrell as the teenager that the police arrested after he was caught with some of the stolen cash they had dropped. Big Wheel then decides that Rocket Racer must be killed before the police force him to reveal where he got the rocket technology.

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A short while later Spider-Man caught up with Rocket Racer and managed to put a spider tracer on him. Spider-Man was then able to track Rocket Racer back to his apartment and learned that he was really Robert Farrell. Spider-Man then asked Robert why he broke into the jewelry store and asked why getting arrested once wasn't enough to teach him a lesson. However, Robert told Spider-Man that he would do what ever it takes to survive. At that moment Felicia Hardy came in and told Robert that his mother relapsed and that she was with a doctor at her apartment.

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At that moment Big Wheel and the Rocket Raiders arrive at Rocket Racer's apartment. Big Wheel then sends the Rocket Raiders inside to capture Rocket Racer. However, Spider-Man was able to subdue some of them giving Rocket Racer and Felicia Hardy enough time to get out of the building. As Felicia and Rocket Racer got outside they got in Felicia's car and drove off with the Big Wheel following them. However, the Big Wheel was catching up to the car and to keep Felicia safe Rocket Racer got out of the car and skated away on the jet-powered skateboard. Big Wheel then followed Rocket Racer. Felicia then finds Spider-Man and tells him that Robert is in trouble.

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A little while later Big Wheel caught up with Rocket Racer and began to fire lasers at him. One of these lasers causes Rocket Racer to fall off his Jet-Powered Skateboard. Big Wheel almost runs over Rocket Racer but Spider-Man saves him. Rocket Racer then sees a downed power line and realizes that the electricity could malfunction the Big Wheel's timing mechanisms which would cause it to malfunction. Rocket Racer then lures Big Wheel over to Spider-Man. Spider-Man then places the power line on the ground and as the Big Wheel runs over it it goes out of control and crashes into the river. However, Spider-Man is able to save Big Wheel before he can drown. Rocket Racer then learns that it is important to have an education.

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Sometime later Peter Parker meets with Felicia Hardy and tells her that the police arrested Big Wheel and that he confessed to everything. Peter also says that the judge will go much easier on Robert when he goes to trial. In the next room, Robert tells his mother that since everyone thought he was a criminal the easiest way to help out was to actually become one but he just couldn't bring himself to steal. Robert's mother then tells him that they are a team and they can get through anything together.

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A few nights later the three thugs come back to the grocery store and intend to burn it down. However, Spider-Man and Robert were waiting for them. Spider-Man and Robert then capture the thugs as they attempted to run.

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That same night Felicia Hardy was on a date with Jason Philips. As they got back to Felicia's apartment Jason sees that Felicia is sad and asks if she has feelings for someone else. Felicia answers not anymore and tells him that they should have dinner again very soon. Spider-Man is watching from the rooftop of the building across the street and says to himself that it is time to let Felicia go.

Cast

Actor Role
Christopher Daniel Barnes Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Jennifer Hale Felicia Hardy
Billy 'Pop' Atmore Rocket Racer / Robert Farrell
Michael Des Barres Big Wheel / Jackson Weele
Telma Hopkins Ms. Farrell
Mark Hamill Jason Philips
Alan Johnson Additional voices
Jonathan Michael Additional voices

Cameos

Locations

  • Felicia Hardy's apartment
  • National Bank
  • Bank
  • Pharmacy
  • Police precinct
  • Hardy Foundation
  • Farrell's Grocery
  • Warehouse
  • Jewelry store
  • J3 Communications
  • Hotel Excelsior construction area

Items

Continuity

Trivia

  • This episode is loosely based on The Amazing Spider-Man #172 (1977) and The Amazing Spider-Man #182-183 (1978). In both issues Spider-Man faces Rocket Racer and Big Wheel.
  • This episode and The Spot are considered by most fans to be the two worst episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • A J3 Communications reporter states that the hotel Spider-Man and Rocket Racer fight at is called Hotel Excelsior. Excelsior was the word Stan Lee used to sign off of his soapboxes. Excelsior is a Latin word that means ever upward.
  • Spider-Man uses New York City's nickname, the Big Apple.
  • Rocket Racer calls the Big Wheel a hula hoop. A hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs, or neck. The hula hoop was invented by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr in 1958.
  • During the episode Big Wheel calls Rocket Racer a "skate punk". Skate Punk is a sub-genre of punk rock music.
  • During the episode Felicia Hardy calls the Big Wheel a ferris wheel. A ferris wheel is an amusement-park ride consisting of a giant vertical revolving wheel with passenger cars suspended on it's outer edge.
  • During the episode Big Wheel calls Rocket Racer a gremlin. A gremlin is a fictional creature that sabotages planes. It is believed that stories about gremlins started during World War II by airmen whose planes were malfunctioning.
  • Jackson Weele is never called by his comic book name, Big Wheel, in the episode. However, Robert Farrell does referee to the vehicle as the Big Wheel.
  • Robert Farrell is never called Rocket Racer in the episode.

Episode review

A review by Amazing Spidey from Marvel Animation Age

This is it, easily the worst episode of the entire series, in the opinion of just about every Spider-Man fan alive. First of all, the Rocket Racer has got to be one of the stupidest villains ever. Here, for some reason, he later became a hero. The real villain of the piece was The Big Wheel. The big Wheel was basically a man, rolling around in a huge wheel. What kind of stupid villain is that?

The Rocket Racer himself was a typical, and very annoying angry young black man who talked down to Spidey about what it takes to survive in his neighborhood. He's talking down to Spidey, who beats the like of Doc Ock, Venom and The Lizard. People who are actually dangerous.

If you've read any of the previous reviews from this site, or visited the message board attached to it, you'll know I love this series, but even I can't stand to watch this episode. We never saw Beetle or Sandman but we see both Rocket Racer and Big Wheel in the same episode. Why were we subjected to this? And to rub salt into the wound why is this one of the few episodes to be treated on DVD? Did we do something wrong in a previous life?

It started out ok, with Spider-Man and Felicia, and quickly took a complete nosedive. For a series that had so many strong episodes and characters, I found it hard to believe this one was allowed to be made. For some amusing reviews of the episode, check out the message board, which features some classics such as "(This) episode is surely one where I'd rather be repeatedly hit over the head with an anvil than be subjected to it" and "I'm afraid this is the one. The unforgivable episode that never should have been." At least The Spot actually had reason to exist, they needed that dimensional transporter machine for The Goblin, but this? Ugh. I've already wasted enough time telling you how bad it is.

Quotes

"What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry Felicia but this just isn't going to work. Spider-Man can't have a girlfriend. It'd be too dangerous. For both of us."

"I know. Even so I had to let you know how I feel."

-Felicia Hardy & Spider-Man

"Accurate timing is a thing of beauty."

-Big Wheel

"I thought I'd seen everything but this really takes the cake!"

-Spider-Man

"Yes ladies and gentlemen it's Robert "The Rocket" Farrell slashin' up the sidewalk! Will the curb be a problem? No way! He too stoped to be stopped! Radical aerial! The crowd goes wild! He swings the stairs like a pro! And then for the grand finale. . ."

-Robert Farrell

"Gotcha you flying flakes!"

-Spider-Man

(One of the thugs with a jetpack flies a few inches over Spider-Man's head.)

"Felt the breeze on that one!"

-Spider-Man

"The cops can handle him. I've got a bigger fish to catch."

-Spider-Man

"Okay rocket runts, partys over! Blast! What a lousy time to run out of webbing! No extra cartridges! No captured bad guys! For this I left Felicia?"

-Spider-Man

"I tried to tell them I didn't do anything but they think I'm a thief. Maybe that's just what I otta do. Then I'd show them!"

"No son of mine is going to become a criminal! It would destroy me Robert. Don't ever talk that way son. Don't even think that way."

-Robert Farrell & Ms. Farrell

"Friend? Unbelievable. As long as she's in love with Spider-Man that's all Peter Parker will ever be. Now I'm competing with myself!"

-Peter Parker

"I seem to be striking out all over these days."

-Peter Parker

"He's making a big mistake if he thinks education isn't a key to survival. There's got to be someway I can make him understand that."

-Spider-Man

"The credo I live by as a master thief is the same one I believed in when I was an aeronautical engineer. Timing is everything. Fortunately I gave up government work just in time to use this top secret technology for more lucrative ventures."

-Jackson Weele

"Everyone wants me ti get back into science. Cool. I'm with that. But this time it's going to pay."

-Robert Farrell

(Spider-Man presses a button to stop an elevator before it can crush Rocket Racer.)

"I never realized this finger was so powerful."

-Spider-Man

"Farrell. We've got to eliminate him before the police make him reveal where he got his technology. My technology."

-Big Wheel

"Nice job Spidey. The new kid in town just took you for a ride."

-Spider-Man

"So your the newest creep to hit the Big Apple?"

"Spider-Man! How'd you find me? I left you sucking diesel exhaust!"

"A little bug told me. But what's with breaking into jewelry stores? Wasn't getting arrested once enough to teach you your lesson?"

"Lesson is to survive man. It's not an easy thing down here. Bet when you take off that mask and go home you don't come to this neighborhood. See I didn't steal anything but everyone thinks I did. So what's the point of playin' by the rules men? Tell me that spider guy."

-Spider-Man & Rocket Racer

"It's that over grown hula hoop again!"

-Rocket Racer

"I want my technology back skate punk."

-Big Wheel

"Time to remove the one gremlin in my carefully timed machinery."

-Big Wheel

"Well, how do you like that? My smarts helped you get us out of that one. Guess it pays to know science stuff after all. And to use what you know responsibly."

"Looks like the Big Wheel steered him in the right direction after all."

-Rocket Racer & Spider-Man

"I know I was wrong mama. But since everyone thought I was a thief it just seemed like the easiest way to help out was to become one for real. But I just couldn't go through with it. I'm not a crook. And I guess I really am a scientist at heart."

"Yes. And your my son. Oh I am very proud of you. You and I, were a team and we'll get through everything together."

-Robert Farrell & Ms. Farrell

"I always did wanna hang with the homeboys."

-Spider-Man

"Looks like Felicia has found a new friend. Ah well. I suppose it's all for the best. Sweet dreams Felicia. It's hard to let you go."

-Spider-Man

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