Spider-Man Episode 40- “Farewell to the Mystery of the Zero”
Originall Aired March 7, 1979
With only one episode left, Spider-Man will have to work pretty hard to thwart the evil schemes of the Iron Cross Army for good, but beforehand, he’ll have to stop them from obtaining the once-lost plans for an improved version of the Zero fighter plane engine. Can Spider-Man protect the hard work of a grandfather and his grandson from his enemy’s clutches? Find out in this action-packed episode!
Watching a surveillance video of a toy plane, Professor Monster is impressed at its maneuverability. He compares the footage to another one from World War Two, and admires how the Zero fighter plane is a marvelous piece of engineering due to its lightweight and flexibility. Monster wants to find a prototype Zero engine that went missing at the end of the war, so he can install it into a Machine Bem shaped like a manta ray. Amazoness is sent out to retrieve the plans.
Elsewhere, the toy plane continues its fantastic flight and in a matter of minutes the demonstration is over. Hitomi compliments Masaki for his skilled control of the plane and how well it’s built. She hopes to use the photos for a piece, but the boy’s grandfather refuses to be included in it. Masaki tells Hitomi that during the War, his grandfather designed planes for the military. Intrigued, the girl follows the two to their workshop and learns something has happened with a friend of his. Mr. Obara rushes out of the house, and Takuya is forced to go help him.
Mr. Obara arrives at his friend Nishimura’s house to find Saeko Yoshida impersonating his secretary. He enters to find his former colleague dead as a door-nail and finds himself surrounded by a cadre of suited Ninders. Takuya and Hitomi look through a window, but she flees when she sees Yoshida due to her irrational fight or flight response. Before Takuya can transform, Masaki is also caught by the Iron Cross. Luckily, they force the old man back home to retrieve the diagrams.
Spider-Man arrives in the nick of time to stop the plans from being taken. The thugs attack him, while Obara struggles with Amazoness over the plans. Spider-Man throws a string at Yoshida, but the two Amazon Warriors appear and shoot an arrow into the old man.
On the ambulance ride, Obara tells Spider-Man the story of this prototype Zero engine. During the war, an engineer named Nango designed an engine that was a hundred times more powerful than a regular Zero. His original intent for the engine was for peace time due to the possible benefits this engine could provide in commercial uses, possibly better fuel usage and faster speed. It’s up to Spider-Man to save the life of a daughter of the last engineer, because the Iron Cross Army may think she has the final diagram. You’d think Monster would’ve improvised the missing pieces.
At the airport, Shizuka is picked up by a group of Ninders (who are wearing helmets for some reason) and is taken to an abandoned factory. When Spider-Man arrives, Amazoness reveals the whole thing was a trap because the old man had the last diagram all along. Tokyo’s web-swinger is force to fight through a horde of Ninders before he can go back to the hospital to save Obara and his grandson. Over there, Ninders take care of the police protection and the Machine Bem Air Bomber enters the room, nearly strangling the old man to death.
Spider-Man arrives in the nick of time, as usual, and has to go through the entire hospital to chase after the monster of the week. You’d have to give a lot of props to the Japan Action Club, as Spider-Man’s stunts sure look pretty damn hard, as he not only climbs up walls, he climbs side to side, leaps from them, and has to contend with a group of Ninders.
The Iron Cross Killer finally catches up with the Bem, vowing that the Zero will never be used as a tool of war every again. Air Bomber continues to limp away, as his flying engine isn’t complete, and is forced to use his cannons. He quickly grows big, allowing himself to be destroyed via Sword Vigor.
Back at the hospital room, Mr. Obara tells Spider-Man that it’s time to burn the rest of the Zero’s technical diagrams. As the flames flicker through the decades old sheet of paper, so does grandpa’s memories of a war-torn world disappear into the smoke. The Zero engine may never be completed, but at least it won’t be used to kill people anymore…
As a stand alone episode, I would say this was a rather fantastic episode, as it dealt with ghost of the past and gave the viewer full of action-packed moments. Being that it’s the penultimate episode, you can’t help but feel that there is something more that could’ve been done. We now live in a golden age of television where storylines tend to have more meat on them, and we expect a payoff at the end. If you’re expecting one for a kid’s show from the 70s, that’s not a Kamen Rider show, don’t hold your breath.