CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel; directed by Dan Riba.
REVIEW: I haven't had this level of Spider-Man déjà vu in a while. Because who is Stalker if not Kraven the Hunter? They half-heartedly attempt to hide it under an improbable combo of gimmicks - cybernetics, a tribal look (which changes from scene to scene) - but a big game hunter obsessed with tracking the biggest game of all, the animal spirit represented by our hero? That's Kraven. And furthermore, it's the Kraven of Kraven's Last Hunt, hallucinating half the time (trauma + cybernetic eye malfunction) and dying a horrific death at the end. You'd think Batman would be able to save him, but the DCAU's standards are changing when it comes to character death. Getting hit by a train while we focus on a horrified reaction shot is pretty gruesome, as is Stalker snapping a panther's neck.
Terry even has a Spider-Man subplot to deal with, the pressures of his home life. His mom is trying to get a promotion at work and is taking courses to get herself there. She's a single mom who needs more help at home, and Terry ought to be the "man of the house". What starts as a joke and a reason for Bruce to smirk - your mom called and she wants you to bring milk - soon because a very real problem as Terry is stuck babysitting, makes his kid brother a target, and has to willingly fall into Stalker's trap to rescue him. These are the kinds of distractions and angst-inducing elements that always gave a certain Mister Parker problems.
All that said, the episode works well enough. The jungle hotel is a nice location. The fight with the car thieves is well choreographed. There's a funny bit where a Joker tries to hold Terry up with a pie. Stalker is never more badass than when he kills a mosquito with a blowpipe. The real highlight, however, are the lighting cues. The shadows cast by leaves are just gorgeous, and the flashback and hallucinatory sequences where Stalker fights the panther, in red and black, are striking. No pun intended (choo choo!).
IN THE COMICS: DC Comics does have a character called Stalker, but he was a sword & sorcery hero created by Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko in the '70s, who was on a quest to find his lost soul. No relation.
SOUNDS LIKE: Frequent DCAU contributor Carl Lumbly puts in another appearance, as Stalker, before eventually becoming the Martian Manhunter.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A visual triumph, but takes too much from the competition's best known character.