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The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volumes 2 & 3 (2008)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/17/2009

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/13/2009

First appearing in 1962, Spider-Man is one of the most enduring characters in modern fiction. Getting his start in comics, Spider-Man has shown up in movies and video games, but he's also had a very long career in television shows. It could be argued that every generation gets their own incarnation of Spider-Man on TV. From the psychedelic animated show of the late 60s, to the live-action show in the 70s, to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in the 80s, to the superior animated version in the early 90s, which did a great job of following the comics. Spider-fans of today are now treated to The Spectacular Spider-Man, a show which is both retro and modern.

Sony has just released two new volumes of The Spectacular Spider-Man to DVD, each of which contain three episodes.

The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Two offers:

-- "Market Forces" -- One of the petty thugs who works for The Big Man is given the costume to become The Shocker and he begins to wreak havoc in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Peter Parker (voiced by Josh Keaton) gets his first paycheck for selling pictures of Spider-Man to The Daily Bugle and he must decide if he wants to use the money to buy a new camera or help Aunt May (voiced by Deborah Strang) pay the bills.

-- "Competition" -- Norman Osborn (voiced by Alan Rachins) and Hammerhead (voiced by John Di Maggio) have Dr. Otto Octavius (voiced by Peter MacNicol) use an experiment to turn thief Flint Marko (voiced by Di Maggio) into The Sandman. Meanwhile, Peter and Harry Osborn (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) try out for the football team. Should Peter use his Spider-powers?

-- "The Invisible Hand" -- Osborn and Hammerhead are at it again, and this time, the result is turning Alex O'Hirn (voiced by Clancy Brown), into The Rhino, a villain with an indestructible hide. The Rhino immediately hits the streets, searching for Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Peter is struggling over who to ask to a school dance, so he asks Betty Brant (voiced by Grey DeLisle), but Aunt May feels that Betty is too old for Peter.

The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Three features:

-- "Catalysts" -- Peter takes Mary Jane Watson (voiced by Vanessa Marshall) to the school dance, and his friends are shocked by his beautiful date. But, Peter has to leave when he's asked to head to a high-society party which is being crashed by The Green Goblin (voiced by Steven Jay Blum). The party is being thrown by The Big Man. Spider-Man arrives and begins to battle the Goblin, and is surprised when he must join forces with The Big Man in order to stop the insane foe.

-- "Reaction" -- The Green Goblin sabotages the lab where Dr. Octavius works and the result causes the Dr. to lose control of his robotic arms...and his mind. Thus, Dr. Octopus is born. Peter and his friends go to Coney Island, but when he spots Dr. Octopus, he takes off after the villain. Spider-Man soon learns that Octopus needs a power supply and that if can keep fighting the many-armed menace, that he may be able to wear him down.

-- "The Uncertainty Principle" -- The Green Goblin attacks Hammerhead, sparking another battle in his war with The Big Man. Based on seeing The Goblin enter the Osborn penthouse, Spider-Man begins to suspect that Norman Osborn is The Green Goblin. Peter's boss, J. Jonah Jameson (voiced by Daran Norris) is anxious, as the space shuttle carrying his son John (voiced by Norris) has been damaged and may not make it back to Earth.

Having now seen six more episodes of The Spectacular Spider-Man, my feelings towards the show haven't changed from the thoughts given when I reviewed the first DVD release. The show is an interesting hybrid -- an amalgam of many different Spider-Man storylines and sources. Some things come directly from the comics (there's a shot in "The Uncertainty Principle" which is a homage to a cover from The Amazing Spider-Man in which The Green Goblin is dragging a bound Spider-Man), while others are clearly influenced by the Spider-Man movies. It could be said that the show is taking these bit and pieces in order to appeal to Spider-Man fans of different generations. However, for the most part, this show is clearly aimed at a younger audience. The language, the character's mannerisms, and the overall feel of the show justifies it being featured on a kid's broadcast. Having said that, I found the transformation of The Sandman to be something which could easily disturb younger viewers.

No matter at whom the show is aimed, one thing is for sure, The Spectacular Spider-Man isn't doing anything to harm the Spider-Man legacy. Yes, some facts have been changed from the classic comics, and I'm sure when Venom shows up that his origin story will be a convoluted mix of the comic origin and something new. But, for the most part, the show has a good Spider-Man vibe. We see an anxious and awkward Peter Parker attempting to navigate high school while Spider-Man learns to use his powers and fight crime. We also see that Parker's home life isn't perfect and that even superheroes have problems. This is the foundation on which any good Spider-Man story is built and while the show isn't perfect, it's doing an OK job so far.

The Spectacular Spider-Man swings onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the image is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look good, most notably the reds, blues, and greens -- but, they aren't as bold as they could have been. The animation is fairly sharp, but there are some moments where jagged lines are noticeable. The DVD contain a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action scenes provide us with notable stereo effects, often showing good stereo separation. There are some very mild subwoofer effects from explosions. Very weak surround sound is present, but it's basically reproducing only the music from the front channels. On the plus side, dialogue is always clear and audible.

There are no extras on either DVD.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long