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DVD Review

DVD cover

Animated TV Series (1994)
Complete Season 5


Starring (voice): Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jennifer Hale and Edward Asner
Clear Vision
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 19 October 2009

You'll know from my review of Season 4 that this animated series from 1994 is fantastic, and knocks spots off the rather dreary X-Men series from the same period. This time around we get 13 20-minute episodes spread across two discs, which equates to a running time of 4 hours and 24 minutes. There's hardly time to breathe as Spider-Man endures all manner of hardships in his endeavours to make Manhattan and the world at large a safer place. The fighting of crime continues to interfere with his private life at every juncture. This series has cleverly incorporated many of the Marvel comic sagas in a few short episodes at a time, and simply moves on to the next. However, this isn't all about action; this animated series has real heart and shows that events in life don't always go according to plan.

In The Wedding, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson finally tie the knot. Fisk (the Kingpin) comes forward to arrange the wedding in return for Peter saving his life. But Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson refuses to be outdone. No one has counted on the untimely arrival of the Green Goblin.

In Six Forgotten Warriors (a 4-part story), The Kingpin assembles the Insidious Six (Doctor Octopus, Shocker, the Vulture, Chameleon, the Scorpion and Rhino) to assemble the hidden keys to a doomsday device, protected by aged superheroes. Meanwhile, Peter Parker travels to Russia to clear his dead parent's name. He returns to find a new super-villain created by the doomsday device, and Captain America and the Red Skull are released from their 50-year struggle in the vortex.

In The Return of Hydro-Man (2 parts), the man who can control water discovers he is clone of the dead original. However, possessing all the memories and emotions of the original, he kidnaps his counterpart's love, Mary Jane. Under duress MJ reveals water powers herself, and it turns out MJ is a clone too, whose genetics breakdown. Not only has Peter Parker lost her for a second time, he realises that he married a clone.

In Secret Wars (a 3-part story), Spider-Man is taken by the mysterious dimension-crossing Madam Web to a powerful being called the Beyonder, who has been studying the respective strengths of good and evil. He is transported to another planet and told that the people have lived in peace for millennia and have no concept of good and evil. The Beyonder transports Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom, the Red Skull, Alister Smythe and the Lizard to act for evil. Spider-Man must lead a force of good against them to prevent the planet being overrun. He chooses the Fantastic Four, Storm from the X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America and the Black Cat.

In Spider Wars (2-parts), Spider-Man returns to New York to find it in ruins. The Green Goblin and Hobgoblin are wreaking havoc under the leadership of another Spider-Man, who has joined with the symbiotic Carnage. This is another dimension. Secret Wars was a test of Spider-Man's skills as a leader, and now he is chosen by Madam Web and the Beyonder to put things right, aided by a group of Spider-Men from various dimensions: the eight-limbed Man-Spider, the grey-armoured Spider-Man, Octo-Spidey, the Scarlet Spider, and a curiously powerless Spider-Man.

This entire animated serial has been a joy to behold. Many of the major storylines have been covered (albeit briefly, compared with the comics of the time), making every episode equally compelling viewing for children or any adult with an interest in the character. At the end of the Spider Wars, Madam Web takes Spider-Man to the reality of the powerless Spider-Man, wherein he's a fictional character. In a cheesy moment the real Spider-Man meets creator Stan Lee and takes him web-swinging around the city. The final moment is more poignant and a great place end the series, as Spidey and Madam Web go in search of the real Mary Jane.


Ty Power

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