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DVD Review

DVD cover

Spider-Man 5000
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Ted Schwartz, Linda Gary, Mona Marshall, William Woodson and Buster Jones
Clear Vision
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Available 07 June 2010

For the first time on DVD comes this animated Spider-Man 5000 series, which was first broadcast in the 1980s. What we get is the first seven episodes over one disc, with an accumulative running time of 2 hours, 33 minutes.

In Bubble, Bubble, Oil and Trouble - Doctor Octopus creates a powerful diamond saw, and plans to steal the world's oil from tankers. In Doctor Doom, Master of the World - Doom hijacks the president's plane, and hypnotises the world's leaders. In Lizards, Lizards, Everywhere - the Lizard attempts to turn New York into a jungle overrun by reptiles. In Curiosity Killed the Spider-Man - a talented cat burglar steals the Maltese Mouse diamond. In The Sandman is Coming - the Sandman steals radioactive soils samples returned from Mars, in order to make himself stronger. In When Magneto Speaks... People Listen - Magneto holds the world to ransom by controlling all the Earth's satellites. In The Pied Piper of New York Town - Mysterio hypnotises the people of New York into attacking Spider-Man.

Both storytelling and animation quality had moved on in leaps and bounds from the quaint Original Spider-Man from the sixties, which ultimately outstayed its welcome. For a start, in Spider-Man 5000 (thus titled only for the DVD releases) there are only occasional repeated sequences. This is much more the uncertain Peter Parker that we know and love from the comics. He suffers from all the problems that come with being a teenager: school, allergies, girlfriends - all conspire to further complicate his role as a superhero. Things constantly go wrong in his battles - as they would - and this further grounds the show in the presence of exaggerated storylines. The quirkiness is thankfully present and correct, and some of the humour and quips are the best to ever be spoken by the web-slinger.

The plots and artwork have been dutifully adapted from the newspaper sketches of John Romita Sr., and the great Stan Lee's creative invention means that this was one of the strongest Spider-Man double-acts - a good basis on which to launch an animated series to a young (and often older, too) audience. SM has had some of the most fascinating villains devised to fight over the years; many are on show here, including Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom, the Lizard, the Black Cat, the Sandman, and Mysterio. Fan opinion is divided on this series, but I think it has a lot to offer. I'm sure a video of the first three episodes was released in the past; I possessed it once, but it seems to have grown legs and wandered off somewhere. So it's nice to have the opportunity to view them again.

There are 26 episodes in this animated series, so it looks as though we're going to have them released over four volumes. This doesn't reach the heights of the SM series from the '90s, but it has historical value and is still well worth a look.

And now the bad news... It's time to name and shame. Clear Vision has been releasing some top quality animation sets from the Marvel vaults. However, the print of this series suffers from intermittent colour and contrast faults. No attempt has been made to correct them, and Episode 4 (the worst suffering) practically flashes like a beacon. Come on, this is basic stuff, and can only tell the buying public that Clear Vision doesn't care about its content. It makes you start crawling the walls! So, an enjoyable series marred by non-attention to detail, forcing me to drop a point.


Ty Power

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