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DVD Review

DVD cover

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Complete Season 1


Starring (voice): Dan Gilvezan, Frank Welker and Kathy Garver
Clear Vision
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: U
Available 02 August 2010

From the bottomless vault of Marvel comes another animated series released by Clear Vision. This time it's Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends from the 1980s; this is the Complete Season One, incorporating 13 episodes over two discs, with a total running time of 5 hours and 10 minutes. In this scenario Peter Parker has two room-mates, Bobby Drake and Angelica Jones, who are actually the mutant-born Iceman and Firestar. Within the boarding house they rent from Peter's Aunt May they have a secret computer and science lab, and together they fight crime as... The Spider Friends.

Disc one consists of: Triumph of the Green Goblin, in which Green Goblin tries to turn the citizens of New York into goblins; The Crime of All Centuries, in which Raven the Hunter brings back marauding dinosaurs from the Savage Lands; The Fantastic Mr Frump!, in which Doctor Doom uses an ancient amulet to make himself all-powerful, but the power accidentally goes to old Mr Frump; Sunfire, in which an inventor of electronics uses his mutant nephew to befriend Firestar for his own nefarious schemes; Swarm, in which a strange meteorite influences a swarm of bees to turn everyone into hive workers; Little Superheroes, in which the Chameleon plans to defeat seven superheroes by impersonating them and sowing discontent; and Video-Man, in which Electro brings a video character to life to defeat the Spider Friends and steal materials required to control the city.

Disc two consists of The Prison Plot, in which Magneto attempts to free some villainous mutants from prison; Spidey Goes Hollywood, in which the Chameleon lures Spider-Man and co into taking big risks in a movie, but doesn't count on the appearance of the Hulk; The Vengeance of Loki!, in which Thor's evil half-brother seeks revenge in the form of a powerful fabled diamond; Knights and Demons, in which a demon from the Land of Shades is sent to Earth to seek the Ebony Blade, the weapon by which the demon master can cross the realms; Pawns of the Kingpin, in which the master criminal uses mind control to persuade Captain America and Iceman to steal a super weapon; and The Quest of the Red Skull, in which the Red Skull steals a relic which leads to a hidden stash of devastating super weapons.

This series has some good storylines, and it certainly rolls out some famous faces from the Marvel universe. Aside from the regular trio, we get the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Dr Strange, Thor and the Sub-Mariner; and on the opposite side of the coin, The Kingpin, Red Skull, the Chameleon, Raven the Hunter, Electro, the Green Goblin, Magneto and Doctor Doom.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is another animated outing which splits fans of the web-slinger. The main reason is that, although it goes all-out to entertain, it does obviously target a somewhat younger audience. Consequentially, it's a simple matter to pick fault with the inherent silliness. Here's a break-down:

The problem with Iceman and Firestar is that, like Superman, they prove all-powerful unless the plot demands that they don't. Therefore, ice or even cold air renders Firestar helpless, and any significant heat source incapacitates Iceman. Their powers also cancel each other out. Like Spider-Man, they both have secret identities but change in such public places that they must have thought the whole world would respectfully turn the other way. And as for the boarding house, how do three students create a scientific laboratory come computer room, including escape route trap doors without alerting the never very far away Aunt May. She's old not stupid.

The piece de resistance of cringe worthiness comes with the writing-in of a hatefully cute and cowardly little dog called Ms Lion. She's in on the secret, plays the comic relief to extremes, and even winks knowingly to the viewer. This is the Scrappy-Doo of the Spidey myth; I can't imagine anyone but a two-year-old liking this monstrosity. And finally, the superhero trilogy periodically shouting "Spider Friends, Go For It!" just makes you want to lift the carpet and hide beneath.

So, a generally enjoyable animated series spoiled by talking down to its audience. I certainly wouldn't turn anybody off of purchasing this set, but if you want something which takes itself a little more seriously, whilst maintaining the trademark quips, go for the 1990s series.


Ty Power

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