The mid-nineties Fox Spider-Man was hands down the best animated series of the time. It was one of the first series to use a Japanese animation company to produce a regular Saturday morning series and the Japanese influence was immediately striking. The brightness and depth of colors as well as the consistency of the animation blew away everything else that was available on TV at the time. The stories were outstanding in that they borrowed heavily from classic comic stories and adapted them for viewers that may not b… as familiar with the Spider-Man mythos as us comic book geeks (I’ve been buying Spider-Man comics for about 25 years now…I guess I qualify as a comic book geek…oh well…). With the theme music done by none other than Aerosmith’s guitar god Joe Perry, this series rocked right from the intro.
So with that intro…how could Marvel and Buena Vista mess up this DVD so much?
Well the hype for Spider-Man 2 is at a fever pitch and as we all know the industry is all about making money. I’m sure they think that anything with Doc Ock’s bespectacled face will sell. And maybe it will, but why dupe the public with a DVD that is called “Spider-Man vs Doc Ock” only to have Doc Ock only show up as the main villain in one of the four episodes?
The first episode, “Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous,” first aired in the show’s first season in 1995. It introduces our favorite 8-limbed villain and intertwines his origin with that of Peter Parker’s. Peter as a young student at a science camp first meets his future foe as a teacher who inspires him to unlock the mysteries of science despite the obstacles that other would put in his path. This lesson would prove to be monumental in the descent of Peter’s former teacher into super-villiandom.
The rest of the disc’s episodes come from the show’s fourth season (1997) and are part of the “Partners in Danger” storyline. You get “The Cat,” “The Black Cat,” and “Partners,” parts 2, 3, and 5, respectively. The series features all sorts of guest stars: Nick Fury, Kingpin, Red Skull, Vulture, Scorpion, Black Cat, and of course, Doctor Octopus, who is surprisingly absent from the final episode. The episodes introduce the Black Cat and follow her adventures with Spider-Man.
There is really no continuity of the episodes and unless you watched the series when they were broadcast. For a new viewer you would get totally lost. Not a good way to get new viewers in my estimation.
Marvel and Buena Vista Home Entertainment present Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock in full screen, just as they appeared on television. The colors are bright and vibrant and form the centerpoint to the show’s appearance. Colors really jump off the screen. It looks as good as it did when the shows were first aired. There is no blurring of the image nor bleeding of the bright colors.
Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround but there is very little use of the rear channels. Voices are crisp and the music sounds very clear. While the bass isn’t exactly booming, it does a fine job during the epic battle scenes. As with the video presentation, the audio is fine but nothing special.
The coolest bonus features on this disc are the classic episodes from the 1967 Spider-Man television series. “The Power of Dr. Octopus” and “Sub-Zero for Spidey” are classic cartoon tales that are both fun because of the high cheese factor. And believe me, these are corny.
You also get Stan Lee’s Soapbox, which is Stan Lee talking about his love for Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man. I always love listening to interviews – his personality shines as he talks about his beloved characters. Lee also gives brief introductions to each episode.
Other than that, you get previews for the Aladdin DVD, The Incredibles, the cartoon Spider-Man Venom Saga, Bionicle 2, Radio Disney, and Magical Quest 2.
I’ve bought all of the Buena Vista Spider-man DVDs just because obviously I’m a Spider-man nut; but unless you are too, I would not recommend any of these DVD’s as they will leave the viewer absolutely frustrated as there is no continuity of the episodes. With Spider-man being such a hot franchise, why not release each complete season as a box set?
Special Features List
- Contains two bonus 1967 episodes featuring Doc Ock
- Stan Lee’s soapbox
- Episode Introductions