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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Original Animated Series
Season 1 - Volume 1


Starring (voice): Paul Soles, Peg Dixon and Paul Kligman
Clear Vision
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Available 17 August 2009

Finally, via Clear Vision, we have the very welcome first time on DVD release of the original Spider-Man animated series from 1967. Stan Lee's inventive and most prestigious early output at Marvel Comics means that not only did he create some of the best and most famous superheroes - including Spider-Man - but that he made certain they had an abundance of colourful villains with which to do battle. Spider-Man possesses more than most. So our colourful line-up of social outcasts include Dr Octopus, the Lizard, Electro, Mysterio, Scorpion, Sandman, and the Green Goblin. All are loud and over-expressive like the moustache-tweaking "I shall rule the world!" megalomaniacs of old.

The animation is rudimentary by today's standards. Most of New York's Manhattan skyline is not fully realised, with the non-specific or irrelevant buildings sufficing as a few basic lines. On at least one occasion the spider is absent from the chest of Spider-Man's costume, and several short sequences are re-used; particularly those where he is swinging or wall-crawling his way across town. However, the show is quirky without playing-down to young viewers, and the small handful of characters are well-realised. J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle's self-centred publisher is gloriously annoying in his hatred for all that is Spider-Man ("A menace to society!"), and his sweet secretary Betty Brant is the perfect target for his bluster. Peter Parker does a Batman and lowers his tones whilst in costume, but is true to the original comics with his insecure teenage wise-cracking.

In this first volume there are six twenty-minute episodes, each (aside from one) split up into two separate tales - with a total running time of around two hours. Effectively then, these are bite-sized mini-episodes, so don't expect a cast of thousands or any sort of development. For the purposes of character background we only see the teenage Peter Parker working at the Daily Bugle as a freelance photographer; which is a great way of having him privy to breaking news. Cracking on with the relevant story means that Spider-Man can fashion his web into virtually anything, and they even work under water.

This original colour series featuring Marvel's flagship character carries a great deal of nostalgia. I remember watching TV reruns of this when I was of primary school age. It has a Scooby-Doo feel to it, and string quartet or brass incidental music which makes it quaint rather than dated. You can't help but love it. Besides, who hasn't heard of that famous theme tune?:

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.
Spins a web any size, catches thieves just like flies...


Ty Power

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