Aiming to cash in on the release of Sony’s Spider-Man 2, Buena Vista will release its fourth Spider-Man: The Animated Series DVD on June 29. And—will coincidences never cease—the DVD just happens to hype the villain to be be featured in the live-action film.
I say “hypes” rather than “features,” because, in point of fact, this DVD doesn’t really do a good job of showcasing Dr. Octopus at all. Unlike Disney’s previous Spider-Man releases, these episodes don’t form a mini-movie: it’s just four random episodes.
My favourite of this rather iffy selection of episodes would be “Dr. Octopus: Armed And Dangerous,” which does a fantastic job of introducing Dr. Octopus and has one of the best fight scenes the series ever did, despite censor limitations. It also has a nice, slower pace compared to the rest of the episodes of the show. The animation was provided by TMS, and it is beautiful throughout.
The other episodes are much weaker. The two-part Black Cat story is enjoyable and has a nice plot and some nice animation, but it reduces Doc Ock to a lackey role while The Kingpin and Black Cat take center stage, and I have to wonder why it was included. (The two “Insidious Six” episodes, which have Doc Ock teaming with five other villians to elimate Spider-Man, would’ve been a much better choice.) And “Partners,” besides being a below average episode, simply doesn’t fit in here: Doc Ock doesn’t appear in it at all!
The features are more or less the same as on the previous Disney DVDs. Fans will be pleased to know a new menu is included, but it’s nowhere near as cool as the old one. Stan Lee’s Soapbox is pretty much the same on as the previous releases. For some reason, it isn’t as interesting as the Daredevil or Green Goblin Soapbox’s but it’s Stan “The Man” Lee! He talks about the creation of Dr. Octopus and how difficult it is to come up with original characters. Pretty interesting stuff, since Stan created most of Marvel Comics characters.
To round the disc off, there are trailers for a Special Edition DVD of Aladdin, The Incredibles, and The Venom Saga, the next Spider-Man: The Animated Series DVD. Also shown is a sneak peak, which is basically the three-part Alien Costume story shown in roughly three and a half minutes. It is cool to see and left me looking forward to the DVD.
Overall, if you are a Spidey fan of any kind, I think you’d enjoy this. If you’re not, there’s plenty here for you to enjoy. The main problem is there simply isn’t enough. The show deserves better than random episodes whenever a cash in opportunity is available. Hopefully Disney will realize this soon.