A new release of the 1990’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series has arrived, courtesy of Morningstar Entertainment, and this time, our hero has to face off against The Hobgoblin. Probably one of the better episodes of the “classic” 1990s series, we’re introduced to the villainous Hobgoblin as he faces off not only against Spider-Man, but a collection of other characters as well. Naturally this all escalates to a blow-out finale, but we’ll get to that. For now, let’s get the synopsis out of the way and onto the review.
When Peter Parker is bitten by a radiation-zapped spider, he acquires insect-like abilities and incredibly heightened senses. Making the most of his powers, he fashions a new identity, taking up the battle against a collection of costumed crooks as the Amazing Spider-Man. The danger hits home after the hooded hit man Hobgoblin fails to eliminate Norman Osborn’s silent partner, The Kingpin. In a quick switch The Hobgoblin trades sides and kidnaps Osborn’s son – who just happens to be Peter Parker’s new roommate. For once, The Hobgoblin may have overplayed his hand – as he’ll soon find out when he comes face to face with Spider-Man.
The Hobgoblin is out to kill Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, and Peter Parker inadvertently stops him. And, due to this, Spider-Man gets caught up in a three-way power-struggle between The Kingpin, Norman Osborn, and the Hobgoblin. As the Hobgoblin becomes more thirty for power and control, he finds himself backed into a corner, forced to rely on his own double-dealing ways to get out of a tight spot. As one can expect with a villain such as this, things don’t really go according to plan for him.
That is a short rundown of the episode because, really, this is two episodes sandwiched together. Part of the first season, “The Hobgoblin” was a two-part episode that, here, has been sandwiched into one. The cliffhanger ending is edited perfectly to the resolution, beginning the second part. I think this is one of the few times when the constant reuse of animation in the series actually came in handy, as the first few moments of the latter episode was merely the last few moments of the previous episode. It makes the edit seamless and unsuspecting viewers would be none-the-wiser. Plus it helps the two-part episode really flow better. And, overall, it actually is a good episode. Taking place right after the three-part “The Alien Costume Saga,” the episode picks up with Peter looking to move into a new apartment with Harry Osborn. Naturally, Harry gets involved in a bitter feud between his father and the Hobgoblin. And, like I mentioned in the above paragraph, this all goes south quite quickly. The show uses the momentum from the previous arc to keep moving at a great pace, and, as a result, we get this fun two-part (merged as one here) episode.
For fans of Marvel animation and Spider-Man, this is worth picking up. It’s bargain-priced and the quality is good. The animation, for the most part, is good, save for a few of the standard money-saving measures the series took (reused scenes, slowing/speeding up animation, fast cuts and editing), and the story and dialogue would fit right in for any 1990’s comic book series, meaning tons of fun and goofy exposition and inner monologues. And you just can’t top how excellent Mark Hammill is as the Hobgoblin. It’s a fun jump back to a popular series from the 1990s, even if it has more than a few flaws, and easily comes Recommended. It’s classic fun and, since it looked like we may not be getting season sets of this series any time soon on this side of the ocean, picking up Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin may not be a bad idea.
Before I go any further, I will clarify a few facts about this release. This is a Morningstar Entertainment release, not a Buena Vista Home Entertainment release. Buena Vista previously released a series of Spider-Man: The Animated Series DVDs over the past few years before certain legalities put a stop to that. Morningstar Entertainment, a Canadian company, obtained the rights to a series of Marvel videos released in the 1990s and this is the latest of nearly a dozen releases. And given that this is a Canadian release, through a Canadian company, you’ll likely need to hop on Amazon.ca to get a copy if you live outside of the Canadian region. For Canadian residents, this should be available in nearly every major department or video store as well as online.
The DVD comes in a red-colored Amaray case, with an insert but no cardboard slipcase. The insert is an advertisement for a batch of Morningstar Marvel-themed releases. The DVD itself is very basic. There are no pre-menu trailers of any kind. After the company logo and a quick warning, the main menu boots up and we are off. There are no chapter stops, no language menus, no subtitles, no bonus features, no nothing. That’s right – there are no bonus features on this release, which isn’t really a problem given that this is just a re-purposed-VHS-releases-now-on-DVD. Still, the DVD release is very, very bare.
The audio and video is a shade or two above VHS-quality, which makes sense given the nature of this release. Don’t expect anything on par with the Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases, but it’s not too bad by any means. The quality is still watchable and is much better than the previous VHS releases of these particular episodes. I am sure some will be disappointed by this. Regardless, the audio and video quality is slightly above average and basically on par with the transfer quality we’ve seen on DVD releases for other 1990’s animated series.
Overall, I’d certainly Recommend this release to comic book fans, animation fans, and Spider-Man fans. It’s a shame that it is another single volume releases, and lacks extras, but this is out of the hands of Morningstar Entertainment and since it seems like we may never get a season collection here in Region 1, Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin is a title that fans should consider picking up, especially since the price on this release should make it affordable to pretty much everyone. I also think Morningstar Entertainment deserves a round of applause for being what seems to be only company making smart release choices, by coinciding their comic book themed released with major motion pictures or home entertainment events. It’s great on their part, and great on our part to actually get the content we want.
Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin is now available on DVD.