Presenting arguably the best animated interpretation of Spider-Man to date, Sony Home Entertainment brings us the fifth single-disc volume release of The Spectacular Spider-Man and, like the previous releases collecting the first season, it reminds us why this series is arguably the best animated interpretation of the web-slinger to date as the show heads into its second. The series manages to stay true to the core of each character while presenting fresh spins on familiar situations and stories. The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Five brings us the first arc for the second season of this amazing animated series, introducing new enemies and deepening the many long-term mysteries that already plagues our Web-slinging Hero. Well, let’s get that pesky synopsis out of the way and dig a little deeper!
With the holidays fast approaching, Peter Parker finds himself distracted while focusing on the lighter side of life; girls, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. But Peter’s holiday plans are about to get blown away by a tsunami of chaos, destruction and crime. It’s going to take all his spectacular Spider-Man senses and Super-Hero powers to hold back the maniacal villains in these four exciting, action-packed adventures. The Spectacular Spider-Man features the first four adventures, making up one stunning story-line, as Spider-Man finds himself pitted against the likes of Kraven, Mysterio, and The Sinister Six!
This latest DVD volume release of The Spectacular Spider-Man finally introduces the likes of Kraven, Mysterio and The Master Planner, kicking off the second season of the series in classic Spidey-style. Picking up after the great finale of the previous season, we now move closer to the holiday season as Peter Parker finds himself dealing with a host of new problems, both in and out of costume. Toss in the aftermath of Aunt May’s heart attack from the last season and the mystery of the Master Planner, then you have a solid way of kicking off a new season of Spidey action. And, this come as no surprise, the creative team does a solid job with this series, even if the show stumbles slightly throughout this opening second season arc.
This arc is essentially the animated adaption of the “Master Planner” arc from the original The Amazing Spider-Man comic series. So, if you’ve read that classic tale, then you already know who Master Planner is. For those who haven’t, be prepared for a really enjoyable little mystery. It’s a very satisfying take on the “Master Planner” story that I won’t spoil here. I know there’s a sizable audience that has yet to view these episodes, so I’ll avoid any major spoilers from this four-episode opening arc. Moving on, the show’s clever use of Mysterio is also top-notch. Always an iffy Spider-Man villain, mostly due to his increasingly supernatural background that just doesn’t quite work with the Spidey-mythos, the crew behind The Spectacular Spider-Man comes up with a great take on Mysterio that actually plays up his “supernatural” powers in a smart way that, in all honesty, gives us probably the best take on this classic Spidey baddie to date.
I could ramble on and on about this series and how it has managed to essentially nail everything right. The characters feel right, the villains are dead on, the story is invigorating and the drama is perfectly balanced by the action. The creators behind this show have created a great love letter to the best Spider-Man comics of the past four decades (and counting).
That being said, the show does stumble when it comes to the use of the classic Spidey villain Kraven. Personally, he was never a favorite villain of mine and his introduction here in The Spectacular Spider-Man does nothing to change that. Even when he’s mutated into a man/lion-type creature, he just comes across as bland and one-note as he did in the comic. I don’t hold that against the show’s creative team, they did the best they could with such a weak character, but it does noticeably slow down the great pace and story-telling found in the four episodes featured in this release.
The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five features the episodes “Blueprints,” “Destructive Testing,” “Reinforcement,” and “Shear Strength.”
Overall, The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five presents a great kick-off to the second season of this great animated series. It manages to be completely accessible to new viewers while also fully honoring those who have been watching since the first episode. The series continues to move forward in such a fluid manner, feeling completely natural to what came before in the first season. With an absolutely solid cast and crew, this show reigns as one of the best cartoons currently on TV, bringing so much to the table in terms of effective story-writing and beautiful animation. This is definitely a show the deserves a large audience and, even with all the broadcast trouble it has currently endured as well as a cloudy future (details here). Fans are right to support this series, and the proof is definitely as clear as day on the screen infront of you. Without a doubt, The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five comes Recommended for fans of the Web-Slinger looking for a solid cartoon adventure, and for those who just enjoy great television period.
Sony Home Entertainment has released The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five on standard single-disc DVD. Like the previous The Spectacular Spider-Man DVD releases, this title comes with the same promotional insert advertising the toy line for the animated series.
As with the previous The Spectacular Spider-Man DVD release, the audio and video for both releases are strong, but by no means reference quality. As can be expected, the video does have a few slight transfer problems, particularly slight compression, but is barely noticeable. As for the audio, the 5.1 mix is a typical audio transfer for a television cartoon release, with the channels spreading out the music and special effects a little while keeping the dialog focused solely in the front. Some of the action scenes do sound great, particularly the great story climax in “Shear Strength.”
The extras are just as bare as the previous The Spectacular Spider-Man releases, offering only a collection of trailers. One of the trailers featured offer a quick look at the previous four single-disc volume releases for The Spectacular Spider-Man along with the highly-recommend two-disc DVD collection of The Complete First Season.
Like the previous single-disc The Spectacular Spider-Man releases, it all boils down how big of a fan you are when deciding on whether or not to purchase the The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five DVD release. With the episodes presented in the standard broadcast format, and no extras to speak of save for trailers, it’s a tough decision. Admittedly, the four episode included on this release successfully kick off a second season of adventures for the ol’ Webhead. While it’s not the strongest arc in the series, it’s still really great viewing. However, if you want to show your support this series in the hopes of having The Spectacular Spider-Man picked up for a third season, then, personally, I’d pick up this release. Again, that’s just me, but as a fan of this series, it truly deserves all the support it can get. With that said, I’m going to stamp The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five as Recommended, but with the reservations seen above. This show really deserves to continue, and The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five proves this stellar series loses no ground as it moves into a second season of adventure.
The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Five swings on to DVD November 17th, 2009.