Collecting six more episodes of the acclaimed The Spectacular Spider-Man animated between them, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released two more single-disc DVD releases starring our favoring web-slinging hero? Taking us well into the second season of this acclaimed series, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven presents fans with over two hours of solid Spidey action. But, despite the quality of the main feature, are these single-disc releases worth purchasing?
School is back in session and things have changed for Peter Parker. He is invited to Flash Thompson’s birthday bash. Meanwhile, Spider-Man has to party with Sandman, who is starting trouble once again. Venom has returned to frame Spider-Man and John Jameson becomes a superhero after alien spores infect him. Venom’s revelation of Peter Parker’s secret identity leaves Peter and his loved ones vulnerable to all of Spidey’s enemies. Then, a gang war looms in the New York underworld with Silver Sable, Hammerhead and Doctor Octopus vying for a prize that could change the balance of power forever. The adventure continues to escalate with The Spectacular Spider-Man!
Before I continue, I want to clarify that this review covers both The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven. Given the two volumes are set for release on the same date and are nearly identical in content, I believe one review to cover both titles is adequate.
So, just how do The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven fair? Well, a solid collection of second season episodes is what they promise, and that is what you get. Yes, it’s only three episodes per disc, something that takes me back to the early days of TV on DVD releases, but all these episodes are such a knock-out. Not everyone one of them is flawless, but each easily place a solid 8/10 or higher if I was to rate them in such a fashion. The animation rarely falters, and the writing is so spot on it’s like an actual Spider-Man comic come to life.
Still, I have noticed an odd amount of backlash here and there over the past few months, backlash which utterly perplexes me. I suppose a show so acclaimed as this one is bound to experience some back-fire for some inexplicable reasons, whether it’s from folks who never watched the show or just don’t like the idea of those thinking this animated series surpasses another. Of course, the latter is the case, since The Spectacular Spider-Man easily trumps all previous incarnations in modern animation. Better than the 1990s series from Fox Kids? You betcha! Better than the MTV CGI series? Definitely! The Spectacular Spider-Man, to me, appeals to those long-time Spider-Man fans who have been waiting for a respectful interpretation of the character, and we get it here. And besides, outside of a watchable first season, the 1990s Spider-Man series slowly sunk into a horrible slump. But hey, that’s something for a different review down the line. We’re here about The Spectacular Spider-Man, so let’s stay on that path.
The team behind this show, as we see episode after episode, just gets it. Even the handling such one-note characters as Venom here elevates them above their comic counterparts. And they never forget to make the show fun. Amidst all the drama and occasionally complicated story-telling, the show is just fun. Whether it’s a nod to the classic comics through a character or a visual reference, the show is teaming with tributes to the classic Spider-Man lore.
Thankfully, The Spectacular Spider-Man has solid animation to help carry it. The animation isn’t perfect, as we occasionally see a few weak spots or characters slip off-model, but the look of the series is consistent throughout. I also like how the show tries to play with how they present a story. Look at the episode “First Steps,” where we see the clever use of a video camera as part of the main narrative for the story. It’s a great idea that really turns the episode on its head. Or “Growing Pains,” using school play auditions to provide a closer look at the characters themselves. As far as I’m concerned, nearly every episode included in these two volumes are some of the best comic-based animated installments to hit television in a while. This show, along with Batman: The Brave and The Bold, is really the cream of the animated comic crop right now.
For those wondering, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six contains the episodes “First Steps,” “Growing Pains,” and “Identity Crisis.” The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven contains “Accomplices,” “Probable Cause,” and “Gangland.”
I could ramble on and on about this series and how it has managed to essentially nail everything right, but this is something you should experience for yourself if you haven’t already. 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).
Overall, the six episodes spread over both The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven make for great wall-crawlin’ fun! The animation is top-notch, the stories are very involving and complex, the characters are all excellent, and the series is just fun. This is the Spider-Man cartoon fans have been waiting for, easily surpassing anything that came before and setting a high benchmark for anything that comes after it. The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven offer six excellent episodes that fans will undoubtedly want to revisit it time and time again and, for that, I peg the main feature as Highly Recommended. But, what about the DVD release itself? Well, read on!
Sony Home Entertainment has released The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven on standard DVD. Both releases contain no inserts and are packaged in with Eco-Amaray cases.
As with the previous The Spectacular Spider-Man DVD releases, the audio and video for both releases are great, but by no means reference quality. As can be expected, the video does have a few minor transfer problems, particularly slight compression and noticeable aliasing. As for the audio, the 5.1 mix is good for both releases, but could have been better. It’s a typical audio transfer for a television cartoon release, meaning that it doesn’t go beyond or really try anything special than spread out the music and special effects a little while keeping the dialogue focused solely in the front.
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 current single-disc volume releases for The Spectacular Spider-Man along with the highly-recommended two-disc DVD collection of The Complete First Season.
Like the previous single-disc The Spectacular Spider-Man DVD releases, it all boils down how big of a fan you are when deciding on whether or not to purchase these The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Seven DVD releases. 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 six episodes included on these two titles do make for really great viewing, especially with some of the inventive narrative devices introduced here. 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 both The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Seven as Recommended, but with the reservations seen above. This show really deserves to continue, and these The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Seven DVD titles prove this stellar series loses no ground as it moves well into a second season of adventure.
Both The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Six and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Seven will hit shelves on February 16th, 2010.