Sony // 2008 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // April 27th, 2009
Leaping up with no surprise, arriving in the speed of time.
The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Four contains the final four episodes of the series' first season run:
A strange piece of living alien ooze returns on the heat shield of John Jameson's space shuttle and is sent to Dr. Curt Connors' lab for study. When Spider-Man prevents the Black Cat from stealing the symbiotic alien life form, it repays the favor by becoming his new black suit. When the Chameleon frames Spidey for the theft of the missing alien, he's forced to team with the Black Cat to clear his name. During his battle against Chameleon (who is disguised as the red-and-blue Spider-Man), the web-slinger discovers that the ooze enhances his superpowers.
* "Group Therapy"
Even with his power amped up by the alien ooze, Spider-Man has his hands full when he squares off against the Sinister Six: Dr. Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Vulture, Rhino, and Shocker. Peter's childhood friend and Dr. Connors' lab assistant, Eddie Brock, is angry at Parker for taking pictures of Spider-Man battling the Black Cat but not reporting the web-slinger's theft of the alien ooze to police. Meanwhile, Aunt May suffers a heart attack.
After being MIA during Aunt May's heart attack and finding himself barely able to resist the temptation to cut a deal with Tombstone in order to make ends meet, Peter decides to rid himself of the alien symbiote forever. The problem is it doesn't want to leave Peter. As Parker flashes back to the days when he first became Spider-Man, memories of his uncle Ben give him the strength to reject the alien.
* "Nature vs. Nurture"
Having survived Spider-Man's attempt to destroy it in Dr. Connors' lab, the alien symbiote joins with Eddie Brock and the two become Venom. Knowing Spider-Man's secret identity, Venom targets Mary Jane Watson as revenge for Peter's betrayal.
The first three volumes of The Spectacular Spider-Man offered an interesting mix of the early '60s Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era of the comic book and Sam Raimi's modernized feature film adaptation. With their focus on Venom, the episodes in Volume Four have their feet firmly planted in the David Michelinie/Todd McFarlane Spider-Man of the 1980s, along with continued healthy doses of Raimi's reimaginings (the "Intervention" episode contains an extended black-and-white flashback to Spidey's origin and Uncle Ben's murder that closely matches Raimi's version in Spider-Man). As in previous episodes, the action is excellent, Spidey is full of his trademark smartass charm, and the anime-style animation is fluid and bold. With Harry Osborne conveniently in Europe, and Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson making only brief appearances, the episodes in this set are heavy on supervillainry and light on high school melodrama -- that's not necessarily a good thing as Parker's social woes are a source of much humor in earlier episodes, but it feels appropriate here as these are the climactic episodes of the show's first season.
If you've seen any of the previous three volumes of The Spectacular Spider-Man on DVD, you know exactly what to expect of Volume Four on the video and audio fronts. The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced widescreen presentation does a great job of showing off the stylish, colorful animation. There are no digital artifacts of any kind. The Dolby 5.1 audio track sports decent dynamic range for a television series, though it's far from being a reference-quality mix. Dialogue and most effects are located in the front soundstage, though rear speakers get some play in order to provide a slightly more immersive experience than a stereo mix could deliver.
There are no extras.
With four action-packed episodes from the series instead of the previous volumes' three, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Four is the ideal disc for parents looking for a quick and inexpensive Spidey fix for their kids. Serious fans of the show should wait for a complete season box.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated