"The Spectacular Spider-Man - Volume Eight" DVD Review
April 16, 2010 by James Harvey
Collecting the final story-arc for the critically-acclaimed and fan-beloved The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, this latest volume release gives us the best Spider-Man cartoon to date at its peak. The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Eight provides over 60 minutes of beautifully animated and tautly-written tales, all leading up to a climax that will leave your head spinning. Paying tribute to the classic Spider-Man comics of yesteryear, this really is a DVD release that no Spider-Man fan new or old should be without.
The Spectacular Spider-Man – Volume Eight is finally here! This latest volume contains the final three new-to-DVD episodes from the second season of the hit Sony Pictures Television series on Disney XD. More adventures await Peter Parker as he struggles to juggle his life as a normal high school student with his super hero life. In this latest adventure, Spidey must face off against super villains Molten Man, a prison full of his deadliest foes and his ultimate nemesis, Green Goblin. Spider-Man finds himself up in his greatest battle yet with shocks and surprises that will keep you coming back over and over!
Supervising Producer Greg Weisman and his creative team really took the show out on top. While it’s common for an animated show to improve over the first season or so, as the show finds its legs, here is something completely different. The build-up to these final three episodes feels so natural and the conclusion satisfying. Sure, we get a few storylines left dangling in the wind, meant to be answered in future episodes that will no longer happen, but what we get here is a satisfying ending to the overall story-arc that started all the way back with the very first episode. The resolution of the show’s big mystery - who is the Green Goblin? – is answered here with absolutely jaw-dropping results.
As I have said before, the team behind this show just gets it. They know Spider-Man through and through and it shows with each episode. How some can claim this show is inferior to the 1990s Spider-Man animated series just boggles the mind. It is safe to say that The Spectacular Spider-Man handled the characters the best in any media outside of the comics. Not only that, but the show faithfully followed the comics to a ‘t.’ 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. I suppose I can understand why some would dislike this series, especially if they grew up during the 1990s era of Spider-Man comics and cartoons, but this show easily dwarfs not only previous Spider-Man cartoons, but pretty much all of previous Marvel Comics-based cartoons, as well. There’s a reason why it is endlessly praised, people. We’ll let the haters keep hating though, as we’ll always know the truth about this top-notch series.
Yeah, it may sound like I’m overselling it, but this show beautifully encapsulates what Spider-Man should be. And these three episodes, these final three episodes, are such a great high-mark for the series. While they may leave a few threads dangling, I wouldn’t quite call it a cliffhanger, the conclusion to the final episode does feel satisfying. The writing for this final arc is simply top-notch for the entire duration, matched with completely excellent animation. The animation quality may dip a couple times, specifically during the big “The Final Curtain” climax as Spider-Man and Green Goblin make chase throughout the city, but it’s barely noticeable. You’ll be so caught up in what’s actually happening it won’t register, I promise you that. Still, “Opening Night” easily features the best animation on the episodes included here, possibly the whole series.
For those wondering, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Eight contains the episodes “Subtext,” “Opening Night,” and “The Final Curtain.”
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). I can’t think of a better representation of Spider-Man outside of the comics. The Spectacular Spider-Man got everything right, and the creative team behind this series deserve a huge round of applause for finally giving us a proper Spider-Man cartoon. I know there are a few naysayers who can’t get past their nostalgic memories of the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon, and chalk up any type of excuse to dismiss The Spectacular Spider-Man, but don’t listen to them. While the art style may be very, very cartoony and Scott Pilgrim-like, it’s the best Spidey cartoon to date, no doubt about it. And now, with this volume, we have the whole (completed) story.
Overall, these three final episodes of The Spectacular Spider-Man give us an epic conclusion to the best animated Spider-Man cartoon yet! The animation is top-notch, the stories are multi-layered and complex, the characters are handled to perfection, and I could go on and on. The final episode will just seriously blow your mind! 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 Eight offers three 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 Eight on standard DVD. The release contains no inserts and is packaged in with Eco-Amaray case.
Click here to view disc art and menu screens from The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Eight.
As with the previous The Spectacular Spider-Man DVD releases, the audio and video here is great, but by no means reference quality. As can be expected, the video does have a few minor transfer problems, particularly slight compression (it’s particularly noticeable on the color red from time to time) and noticeable aliasing. As for the audio, the 5.1 mix is a typically fine 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 Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete First Season. Oddly enough, there was no mention of The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Second Season in the trailers, unlike previous releases which usually teased upcoming titles. The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Second Season is scheduled to be released on DVD later this year, so I was expected a tease for it.
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 this 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 three episodes here make for some really fantastic viewing, especially with some of the inventive narrative devices introduced here and jaw-dropping animation in “Opening Night.” The final three episodes included here are solid across the board, with not a weak episode to be found, and provide a suitable conclusion to probably the best Spider-Man cartoon ever made. If you want to show your support this series and show thanks to the creative team behind it, 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 Eight as Recommended, but with the reservations seen above.
The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume Eight will hit DVD on April 27th, 2010.
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