On this site I've whined about the lack of consideration for superhero cartoon
series on DVD. Well, Disney has now become the first to release an entire superhero
cartoon series to DVD.
"Spider-Man: The '67 Collection" collects all 52 episodes of the first Spider-Man
cartoon, which ran on ABC from 1967 to 1970.
Everyone knows the theme song: "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider
can...." Somehow that song has survived the ages -- it's been covered by The
Ramones and Aerosmith.
The cartoon doesn't hold up nearly as well.
I remember first seeing it on video years ago, with my uncle. He remembered
the show fondly from his kidhood. When you're a kid, you care less about quality
and more about "Look! Spider-Man's on TV!" But this cartoon not being
that good screws all that up.
The animation is terrible by today's standards -- but it's not too great even
compared to other cartoons of the time. Spidey's costume isn't colored in completely
in some scenes. When he web-swings, it's the same 5 or 6 swinging scenes, used
over and over. Sometimes the swinging trips last a whole minute.
But at least the animation is "Finding Nemo" compared to Marvel's
1960s "Marvel Superheroes" show, which basically animated actual drawings
from the actual comics. But those had awesome theme songs, too. ("When
Captain America throws his mighty shield....")
At the time, Spidey was having his most memorable adventures in the comics,
the death of Gwen Stacy among them. In one episode of the cartoon, The Rhino
steals gold so he can make a statue of himself.
The show's scripts are interchangeable with other 1960s-era superhero cartoons,
with none of the angst, and little of the humor that made Spidey unique. I think
episodes of Young Samson had more inner turmoil. ("My wristbands turn my dog
into a lion who has laser vision. What's that all about?")
But all 1960s superhero cartoons were like that. Villain shows up, fight,
the end. It's how things were done. The kids had books if they wanted whole
Spider-Man even had his own freaky catch-phrase: "Walloping web-snappers!"
I am now using it as often as I can. There's some retro charm to the show, with
its silly stories and dinky animation. But there are 6 DVDs of it, so you better
really, really be charmed. Just shut up and be charmed. Otherwise you're going
to glaze over at about the 4th hour, mumbling the theme song to yourself.
This DVD collection is a superhero artifact, the first time a Marvel character
left the comic pages. These episodes were only out on video years ago, and recently
as "bonuses" on other Disney Spider-Man releases. But never before
have all of the episodes been available.
The shows are in excellent condition. From a collecting point of view, this
is a must-buy. But for entertainment's sake, they're not that fun. But this
set's existence is a good thing. Hopefully now, other Marvel superhero cartoon
DVDs are in the works.
I want the 1980s "Spider Man and His Amazing Friends" cartoons with
Firestar and Iceman. Is that so wrong?