Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock


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Rating: Not Rated

Christopher Daniel Barnes as Spider-Man/Peter Parker/Additional Voices
Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy / Black Cat
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus
Rue McClanahan as Mrs. Hardy
John Philip Law as John Hardesky / The Cat
Roscoe Lee Brown as Kingpin
David Warner as Landon
Jack Angel as Nick Fury
Eddie Albert as Adam Tooms / Old Vulture
Richard Moll as Scorpion
Sandra Bernhard as Sarah Baker
Edward Asner as J. Jonah Jameson
Rodney Saulsberry as Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson/Additional Voices

Special Features:
A Classic 1967 Bonus Episode – “The Power of Dr. Octopus” and “Sub Zero For Spidey”

Stan Lee’s Soapbox

Five Exclusive Episode Introductions by Stan Lee

A Preview of Spider-Man: The Venom Saga

Other Info:
French and Spanish Language Track
Running Time: 79 Minutes

These are four episodes from the 1994 Spider-Man animated TV series. They include the following episodes that feature Doctor Octopus:

Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous – In this episode, we are introduced to Dr. Octopus as he kidnaps Felicia Hardy. Her family’s foundation has apparently not paid Octavius money for his research, so he’s determined to get it through ransom. It’s up to Spidey to save the day. Along the way, we are treated to flashbacks of Doc Ock’s origin.

The Cat – This is the first entry in the “Partners in Danger” series. In this episode, Doc Ock and the Kingpin team up to kidnap Feicia Hardy’s long lost father. The trick is that he’s held under heavy guard in SHIELD’s flying fortress. Why do they want him? It turns out he has memorized the secret super soldier formula that created Captain America. It’s up to Spider-Man to keep them from finding John Hardesky, aka The Cat, and getting the formula from him.

The Black Cat – This is the third episode in the “Partners in Danger” series, so it skips a chapter along the way. As the story picks up again, Felicia Hardy has been captured and the Kingpin and Doc Ock have used the super soldier formula on her to turn her into The Black Cat. They then blackmail her into stealing for them as they hold her father prisoner. However, she soon teams up with Spider-Man to stop them and free her father.

Partners – This is the fifth episode in the “Partners In Danger” series. (Yes, it again skips a chapter.) In this one, The Black Cat is kidnapped by Silvermane (now an infant) and the Spider-Slayer. They corner Spider-Man and tell him that The Black Cat will only be freed if he captures The Scorpion and The Vulture and turn them over to them. Will Spidey be able to catch the bad guys and save the day?

The Movie:
If you’ve seen the other animated Spider-Man DVDs, then this one is no different. In order to cash in on movie buzz from Spider-Man 2, this set of episodes featuring Doc Ock has been compiled and put on sale. But for Spider-Man fans, that’s a good thing.

If you’re a fan of Doc Ock, you’re going to find that the cartoon character isn’t that similar to his comic book incarnation (or his movie version, for that matter). In these cartoons, he wears some strange armor and is little more than another goon of the Kingpin’s. He’s not quite the deep character that he is elsewhere. But as disappointing as his portrayal is, there are a million other Spider-Man characters here for you. There’s Nick Fury, The Scorpion (voiced by Bull from Night Court), Vulture, Spider-Slayer, and even brief cameos by Captain America and Red Skull. But you could argue that the Black Cat is the real star of this series, more so than Doc Ock. These episodes feature her origin (slightly modified) and her eventual team-up and romance with Spider-Man. (With Mary Jane mysteriously out of the picture, Spidey is a free man again.)

One of the drawbacks of these episodes is the fact that they are not in chronological order. They skip between the first, third, and fifth parts of the series rather than offering the whole thing. Because of this, there are big jumps in the plot and you miss key events in the storyline. They do brief recaps of the previous episodes, but it is a poor substitute. You miss the transformation of Felicia Hardy and you are introduced to an infant Silvermane (who talks!) with little explanation. This may really confuse younger viewers.

Like the other episodes, the animation is a mixed bag. However, the characters generally look great and this is about the best we could ask for on an old weekly cartoon series. The voices are also well cast (Golden Girl Rue McClanahan even stars!) and they generally pack a lot of Marvel Comics history into each episode. Looking back, they were able to accomplish quite a lot with this series.

The Extras:
A few extras are included on the DVD. Here are the highlights:

A Classic 1967 Bonus Episode – “The Power of Dr. Octopus” and “Sub Zero For Spidey” – As cheesy as these old Spider-Man episodes are, they are a fun bit of nostalgia. I remember watching reruns of them on TV as a kid. And who can forget the classic theme song to the show? This episode features Doc Ock. He’s little more than a raving mad genius in this show and his origin is not explained at all. The second episode, featuring aliens from Pluto with the power to freeze things, probably has some of the biggest action scenes of any of the episodes. Together they are fun to watch, but mainly in small doses.

Stan Lee’s Soapbox – In this feature, Stan Lee talks about how he came up with Doc Ock, the rules of Spider-Man’s web, and some of his life’s dreams (like flying a plane). If you’re a comic fan, it’s a fun thing to listen to since Lee is the Walt Disney of comics.

Five Exclusive Episode Introductions by Stan Lee – Unfortunately, Lee does little more than summarize the episodes in these introductions. He doesn’t give any backgrounds on the stories or episodes. It’s a bit of a letdown compared to the other Spider-Man DVDs.

The Bottom Line:
Any Spider-Man fan will enjoy this DVD, but the fact that it doesn’t have the full set of episodes in the storyline is a major drawback.