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"Spider-Man: '67" Shines In Spectacular Box Set

First airing on ABC Television in 1967, Spider-Man has gone on to become a cult favourite, best known for its cheap animation, hammy voices, and, of course, its outstanding theme song.

After releasing a few episodes as bonus features on other Spider-Man related DVDs, Disney has decided to release all 52 episodes of the classic series in one gigantic box set.

The series has been on and off TV screens for a while now, so it’s possible that some of you have yet to see a single episode. This cartoon is perhaps one of the strangest I’ve ever seen. And, as a big Spider-Man fan, I should hate it.

The show constantly reuses animation, so much that it sometimes seems like a clip show. It constantly calls the villains I grew up loving by the wrong name. However, it does it all with such a charm, it’s hard not to smile while watching it.

The central characters are all likeable, and they each have their own unique charm. The series focuses on Photo Journalist Peter Parker and his superhero alter ego Spider-Man. Most of the episodes involve him taking pictures for J. Jonah Jameson, and his long suffering secretary Betty Brant, much as in the old Stan Lee/Ditko comic books of the time.

So why is it that this series is so fondly remembered? There has to be more to it than the theme song. But after watching the episodes, I think it’s pretty simple to understand. The stories are simplistic, designed for all to enjoy. This is very much a pre-Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, there’s very little depth, but it’s not needed here.

Highlights include “Farewell Performance,” in which Blackwell The Magician prevents J. Jonah Jameson from tearing down an old theatre; “Kingpinned,” in which Spider-Man must stop The Kingpin from blowing up The Daily Bugle; and “To Catch A Spider,” in which four of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies, The Green Goblin, Electro, Vultureman (grrrrr!), and Dr. Noah Body (Ha! An invisible man named “Noah Body”! Get it?!) team up to kill him.

Every episode has been digitally remastered, and Disney has done one of the finest jobs I’ve ever seen. The picture is so bright and colourful, it’s hard not to be impressed. There’s no special feature on the disc, but with the sheer amount of episodes, and beauty of the picture, it’s not much missed.

With Spider-Man being my favourite superhero, I knew I was going to pick this up the day it was announced. The rest of you who aren’t Spider-Man fans are bound to find something you enjoy here. There’s the odd silly episode here and there, but the series’ charm pulls through. The crummy animation, the brilliant music, and the picture quality make this a worthy purchase for animation fans.

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