REVIEW: THE TRIAL OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK

CAST

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Marta DuBois (Luminarias)
Nancy Everhard (The Punisher 1989)
Nicholas Hormann (Peep World)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Rex Smith (Street Hawk)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Michael O’Hare (Babylon 5)

Lou Ferrigno in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)On the run again after the events of the previous TV movie, David Banner is working up north under the name David Belson. Disenchanted and at the end of his rope, David makes his way towards a large city with the hopes of renting a room and staying buried. Unbeknownst to him, the city he arrives in is under the control of a powerful underworld kingpin named Wilson Fisk but is also protected by a mysterious black-clad crimefighter known as Daredevil. When two of Fisk’s men come onto the commuter subway train after having committed a jewel robbery, one of them takes an interest in a beautiful woman also riding the train and she rejects him. David witnesses an attempted sexual assault by one of Fisk’s men, he transforms into the Hulk and things go haywire. A short while later, David is arrested by the police and wrongfully charged with the crime.20525208_900478620092777_5179234308726820861_nWhile awaiting trial, blind defense attorney Matt Murdock is assigned to David’s case. David is uncooperative but Murdock has faith that he is innocent and is determined to prove so. One night while fast asleep, David has a nightmare about his upcoming trial and dreams about transforming into the Hulk on the witness stand. The stress of this causes him to transform in reality and the Hulk subsequently breaks free of the prison.47295534_1202288816578421_2510412700954132480_nSubsequent events see David Banner team up with Daredevil who reveals his identity as Matt Murdock. Matt tells David about his origins which David has trouble accepting at first. Daredevil also reveals that he has an ally on the Police force who provides him with information relating to criminal activity. As Daredevil, Matt goes to investigate a tip provided by his informant. The tip turns out to have been planted by the Kingpin and Daredevil is badly hurt in an ambush by the Kingpin’s men. David rushes to save Matt but he is too late to help, becomes angry, and transforms into Hulk. The Hulk, in turn, smashes in and saves Matt and Kingpin and his men flee. Matt who is barely conscious, traces the Hulk’s face as he transforms back to David, thus learning his secret.HulkDeath-02Kingpin, in the meantime, has the witness to events on the subway abducted from protective custody in order to have her killed but she is saved by the Kingpin’s assistant who finds her attractive. The Kingpin is also planning a major meeting of underworld crime lords in order to propose the consolidation of their operations into a big syndicate with himself as chairman. David who is trained as a medical doctor, treats Matt’s injuries and spreads the cover story that Matt got hurt falling down the stairs. Matt’s self-confidence is seriously shaken. David’s confidence on the other hand has been restored by seeing how Matt has embraced his unique gifts also caused by exposure to radiation. After a little coaxing from David, Matt begins to recover and retrain his body. Soon enough, the two return to work and go to save the captured woman. The two engage the Kingpin and his men and ultimately succeed in beating him. Kingpin and his assistant escape and the prisoner is freed. The two part ways as friends and allies with David planning to head in search of a cure for himself and Matt will stay in the city and protect it.MV5BZmNmZDUxYjUtMzRmMS00YjViLWI2ZTItMDQzOTJlOGUyOWRkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk5MTI0NTY@._V1_SY375_SX667_AL_The late, great Bill Bixby is in top form as the strained David Banner, and his brutish counterpart, the Hulk, is again portrayed intensely by the legendary Lou Ferrigno. Rex Smith, veteran of a variety of television shows and soap operas, is excellent as Matt Murdock, and his athletic alter ego, Daredevil. Smith delivers most of the best lines in this film, and might have been a good lead in a spin-off Daredevil series. Character actor John Rhys-Davies is Wilson Fisk, the cool and calculated crime boss, known by the moniker, the Kingpin, in the comics. The film’s effects and action sequences are standard television fare — done quickly and cheaply — but still, it is a very promising and uplifting film, right down to its exciting climax and positive ending.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Starring

Shameik Moore (Dope)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage)
Brian Tyree Henry (widows)
Lily Tomlin (I Heart Huckabees)
Lauren Vélez (The First Purge)
John Mulaney (animals)
Kimiko Glenn (Orange Is The New Black)
Zoë Kravitz (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Nicolas Cage (Mandy)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Chris Pine (Wonder Woman)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Greta Lee (Money Monster)
Stan Lee (Super Hero Squad)
Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III (Black Lightning)
Lake Bell (Man Up)
Claudia Choi (Her)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)

Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Teenager Miles Morales struggles to live up to the expectations of his father, police officer Jefferson Davis, who sees Spider-Man as a menace. Miles changes to a boarding school. He sneaks out and goes to his uncle Aaron Davis’ house.When he takes Miles to an abandoned subway station to paint graffiti, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains spider-like abilities.Hailee Steinfeld in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Miles returns to the station to search for the spider and discovers a particle accelerator called “The Super-Collider” built by Wilson Fisk. Fisk hopes to access parallel universes to find alternative versions of his deceased wife and son, who died in a car crash after they found Fisk trying to kill Spider-Man. Spider-Man tries to disable the collider while fighting Fisk’s enforcers, Green Goblin and Prowler. Spider-Man saves Miles and senses that they are alike. Green Goblin shoves Spider-Man into the collider, causing an explosion that kills Green Goblin. Wounded, Spider-Man gives Miles a USB drive to disable the accelerator and warns that the machine could destroy the city if reactivated. Miles watches in horror as Fisk kills Spider-Man, and flees from Prowler.Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Shameik Moore, and Kimiko Glenn in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Miles tries out his newfound abilities in a Spider-Man Halloween costume, but in the process damages the USB drive. At Spider-Man’s grave, Miles meets Peter B. Parker, an older and worn-down version of Spider-Man from another dimension. Upon meeting Peter, Miles inadvertently discovers a power to emit a bio-electric pulse to disable his victim. Peter reluctantly agrees to train Miles in exchange for help stealing data to create a new drive. In Fisk’s research facility, Miles discovers he has the power to turn invisible. They are confronted by chief scientist Olivia Octavius, who reveals that Peter will die due to cellular decay if he stays longer in their dimension after taking DNA samples from Peter.Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Miles and Peter are rescued by Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman from another dimension. They find Peter’s aunt, May Parker, who is sheltering more heroes from other dimensions – Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, and Peni Parker – who are also deteriorating. Miles offers to disable the collider so the others can return home, but the heroes tell him he lacks experience.Jake Johnson and Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Miles retreats to Aaron’s home, where he discovers that Aaron is the Prowler. He returns to May’s house, where Peni has completed the drive; however, he is followed by Fisk, Prowler, Octavius, Scorpion, and Tombstone, leading to a brawl. Miles flees, but is captured by Prowler and unmasks himself. Unwilling to kill Miles, Aaron is shot by Fisk. Miles flees with Aaron, but Aaron dies of his injuries. Jefferson sees Miles mourning over Aaron and concludes that Spider-Man killed him.Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)The heroes regroup with Miles in his dorm. Peter restrains Miles with his webs to ensure his safety before heading out with the heroes, choosing to sacrifice himself by staying behind and deactivating the collider. Jefferson arrives outside Miles’ door and, assuming he does not want to speak to him, apologizes for his mistakes.Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Miles masters his powers and goes to Aunt May’s, where he gains web shooters and repaints Peter’s suit. He joins the heroes and helps them defeat Fisk’s enforcers before activating the USB drive and sending them home. Fisk and Miles fight throughout the collider, attracting Jefferson’s attention. As Miles is nearly killed, Jefferson realizes that Spider-Man is not the enemy and encourages him. Miles paralyzes Fisk with his venom blast and throws him at the kill switch, destroying the collider.Brian Tyree Henry and Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)Fisk and his enforcers are arrested and Jefferson recognizes Spider-Man as a hero. Miles embraces the responsibilities of his new life. Back in their home dimensions, the heroes return to their lives; Peter prepares to fix his relationship with Mary Jane, and Gwen finds a way to contact Miles across dimensions. In another dimension, Miguel O’Hara travels to a 1960s New York and argues with Spider-Man.MV5BYmU3NWViODQtNTM0Mi00NDM2LTk0NjYtMDQxZDMyN2VlNDljXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc3OTE4Nzk@._V1_A movie worthy of Stan Lee’s approval. Incredible animation, great story, great message. This film lives up to the hype and honestly surpassed my expectations. The only reason I think there are some negative reviews is because you can never please everyone. However, for the vast majority of viewers, I believe you’ll find this film to be great. Highly recommend.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON 3

Charlie Cox in Daredevil (2015)

Starring

Charlie Cox (The Theory of Everything)
Deborah Ann Woll (Mother’s Day)
Elden Henson (The Butterfly Effect)
Joanne Whalley (Willow)
Jay Ali (The Fosters)
Wilson Bethel (Hart of Dixie)
Stephen Rider (The Butler)
Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World)

Charlie Cox in Daredevil (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter McRobbie (Licnoln)
Amy Rutberg (Recount)
Annabella Sciorra (Cop Land)
Geoffrey Cantor (Maniac)
Matt Gerald (Solace)
Lee Tergesen (The Purge TV)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Danny Johnson (Shades of Blue)
Sunita Deshpande (The Ridge: Origins)
Royce Johnson (Ghost in the Graveyard)
Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel)

This weekend offers the return of one of the greatest superhero TV shows of all time, as Daredevil season 3 begins streaming on Netflix. The Marvel-Netflix partnership has mostly resulted in top-tier high-quality series, two seasons each of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage enjoying widespread acclaim, and one season each of The Punisher and The Defenders receiving solid positive reactions as well. The two prior seasons of Daredevil were fantastic, so season 3 has a lot to live up to.Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil (2015)Last month’s release of second 2 of the superhero series Iron Fist was followed weeks later by the sudden cancellation of that show by Netflix. This followed mostly negative reviews of the first season, and a season 2 critical consensus that recognized the show had improved a great deal while still being the weakest entry in the Marvel-Netflix lineup. Whether Iron Fist will appear in cameos or supporting roles in any of the other shows remains to be seen, but I’m betting he’ll pop up in Luke Cage season 3, or perhaps Cage and Fist will team up for a brand new show called Heroes For Hire. Regardless, the Marvel-Netflix corner of the MCU’s has quickly rebounded from the Iron Fist situation and negative news, as Daredevil season 3 proves.Taking loose inspiration from the 1986 fan-favorite comic book story arc “Born Again” by writer Frank Miller, season 3 picks up where The Defenders left off — Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, is missing after a building exploded and collapsed on him and the assassin Elektra. Presumed dead, Murdock is critically injured and recuperating while imprisoned crime lord Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, sets in motion a plan to get out of prison and eliminate all of his enemies. The story is a return to the crime-and-vigilantism focused narrative of the show’s first season, which evolved into a bit more of a fantastical/mystical narrative in season 2 (which was still great, just different from the seasons bookending it). There’s just enough sprinkling of adaption of certain plot points, character arcs, and scenes from “Born Again” to be familiar, while overall bringing entirely new concepts and storytelling to make it fresh and unpredictable.Charlie Cox in Daredevil (2015)The returning cast are all in top form again. Charlie Cox as Murdock/Daredevil delivers a complicated performance as a hero struggling with a complete emotional and moral breakdown, as well as a physical breakdown that challenges his sense of self and his mission. Cox also perfectly captures Murdock’s spiritual crisis within the larger themes about sin, forgiveness, and accountability. Cox’s fantastic, nuanced performance brings such believability to the situation, you can imagine this is how someone would act and feel if they actually ran around at night wearing a mask to save lives and fight crime. His sense of inevitability, that it’s his singular calling in life to live as Daredevil — more so even than living as Matt Murdock — makes even his most extreme decisions understandable and rational within his worldview.Elden Henson and Charlie Cox in Daredevil (2015)Deborah Ann Woll returns as Karen Page, with another tour de force performance making the character almost worthy of her own superhero series as a crusading reporter willing to stand up against the same villains against whom the superhuman costumed vigilantes do battle. Woll’s role is the single most important supporting character in any of the Marvel-Netflix shows, in terms of the dramatic weight and relevance she has for the narratives and for providing an audience surrogate at times. Woll treats every scene like she’s the star of the show, and it’s easy sometimes to forget she’s not. Elden Henson’s role as Foggy Nelson takes some particularly interesting turns this season, including of a moral nature, with Henson keeping an air of “in over his head” sensibilities to Foggy while also revealing how much the character can surprise himself in moments of crisis.Elden Henson and Jay Ali in Daredevil (2015)Henson smartly plays to the fact the character must be simultaneously frustrating and endearing, alternately Murdock’s friend who is reliable and trustworthy while also a guy who screws up and spills the wrong beans or lacks adequate faith in Matt, Karen, or himself. Vincent D’Onofrio continues to awe as Wilson Fisk, a role I’d previously thought was nearly impossible to fill because I couldn’t imagine any actor capturing the delicate balance between cunning villainy, secret vulnerabilities, and sheer larger-than-life presentation required to really get the character right. D’Onofrio not only proved me wrong, he actually managed to improve upon a character who already had decades of exceptional stories in the comics featuring many iconic arcs.Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil (2015)There is an undercurrent of pain and purpose to this incarnation of Fisk, as if even simple daily activities like eating or sitting quietly by himself take a toll on his soul and inflict physical discomfort. D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is magnificent, and worthy of transitioning into some of the MCU theatrical releases for at least a few cameos and supporting turns — it would be amazing to see him in a Spider-Man movie, for example.  fear saying too much about any of the newcomers to the cast, because their roles and specific natures are all better revealed to you through watching the episodes. However, I need to mention a few things about three actors in particular.Charlie Cox and Wilson Bethel in Daredevil (2015)Joanne Whalley is sublime in a role requiring quiet dignity in the face of a world that laughs at faith and belief in higher purpose, and the scenes between her and Cox are among the best moments of the season. Jay Ali brings an authentic sense of purpose and integrity coupled with the sort of self-righteousness and frustrated entitlement that can blind even good people to their mistakes, exacerbating the damage to themselves and others around them. And Wilson Bethel is ideal as an iconic character torn apart by inner demons he has long suppressed, fighting a dark desire to give in to his worst nature and put his amazing talents to use for those who were once his enemies.Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil (2015)The directing in Daredevil is always splendid, but this season requires even more inky noir than usual, as well as a gothic tone beyond what we saw in the first two seasons. The battle between the angels of our better nature and our base inclinations, and how often people can confuse the two — or justify blurring the lines between them when it suits a desired outcome — is at the heart of this season for all of the characters in one way or another, and that’s reflected consistently in the visual presentation. From lighting and color that speak to the overarching concepts as well as to individual shots and scenes, to the use of wide open space juxtaposed against literal or metaphorical restraint and confinement, season 3 is elevating the entire visual approach to the show.Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll in Daredevil (2015)The fight choreography and action are once again the best of the entire Marvel TV category, and even superior to much of the action and fight scenes we seen in big-screen theatrical releases. They love their long tracking shots in Daredevil, and this season delivers the goods in spades once again — if you loved that hallway fight in season 1 (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love that sequence?) you’re in for some thrills in season 3, I assure you. img_2785Daredevil season 3 keeps that tradition of excellence alive once again. I’ve only seen the first six episodes that were available for preview, so I’ll be watching the clock til the entire show is available for me to binge on Friday like the rest of you fans. If the back half of the season is as good as the first, this looks to be the best season yet for the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES (2003)

MAIN CAST (VOICES)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Lisa Loeb (Legally Blonde)
Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills, 90210)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Ethan Embry (Eagle Eye)
Jeff Fischer (American Dad)
Jennifer Hale (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Julie Nathanson (The Zeta Project)
Rino Romano (The Batman)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Eve (4.3.2.1.)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Gina Gershon (The Batman)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Xander Berkeley (Poison Ivy 2)
Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Susan Blu (Transformers)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Jane Lynch (Paul)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Tara Strong (Teen Titans)
Jeffrey Combs (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
David DeLuise (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Devon Sawa (Final Destination)
Stan Lee (Agent Carter)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Family Guy)
Rob Zombie (3 From Hell)
Kathy Griffin (The Cable Guy)
Jeremy Piven (Entourage)
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Truly one of the best ever incarnation of Spiderman and the best animated show ever Compared to previous animated Spidey’s this was bold move, taking it in new, more mature and realistic directions.
Taking place after the Spider-Man movie this show revolves around the college adventures of Peter, Mary-Jane and Harry who have much better chemistry, character and dialogue than the movie ever offered. Each episode provides more drama and development and creativity. The stories are very imaginative and are obviously written by people who are passionate about Spiderman rather than a studio hashing a product together.
 The computer animation is superb and resembles The Ultimate Spiderman comic book (my fave) more than anything. And I know Mary-Jane is only a CGI character but she is so beautiful, and she’s voiced by the equally gorgeous Lisa Loeb. Neil Patrick Harris is the voice of Peter Parker and even in this performance he is a hundred times better than Tobey Maguire.
 The show also offers some new, interesting characters like Indy, Cheyenne and Silver Sable and gives us alternate takes on Electro and Kraven. Though I was curious as to why Aunt May was not involved.
There is plenty of action and excitement to be had in every episode, all backed up to great music.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Nick Jameson (Batman: Yeear One)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS – SEASON 1-3

 

CAST (VOICES)

Dan Gilvezan (Transformers)
Kathy Garver (Family Affair)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
June Foray (Mulan)
Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rino Roamno (The Batman)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica)
Susan Blu (Transformers)
Stanley Jones (The Little Shop of Horrors)

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS

Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar are fighting crime and protecting the world from villains. As Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones, the three heroes are not only teammates, but roommates and friends. As they try to keep Aunt May and Angelica’s dog Ms. Lion in the dark, the Spider-Friends battle enemies from Doctor Octopus and Doctor Doom to Green Goblin and the Red Skull. Fortunately, the Spider-Man, Firestar, and Iceman have allies in Captain America, the X-Men, and other heroes…saving the world is a hard job!

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDSSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran for three seasons on NBC from September 12, 1981 to September 10, 1983. The series was produced by Marvel Productions and aired with The Incredible Hulk cartoon starting with the second season. Saturday mornings was ruled by the Super Friends. DC Comics had gotten the jump on the super team show and Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Wonder Twins were already well established when Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends premiered. Despite that,

The series was cheap. There are episodes where there are out and out mistakes (my favorite is “The Origin of Iceman” where a flashback of Iceman’s time with the original X-Men accidentally features two Cyclops in a group shot). You get lots of coloring errors and animation that changes. In addition to that, there are inconsistencies and things like just unknowns about the series…like Wolverine having an Australian accent instead of a Canadian (which would have been a lot easier for Hugh Jackman). It even stole character designs like for Cyberiad in “The X-Men Adventure” who was a complete copy of Legion of Super-Heroes’ Fatal Five enemy Tharok. Surprisingly, the show is loaded with cameos. Characters like  Matt Murdock, Captain America, Iron Man, and others make cameos throughout the series and the series helped introduce the X-Men to a larger audience.s02e13_720I would say that the best addition to the Marvel Universe from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is easily Firestar. Firestar was meant to be the Human Torch who was tied up in legal tape. Firestar was created for the show to look like Mary Jane Watson, but ended up being retconned into the Marvel Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). I love Firestar and she’s one of the few characters who really transitioned well from “made-for-TV” to comic. pider-Man and His Amazing Friends is a fun series…if you grew up with it. The cheapness of the series probably won’t impress younger viewers, but as a fan from childhood, it is great to revisit the show.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1981)

Image result for spider-man 1981

CAST (VOICES)

Ted Schwartz (Transformers)
William Woodson (The Naked Gun 2 1/2)
Mona Marshall (South Park)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Stan Jones (Little Shop of Horrors)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
George DiCenzo (She-Ra)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Neil Ross (The Centurions)

UntitledWhen I sat down to watch Spider-Man 5000 I was expecting some futuristic Batman Of The Future-type deal, with Spidey zooming into space decked out in weblined silver, led by a computerised spider-sense. In fact, the 5000 refers to an episode numbering system, not a time period. This 1981 animated series is set straight after the ‘60s Spider-Man show, with Peter Parker now attending Empire State University. The villains are contemporary and familiar – The Lizard, Sandman, Dr. Octopus.

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The series does a great job of capturing the ethos of the comic book. Peter Parker is a teenager juggling his love life with work and webswinging. Aunt May fusses over him and there’s a running gag about him slipping into the house without her noticing. Peter’s impatient date Betty Brant gets stood up on a regular basis. Spider-Man’s quips and interior monologues ring true. For example, he calls Magneto “Bucket Head” and “Turret Top”.The series adds its own quirks as well. Peter acts clumsy and cowardly a la Clark Kent. We learn that he prefers The Beatles to disco music, can make armpit web wings to glide from buildings, and isn’t above taking money to guard a million dollar artifact. These all come across more as plot devices than attempts to develop character or build continuity.

Spider-Man 5000 retains the child-friendly, uncluttered look of the ‘60s show but adds texture to its art and storytelling. There are detailed touches like the underwater ripples when Spidey treads water, and sight gags such as a billboard for Spritz Bug Spray. In each 20 minute tale, the hero has time to discover the villain’s plan, get knocked down and get back up again for a rousing finale. The villains come across as greedy, bellowing buffoons who thrive on thievery rather than any grand master plans. Even the Black Cat is a plain burglar here, more Catwoman than Felicia Hardy. This being the early ‘80s, Spider-Man relies on the miracle power of microwaves on more than one occasion to battle the bad guys. Who knew that those reheating waves could turn sand to dust and amplify magnetic power, bouncing it back to its source?  Spidey isn’t the only character who harnesses technology in unusual ways. In the first episode Bubble, Bubble, Oil And Trouble, classic villain Doctor Octopus modifies his terrible tentacles, adding a diamond sawblade and a vibrator. That’s a sonic quartz vibrator, which zaps walls to rubble around Spider-Man. Ock wants to get his protuberances on the world’s oil supply, but before he can thwart the tanker snatcher Peter has to do his homework and compete with rival photographer Mortimer (J. Jonah Jameson’s wonderfully sniveling nephew).16174889_1836004673347908_6687458020023952722_nIn Dr. Doom, Master Of The World, the Latverian dictator forgoes a typical destructive scheme for something more polite. He brainwashes UN representatives so they’ll vote him into absolute power. Questionable tactics aside, this is the Doom we all want to see – creepy and menacing with a Darth Vader voice. Sadly, he’s defeated too easily and he just runs away at the end. Above all, 5000 has some great visual ideas even if they’re not always executed effectively. They’re the kind of ideas that get kids talking in the playground, looking forward to their next Saturday morning episode. We get Doc Ock striding over the skyline with his tentacles extended, The Lizard breeding giant monitors and other zoo lizards in the subway, blocking off the exits with crashed trains, the Black Cat tightrope walking across power lines, and Spidey wrestling a gator in the Everglades, getting magnetized to a satellite and finding himself in other imaginative scrapes.

On the downside, true believers have been up in all eight arms about the transfer quality of these discs. Clear Vision blames it on the age of the material, but the color isn’t so much faded as flickering, as if an old digital generation has been used as the source footage. Cleaning up video frames can be painstaking, but if Clear Vision wants a loyal fan base then it’s going to have to put more work into the other volumes in this series. If you don’t mind the bad flicker and odd black and white frames, this early Marvel Production will surprise you with its joie de vivre, if not its sophistication. As the missing link between the original cartoon and Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, this is a rare gem.

REVIEW: SPIDER-WOMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

 

CAST (VOICES)

Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Bryan Scott (Kidd Video)
Larry Carroll (Rocky)
Vic Perrin (The Incredible Hulk 80s)
Paul Soles (Spider-Man 60s)

untitledIn the 1970s, Marvel Comics created a handful of female versions of some of Marvel’s popular male characters (allegedly, just so no one else could lay claim to the names): Spider-Woman, the She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. Of those three, Spider-Woman quickly became a prominent marketing co-mascot (along with Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America), appearing on various Marvel-branded licensed merchandise, and serving as their de facto representative for lady superheroes (rival DC Comics owned longtime icon Wonder Woman). Marvel’s first animation production house (in cooperation with the DePatie/Freling, firm, who pioneered the “Pink Panther” toons) developed this show.

'Dedicated to fighting evil while weaving her web of justice...' ('Spider-Woman,' 1979)

The show alters the backstory for Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman. The comics had an arguably complicated origin story, which posited her as being born in the 1920’s, struck by radiation poisoning, then placed in suspended animation where she slowly grew to adulthood over several decades (while periodically being injected with life-preserving drugs based on spider-proteins). The producers wisely jettisoned this origin, and simply state that a pre-teen Jessica was bitten by a spider when fooling around in her father’s research laboratory. A hasty antidote is created, based on the spider’s venom, which ends up giving Jessica her trademark powers. As an adult, Spider-Woman can crawl on walls, has super-strength, can mentally communicate with spiders, has a spider-sense that borders on true clairvoyance, can cast webbing from her fingertips, and can glide on air currents with her web-wings (the webcasting, spider-sense and spider-telepathy were not from the comics). Curiously, she transforms into her Spider-Woman costume simply by spinning around in place (and weaving a thin web around herself)– this was seemingly taken directly from the “Wonder Woman” TV show.

The adult Jessica is now a magazine publisher (Justice Magazine), though apparently she often serves as her own reporter, along with pilot/photographer Jeff by her side, as well as her nephew Billy.The Kingpin and Dormammu are among the Marvel comics villains used here, though the portrayals are not exactly as the comics origins. Spider-Man is a guest in two episodes– though in both, Spider-Woman is clearly the main star, and viewers never see Spider-Man out of costume. It’s  great to have this series on DVD to relive the classic cartoon time and again.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1967) – SEASON 1-3

CAST

Paul Soles (Terminal City)
Bernard Cowan (Iron Man 60s)
Paul Kligman (Winnipeg)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)

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48 years before modern audiences oohed and awed over the amazing adventures of a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider, kids were sitting in front of their television, singing “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does what a spider can, spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies,” all while staring intently at their hero in red tights.

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Thanks to Clear Vision which captures the entire 52 episodes of the animated series on 8 discs, I discovered the exciting superhero escapades kids thrilled over and emulated in the late 1960s. After watching nearly 20 hours of classic Spider-Man, I realized the cartoon is corny, cheesy, unbelievable, and at times, downright laughable. But I loved every minute of it.

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Talk about nostalgia. Watching these DVDs was like walking through a time warp and stepping into a simpler time. And I can’t wait to go back.. I was delighted with Peter Parker’s exploits and I was thrilled at how Spider-Man always outwitted the bad guys. Sure, the adult side of my brain tried to interfere by pointing out that Spidey was swinging over rooftops on a web that wasn’t attached to anything, or that a web could never stop a bullet, or a laser, or whatever cockamamie weapon the crazed super villain happened to be using.

The old Spider-Man cartoon is definitely not Shakespeare. Instead, it’s shear fun. Even for the adults, as long as you’re willing to let your childishness shine through. Maybe it’s the corny nature of the simple plots—which almost always saw a villain trying to rob crabby old J. Jonah Jameson only to be out-smarted by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man—that makes the show so much fun. Or maybe it’s the always outrageous villains, which included the typical rogues gallery of Scorpion, Electro, Kingpin, and Rhino, but also included interesting characters like ice men from Pluto, spirits in an old theatre, dangerous man-eating plants, and my personal favorite, Dr. Noah Boddy, an invisible man who thinks he’s smarter than the authorities. Even the simplistic art and dated animation style just adds to the shows charm. These cartoons are all about the action and the usual Peter Parker wit. The first 20 episodes, which aired in the show’s first season, are broken into two 10-minute adventures, so there’s no time for in-depth plots. The show’s writers put Spidey in as many crazy situations as possible, as fast as possible, and found even more ludicrous ways to get him out.

The next 32 episodes, which aired in the second and third seasons, were mostly 21-minute adventures that included a bit more story, a bit more suspense, and sometimes a bit more mystery, yet never lost sight of the show’s heart. Many of these episodes featured more “real life” villains, such as mobsters or bank robbers, but there were plenty of super villains and zany creatures ready to take over New York. Which means even these longer episodes were light on the character development and heavy on the outlandish action scenes.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON TWO

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Stephen Rider (Safe House)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black)

GUEST CAST
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michelle Hurd (Flashforward)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)
Peter McRobbie (Lincoln)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Amy Rutberg (The Mansion)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Wai Chang Ho (Robot Stories)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Matt Gerald (Terminator 3)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Daredevil is a character about contrasts. Matt Murdock practices as a lawyer by day, but beats criminals as a vigilante at night. He’s a practicing Catholic, but dresses up like the devil. Also, he’s blind, but he can see the world around him unlike anyone else. Coincidentally, it is the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil that chooses to really explore the dichotomies, not only in its title hero but in those around him and the world at large. Charlie Cox once again stars as the Man without Fear in the series, and brings the same amount of dashing charm and selflessness that makes Matt such a great character. Cox has transcended himself in the role, too. Much like Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man or Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, there is no separating the actor from the character; they are one. He provides the pivotal anchor for the rest of the cast, who also continue to hit home run after home run. Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson is still the perfect Milhouse to Matt’s Bart, the right combination of endearing, annoying, and funny. A combo that personifies the comic book character to a T, and makes him integral to Matt’s story. Furthermore there’s Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, bringing a lightness to this supremely dark (in tone and lighting) series. Woll and Cox also work off of each other in perhaps the most believable romantic subplot of the MCU. Then there’s Frank Castle.
Jon Bernthal takes on the role of The Punisher for the series, and he brings the goods. This is a character that also has two sides at work, not simply inherent to his actions but in how he is written as a piece of the puzzle. Bernthal can handle the militaristic elements with ease. No one has looked more natural walking down a hall while aiming a shotgun with precision, but when the more sensitive aspects of the character and his background unfold, he’s got it covered. The Punisher is at his most satisfying for an audience as an unstoppable killing machine, always five moves ahead. At his most interesting and nuanced, however, The Punisher is a fatally-flawed and broken individual that is two steps behind. The good news is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. When Bernthal isn’t laying waste to criminals, he’s tasked with delivering Shakespearean monologues, which he hits like a headshot.
The second season of Daredevil also brings along Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, the perfect wrench for everything Matt Murdock. Though The Punisher may be at his most satisfying when he’s a human hurricane leaving a path of destruction, Matt Murdock is at his most satisfying when literally everything is going wrong for him, and Elektra is a guarantee for that. Yung embodies the spirit of Elektra that shines a light on the character’s personality in exciting ways. She brings duel ferocity and gentleness that made me recognize something I had never thought before – Elektra is like a cat; Playful when it suits her, but mysterious and often a supreme and bitter jerk when she doesn’t get her way. The same way that Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll hold onto everything wholesome and good about love, Cox and Yung grab all of the dangerous and potentially hurtful parts and hang them out the window while speeding down the highway.
The true achievement of Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 is not how in how it escalates the stakes from Season 1 or how it manages to properly juggle new and returning characters with satisfying arcs, it’s in its narrative composition as a whole. Season 2 is perhaps the most comic book-like series on TV, because it mirrors the structure of comics in a way that ceases to feel like television. While the first season held onto the framework of serialized TV, guiding us through every turn, Season 2 takes the graphic novel approach. Clusters of episodes form their own cohesive arc for a few hours, but when all combined they form the grander story at hand of the season. And that larger story? A further example of the two dividends of Daredevil. Daytime Matt and nighttime Matt get equal footing, which you need in order to make them both special.
As hard as it may be to believe, Daredevil‘s second season is a step up from the first. By embracing the comic book form, the series has further separated itself from the rest of the MCU and scratches an itch none of them can reach. It’s not all perfect though, as what worked the first time keeps working, and what didn’t work remains a drag, specifically the tired exposition wherein characters must explain to other characters the things the audience already knows. The drama screeches to a halt in these moments, but luckily they are few and far between.
If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. The new additions to the series are welcome and only enhance the storytelling in thrilling ways.