Greetings again; last time we talked about a few things that are bizarrely, criminally overlooked in terms of DVD/blu-ray availability. This time we rejoin the search with a look at Spider-Man.
Spidey on TV: Spider-Man is distinguished by having nearly as many animated incarnations as Batman. He was in a live-action prime-time series. Hell, he was on “The Electric Company”. Yet, strangely for being a big box-office (and Broadway; heh) star, only a handful of Spidey series have gotten proper DVD representation. Those would be the oldest (Spider-Man: The ’67 Collection) and the most recent (MTV’s 2003 Spider-Man: The New Animated Series Season One and seasons one and two of Spectacular Spider-Man). That actually still leaves A LOT of untapped product, including . . .Spidey Super Stories: While it’s true that some of these “Electric Company” segments have made it to DVD (only about five over the course of eight DVDs that cover the years 1971-1977), about 23 others exist. Virtually unknown to younger fans today, these segments were produced to encourage young viewers to read. Spidey didn’t “speak”, but had his dialogue appear in word balloons so that kids could practice their sight words. Granted, it’s not a high-demand release, but any world that can have a complete collection of “Schoolhouse Rock” can also manage to have a few education-friendly Spidey segments on a single DVD.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Yes, most of these were out on VHS. However, there’s fan interest in collecting the pilot film, the eleven regular episodes, and the two-hour wrap-up. The 1977 to 1979 series was rather popular. The common story today is that it had low ratings, but it was a top 20 show in the 1977-1978 season (19th out of 96 regular series). Spidey on live-action was a victim of expense and, according to legend, CBS attempt to run screaming from being “The Superhero Network” (recall that they had “Wonder Woman”, “Incredible Hulk” and Spidey all in prime-time AT THE SAME TIME).
Spider-Man (1981 animated): Ah, the great lost Spidey series. A favorite of bootleggers on the con circuit for years, this one ran in syndication with a solo Spidey at the same time that Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran on NBC. Apparently, we were supposed to understand “SM&HAF” as the follow-up to this one (indeed, they come from the same production company and use the same designs), but they both debuted on the same weekend in 1981 and this one wasn’t available in all markets. The series ran for a total of 26 episodes, one of which (“The Vulture Has Landed”) snuck out on a Canadian DVD (“Spider-Man Vs. The Vulture”) that also included Vulture episodes from the 1967 show.Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1983 animated): One of the more beloved animated series in the super-hero pantheon, there isn’t much I need to explain about it. Human Torch rights-issues-replacement Firestar became popular enough to cross over into the Marvel Universe proper, and a steady parade of Marvel guest-stars kept things interesting. Though the show hit DVD in the U.K., it has never gotten an American release.
Spider-Man (1994-1998 animated): It is frankly mind-boggling that this series is not available on DVD in its entirety. One of the most popular comic-related animated series ever, the ‘90s Spidey ran for five seasons of 65 episodes; that makes it the second-longest running Marvel show (behind the ‘90s X-Men). Certain episodes were released on DVD as part of a spotty, shoddy plan by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment; the five DVDs (collecting a total of 21 episodes arranged in themes) piggy-backed on the live-action films, but the erratic release of the discs and lack of season sets no doubt left a huge amount of money on the table for Marvel (and Disney). This is part of what led to Marvel’s suit against Walt Disney in 2004; of course, that’s all moot now that Marvel is owned by Disney. Marvel.com has made episodes available via streaming . . . but, y’know, come on. With a complete ‘90s X-Men out, there’s no reason that this can’t be too.
Spider-Man Unlimited (1999 animated): (Pictured Above) Someone probably wants this too. Right? Well someone must at least be able to talk about it off the top of their heads. Anyone?
There you go, readers: Spidey in demand. Next time, we’ll look at some other obvious missing links, like The Green Hornet. Have one that you want or just want to agree enthusiastically? Tweet with abandon.