Spider-Man: The Venom Saga (1994) - Animated Series

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Animation
Buena Vista Home Video || NR - 95 minutes - $19.99 || June 7, 2005
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2005-06-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Stan Lee (characters)
Cast: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Hank Azaria, Edward Asner, Jim Cummings


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 5 Introductions by Stan Lee
  • Stan Lee's Soapbox
  • The Venamous Web


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Stereo Surround)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Spider-Man: The Venom Saga is a collection of five episodes from the Fox Kids Spider-Man Cartoon series that ran from 1994-1998. All five episodes presented in this collection are ones containing Spider-manís arch-enemy, Venom. The first three episodes (The Alien Costume Saga parts 1-3) deal with how Spider-Man finds a new black costume. One that is really a symbiotic alien parasite that needs a host to survive. Eventually the symbiote is passed to Eddie Brock who hates Spider-Man and Venom is born. The 3rd and 4th episodes (Venom Returns and Carnage) deal with Venom returning and giving ďbirthĒ to a new symbiote that possesses a serial killer and becomes Carnage.

Are these shows any good? Well sure. But not great. I remember watching the cartoon every Saturday morning in my pre-adolescense and being in love with it. I still remember the preview commercial for the Alien Costume part 3. It was great. It started off with a shot of Brock holding Spider-man in his grip.ďWe call ourselves... (Narrator:Next SaturdayÖ)Venom!Ē. I remember that little piece of dialogue used to thrill the sh*t out of me. But being that Iím no longer 12 years old (as I had just turned 12 when that episode aired), this show no longer captivates me quite as much as it used to. I can now see all the animation flaws that are all over the place on this show and I also realized how silly it was for police officers to be firing laser weapons at each other and that the characters wear the same outfits on every episode (a common cartoon element but for whatever reason it irked me here). However, Iím not saying itís a bad show. Itís not. Spider-man was very faithful in spirit to the comic book series and was very good at serialized storytelling. It also had a very accomplished repertoire of voice-over actors (Hank Azaria as Venom, Ed Asner as J. Jonah Jameson, and so on). The show holds up as pure entertainment. Nothing Emmy worthy but a rousing good time for kids and for hardcore Spidey fans (like myself).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

ďStan Leeís SoapboxĒ - This is an 11 minute piece that is not much more than Spider-man creator Stan Lee talking about his interests and some of his views on Venom and Spider-Man. Now, Iím the type of fan whoís always enjoyed listening to Stan Lee talk about comic book characters. I mean, I own Stan Leeís Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels (which is an interview/documentary Lee did with writer/director Kevin Smith) and I thought it was great. The difference here is that Stan seems to be talking a lot about Venom and he clearly just doesnít have a whole lot of passion for it. Why should he? Stan didnít create the character and has never (to my knowledge) had to write him either. As a result, Stanís Soapbox feature is a bit flat.

ďFive Episode IntrosĒ - These are episode intros to each episode by Stan Lee that you can view separately or right before each episode. They fare much better than Stanís soapbox but again, the first 3 are all about Venom and thus Stan seems to be just phoning it in. Then something great happens. We get to the intro for Venom Returns and itís like someone put extra sugar into Stanís coffee cause he becomes much more animated. The reason? Iron Man (one of Leeís greatest creations) appears in those last two episodes on the disc and Lee clearly has a lot of fun talking about it. Overall, itís a decent but unspectacular feature.

ďThe Venomous Web FeaturetteĒ. - This is a feature I expected so much more from. I wanted to see a little brief(even 10 minutes wouldíve been nice) where we see an actual documentary style making of featurette. We donít. What we get is a collection of little audio clips set against the cartoonís background where we hear David Michillinie (comic book writer and creator of Venom) talk about the origins of the character, his career, and how he came up with the character. Itís not a bad feature but itís very poorly organized. The clips arenít put in any kind of order (but feel like they should be) and youíre kind of expected to randomly click on stuff and figure out some semblance of what order itís supposed to come in. Itís informative but it couldíve been done so much better.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

For a single disc, 5 episode release, the audio on this thing is amazing. Iíve heard the theme song for this cartoon many times but Iíve never EVER heard is sound this good. The picture is good but the sound is awesome. Voices are clear and the music and fx kick your sound system harder than expected.



.::OVERALL::.

When you add it up, this is a decent Spider-Man toon release but it couldíve been put together a bit more effectively. Iíd recommend it for kids and hardcore fans BUT I think what we should really have is season boxed sets of the show (ala Batman: The Animated Series). That would allow to view more episodes for your buck and to get better special features. Not bad, but not great either.