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Buena Vista Home Video presents
Spider-Man: The Venom Saga (2005)

"If you ask me, the apple fell pretty far from the tree."
- Peter Parker (Christopher Daniel Barnes)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: June 07, 2005

Stars: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Sara Ballantine
Other Stars: Edward Asner
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:34m:52s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 786936238020
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Thank God for Sam Raimi! That's what I and millions of other Spider-Man fans have been proclaiming on high in the years following the first of his directorial efforts. Not only did that first film shatter box-office records and spawn a superior sequel, but it's brought the animated form of the character back into the spotlight as well as onto a bunch of DVD releases.

While nothing can top the 1967 animated series, the mid-1990s incarnation came close, focusing on some of the most memorable storylines from the comic's history. One such storyline, and arguably the best Spidey tale ever, was that of Venom. The antithesis to Spider-Man, Venom is easily the darkest, most haunting villain to ever cross, and almost literally engulf our web-slinging friend.

This new DVD has five episodes on it; three from the show's first season and two from its third. The storyline for the mini-trilogy involves the origin of Venom, showing us how Peter Parker comes across the mysterious Prometheum X substance while saving the two astronauts who discovered it. It goes on to show Parker's initial experiences with the Venom suit and his struggle both with it on him and on other unsuspecting victims as well.

The other two shows feature Venom's reemergence on the scene after some jail time, as the human currently embodying him battles Spider-Man. We also get to see Venom's offspring, Carnage, for the first time, adding an even more complex dynamic to this great storyline.

There's been speculation that Venom might be incorporated into a future Spider-Man feature film. If Sam Raimi and his effects crew can effectively turn Venom into a larger-than-life, three-dimensional character, then that film series will truly reach the next level.

This is the fifth compilation DVD of the Spider-Man series and, I, for one, think the time is right to release seasonal sets of the show. Sure, we have a nice set for the entire '67 series, but these newer shows are deserving of the same treatment. Now that they're running out of villains and themes to base these compilation discs on, maybe the entire first season will be making its way to DVD sometime soon.

The five episodes in Spider-Man: The Venom Saga are:

1. The Alien Costume, Part One: Something goes awry during a space shuttle landing, and Spider-Man is on the scene to save the two astronauts after it crashes. When a substance called Prometheum X comes up missing, fingers are pointed at Spider-Man.

2. The Alien Costume, Part Two: After Spider-Man dons the new suit created from the Prometheum X, he discovers powers beyond even his imagination. He soon learns that the suit also makes him incredibly angry, which could make him more of a villain than a superhero.

3. The Alien Costume, Part Three: Spider-Man is rid of the evil suit, but it finds a new host, becoming his newest enemy, Venom.

4. The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter X: Venom Returns: Venom and his alter-ego are out of prison, along with another convict who has become the evil Carnage.

5. The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter XI: Carnage: Venom is struggling with his suit, while Carnage is having a field day killing anyone in his way.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame presentation isn't much different from the way the show looked on television. Newer, CG-heavy animated series are much more impressive than this, but as far as classic, hand-drawn fare goes, Spider-Man: The Venom Saga is at the top of its game. Sharp images are a constant, with bright colors bringing the comic book to life. A bit of a shimmer appears at times, but otherwise, this is free of any glaring flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, and also isn't very flashy, but serves the series' purpose of creating an enveloping, action-packed experience. There isn't really any bass presence, but the effectiveness of the overall mix doesn't suffer.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Chicken Little, Power Rangers S.P.D.: Joining Forces Vol. 1, Spider-Man Vs. Doc Ock, Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows, Tarzan II, Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui, Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys, Power Rangers S.P.D.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Stan Lee's Soapbox: 11-minute discussion with the Marvel Comics legend
  2. The Venomous Web: Interactive profile of Venom
  3. Episode Introductions by Stan Lee
Extras Review: Aside from a large collection of Sneak Peeks for other Touchstone Home Video releases, there are three extra features, including a series of episode introductions by Stan Lee. These shed some light on his feelings about each show on this disc, and it's always great to hear the master's thoughts about Spider-Man.

Lee is back in Stan Lee's Soapbox, an 11-minute interview with the living legend. He talks mostly about Venom and the temptation that this character brought into Spider-Man's life. It's so great to see Lee as excited about these characters as he was many years ago.

The Venomous Web is the most interesting of the extras in that it allows you to click on a picture and hear a particular bit of information (as well as watch an animated clip) about Venom from his co-creator, David Michelinie.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The animated adventures of Spider-Man are at their best in The Venom Saga. Arguably the scariest and most interesting of Spidey's foes, Venom is introduced with a bang, and continues on a reign of terror through five episodes. The images and sound are as good as expected, and some nice bonus features, including a lengthy Stan Lee interview, are sure to make fans happy.


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