The Austin Chronicle

New to DVD

By Michael Chamy, February 21, 2003, Screens

Daredevil vs. Spider-Man

Buena Vista Home Entertainment ($19.99) It's a fittingly bold move for Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. Marvel's follow-up to Spider-Man's wildly successful Hollywood debut is a bit unorthodox, pulling one of its lesser-known heroes out of the bag. Daredevil is in fact Marvel's most similar hero to the webhead and probably its most similar to D.C.'s Batman in that his powers are relatively minimal. Yet even Batman can see, where Daredevil is in fact blind as a bat. Creator Stan Lee's commentary on this DVD emphasizes that this handicapped hero, who uses his other senses to more than compensate for his lack of eyesight, has been an inspiration to his writers, artists, and most importantly, fans, since his creation in 1964. Yet the Man Without Fear has barely appeared in the various Marvel cartoons over the years. This DVD compiles virtually all of them, in conjunction with last week's release of the live-action Ben Affleck Daredevil feature. On display are four episodes of the Nineties Spider-Man cartoon, two of which prominently feature Daredevil and his alter-ego, attorney Matt Murdock, teaming with, and at one point battling, Spider-Man. An episode of the Nineties Fantastic Four cartoon featuring Daredevil is also included, as is an old-skool-with-a-"k" Spider-Man cartoon from 1966 ("King Pinned") featuring Daredevil's archrival the Kingpin, also one of Spidey's primary foes. While the Nineties toons were well-done, it's the low-budget Sixties productions that captured all the atmosphere, naiveté, and artistic style of the comics. Sadly, there's no classic Marvel-era Daredevil to be found here. Truth be told, though, Daredevil's prime run was in the gritty, dark, Frank Miller era of 1979-82, only underscoring that characters this strong can thrive under a variety of different treatments.

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