The latest in the line of Marvel motion comics available on DVD — and, for the first time, on Blu-ray — is Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., out this Tuesday.
This one’s a little different, since it was originally created for the motion comic format (instead of being in print first) by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev and released on iTunes in 2009. That makes it older than previous DVDs in this series. And that’s obvious, from the higher percentage of static shots.
It’s a bad match with the writer. Given Bendis’ fondness for too-high word counts, it becomes very boring to watch as the characters talk and talk and talk over flat shots of them sitting together or a single person staring at something. Motion is minimal, and not nearly as involving as, for example, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted. This one is a throwback to the idea of a camera panning over comic panels, and it’s a step backward for the format.
The voices are wrong to me — Jessica (Nicolette Reed) is too posh, with bits of an English accent peeking through, and I kept hearing “squirrels” when they said “Skrulls”. I also wasn’t all that interested in the character, especially when the story starts with her trying to harm herself and over-emoting about how she’s more screwed up than Wolverine. The narration, with Spider-Woman having to explain too much about herself, her powers, and the continuity aspects of all these characters, feels like the viewer is being talked down to. The five episodes add up to 52 minutes, which is almost an hour of your life wasted. Honestly, I got halfway through episode two, when the Hydra woman showed up with a bad Natasha-and-Boris-style accent, and I bailed. I just couldn’t stand it any more. Especially since Jessica hadn’t even put on her costume yet.
- trailers for this DVD and the Black Panther one
- a “Watch Your Step” music video (catchy!)
- the five-minute “Behind the Scenes of Marvel Knights Animation” that includes comments by artist Alex Maleev about his storyboard process and reused footage from the X-Men DVD
- a nine-page “visual history of Spider-Woman”, which involves caption boxes over comic panels that were too small for me to read on the TV screen
- an Alex Maleev artist gallery, eight screens of pinups that were all very similar
By the way, when I first talked about this release, there was some discussion of how the overly revealing cover image was typical fanboy pandering. Imagine how pleased I was to open the case and discover it got worse inside, with a similar image that added Jessica fondling herself.
If you do want the Blu-ray, which combines the Spider-Woman and Iron Man motion comics, BestBuy.com is currently listing it for $24.99, but Shout! Factory has posted a coupon that makes it $19.99 next Friday and Saturday, June 17-18. (The studio provided a review copy.)