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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Fantastic Four
The Complete Animated TV Series (1978)


Starring (voice): Ted Cassidy, Mike Road, Ginny Tyler, Frank Welker, Dick Tufeld and John Stephenson
Clear Vision
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: U
Available 01 March 2010

This release collects together all 13 episodes from the 1978 animated series of The Fantastic Four, over two discs, amounting to a collective running time of 4 hours, 57 minutes. The Fantastic Four is one of Marvel Comics's most enduring team of super heroes. After a mission into space goes awry, the four become bombarded with radiation. The leader, brilliant scientist Reed Richards becomes Mr Fantastic, who can stretch his body like rubber to incredible lengths. His wife, Sue Richards becomes the Invisible Girl, also capable of creating protective force fields. Ben Grimm becomes the orange, stone-like Thing, with outstanding strength. H.E.R.B.I.E. is a robot created by Reed who can analyse situations in mere seconds.

In A Monster Among Us, an alien spacecraft crash-lands on Earth, and the FF must prevent the armed forces killing its inquisitive occupant; in The Menace of Magneto, a man who can manipulate metal arrives at the FF HQ to announce that he will be their new leader, but Reed Richards has a trick up his sleeve; in The Phantom of Film City, the FF appear in a Hollywood film for charity, but they are plagued by a phantom who wants to destroy them; in Medusa and the Inhumans, the FF happen across a city of people with special powers who want to rule the human race; in The Diamond of Doom, the queen of a far land uses a large diamond to control her people; in The Mole Man, a ridiculed scientist hijacks the world's power plants; in The Olympics of Space, the Thing is abducted as a champion for an alien race; in The Fantastic Four Meet Doctor Doom, the ruler of Latvaria takes on the FF in his bid to take over the world; in The Frightful Four, four super villains combine to ridicule the FF; in Calamity on the Campus, a scientist's disgruntled assistant uses a mental control helmet to send an android after the FF; in The Impossible Man, a trio of crooks con a shape-changing alien in to helping them rob banks; in The Final Victory of Doctor Doom, DD goes another round with the FF in a battle of intelligence; and in Blastaar, the Living Bomb-Burst, the FF discover the Negative Zone and bring back a dangerous cocoon.

Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of the Fantastic Four will realise that Sue's brother, the Human Torch, is conspicuous by his absence. At the time this series was being developed, the Human Torch had been optioned for a film which never materialised. Therefore, Marvel character creator Stan Lee, who wrote every story here (and the teleplay for more than half), was obliged to come up with a replacement. The stand-in was H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot, who begins to grate from almost the first moment he appears. As the Thing and the Torch spend most of their time arguing, the robot does the same - at least up to the point when we're constantly reminded that they love each other really.

It's pitched at a very young audience, and the stories are basic, but it possesses a definite charm - particularly the grumpy quips of the Thing. A welcome addition to the prolific Marvel animated serial release schedule.


Ty Power

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