Spider-Man Courtesy Everett Collection
Ty Burr
June 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Maybe those darn modern kids think ”Spidey” and see Tobey, but walk up to any guy in his 40s and sing these two words: ”Spider-Man, Spider-Man.” Guaranteed, he’ll revert to age 10 and reply, ”Does whatever a spider can.” Even if Bob Harris’ theme is tattooed on the brainpan of a generation — ”Is he strong? Listen, bud/ He’s got radioactive blood” — nostalgia-mongers may not recall how WEIRD those 52 episodes of the Saturday-morning series were. To jog our collective memory comes The ’67 Collection, six volumes of evidence that the animators were smoking something stronger than Benson & Hedges in their cubicles back then. The awkward draftsmanship and uninspired scripts haven’t aged well, but at least the bad guys — Doc Ock, the Lizard, the Vulture, et al. — come straight out of the Marvel comics. When the original animation company went bankrupt and Ralph Bakshi (soon to direct ”Fritz the Cat”) stepped in as exec producer for seasons 2 and 3, the villains got seriously strange and the visual trippiness went off the charts. Take ”Revolt in the Fifth Dimension,” a 1970 episode so lysergic that it features oil-painted nebulae, an insectoid alien named Infinata, flying green spermatozoa, and Spidey deciding it’s, like, all a dream. So, apparently, were the DVD extras — there are none.

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