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Iron Man: The Complete Animated Series (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection) - animated DVD / family DVD / television series DVD review
IRON MAN: THE COMPLETE ANIMATED SERIES (MARVEL DVD COMIC BOOK COLLECTION) Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Robert Hays, John Reilly, Jennifer Hale, Ed Gilbert, Katherine Moffat, Jim Cummings
Creator: Stan Lee Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD release: 04 May 2010 Feature runtime: 572 minutes (3 discs)
Format: Animated, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
DVD Features Aspect ratio 4:3, Audio tracks (Dolby Surround - English, French, Spanish), Subtitles (English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish), 26 episodes

X-MEN: VOLUME 5 (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection)Robert Hays stars as Iron Man in Marvel's animated series that ran from 1994 to 1996. Two seasons of IRON MAN seem barely enough, especially with the current Iron Man fervor inspired by Jon Favreau's popular live-action films, but these animated shows were not well-received.

The first season's episodes (1-13) are mostly lame. The plots are simple, self-contained yawn-fests that feature Iron Man's enemy The Mandarin (Robert Ito) trying to put an end to Iron Man once and for all, etc. Nearly every episode is neatly wrapped up at the end. The Mandarin uses his powerful rings to do all sorts of magic-ish things, and he's got a band of cronies to bumble and be threatened by The Mandarin. Iron Man also has cronies in the form of Force Works, a band of superhero types who back up Iron Man and take orders from him.

In the first season, whenever Iron Man changes into his costume, a piece of stock footage was snapped into place. As if this weren't awkward enough, a piece of primitive 3D animation is plopped into the middle of that to show the completion of the transition. I'm sure this was pretty gee-whiz at the time before the world ever saw Toy Story, but here it sets up another stumbling block for an already uneven and uninspired product.

Whereas the first thirteen episodes are well worth missing, episodes 14-26 should not be missed. A good number of things changed in the second season to punch things up a bit. Tony Stark has longer hair (which the kids at the time, I suppose, found groovy), the clumsy transformation stock footage is gone, and writers slimmed down the cast of main characters who were allowed to develop their own personalities. Force Works decide to part ways with Iron Man, though War Machine (Dorian Harwood/James Avery) sticks it out.

Adding to the drama: Rhodey, the guy within the Iron Man-like War Machine armor, starts getting a little ished-out (read claustrophobic) by being encased in the armor. The Mandarin has fallen from power, and his rings are scattered to the four corners of the Earth. Slowly he regains the necessary power to can challenge Iron Man in the final two episodes.

The first season was difficult to plod through, but I carried on. The second season left me wanting more, though there was nothing more to be given. IRON MAN was not renewed, which is a shame.

Extra features include an attractive DVD slipcase to cover the keepcase. That's it. No retrospective interviews, no behind-the-scenes stories, no abandoned storylines, no downloadable iron-on patches. We get bupkis.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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