DVD Review: Spider-Woman Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

Spider-Woman has an intriguing character history that separates her from what her character name sounds like: Peter Parker’s sister.

A superhero from England, Jessica Drew was given a serum based on irradiated spiders’ blood and stuck in a genetic accelerator. When she popped out, she was a Spider-Woman.

Originally running at Marvel from 1977 to 1983, she found herself being revived a few years ago. In order to make an extra big splash Marvel produced each issue as a comic book for the newsstand and a motion comic for the internet. All the motion comics have been compiled for Spider-Woman Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

Things haven’t been going well for Spider-Woman. She’s trapped in a decaying urban landscape contemplating her future. At this low point, she gets an offer from Abigail Brand offers her a chance to join S.W.O.R.D. Their mission is to stop the Skrull invasion. These aliens are assuming the identity of superheroes and leaders. She’s been replaced by a Skrull Queen. Spider-Woman has nothing better going on in her life. Over the course of five episodes she battles a Skrull Spider-Man, a Super Skrull, The Thunderbolts (a private sector version of The Avengers) and other forms of trouble. Can she save the world from the invaders? Or will she go nuts fearing everyone around is a Skrull?

This was the first major Motion-Comic project so this is a little more primitive compared to the other Marvel Knights DVDs. There’s no lip moving. The characters have most of their motion done with shifting on the screen and not moving. This is more like storyboard with dialogue, music and sound effects than an animated cartoon. It’s hard that they could do a good job with mouth motion on Alex Maleev’s characters without making it look like a Clutch Cargo episode. Nicolette Reed work as Spider-Woman’s voice compliments the character’s emotions. She doesn’t get bubbly and bright. Spider-Woman Agent of S.W.O.R.D. is a great way to read the comic book without smudging the pages.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the gloomy and claustrophobic frames. The audio is stereo. The music sets the tone more than creating atmospheric sound design.

This Marvel Knights release includes the “Watch Your Step” Music Video from Dan Phillips with Anna Abbey that uses clips from the motion comic. The behind-the-scenes featurette on Marvel Knights Animation (4:52) has the filmmaker discussing what makes their motion adaptation of the comic books unique. Most of the focus is the Astonishing X-Men project. Rounding out the extras is a Visual History of Spider-Woman and an Artist Gallery with a few paintings by Alex Maleev.

Spider-Woman Agent of S.W.O.R.D. brings to motion the limited comic series. Maleev’s illustrations look good going from frame to the monitor. This is a fine way to enjoy the character without wearing about ruining the mint rating.

Shout! Factory presents Spider-Woman Agent of S.W.O.R.D.. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Artwork by Alex Maleev. Voice Cast: Nicolette Reed, Patrick Bosold, Andrew Edlin , David J. Murphy, and Anthony MacKenzie. Running Time: 55 minutes. Released on DVD June 14, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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