I remember spending many a Saturday morning watching Spider-man and His Amazing Friends. This show and the Superfriends can be credited as the cradle for my love of superheroes and the beginning days of my nerd-dom. My attraction for red-heads might even be traced back to Angelica Jones, aka Firestar.
I was elated to find this series on instant streaming via Netflix and thus began my flashback to age six. This series, which first aired in 1981, has animation and voice acting that far surpasses the Spider-man cartoons of not only the earlier series, but even the Spider-man series of the mid ’90s. As I have stated before, one reason I enjoy this series is that Marvel was not yet obsessed with continuity. These episodes stand alone.
Here is why you should watch this series:
Peter Parker seemingly has two roommates boarding at Aunt May’s house: Bobby Drake and Angelica Jones. Whenever trouble strikes, they become the Spider-Friends – Spider-man, Iceman, and Firestar. Peter’s witty and self-deprecating humor is true to the comics. Bobby is a bit of a doofus, but a lovable one. His ice powers are certainly better than anything Zan (from the Wonder Twins) can form, and they are complimented by the fire powers of Firestar. Even Ms. Lyons is nowhere near as annoying as her counterparts of Snarf, Gleek, and Orco.
Originally, this series was to have the Human Torch as the fire-powered teammate, but because of licensing issues he was not available. Thank goodness. Otherwise, America would have been robbed of one of the first animated female characters who was sexy, sassy, and self-confident. She is certainly more appealing than the stoic Wonder Woman and the girlish Jayna. Angelica has the intelligence of Velma and the hotness (pun intended) of Daphne. So at the age of six, while I had no idea why, I only had eyes for Stafire. (Ok, and Princess Leia with whom she shares all these traits).
Oh, and watching it as an adult, I find the love triangle between the Spider-friends to be amusing whereas as a child I probably found it irritable.
The guest stars:
The first episode features a costume party that rivals ComicCon in its plethora of comic characters. But these cameos are not just part of the scenery. Familiar faces like Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Namor, and even the X-men help the Spider-friends in their adventures. Less familiar faces like Sunfire, Shanna the Jungle Queen (She Devil wouldn’t have passed the censors of 81), Lightwave, Thunderbird and Sprite will test your nerdy knowledge.
Dr. Doom was always my favorite. But Spidey’s rogue gallery is in full force. Green Goblin, Kraven, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Scorpion, Shocker, Electro, Chameleon, and Beetle are all out to squish that pesky wall crawler. It’s a nice reminder that Spider-man had a respectable cadre of foes before the likes of Venom and Carnage. Also, like Spidey’s comic books, he often fought the arch-nemesis of other heroes. There is the aforementioned Doctor Doom as well as Magneto, Juggernaut, Red Skull, and Loki.
I just watched the episode “Spider-man Goes to Hollywood” and cracked up when the Spider-man actors kept quitting because they were getting hurt. Maybe Spider-man the musical is being sabotaged by Mysterio as well.
And you can count Black Knight amongst the team-ups.