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Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is an animated series produced by Marvel Productions Ltd. starring established Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Iceman and an original character, Firestar. As a trio called the Spider-Friends, they fought against various villains.

Broadcast schedule

Originally broadcast on NBC as a Saturday morning cartoon, the series ran first-run original episodes for three seasons, from 1981 to 1983, then aired repeats for an additional two years (from 1984 to 1986). Alongside the 1981 Spider-Man animated series, Amazing Friends was later re-aired in the late 1980s as part of the ninety-minute Marvel Action Universe (not to be confused with 1977's The Marvel Action Universe), a syndicated series that was used as a platform for old and new Marvel-produced animated fare (the newer programming featured RoboCop: The Animated Series, Dino-Riders and on occasion “Pryde of the X-Men”, which was intended to serve as a pilot for a potential "X-Men" animated series).

Season 2 changes and popularity

In the second season, the show was aired along with a newly produced Hulk animated series as The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. The characters' names would be reversed in Season 3. It remained that way until the series' cancellation.

Storyline

Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Bobby Drake (Iceman), and Angelica Jones (Firestar) are all college students at Empire State University. After working together to defeat the Beetle and recovering the "Power Booster" he stole from Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) the trio decide to team-up permanently as the "Spider-Friends." They live together in Peter's Aunt May's home with her and a pet dog, Ms. Lion, a lhasa apso. Together, the superheroes battle various supervillains.

Some stories featured team-ups with other characters from the Marvel Universe, including Captain America, Iron Man, Sunfire, and the mid-1970s X-Men.

Episodes

Season 1

Episode Title Overview
1 "The Triumph of the Green Goblin" While escaping from a mental hospital, Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin and kidnaps his niece at a college campus superhero costume party.
2 "The Crime of All Centuries" Kraven kidnaps Firestar and plots to unleash a dinosaur army.
3 "The Fantastic Mr. Frump" When a spell goes wrong, Doctor Doom gives a lonely old man fantastic powers, who attempts to woo Aunt May, and causes problems with Doom and the Spider-Friends.
4 "Sunfire" Firestar falls in love with Sunfire, a Japanese superhero who is being used by his corrupt uncle to unleash a fire monster on the city.
5 "Swarm" The Swarm, an alien entity controlling a hive of bees start transforming New York City residents into drone slaves.
6 "7 Little Superheroes" Captain America, Shanna, Sub-Mariner, and Doctor Strange join up with the Spider-Friends to battle the Chameleon on Wolf Island.
7 "Videoman" Electro creates a villain called Videoman from an arcade machine.
8 "The Prison Plot" Magneto holds the visitors of an abandoned prison hostage, demanding the release of his Brotherhood of Mutants.
9 "Spidey Goes Hollywood" Mysterio forces a movie director to con Spider-Man into starring in a movie. Bruce Banner appears and ends up turning into the Hulk when it came to a part where Mysterio uses a robot version of Hulk in a scene.
10 "The Vengeance of Loki!" Loki masquerades as his half-brother, Thor, and attacks New York City.
11 "Knights and Demons" Spider-Man and the Black Knight team up to battle Mordred.
12 "Pawns of the Kingpin" The Kingpin and Doctor Faustus use a mind control device to force Captain America to commit crimes, who convinces Iceman to follow him.
13 "The Quest of the Red Skull" The Red Skull kidnaps the Spider-Friends so that they will not interfere in his plot to start World War III.

Season 2

NOTE: This season features the origins of all 3 spider-friends.
Episode Title Overview
1 "The Origin of The Iceman" Videoman returns and Iceman retells his origin as he fears he's losing his mutant powers.
2 "Along Came Spidey" Shocker injures Aunt May, and Spider-Man recounts how he got his powers.
3 "A Fire-Star Is Born" Iceman and Firestar attend an X-Men reunion (featuring Cyclops, Angel, and it's latest members Storm and Wolverine) where Firestar recalls her origins (cameos by Magneto and a Sentinel). After that, the Juggernaut crashes the party in an effort to destroy his stepbrother Professor X.

Season 3

Episode Title Overview
1 "Spider-Man Unmasked!" The Sandman learns that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
2 "The Bride of Dracula!" Firestar is kidnapped by Dracula. Spider-Man and Iceman go to Transylvania to rescue her, fighting both Wolfman and the Frankenstein monster.
3 "The Education of a Superhero" Videoman merges with a game addict, who decides to be a superhero while the Gamesman seeks world domination by electronically hypnotizing the public.
4 "Attack of the Arachnoid" Dr. Zoltan, a mad scientist, turns into a monster when he tries to recreate Spider-Man's powers. He frames Spider-Man for a crime (Matt "Daredevil" Murdock guest stars as Spider-Man's lawyer), and the Scorpion stages a jailbreak.
5 "The Origin of the Spider-Friends" Stan Lee explains how the superheroes teamed-up to fight the Beetle. Tony Stark makes a cameo.
6 "Spidey Meets the Girl From Tomorrow" Spidey falls in love with a stranded girl from the future (Ariel), whose spaceship has been stolen by Doctor Octopus.
7 "The X-Men Adventure" The Spider-Friends visit the X-Mansion and battle an old friend of Firestar.
8 "Mission: Save the Guardstar" Buzz Mason of S.H.I.E.L.D. hires the Spider-Friends to stop a mutant named Lightwave, who has the power to control and manipulate light energy. She turns out to be Iceman's half-sister, Aurora Dante (oddly, she was never mentioned in "The Origin of Ice Man, though that could have been due to Bobby weakening during the probe"). Though it is said that she turned traitor and is targeting the Guardstar sattelite, someone else is actually mind-controlling her.

Cast

Additional cast

DVD

This series is planned for release on Region 2 DVD in the UK in September 2008 by Liberation Entertainment as part of a release schedule of Marvel Animated series.

Comics

Adaptation

The first comic book that directly referenced the Amazing Friends show was Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends #1 (December 1981), a one-shot that adapted the pilot episode, "The Triumph of the Green Goblin". Though the comic version altered the story to bring it in line with established Marvel Universe continuity (such as making the Green Goblin identity a costume as in the comics, rather than a physical transformation as in the episode), it was not considered part of said continuity. It is notable as the first appearance of Firestar in a Marvel Comics story, though the version of Firestar that exists within Marvel continuity would not appear until Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). The story was later reprinted as Marvel Action Universe #1 (January 1989), released to coincide with the airing of Amazing Friends reruns on the television series of the same name.

Firestar

After her aforementioned initial appearance, the Marvel Comics version of Firestar debuted in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #193 as part of Emma Frost's Hellions. She was given an origin story in a self-titled mini-series (March-June 1986). The character went on to be a founding member of the New Warriors, and later a member of the Avengers.

Amazing Friends 2006

To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the show, Marvel released Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends #1 on August 9, 2006. The comic starts with an all-new story, Opposites Attack, which is officially set before Web of Spider-Man #75. After that is a Mini Marvel tale titled Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends Co-Workers (note that the strikethrough of "Friends" was a deliberate inclusion in the title). Both stories were written by Sean McKeever.

The remainder of the one-shot is comprised of reprints of Untold Tales of Spider-Man #2 and Spider-Man 2099 #2.

Opposites attack!

While this story isn't in continuity with the cartoon, it is filled with various in-jokes to aspects of the show, such as Firestar believing Wolverine to be Australian, a reference to an out-of-character voice choice for Wolverine in the episode "A Firestar Is Born" -- and the fact that the actor who played Wolverine in the X-Men movies, Hugh Jackman, is Australian. It is notable that this is the first-ever appearance of the show's most recurring villain, Videoman, in a Marvel comic.

In the story, Iceman has recently returned to the X-Men (after he and the other members of the original X-Factor had disbanded to rejoin their original team), but he is taking a break from both the team and his current girlfriend. After he and Spider-Man team up to save a video arcade from Videoman, they take a lunch break on the side of a building (Spider-Man hanging from his web and Iceman sitting in an ice chair) and are joined by Firestar. Iceman is dismissive of Firestar as a "newbie", as the story takes place in the same year as Firestar's public debut as a member of the New Warriors, while Iceman and Spider-Man have had significant careers as heroes at that point. Though Spider-Man, having met the Warriors, warns Iceman that Firestar is "no slouch", Firestar takes offense and melts Iceman's chair. As Iceman uses his powers to break his fall, Firestar kisses Spider-Man on the cheek as a thank-you for standing up for her. This ends up costing Spidey, as his wife Mary Jane makes him sleep on the couch after seeing the kiss on the evening news.

That night, while out on patrol (and trying to work out the kinks in his body caused by the couch), Spider-Man again encounters both Firestar and Iceman. The two mutants briefly quarrel again until the web-slinger spots the Beetle carrying the loot from a robbery, prompting the three heroes to "go for it" and face the criminal. The unseen battle ends with the heroes lamenting the Beetle's escape, which devolves into another argument between Iceman and Firestar (apparently, their powers counteracting each other's contributed to their failure).

Mistaking the pair's quarreling for an act of romantic affection, Spider-Man is determined to play matchmaker (despite Mary Jane's misgivings when he tells her his plan). He initially succeeds (despite another brief argument during their arranged "first date"), and a three-week whirlwind romance ensues. However, after another encounter with Videoman, Spider Man's suggestion of a permanent team-up leads to trouble when Iceman's egotism sparks a fight between the amorous couple. When Spider-Man tries to interfere, Iceman and Firestar turn their attention towards him, seeming to recall his role in bringing them together. As a result, Peter Parker ends up with a cold (and back on the couch) in the end, and Mary Jane heckles his matchmaking skills while caring for her sick husband.

Spider-Man and his amazing Friends co-workers

It seems that Mini Spidey has been "slacking", as boss J. Jonah Jameson puts it, on the job as delivery boy for the Daily Bugle, due to his obsession with a portable video game starring the Incredible Hulk. Despite Spidey's protests, Jameson assigns him a pair of new partners to get him "back on track"--Bobby (Iceman) and Angel (Firestar). Bobby and Angel pointlessly go through their transformation sequences (as per the TV show), despite both already being in costume, much to Spidey's annoyance.

Due to the pair's idealistic dedication to their new job (as opposed to Spidey's near-apathy), Bobby and Angel deliver the papers in record time. So Spidey decides to slack off again, by claiming he's got a "really important battle to fight" (later claiming that his opponent is Doc Ock on three separate occasions). While the other "Spider-Friends" perform so well that Jameson triples their route, Spidey finally beats the level boss that had been blocking his progress in the video game--that boss being a giant, pistol-wielding Ms. Lion.

Just as Spidey defeats the dreaded Ms. Lion, Bobby and Angel return and explain that Spidey's claims of fighting super-villains had sparked a desire to do so themselves. Thus, they quit their delivery job to follow their new partner in crimefighting--as "Hawkeye and His Amazing Friends"! Spidey is left with a huge amount of papers to deliver and his prospects for new partners looking grim, as he doubtfully interviews Ghost Rider for the position.

Ultimate Spider-Man

An arc in Ultimate Spider-Man is titled "Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends" and issue #118's cover, showing Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar, is a homage to the series title screen. Johnny Storm and Kitty Pryde are also said to be members of the team. However, instead of Angelica Jones, Fire Star is Liz Allan.

Amazing Friends in-continuity?

In 2007's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe--Spider-Man: Back in Black one-shot, the villain Videoman is given a brief bio from his "retcon" appearance in the Spider-Man Family one-shot. There is also an annotation describing an "Earth 8107", where an alternate-reality Videoman was created by Electro to battle that world's Spider-Man; later, in the same reality, Francis Byte was mutated by an exploding arcade console to become a new Videoman, and later "possibly" joined the X-Men. Essentially, this places the events of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends--or at the very least, the episodes "Videoman" and "The Education of a Superhero"--in an alternate-Earth continuity of the Marvel Comics Multiverse.

Series notes

  • The makers of the show had originally intended the stars to be Spider-Man, Iceman, and the Human Torch. However, legal issues about the rights to the Human Torch character (which had also plagued Marvel once before for the New Fantastic Four cartoon) led to the Human Torch being replaced by a new character, Firestar, who had similar powers, but was a mutant like Iceman. Due to Firestar's popularity with fans, she has since become a part of the mainstream Marvel Universe (see Comics above). In pre-production, Firestar's codename changed frequently; the unused names include Firefly, Starblaze, and Heatwave.
  • Ms. Lion was actually Firestar's puppy, as Angelica introduced Peter to the dog before she and Bobby knew Peter's secret identity or vice versa (as former teammates in the X-Men, Iceman and Firestar knew each other's secret identities before meeting Peter/Spider-Man). However, Aunt May ended up taking care of her most the time, with Angelica leading the busy life of a superhero and college student. Strangely enough, Ms. Lion actually saved the day in the episode "Seven Little Superheroes", in which The Chameleon was the main enemy; with her canine sense of smell, Ms. Lion was able to distinguish the shape-changing villain from the heroes he was impersonating. This episode was also notable for including Marvel heroes Doctor Strange, Namor, Shanna the She-Devil and Captain America.
  • Some of the sound effects used in the series originated from Universal Television's Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
  • In their civilian identies, Peter Parker resembled the same character in the comics, while Angelica Jones and Bobby Drake resembled Peter's friends, Mary Jane Watson and Flash Thompson, respectively. Flash Thompson was also featured in the TV series, but had reddish-brown hair instead of blonde; both Thompson and the look-alike Drake/Iceman were voiced by Frank Welker.

External links

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