Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

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Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (intertitle).jpg
Genre Animation
Created by Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
Voices of Dan Gilvezan
Frank Welker
Kathy Garver
Narrated by Dick Tufeld
(Season 1)
Stan Lee
(Season 2–Season 3)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 24 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) David H. DePatie
Lee Gunther
Producer(s) Dennis Marks
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Marvel Productions
Broadcast
Original channel NBC[1]
Original run September 12, 1981 – September 10, 1983
Chronology
Preceded by Spider-Man (1981 TV series)
Followed by Spider-Man (1994 TV series)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is an American animated television series produced by Marvel Productions starring established Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Iceman and an original character, Firestar.[2] As a trio called the Spider-Friends, they fought against various villains.

Broadcast schedule[edit]

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 90 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 “X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men”, which was intended to serve as a pilot for a potential X-Men animated series).

Season changes and popularity[edit]

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 two shows shared one intro which showcased the new title. Stan Lee began narrating the episodes in the second season. Narrations by Stan Lee were added to the first season episodes at this time so that the series seemed cohesive. These narrations (for the first and second season) are not on the current masters. They have not aired since the NBC airings. (As seen on the Stan Lee narration list at Spider-Friends.com[3])

For the third season, there was another title change. This time the characters' names would be reversed and the show was called, The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. It remained that way for most of the remaining years. NBC did air the show individually in mid-season (post 1986) after it was not initially announced for their fall schedule. Only some of the Stan Lee narrations for the third season are on the current masters. The missing narrations have not aired since the NBC airings.

Storyline[edit]

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, (adopted from Firestar) a Lhasa Apso. Together, the superheroes battle various supervillains.

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

Original characters[edit]

A number of characters in the series were original characters that did not appear in the comics prior to the premiere of the series:

Firestar[edit]

Main article: Firestar

One of the series' main characters, Firestar was created specifically for this series when the Human Torch was unavailable (due to licensing issues). The original plan was for Spider-Man to have fire and ice based teammates, so Angelica Jones/Firestar was created. Her pre-production names included Heatwave, Starblaze, and Firefly.

Firestar makes her debut in Marvel's mainstream comic book universe in Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). She appears as a member of the Hellions, a group of teenage mutants who functioned as rivals to the New Mutants (a similar group under the tutelage of Charles Xavier).

Hiawatha Smith[edit]

A college professor at the Spider-Friends' university, Hiawatha Smith is the son of the heroic chief of the Native American nations that fought against the Axis during World War II. His father passed down to his son the mystic knowledge of their people and a map leading to a vast Nazi treasure of wealth and advanced technology sought by the Red Skull. Hiawatha Smith's home is adorned with decorations from various cultures including Hindu and native African tribes and he often employs a boomerang in battle. Producer and story editor Dennis Marks created the character and admits to basing him on Indiana Jones.[4]

Lightwave[edit]

Lightwave's real name is Aurora Dante. Like her half-brother Bobby Drake (a.k.a. the superhero Iceman), Lightwave is a mutant. She can manipulate and control light. Her other light-based powers include laser blasts, photonic force fields and solid light pressor beams. She can also transform herself into light; in such a form, she is able to exist in the vacuum of outer space.

Lightwave's only appearance was in "Save the GuardStar", the final episode of the 1980s cartoon. She is voiced by Marlene Aragon. Bobby Drake explains his heretofore unknown sister as merely a half-sister; they share the same mother.

An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lightwave is considered a traitor, due to mind control by rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Buzz Mason. Mason induces Lightwave to steal assorted devices to create a "quantum enhancer" which would increase her powers 1,000 times. With such power, Lightwave would be able to control the GuardStar satellite which orbits the Earth and controls all defense systems and communications systems for the United States. Mason expects world conquest since he controls Lightwave.

Iceman, Firestar, and Spider-Man attempt to stop Lightwave. However, she is powerful enough to defeat them. Aboard a space vessel, Buzz Mason forces Iceman into outer space, dooming Iceman if he remains there for long. Spider-Man convinces Lightwave to realize that the half-brother she loves is in mortal danger. Her reaction breaks Mason's control over her, and she saves Iceman and disables Mason long enough for Spider-Man to subdue him.

Presumably, with Mason's role realized, S.H.I.E.L.D. restores Lightwave's good standing. As this is Lightwave's only appearance, her fate is unknown.

Videoman[edit]

Videoman is an intangible being that is mostly composed of electronic data gleaned from a video arcade. Videoman makes three appearances in the series, the first two times as a supervillain and the third time as a superhero.

As a villain[edit]

In Season 1, Videoman first appeared as a creature created by Electro. Its abilities include moving through and manipulating electronic circuits and projecting pulses of energy. Videoman is used by Electro to suck in and entrap Spider-Man, Flash Thompson, Firestar and Iceman into a video game display where Electro attempts to destroy the four. However, Flash is able to save himself and the others by escaping through the monitor and into Electro's electronic components to save the others. This first villainous version of Videoman makes one other appearance in Season 2's "Origin of Ice-Man", with the additional abilities of bringing video game characters to life and draining the unique bio-energy of mutants, temporarily suppressing Iceman's powers and weakening Firestar, as well as being able to emulate their powers for its own use. This time, Videoman is defeated when the Spider-friends trick it and its video game minions into attacking one another.

As a superhero[edit]

In the Season 3 episode "The Education Of A Superhero", Francis Byte is an avid videogame player who is especially engrossed into gaining the high score on "Zellman Command" at the local arcade. However, when the Gamesman sends a hypnotic signal that entrances over 300,000 people in the city (with the exception of Francis' girlfriend Louise, Spider-Man and Firestar), the signal does not affect Francis' mind, which is distracted from entrancement by Louise and the game; after Louise walks away after having her pleas being shrugged off by Francis, he (unbeknownst to any others) plays the arcade machine so hard that it and other arcade machines (most of which are emitting the hypnotic waves) explode. The explosion causes Francis to be turned into Videoman. Finding out that he can turn into his new alter-ego at will, Videoman, however, is completely inexperienced with his handling of such powerful abilities; he tries to help the trio (which has awakened Iceman from his trance) against a hypnotized mob, but they repel his offers due to his inexperience. He then tries to save Louise from the Gamesman, but is then easily bribed into manipulating a military communications satellite system in return for Louise's freedom, an offer that is then reneged upon by the Gamesman. Enraged at the trickery, Videoman helps Spider-Man and the others to free Louise and also reverses his stoppage of the military computer. After the Gamesman is defeated, Francis accepts an invitation to join the X-Men, while Louise accepts him and his abilities. This is the last appearance of Videoman in the series.

Episodes[edit]

Cast[edit]

Additional cast[edit]

Marvel Mash-Up[edit]

Scenes from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and The Incredible Hulk were re-cut, edited, and re-dubbed into comical shorts as part of Disney XD's Marvel Mash-Up shorts for their "Marvel Universe on Disney XD" block of programming that includes Ultimate Spider-Man and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.[5]

DVD[edit]

The Complete Seasons 1-3 box set has been released in the UK.[6] This release did not include any of the Stan Lee narrations from the first or second season. Only some of the Stan Lee narrations were in the third season. The first lot of releases by Liberation Entertainment have gone out of print, due to Liberation Films going into bankruptcy, however Clear Vision re-released all 3 seasons on DVD in 2010. The disks are in Region 2, PAL format.

No Region 1 release is planned at this time.

Instant streaming[edit]

The series became available for instant streaming via Netflix during the Summer of 2011.[7]

Reception[edit]

In January 2009, IGN named Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends as the 59th best in the Top 100 Animated Series.[8]

Comics[edit]

Adaptation[edit]

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 reprinted in England in late 1983 in the weekly Marvel UK title Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. It was reprinted in the U.S. 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[edit]

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 team. Firestar 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[edit]

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 composed of reprints of Untold Tales of Spider-Man #2 and Spider-Man 2099 #2.

Opposites attack![edit]

While this story is not 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". It 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, angry 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), and Mary Jane heckles his matchmaking skills while caring for her sick husband.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Co-Workers[edit]

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 vide 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 has 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.

  • This story was reprinted in the Digest Mini Marvels: Secret Invasion.

Ultimate Spider-Man[edit]

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, Firestar is Liz Allan.[9] Since then, in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Spidey, Iceman, and the Human Torch have begun living together at Aunt May's house and have been working as a team as another homage to the series (because Liz, as Firestar, was a member of the X-Men in this continuity; this team roster also reflects the original intent of Amazing Friends to use the Human Torch before licensing issues forced the creation of Firestar).

Amazing Friends in-continuity?[edit]

In 2007's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe—Spider-Man: Back in Black one-shot, the villain Videoman is given a brief biography 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 is mutated by an exploding arcade console to become a new Videoman, and later "possibly" join 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[edit]

  • The series was an attempt by NBC to replicate some of the success ABC enjoyed with the Super Friends franchise.[10]
  • 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 1978 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.
  • In the 1984 movie Missing in Action with Chuck Norris, an episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends is shown on TV. The title of that episode is called "The Prison Plot".

References[edit]

External links[edit]