He Watched It Sober.

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Spider-Man & 

His Amazing Friends 

in A Firestar is Born

     "Always try to do the right thing, Angel, no matter what."

-- Poppa Jones' words to live by   









"Here's hoping my movie doesn't suck."


Watch it!



Sights &
and His
Amazing Friends
 Original Airdate:
  September 12, 1981
 Episodes :: 24
 DePatie-Freleng Ent. /
 Marvel Productions /
 National Broadcasting
 Company (NBC)

More Mighty
Marvel Animated

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Invincible Iron Man

The Incredible Hulk


Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends


Our episode begins at a familiar Brownstone; the home of May Parker, May's nephew, Peter Parker, and two fellow ESU college students, Bobby Drake and Angelica Jones. Unknown to Aunt May and the rest of the world, however, her tenants are bona fide superheroes. See, Peter is really Spider-Man (-- rumor has it he's pretty amazing -- if not spectacular), Bobby is the snow-balling mutant Iceman, and Angelica is the flame-wielding Firestar. Together, whenever trouble of a super-villain variety pops up, they tug on an old football trophy that transforms their flat into their super-secret-headquarters. Then, they costume up, power up, and take care of business:

But today's a slow day, super-criminally speaking, so Angelica (Kathy Garver) is busy hitting the books until bombarded with barrage of snowflakes by Bobby (Frank Welker), who reminds her that today is the day of the big X-Men reunion. And so, they both transform into their alter egos, and then sneak out the escape hatch that dumps them into the backyard by the birdbath -- and you'd think Aunt May, or her neighbors, would notice Iceman's ice bridges consistently showing up in her yard, but, eh ... As those two head for certain mansion in Westchester, after deftly foiling a bank robbery, Spider-Man (Dan Gilvezen) spots his friends and quickly catches up to them. But this reunion is for members only, so Spidey peels off and stays behind. However, the building he picks to land on immediately starts to crumble underneath him! Dodging the debris, Spidey discovers he's being attacked by the brutish Juggernaut (voiced unmistakably by the great William Marshall.) And as the giant chases our hero onto a construction site, the villain gets to monologuing, giving us the villain's background and origin:

Seems the Juggernaut, a/k/a Cain Marko, is the half-brother and sworn enemy of Charles Xavier; the founder of the X-Men. And when he found the fabled Ruby of Cytorak, the mystical gem bestowed upon him the indestructible power of the Juggernaut; after which he vowed to use this new and nearly unlimited power to kill his brother. Knowing he's way, way, way out of his weight class, Spidey does his best to slow the brute down and stay out of reach until he can get away to warn the X-Men and his friends of what's coming to crash their party. But the Juggernaut soon grows tired of their game of tag and just demolishes the whole structure Spidey was stuck to, burying the wall-crawler in the resulting rubble. Unchallenged, the man-monster rages on.

Meanwhile, blissfully unaware of what's stomping toward them, Iceman and Firestar reach the X-mansion, where they are reunited with Professor X, the Angel, and Cyclops and are introduced to the team's newest members, Storm and Wolverine (-- who inexplicably has a Australian accent, when the little psychopath is s'posed to be a Canucklehead). As the reunion commences, when Storm asks Firestar what it was like growing up with her special powers, here, we finally get the origin of the maiden of fire:

Growing up very poor in a single parent home, Angelica Jones was constantly harassed by the posh kids, especially a venomous little girl named Bonnie. Things got worse when Angelica's mutant powers started to mysteriously manifest themselves in her teens, which usually resulted in disaster (-- melting toys, snowmen, and setting off fire sprinklers), earning her the nickname Miss Angelica Jinx. Undaunted, she started to hone and control her powers, and eventually discovered that she could fly. This culminates when she dons a disguise and saves her father from a fatal fall during a construction accident, leading to an epiphany, with a realization that these powers could do a lot of good and help people.

However, time has done nothing to dampen Bonnie's irrational hatred of Angelica. Conspiring with her boyfriend to steal the high school football trophy, and frame Angelica for it, they pull the caper off. All the planted evidence points to Angelica, who is suspended from school. Having a pretty good idea who really stole the trophy, Angelica uses her new powers to secretly follow Bonnie, uncovering her plans to plant the trophy in Angelica's locker during the big football game, and then lead the school superintendent right to it. Working fast, Angelica whips up a costume to match her powers before the big game starts. On the sidelines, Bonnie leads the cheerleaders until Firestar swoops in, snatches her up, and then forces a confession out of her. But the superintendent won't believe her, thinking the confession coerced. As further proof, Firestar flies off and grabs the boyfriend, just as he's breaking into Angelica's locker. Trophy still in hand, the boyfriend confesses and blames it all on Bonnie. Angelica is exonerated.

Later, Firestar returns to the empty stadium, unsure what to do next. Suddenly, someone yells at her, warning not to move. Mistaking this as an attack, the fire-maiden blasts the Iceman off his ice bridge. Luckily, the Angel swoops in and calms her down, announcing they're the good guys, allowing Cyclops to explain that they're mutants, like her. Given the X-Men sales pitch, Angelica happily agrees to join up, and then helps them battle the likes of the Sentinels and Magneto.

That about brings us up to date, when the reminiscing is crudely interrupted by the Juggernaut's surprise attack. Caught with their pants down, Cyclops blasts the intruder back outside with his eye-beams, buying the X-Men time to form several lines of defense. Storm attacks first, but her lightning has no effect, and Wolverine is easily shrugged off and gets his claws stuck in a brick wall. Moving fast, Iceman constructs an ice-wall while Cyclops blasts a pit behind it. So, when the Juggernaut breaks through the ice, he falls into the resulting hole -- but that won't stop him for long. Firestar is the last line of defense, but even her flames can't stop the Juggernaut. And as he closes in for the kill, a familiar webbing snatches Professor X out of harms way. 

As the X-Men regroup, Professor X tells Spider-Man to follow his mental commands -- seems old web-head has the best chance to remove Juggernaut's helmet, the source of his power. When the attack commences, Iceman freezes the giant in a solid block of ice, holding him still long enough for Spidey to yank the stubborn helmet off. For without it, the Juggernaut is vulnerable to Professor X's mental attacks, and so, summarily gets his brain scrambled.

After things calm down, the party starts up again. And, strangely enough, a toast is made to honor the Juggernaut, for making this one of the most memorable reunions in a long, long time.

The End

The Amazing Spider-Man made his first onscreen appearance back in 1969 with a cartoon that sported the most hideously infectious theme song of all time. (Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can...) In my long and lustrous career of total dorkdom, I've only managed to see one episode of this cartoon, but I still can't get that damned song out of my head -- luckily it's The Ramone's cover that's currently stuck on repeat in my cerebral jukebox. And if you grew up in the 1970's, like myself, you also probably remember Spidey's exploits on The Electric Company, with it's equally obnoxious theme song. (Spider-Man! Where are you coming from? Spider-Man! Nobody knows who you aaaaarrrrrrreeeeeggghhh!) Man those were great. Narrated by Company alum Morgan "Easy Reader" Freeman, the action on the TV was always kept framed-in in a comic book panel. Here, Spidey never talked, but his words and thoughts appeared in word balloon form -- just like in the comics -- and we learned to read by interpreting what Spidey had to say. I recall several episodes, including one where the Abominable Snowman was stealing snow cones, and sat on them, to keep cold. There was also an evil pirate, who could make good people do bad things by putting the hypno-whammy on them with the bad-eye under his eye-patch. His downfall comes when he puts the whammy on a peacenik, and gets socked in the evil-eye by the former pacifist. But the one I remember most clearly, was Spidey's only defeat at the hands of the Can-Crusher and his mallet of doom. See, the Can-Crusher was a little too psychotic for my mind to get around at the time, and he scared the heck out of me. And I'm sure he's still out there, somewhere, looking for his lost frog.

Then, with the surprising success of the live-action, prime-time version of The Incredible Hulk -- starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno as his big and green and cranky alter-ego -- The Amazing Spider-Man hit the tube in 1978 but barely lasted two seasons. The show starred Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker and your friendly neighborhood costumed wall crawler -- who barely made a costumed appearance in most episodes, if memory serves. The stories were fairly engaging, but completely fell apart during the superhero action sequences. I'm sure we all remember the nylon rope web-shooters; and the film switching to negative whenever his spider-sense would go off; and what the heck was that Spider-Utility belt all about? BUT! My favorite sequences, though, were when the stuntmen were allegedly crawling up the side of a building. Well, he was on a tether being hauled up, and all the while, he flailed his arms and legs, simulating a man chicken-walking up the side of the building. But sometimes simple physics would take over, and pull him away from the building' surface, but he still went up, arms and legs still flailing, continuing to defy gravity. *sigh*

Still, Spider-Man, as a character, had an influence everywhere. At the start of the 1980's, Toei Productions made their own version -- Supaidaaman, over in Japan. Here, Spidey drove a race car and piloted a giant mecha-robot to fight monsters to defend the world from the Iron Cross Group. This would serve as a template for the later Sentai productions, known better here in the states as The Power Rangers.

The dawn of the '80s also brought us Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends -- a wonderful cartoon series that quickly became a Saturday morning staple at the young Beerman's house (-- along with Flash Gordon and The Drac Pack). Featuring Spidey as the headliner, the series then borrowed Iceman from the pages of the X-Men, and Firestar -- a brand new character. Originally, the show was supposed to star Web-Head, Iceman and the Human Torch, but just like with the 1970's animated incarnation of the Fantastic Four, licensing issues scuttled the character's inclusion. This time, however, a cloying robot was not the solution. Instead, the producers, with the show already well into production at this point, dipped back into Marvel yore and updated an older female character named Spitfire, who fought alongside the original Human Torch and Captain America in World War II. Rumor also has it that Peter Parker's long time girl, Mary Jane Watson, was set to be a supporting character in the show, and, due to time constraints, the decision was made to just co-opt the cels ever so slightly, most notably the hair color, and Mary Jane became the template for Angelica Jones. As for her alter-ego, Spitfire begat Firefly, which became Heatwave, until, finally, a Firestar was born.

With the characters finally set, when their adventures began, what I truly enjoyed about this cartoon was that it totally immersed itself in the Marvel Universe, with tons of cameos and guest appearances: Captain America, Thor and the Hulk all managed to pop up. It also ran the gambit with the rogues gallery as they fought everyone from The Kingpin to Dr. Doom. However, it did stub its toe in a few spots, especially when they got caught up in the videogame boom and became obsessed with a new character called Video Man; basically a Space Invader with legs. Only in the '80s, folks.

Though the cartoon was on for three full seasons, there were only around twenty total episodes. Still, the characters and their camaraderie was a big hit and it still pops up in syndication once in a while. (With the upcoming movie release, I'm positive it will crop up somewhere to cash in.) The show even had enough legs with fans that Firestar was even introduced into the comics continuity. First as a recruit of the White Queen, for her own cadre of mutants, known as The Hellions, she eventually became a member of The New Warriors, that, in turn, landed her spot on The Avengers roster with her boyfriend, Justice.

Spidey returned to animated adventures in 1995, on Fox. I recall catching a few episodes, and enjoying them, but I was starting to see a disturbing trend. Instead of the show taking continuity from the comics, the cartoon's continuity was starting to show up in the printed pages. Characters long thought dead were inexplicably back again. The same thing was happening with the X-Men cartoon, so after twenty years of loyalty, I dumped both titles cold turkey. I'd been reading Spider-Man under his various titles for almost twenty years. The first issue I bought had a mummy (-- that turned out to be the Man-Wolf), assaulting Spidey and J. Jonah Jameson. I stuck around, off and on, through the Maximum Carnage storyline, and then walked away in shame when the whole clone and Scarlet Spider fiasco started. This kind of bastardization used to have me frothing at the mouth, but I've become older and wiser. I still have my old heroes in boxes, over in the corner, ready for me to read and reread any time I want. Let the kids have their own versions, I've already had mine. Man, I really feel old saying that, but I do feel a lot better after doing so.

I can also remember talk as far back as 1989 -- around the same time Burton's Batman hit the theaters, that a big screen version of Spider-Man was in the works. Jim Cameron, just off his hit Aliens, was rumored to be attached to it. But since two different groups claimed to have the movie rights to the wall-crawler, it spent the next ten years in litigation purgatory. But that's all over now and I hold out high hopes for the film, especially when I heard Sam Raimi was set to direct it. Hopefully, he can overcompensate for studio influence and stupidity. Since that announcement, I've called a personal moratorium on all previews and info concerning the Spider-Man movie; but the more I try to avoid it, the more I see. And what I've seen so far *gulp* looks really, really damned good. 

The only problem is, Should I take that as a good sign? Or a bad sign? In this screwed up world of Hollywood Lacklusters, incomprehensible scripts, and over-saturated special-effect orgies, only time will tell. And I know we won't have any cameos, or guest stars, but I'd settle for a Daily Bugle headline stating something along the lines of "The Avengers rout Masters of Evil."

A guy can dream.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1983) DePatie-Freleng Enterprises :: Marvel Productions :: National Broadcasting Company (NBC) / EP: David H. DePatie, Lee Gunther / P: Dennis Marks / D: Don Jurwich / W: Donald F. Glut, Dennis Marks, Christy Marx, Michael Reaves / E: Robert T. Gillis, Jeffrey L. Sandler / M: Johnny Douglas / S: Dan Gilvezan, Kathy Garver, Frank Welker, June Foray, Stan Lee
Originally Posted: 05/03/02 :: Rehashed: 02/05/2012

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.

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