Saturday, June 9, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is as animated television show that originally aired starting in 1981 on NBC. It ran for 26 episodes over three seasons. In the second and third season it was paired with The Incredible Hulk animated show.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Although this series is very closely related to the other 1981 Spider-Man animated series, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is the superior show. The animated and designs are better. Although Spider-Man is the quintessential loner, the addition of Firestar and Iceman to form the "Spider-Friends" team somehow creates a perfect balance for Spider-Man.

A few of the plots from "Amazing Friends" are almost identical to stories from the other 1981 Spider-Man animates series. One example is the "Amazing Friends" series opener - Triumph of the Green Goblin. In that episode, just like an episode from the other 1981 series, Peter Parker dresses up as Spider-Man for a Halloween costume party, there are fake Green Goblins flying around the party on wires, the real Green Goblin freezes Spidey with a ray, the Green Goblin dons a helmet that shows the future, and Spidey is dropped over Central Park where he's helpless to save himself (among other similarities). The two shows are obviously very closely related to one another.

Spider-Man, Aunt May, and Firestar all room at Aunt May's house together at Aunt May's house where the furniture can flip over to reveal a super crime fighting lab and computers. The series actually explains that this equipment is donated by a grateful Iron Man (since college kids wouldn't be able to afford this expensive equipment). And, of course, this series infamously features Ms. Lion, the perky dog belonging to Firestar.

One great thing about this series is how centrally located in the Marvel Universe it is. On the Spider-Friend's wall is a poster of the Hulk. Firestar dresses up as Spider-Woman to attend a costume party. The floodgates were thrown open for guest stars compared to previous television efforts. Namor, Doctor Strange, The X-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America (among others) all make guest appearances. The list of villains is equally impressive, mixing new super villains with classics, some of which aren't considered traditional Spider-Man villains such as Magneto, Dracula, and Mordred.

Oddly, this series is missing the Daily Bugle. Instead, the series focuses on the college which Firestar, Iceman, and Spider-Man all attend. So gone is most of Spider-Man's traditional supporting cast - a loss, for sure.

Stan Lee did introductions for the second and third season. This is always a positive for any Marvel show! Nothing is better than hearing Lee ring out, "Hey, True Believers!"

Sure, the show has some cheese in it such as the Spider-Friends shouting, "Go for it!" as their battle cry.

There are a bunch of visual continuity problems and coloring issues as well. For example, Iceman creates an ice-slide around the Beetle, there's a brief cutaway scene, and when we come back to the Beetle the ice-slide is gone.

For whatever reason, this highly unlikely combination of characters simply works. This show remains an absolutely essential Spider-Man show.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20! It's a Solid Hit!

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