Greetings true believers! It’s time to prepare yourselves for a journey into the realm of Saturday morning superhero television! After all, if we’re going to have a site all about comic book related tv shows, we’ve got to show some love for some of the classic animated shows. For my contribution to the site, I have decided to begin with an early 80’s classic, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. But before we start going through the episodes, I wanted to give a quick introduction for those who are, perhaps, too young to remember it.
Since 1973, the DC team of heroes known as the Superfriends had been the ratings champs when it came to Saturday morning superheroes. Sure, there was the occasional Marvel inspired show, but they never lasted terribly long. Probably the most popular Marvel animated show up to this point was the 1967 Spider-Man animated series. You all know the theme song on that one (Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can). That show had been airing in syndication since its original run, but in 1981 the time had come for a new take on Spidey. I was 10 years old, so it was the perfect timing for me.
Borrowing a page from DC’s playbook, it was decided to team the webslinger up with some other superheroes. Rather than the “Superfriends” we would have the “Spider-friends.” First there was Bobby Drake, aka Iceman…presumably on loan from the X-men. Whenever trouble arose he would encase himself in a block of ice and then burst out in Iceman form. The other member of the team was intended to be the Human Torch. However the TV rights to the character were held by another studio. This is the same situation that caused the Torch to be replaced by a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. in the 1978 Fantastic Four cartoon series.
The producers solved the problem by creating their own “hot” hero…or should we say heroine? It was the lovely Angelica Jones, aka Firestar. Along with Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker, Bobby and Angelica lived in an apartment space at Aunt May’s house. The apartment could transform into a high-tech command center when a lever hidden in a football trophy was pulled. Also hanging out in the apartment was the trio’s mischievous dog Miss Lion. When the team sprung into action they would shout “Spider-friends…go for it!”
The show featured an impressive voice cast. Dan Gilvezan, the future Bumblebee on Transformers was Spidey. Kathy Garver, formerly of the series Family Affair, was Firestar. Aunt May was played by June Foray, who is one of the great voice artists in animation history. She was Rocky the Flying Squirrel! Perhaps the most recognizable voice in the cast is Frank Welker, most famous for voicing Fred Jones on almost every incarnation of Scooby-Doo. The supporting cast includes the likes of Hans Conried, Anne Lockhart, Keye Luke, Alan Melvin (yep, Sam the Butcher) and Alan Young. Even Stan Lee himself showed up to do intros in the later seasons.
A total of 24 episodes were made, stretched out over three seasons. However, the show was a part of NBC’s Saturday morning schedule for five years (1981-86). It was always a favorite of mine. Currently, every episode of the show is available for streaming on Netflix. So if you’re a subscriber you can go episode by episode with me as I revisit a piece of my childhood. Excelsior!
Next Time: Triumph of the Green Goblin