Episode Title: The Triumph of the Green Goblin
Original Airdate: 9-12-81
Greetings true believers! It’s time to take a look at the debut episode for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. What better way to start than an encounter with one of Spidey’s most dangerous enemies…the Green Goblin.
On a stormy night in New York City your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is trying to nab a couple of jewel thieves trying to make a getaway. But when the slippery conditions make things difficult for Spidey, he gets an assist from his buddy Iceman. Meanwhile, as the cops lock up the crooks, a small plane is flying through the storm overhead. Inside is Norman Osborn, just released from a sanitarium, supposedly cured of being the Green Goblin. However, when the storm forces him to parachute out, the Goblin starts to take over his mind once again.
Later that night, Spidey, aka Peter Parker, and Iceman, aka Bobby Drake, return to Aunt Mae’s house to get ready to go to a costume party with their friends Angelica and Mona (who is Norman Osborn’s niece). The theme of the costume party is to dress as comic book heroes or villains. So, Angelica is going as Spider-Woman, Mona is Medusa (from The Inhumans), Bobby is Captain America and Peter is…well…Spider-Man, of course. Ok, let’s pause for a moment here because things just got a wee bit confusing. They are all dressing as “comic book heroes,” but they are also real people. I mean, we already know Spidey is real…the real Captain America will be making an appearance a few episodes down the line. So, yeah…doesn’t make sense, but hey it’s a cartoon.
The costume dance proves to be a bit startling for Peter Parker since there are not only people dressed as heroes, but there are villains around too…including several Green Goblins. When his Spidey senses start tingling, though, he knows something is up. When he goes to investigate, Spidey finds the real Goblin tooling around in one of the school science labs looking for a formula that will transform all New Yorkers into hideous creatures like him. When the Goblin traps Spidey with a laser ray, it’s up to Angelica to transform into Firestar and save him. But the trouble isn’t over yet, as the Goblin kidnaps Mona and launches his plan to sabotage the city’s water supply with his formula. Now all three Spider Friends head towards Osborn’s old factory to save the day.
This episode is a solid opening to the series. It is a bit refreshing that the producers didn’t feel the need to spend time on an origin story. Many of the youngsters who would’ve been watching this series in 1981 had most likely already been watching the Spider-Man animated series that had originally aired from 1967-70 and had been a staple in syndicated reruns ever since. So in many ways, this feels like a continuation. No need to waste time on backstory, we just jump right in on the action. There is a brief flashback showing how Osborn became the Green Goblin, but it is brisk and doesn’t wear out its welcome.
The episode does a decent job of introducing the young viewers to the other two Spider Friends, Iceman and Firestar. Iceman, of course, was already an established character from the X-Men comics, debuting about a year after Spidey did. In this version he’s presented as a somewhat humorous character…absent-minded at times and often using jokes and puns related to ice or cold. As for Firestar, this is her debut. No bones about it, she’s dang cute! When I first watched this show as a ten-year old, she was probably my first animated superhero crush. It’s ok to crush on animated characters, right? Unfortunately, at this point Firestar is still a little bit underdeveloped. She doesn’t really get much chance to truly demonstrate her powers in this first episode. I mean the first thing we see her do is to create a cloud of steam intended to make another girl’s mascara run when she starts flirting with Peter. Forget about Mary Jane, there’s a different red-head vying for the wall crawler’s affection in this series and she doesn’t like competition.
The villain has his share of nice moments as well, including trapping Spidey in a cell complete with jaws of death, oil slicks and giant projected Goblin face. Overall this is a solid start to this early 80’s Saturday morning series.