Episode Title: Swarm
I remember one of the biggest fears of childhood was the fear of being stung by a bee. The memory of the first time I was ever stung by a bee, on the school playground, is still extremely vivid in my mind. So this week’s episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing friends would’ve been exceptionally freaky for youngsters like me. Get ready for Swarm.
The episode opens with Peter and Angelica at the observatory for Professor Wells’ science class (another class member is classic Peter Parker enemy Flash Thompson). While there, they spot a meteor streaming for the earth, right in the path of an approaching airplane. Note that this is the second week in a row where the action has kicked off with a meteorite. However, this time Firestar doesn’t try to stop the meteor, rather she concentrates on diverting the plane. She should’ve zapped the big rock, though. It ends up landing on a farm, right beneath a tree containing a bee hive. The radiation from the meteorite attracts bees from all over which come together to form an alien with big blue eyes and a body composed of bees. As if that wasn’t enough, it then causes the beehive to grow into a fortress and turns the farmer into a bee zombie.
Firestar succeeds in fending off the creature, who just keeps repeating the words “Swarm…Swarm” over and over. However, soon she needs the help of Spidey and Iceman. Soon they’re having to fend off giant bees who are snatching up more people and turning them into bug people. Of course, Aunt May is one of the people who gets transformed, as does Flash and the Professor. Soon Iceman and Firestar also get transformed. Luckily, Spidey’s spider-blood makes him immune. Now it’s up to the wall-crawler to find the way to change his friends back and defeat the alien.
I remember watching this one as a kid! It’s hard to forget an alien made of bees with a one-word vocabulary…Swarm, Swarm, Swarm. It’s also quite memorable because it is a pretty freaky episode. Seeing tons of innocent people, including two of the heroes, sprouting wings and antennae is a little bit disturbing for young viewers. Swarm isn’t a terribly deep villain, but he is quite memorable. This villain was, at the time, a fairly new character to use in this series. He had debuted in Marvel comics just four years earlier, though in a bit different form than we get him here.
One of the highlights of this particular episode is the background art used in the beehive sequences. The twisting psychedelic purple honeycombs have a great otherworldly feel to them. The part of me that loves kaiju movies also really appreciated the battle with the giant bees at the end of this episode. Images of Mothra were floating through my head the whole time. There is one moment that really shows the age of this episode, though. While doing some football moves with Swarm’s power source, Iceman exclaims, “Eat your heart out O.J.” Otherwise, this is a fun, if bizarre, episode.
Be sure to join us next time true believers when Captain America, Doctor Strange, Shanna the Jungle Queen, and Namor the Sub Mariner cross paths with the Spider Friends in Seven Little Superheroes.