Episode Title: The Origin of the Spider-Friends
If you’ve been following our adventure through this series then you know that season two, with its whopping three episodes, took us through the origin stories of each of the Spider Friends. However, you may still be wondering how this team actually got together. You’re not the only one. Stan Lee’s opening narration for this episode claims that Marvel was getting tons of letters from fans wondering the exact same thing. Fear not, your questions will be answered in this week’s episode, The Origin of the Spider-Friends.
This episode takes us back several years where Peter Parker struggles to be a superhero and still make some money. We all know that he earns some bucks selling photos of Spider-Man to J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle. He rigs up a camera to automatically shoot pictures of him in action. Problem is, J.J. doesn’t want pics of the wallcrawler. There are two new heroes out there, Iceman and Firestar. So, Peter decides to try and snap some photos of the two mutants. Peter gets the opportunity soon enough at an inventors convention. There he first meets the lovely Anjelica and her friend Bobby. Suddenly, a villain called The Beetle shows up to try and steal a crime computer created by Tony Stark. Would’nt you know it, Firestar and Iceman show up to save the day.
Later, at school, Peter runs into Anjelica and Bobby again. However, a fire in a science lab causes them to scurry. Next thing we know, the two mutants show up again to fight the fire. Only this time, Peter takes a moment to set up his camera to capture images of Spidey saving the day. What he ends up getting is photos of Anjelica changing into Firestar. Now that he knows their secret identities, he decides to ask Anjelica and Bobby to team up. The timing is just right, too, as the Beetle returns to steal a power booster from Stark.
One thing I like about this episode is that it answers one of the questions that always bugged me about this series. From time to time on the show, Peter pulls a hidden lever in his room that causes the furniture to slip behind hidden panels to be replaced by high-tech crime fighting computers. If Peter, and the others, are all cash-strapped college students then how do they afford this stuff? Well, this episode reveals the answer: it was a gift from Tony Stark for saving his life twice in this story. Of course, it doesn’t address why Aunt May wouldn’t notice a spike in her electric bill due to all the power these machines would require.
It is nice to see Stark put in an appearance here as he is probably the biggest Marvel character to not yet appear on the show. Though, his appearance here is much like Matt Murdoch’s in last week’s episode. Stark just appears as Stark. We only get one short cutaway of him as Iron Man. I would’ve liked to see Iron Man as a part of the fight against the Beetle and then be the one that encourages the Spider Friends to become team.
The highlight of this episode, though, is the over-the-top villain, The Beetle. I admit, I’m not that familiar with this Marvel villain. I guess there have been several versions of the character in the comics over the years. What I loved about this depiction of the character is that he’s voiced by Christopher Collins who has done a lot of voice work for animation. He is perhaps most remembered as the voice of Cobra Commander on G.I. Joe. He pretty much does the Cobra Commander voice for this part. This episode predates G.I. Joe by a year or two. The voice has the same sinister qualities mixed with ridiculousness that we got with Cobra Commander. Though I’m still not totally clear on what motivates this villain called The Beetle, the voice work was wonderful.
In the end, this first team-up for the Spider Friends could’ve been a little stronger, but there is still plenty to enjoy here. Oh, but wait…there is one thing I can’t get past. When the team is fighting the fire in the science lab, Firestar puts out flames by blasting them with…MORE FLAMES?!? How does that work? Oh well. Next time, we finally get an appearance from one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes…Doctor Octopus, in Spidey Meets the Girl from Tomorrow.