By Ben Morse
This week in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #118, Spider-Man and Iceman met a very different Firestar for the first time, but the trio has a lot of history going far off the comic book page.
Running three seasons on NBC from 1981 to 1983, the "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" animated series captured the hearts of a generation of Saturday morning cartoon viewers—many who went on to work for, or at, Marvel.
We had some of the creators and Marvel staffers who loved "S&HAF" (much easier to write than "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends") wax nostalgic on their youthful memories.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
CHRISTOPHER YOST (upcoming co-writer of X-FORCE):
"S&HAF" was a thousand kinds of awesome. Secret headquarters that transformed, with furniture flipping around to reveal super-computers and high
tech crime labs? Awesome. Guest stars like Captain America, the X-Men and Thor, [plus] villains like Red Skull, Green Goblin, Loki and Magneto? Awesome—but none more awesome than Swarm and Videoman.
But the single most awesome thing about the show was Firestar
. Not unlike a particular young clone of Wolverine [on "X-Men Evolution"]—cough*X-23*cough—young Angelica Jones made her debut on that show, and my life was changed forever. To this day, my fictional character crush maintains.
Firestar on X-Force? If only they'd let me.
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor):
As a life-long Spidey fan—well, since Kindergarten—I was a bit miffed that "The Powers That Be" felt that the wise-cracking wall-crawler couldn't carry a show all by his lonesome. But since it had been so long since we had a Spidey cartoon to enjoy, I was thankful for whatever we
got…and I soon grew to appreciate the interaction and additional "wow" visual moments that Iceman and Firestar brought to the festivities.
After reading ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #119—and just reading a black & white preview copy of issue #120—it's clear that [writer] Brian [Bendis] and [artist] Stuart [Immonen] are tapping into the best of the cartoon's feel, all with the modern twists they're known for. Now if only I can convince them to introduce Ultimate Ms. Lyon… [EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Lion was Aunt May's faithful—and mischievous—pet dog on the show]
ZEB WELLS (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
As I haven't seen "S&HAF" since I was a child, you're sadly mistaken if you think I'm going to use words like "funny" or "ridiculous" to describe this classic show.
If I remember correctly, it was deadly serious, whip-smart and had some of the best animation of the day. Only members of your besotted generation would trot out a high horse to point and laugh at this work of art. You wouldn't know genius if it slid into your face on a sheet of ice. The only thing your cynical question has accomplished is awakening in me a great yearning for these classic stories of old. Perhaps I will head over to this "YouTube" you kids are crazy about and treat myself to an episode. Wait here a second...
This interview is over.
CHRIS ALLO (Marvel Editorial Talent Coordinator):
I don't remember many episodes but one that stands out to me is the episode with Iceman's origin. There was a funny little bit with him as a baby where they show his parents holding a frozen diaper! Also, as Bobby Drake is telling Spidey and Firestar his origin, the five
original X-Men appeared in the episode as well as Professor X, with an ascot. It was pretty silly. But it was great seeing the X-Men animated!
Also, it was amazing how every time they were walking down the street and some kind of super villain or criminal started wreaking havoc, Iceman would "ice up," Spider-Man would jump out from behind something changed into his costume and Firestar would just ignite her power and "magically" change into her costume. Awesome!
And I wished they would've either "dog-cicled" or "hot-dogged"—i.e. burnt to a crisp—Ms. Lion!
BRIAN REED (writer of MS. MARVEL):
I was 7 when the "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" show came on, so it was one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons.
Three things really stuck with me at that age: I thought it was weird that Peter had
a poster of the Hulk in his apartment. I was confused as to why [Mary Jane] in the cartoon was called "Angelica" and had fire powers, but in the comic [she] was MJ and didn't—seriously, Firestar looked exactly
like MJ! And finally, the thing that stayed with me most from this show is Stan Lee's voice. To this day, I still hear his voice whenever I see a little yellow caption box in a comic book.
I just looked up some clips of this show on YouTube, and I find it amusing that most of their sound effects library came from the original "Battlestar Galactica." Doctor Doom is shooting 1970's BSG lasers!
JIM MCCANN (Marvel Marketing representative):
A) There are no
ridiculous aspects of "S&HAF." Period. Seeing the advertisements in comics along with the rest of the [most awesome] NBC cartoon line-up ever! Spider-Man and His Amazing
Friends, Kidd Video, Smurfs, Snorks—they're Smurfs, underwater!—Alvin & the Chipmunks—back when they were animated—Punky Brewster and Mr. freaking T!!!! I was so happy when I won my first soccer trophy—until I found out that every team got one—because I thought if I put it on our mantle and then jiggled it, all of the furniture in the room would finally turn over and reveal the computers, monitors and other accoutrement that appeared in their boarding house/super hero hideout. I was sorely disappointed. And, though there seems to be a lot of disenchantment in this tale, hearing those wonderful words every Saturday morning brought a smile to my face: "Spider-Man
and his Amazing
B) Ok, Miss Lion was not un-ridiculous…
C) Videoman rules.
MARC SUMERAK (writer of IRON MAN POWER PACK):
"Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" may very well have been my first major exposure to super heroes,
or at least the first that I actually remember. I was three years old when the series started airing in 1981, and I definitely remember being glued to the TV set every Saturday morning to find out what was in store for our terrific trio!
To me, the heroes on the show couldn't have been cooler! Their powers were simple and iconic. Their banter was hilarious—hey, I was three! Their villains were wacky. They even had a super-cool secret headquarters hidden away in Aunt May's house! I used to pretend that my room could transform just like Peter's. Sadly, it couldn't.
When I actually started reading comics, I remember being extremely surprised—and a bit disappointed—that Firestar and Iceman were not amongst most popular characters in the Marvel Universe! I mean, they were some of my favorite TV heroes, but they never seemed to hang out with Spidey in his normal monthly comic. Heck, I didn't even get Ms. Lion—not that I would have wanted her! But that didn't matter
for long, because the comics I discovered were still a lot of fun without those characters. Once I got my hands on them, I was hooked! And if it wasn't for the show, that might've never happened.
I still held onto my fond memories, though, and a few years down the road when Iceman showed up in X-FACTOR and Firestar turned up in NEW WARRIORS, I jumped on those books right away. It was great to see some of my childhood favorites back in action! So really, my enjoyment of "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" helped to open the door to the Marvel Universe to me and inspired me to explore it.