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Two Guys, a Girl and Super-Powers – Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends #1

November 19, 2011

The lasting import of the early 1980s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon (apart from the intro music’s brassy fanfare) is its placement of Bobby Drake as one of the web-slinger’s crimefighting partners. I’ve sometimes wondered if I’m alone in having a mental block because of this. This cartoon gave me my first encounters with Iceman, and as a result of that he isn’t — for me — a founding member of the X-Men. No, he’s Spider-Man’s AMAZING FRIEND, fighting crime in Manhattan, in college, living in a tricked out pad with Peter Parker and Mary Jane proxy Angelica Jones/Firestar. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to shake that.

Plus Peter was voiced by the same guy who did Bumblebee in TransformersSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends: The Cartoon that Mind-Raped a Generation.

This one-shot (from a screenplay by Dennis Marks, with art from Dan Spiegle and Vince Colletta) further confused things by bringing the televised shenanigans to newsprint. Adapting the show’s pilot, it reads like a cross between middling regular Spider-Man fare and introductory Spidey Super Stories baby food. It’s not all that good. But there’s a costume party inside, featuring superheroes dressing up as superheroes. That’s worth a look.

For a bonus, there’s also the 3,859th rehashing of the Green Goblin’s origin:

On to the costumes. Firestar is going with a spider theme, while Norman Osborn’s niece (imaginatively named Norma) is opting to ape the prehensile tresses of Inhuman Medusa – and they both have the (I’m sure invaluable) help of old biddy extraordinaire Aunt May:

Bobby goes for another blond hero, while Peter truly lets his imagination run wild:

Is that Spider-Man outfit on backwards? Is it one of those cheap plastic costumes for kids that you find at drugstores? Is he wearing a Spider-Man ski mask? I’m reminded of a Deep Thought: “If you ever discover that what you’re seeing is a play within a play, just slow down, take a deep breath, and hold on for the ride of your life.” A Spider-Man within a Spider-Man.

Anyway, here’s the party — HEY, WOLVERINE, POUR ME SOME GODDAMN PUNCH:

I like that there’s a broad in a Cat costume taking tickets, and I’m especially impressed by the Loki and Mephisto outfits. It’s always more fun to be bad.

The Black Knight? That juice ain’t worth the squeezin’.

The party breaks up for our heroes to change into their real costumes and have a mind-numbingly predictable battle with the Green Goblin. Let’s just skip to the ending:

Yeah, the show had a dog. I’ll say this for the cartoon: at least we weren’t keyed into Ms. Lion’s thoughts.

A last bit of note is a three-page article detailing the efforts of Marvel to bring its stable of characters to the screen. As with most Marvel puff pieces, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO STAN LEE — STAN STAN STAN:

I remember one of Lee’s Bulletin updates in the ’80s pimping the Thor appearance in a Bill Bixby Hulk TV movie. The I.R.S. Audit of the Incredible Hulk or something. He said it was going to be great. IT WASN’T. It took him, his moustache and those mobbed up glasses a long time to get back into my good graces.

Amazing Friends is the earliest cartoon that I can remember watching. It’s unfortunate that the skewed Bobby Drake dynamic was imprinted for some of us like a mama bird’s face on a baby bird’s brain. Scarred for life. Oh well.

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