Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends is an American animated television series produced by Marvel Productions, considered to be a crossover series connected to the 1981 Spider-Man series. The show stars already-established Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Iceman, plus an original character, Firestar. As the trio called the Spider-Friends, they fought against various villains of the Marvel Universe.
Originally broadcast on NBC as a Saturday morning cartoon, the series ran first-run original episodes for three seasons, from 1981 to 1983, then aired repeats for an additional two years (from 1984 to 1986). Alongside the 1981 Spider-Man animated series, Amazing Friends was later re-aired in the late 1980's as part of the 90 minute Marvel Action Universe, a syndicated series that was used as a platform for old and new Marvel-produced animated fare (the newer programming RoboCop: The Animated Series, Dino-Riders and on occasion "Pryde of the X-Men", which was intended to serve as a pilot for a potential X-Men animated series).
Season changes and popularity
In the second season, the show was aired along a newly produced Hulk animated series as The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man. The two shows shared one intro which showcased the new title. Stan Lee began narrating the episodes in the second season. Narration by Stan Lee were added to the first season episodes at this time so that the series seemed cohesive. These narrations (for the first and second season) are not on the current masters. They have not aired since the NBC airings. (As seen on the Stan Lee narrations list at Spider-Friends.com)
For the third season, there was another title change. This time the characters' names would be reversed and the show was called, The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. It remained that way for most of the remaining years. NBC did air the show individually in mid-season (post 1986) after it was not initially announced for their fall schedule. Only some of the Stan Lee narrations for the third season are on the current masters. The missing narrations have not aired since the NBC airings.
Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Bobby Drake (Iceman), and Angelica Jones (Firestar) are all college students at Empire State University. After working together to defeat the Beetle and recovering the "Power Booster" he stole from Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) the trio decide to team-up permanently as the "Spider-Friends". They live together in Peter's Aunt May's home with her and a pet dog, Ms. Lion, (adopted from Firestar) a Lhasa Apso. Together, the superheroes battle various supervillains.
Some stories featured team-ups with other characters from the Marvel Universe, including Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Sunfire, and the mid-1970's X-Men.
One of the series' main characters, Firestar was created specifically for this series when the Human Torch was unavailable (due to licensing issues). The original plan was for Spider-Man to have fire and ice based teammates, so Angelica Jones/Firestar was created. Her pre-production names included Heatwave, Starblaze, and Firefly.
Firestar did not appear in Marvel's mainstream comic book universe until Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). She appears as a member of the Hellions, a group of teenage mutants who functioned as rivals to the New Mutants (a similar group under the tutelage of Charles Xavier). After leaving the Hellions, Firestar becomes a founding member of the New Warriors and later serves as a distinguished member of the Avengers along with her fellow New Warrior, Justice. She is currently a member of the X-Men.
Hiawatha Smith is a college professor at the Spider-Friends' university. He is the son of a heroic Native American chief who fought against the Axis during World War II.
Hiawatha Smith's home is adorned with decorations from various cultures including Hindu and native American tribes. Producer and story editor Dennis Marks created the character and admits to basing him on Indiana Jones.
Smith's father passed down to his son the mystic knowledge of their people and a map leading to a vast Nazi treasure and advanced technology sought by the Red Skull. Smith often employs a boomerang in battle. He possesses a supernatural ability to communicate with animals.
Lightwave's real name is Aurora Dante. Like her half-brother Bobby Drake (a.k.a. the superhero Iceman), Lightwave is a mutant. She can manipulate and control light. Her other light-based powers include laser blasts, photonic force fields and solid light pressor beams. She can also transform herself into light; in such a form, she is able to exist in the vacuum of outer space.
Lightwave's only appearance was in "Save the Gusrdstar", the final episode of the 1980's cartoon. She is voiced by Annie Lockhart. Bobby Drake explains his heretofore unknown sister as merely a half-sister; they share the same mother.
An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lightwave is considered a traitor, due to mind control by rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Buzz Mason. Mason induces Lightwave to steal assorted devices to create a "quantum enhancer" which would increase her powers 1,000 times. With such power, Lightwave would be able to control the Guardstar satellite which orbits the Earth and controls all defense systems and communications systems for the United States. Mason expects world conquest since he controls Lightwave.
Iceman, Firestar, and Spider-Man attempt to stop Lightwave. However, she is powerful enough to defeat them. Aboard a space vessel, Buzz Mason forces Iceman into outer space, dooming Iceman if he remains there for long. Spider-Man convinces Lightwave to realize that the half-brother she loves is in mortal danger. Her reaction breaks Mason's control over her, and she saves Iceman and disables Mason long enough for Spider-Man to subdue him.
Presumably, with Mason's role realized, S.H.I.E.L.D. restores Lightwave's good standing. As this is Lightwave's only appearance, her fate is unknown.
Videoman is an intangible being that is mostly composed of electronic data gleaned from a video arcade. Videoman makes three appearances in the series, the first two times as a supervillain and the third as a superhero.
As a villain
In season one, Videoman first appeared as a creature created by Electro. It's abilities include moving through and manipulating electronic circuits and projecting pulses of energy. Videoman is used by Electro to suck in and entrap Spider-Man, Flash Thompson, Firestar and Iceman into a video game display where Elector attempts to destroy the four. However, Flash is able to save himself and the others by escaping through the monitor and into Electro's electronic components to save the others. The first villainous version of Videoman makes one other appearance in season two's "Origin of Iceman", with the additional abilities of bringing video game characters to life and draining the unique bio-energy of mutants, temporarily suppressing Iceman's powers and weakening Firestar, as well as being able to emulate their powers for it's own use. This time, Videoman is defeated when the Spider Friends trick it and it's video game minions into attacking one another.
As a superhero
In the season three episode "The Education of a Superhero", Francis Byte is an avid video game player who is especially engrossed into gaining the high score on a video game, Zellman Command, at the local arcade. The villain Gamesman sends a hypnotic signal that entrances over 300,000 people in the city. However, it does not affect Francis' girlfriend Louise, Spider-Man and Firestar, nor does the signal does affect Francis' mind, which is distracted from entrancement by Louise and the game. Louise walks away from Francis after having her pleas disregarded by Francis. He (unbeknownst to any others) plays the arcade machine so rigorously that it and other arcade machines (most of which are emitting the hypnotic waves) explode. The explosion somehow transforms Francis into Videoman.
Francis discovers that he can become his new alter-ego Videoman at will. However, he is completely inexperienced with his handling of such powerful abilities. He tries to help the trio (which has awakened Iceman from his trance) against a hypnotized mob, but they repel his offers due to his inexperience. He then tries to save Louise from the Gamesman, nut he is easily bribed into manipulating a military communications satellite system in return for Louise's freedom, an offer that is then reneged upon by the Gamesman. Enraged at the trickery, Videoman helps Spider-Man and the others free Louise and also reverses his stoppage of the military computer. After the Gamesman is defeated, Francis accepts an invitation to join the X-Men, while Louise accepts him and his abilities.
- Trimuph of the Green Goblin
- The Crime of all Centuries
- The Fantastic Mr. Frump!
- 7 Little Superheroes
- The Prison Plot
- Spidey Goes Hollywood
- The Vengeance of Loki
- Knights and Demons
- Pawns of the Kingpin
- The Quest of the Red Skull
- The Origin of the Iceman
- A Firestar is Born
- Along Came Spidey
- Spider-Man Unmasked!
- The Bride of Dracula (The Transylvanian Connection)
- The Education of a Superhero
- Attack of the Arachnoid
- The Origin of the Spider-Friends
- Spidey Meets the Girl from Tomorrow
- The X-Men Adventures
- Mission: Save the Guardstar
|Dan Gilvezan||Spider-Man / Peter Parker|
Archnoid / Zoltan Amadeus
Biker gang leader
|Frank Welker||Iceman / Bobby Drake|
Videoman / Francis Byte
|Kathy Garver||Firestar / Angelica Jones|
(In The X-Men Adventures)
|George DiCenzo||Captain America|
Kraven the Hunter
(In the X-Men Adventures)
Norman Osborn's pilot
Police officer #2
Security guard #1
|Walker Edmiston||Frankenstein's Monster|
|Michael Evans||Professor Wells|
|June Foray||Aunt May|
Security guard #2
Sprite / Kitty Pryde
|Annie Lockhart||Honey Dove|
(In A Firestar is Born)
|Dennis Marks||Dr. Faustus|
Police officer #1
|Shepard Menkin||Doctor Doom|
Eric the Viking
Modred the Mysitc
|Janet Waldo||Shanna the She-Devil|
|William Woodson||Doctor Strange|
Namor, the Sub-Mariner
J. Jonah Jameson
|Alan Young||Mr. Frump|
Notable guest stars
|Michael Ansara||Haiwatha Smith|
|Michael Bell||Ariel & Bartow's father|
|Peter Cullen||Hulk / Bruce Banner|
|Stanley Jones||Professor X|
(In A Firestar is Born)
- Dick Tufeld: Announcer (Season 1)
- William Marshall: Announcer (Season 2)
- Ron Feinberg: Announcer (Season 3)
- Stan Lee: Narrator (Seasons 1 & 2 and added to reruns of season 1)
- Alan Dinehart: Voice Director
- In preparation for creating Spider-Man: The Animated Series, John Semper Jr. watched every Spider-Man series that preceded his.
- While watching Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, John Semper Jr. knew he did not want Spider-Man: The Animated Series to be like that.
- Kathy Garver later voiced Miss America and Gila in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
- According to John Semper Jr. on his Spider-Man: TAS Facebook page he would have done an updated version of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as a more serious version. The episode would have guest starred Iceman and Firestar, and he would have tried to get Frank Welker and Kathy Garver to reprise their roles from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. According to John Semper Jr. at the end of the episode, after the villain was beat, Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar would have all looked at one another and said, "Hey, maybe we should all hang out together and be FRIENDS. Wouldn't that be AMAZING?" Then, after a short silence, they would all shake their heads and go, "Nahhhhhhhhh" and take off on their own separate ways.
- The creators of this show originally wanted to use Human Torch. However, the rights to Human Torch were tied up because a television series starring Human Torch was being planned. Because of this the producers of the series created Firestar.
- Firestar was later adapted into the comics with a radically different origin.
- The Quest of the Red Skull was pulled from syndication because of its clear depictions of Nazis, Adolf Hitler, and Swastikas.
- Episode eighteen was originally called "The Transylvanian Connection" when it first aired, but for unknown reasons the episode was renamed "The Bride of Dracula!" in more current airings.