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Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (1981-1983). Marvel Productions for NBC-TV. Based on characters created by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee. Produced by Dennis Marks. Directors included Dan Jurwich, Rob Richardson. Writers included Donald F Glut, Marks, Christy Marx and Michael Reaves. Cast includes June Foray, Kathy Garver, Dan Gilezan, Frank Welker and William Woodson. Narrators: Dick Tufeld, then Stan Lee. 24 22-minute episodes. Colour.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Gilezan) is attending Empire State University in New York when his old foe the Beetle, a Villain in an armoured battlesuit, attacks to steal material from the university laboratory. To fight him, Spider-Man teams up with two fellow-student heroes, Bobby Drake/the Iceman (Welker) from The X-Men, and Angelica Jones/Firestar (Garver): they name themselves the Spider-Friends and all three move in with Peter's Aunt May (Foray), who remains oblivious of their secret identities. Parker sells photos of the team in action to J Jonah Jameson (Woodson), cantankerous chief editor of The Daily Bugle. They faced many of Spider-Man's familiar foes such as Electro, the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, and the Vulture, plus such lesser-known opponents such as Dr Faustus and Swarm. They also join forces with various other Marvel Comics heroes including Captain America, the X-Men, Thor, Shanna the She Devil (here Shanna the Jungle Queen) and Doctor Strange. Further enemies include Dr Doom, the Juggernaut, Magneto and the Red Skull, plus Monsters and Supernatural Creatures: the Vampire Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, a Werewolf and evil sorcerer Mordred the Mystic.

Differences from tradition included waiting until later in its run to fully explain Spider-Man's origin and making the Green Goblin a Shapeshifter. Firestar was reportedly created because animation rights to the similar Human Torch were not then available; she did not officially appear in Marvel Comics until 1985, though often used since. Another original character is one of the college professors, Hiawatha Smith, a Native American former adventurer inspired by Indiana Jones. The series has seen several home video releases over the years. One episode involving the Red Skull is generally removed from syndicated repeats due to its use of Nazi symbols and Adolf Hitler. [GSt]

see also: Spider-Man.


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