Spider-Man: Family & Amazing Friends

Background

Back in the 1980s, Marvel had a Saturday-morning cartoon show called Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Originally, the Amazing Friends were to be Iceman from the X-Men and the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four. For whatever reason, the producers couldn't get legal permission to use the Human Torch, which perhaps was just as well, since they wanted a girl to balance the two boys in the cast. Thus was born Firestar, a mutant with the same powers as the Torch, but no legal clouds hanging over her.

The show was popular enough to engender a lot of goodwill in comics fans of a certain age. In this issue, Marvel tries to cash in on that goodwill with an "Amazing Friends" one-shot that establishes the trio in Marvel's 616 continuity, just prior to the events of Web of Spider-Man #75.

Story 'Opposites Attack'

At Madison Square Garden, Iceman and Spider-Man are in action against Videoman (a recurring character in the old TV show). Iceman and Spidey are old comrades-in-arms, so they're relaxed and jovial, trading quips as they take Videoman down: it only takes them six panels, leaving them another six panels to hang out on a rooftop, eat fast food, and make small talk. It seems Iceman is down in New York to get a break from the close atmosphere of Westchester, and his turbulent love life. Spidey can commiserate, even if he's now married and feelin' groovy.

Their tête-a-tête is broken up by the sudden arrival of Firestar, who hovers in the air before them, wrapped in a nimbus of fire. She's bored tonight, with the New Warriors standing down and all, and she's hoping the boys can provide the opportunity for a little action. Spidey seems receptive, but Iceman is – ahem – too cool to hang out with a "newbie," which prompts Firestar to melt the ice structure he's resting on.

"Uh—you did that knowing he can save himself, right?" asks Spidey.

"Thanks for sticking up for me, Spidey," murmurs Firestar, who gives him a peck on the cheek before zooming away. Iceman is left behind to grumble, and Spidey to mull over what just happened. He has plenty more to mull over when he gets home: Firestar's kiss was caught on tape by an amateur videographer, and has made the eleven-'o-clock news. Mary Jane is not impressed, and Peter makes things worse by gloating over the fact that for once MJ is jealous of his associates, rather than the other way around. This earns him an indefinite stay on the couch.

Days later, Spidey web-swings around the city, trying to unkink his back, when Firestar shows up again. Spidey really, really doesn't want to make things worse on the homefront, but he's not quite sure how to ditch her, especially after she makes it clear she wants to be his new partner. "Why can't we do it just like you and the Black Cat?"

Thankfully, Iceman appears unexpectedly, winding up some "common crooks" with his ice powers. Grateful for the interruption, Spider-Man swings down, which allows Firestar and Iceman to trade some more antagonistic banter. Their chitchat is interrupted by another unexpected appearance, this time of the Beetle. He zips away, prompting Spidey to say, "Well, friends, what are we waiting for...? Let's go for it!"

"Let's go for it" was the Amazing Friends' battle cry in the old TV show. More shout-outs for the fans.

Three minutes later, the fight is over, and the Beetle has escaped, thanks to Firestar and Iceman tripping over each others' powers. This prompts more antagonistic banter, which in turn gives Spidey the bright idea that he should play matchmaker and make these two into a couple. Later, MJ pours cold water all over the idea, making the sensible observation that real couples don't actually bicker all the time, but Spidey is undeterred.

So Spidey plays Cupid, and he's not bad at it. He tells Firestar in private that Iceman confessed to having a thing for her, which he's been concealing behind a façade of animosity; later he tells Iceman something similar about Firestar. Then he sets up a meeting for them later that night on a Manhattan rooftop, but when the duo shows up, Spidey is gone but has left behind a romantic, candlelit dinner. The two are aware that they're being set up, but are intrigued enough to pursue the opportunity. They eat, exchange quips, and compare powers, and finally end up in each other's arms.

In a gorgeous double splash page, we see a montage of their courtship: fighting crime, reveals of secret identities, walks in the park (in civilian clothes), hanging out at home, watching fireworks from the rooftops of Manhattan, and taking out the Shocker, all without help from Spidey. Spider-Man is pleased with the success of his matchmaking, which distracts him sufficiently to allow Videoman to ambush him. Stunned, Spidey tries to hold Videoman off, but thanks to his collision with a brick wall he isn't fighting up to par. Thankfully his friends swoop in to give him a hand, which he needs, because Videoman appears to have upgraded somehow.

Thankfully, Spidey is plenty smart, even without spider-powers. He directs Firestar to scramble Videoman with microwave radiation, then tells Iceman to freeze Videoman's now-exposed processing unit. Down he goes! Spidey is so impressed with how effective they are, he thinks they should form a permanent team. Iceman is all for it... but unfortunately makes a crack about how he thinks the team's name should be "Iceman-centric." This rankles Firestar, who feels he tends to always hog the credit. Iceman, now rankled himself, shoots back with a complaint about her slurping her soup... and in a moment the two are in a full-blown fight, which ends with them breaking up. Spidey tries to intervene, but unfortunately his spider-sense doesn't warn him that that is a silly thing to do. The two demonstrate their displeasure with their powers, leaving Spidey with a first-class fever. Later, MJ nurses him back to health, happy to do it because of the opportunity it gives her to say "I told you so."

General Comments

A fun ride. Firestar is an appealing character, and it's fun to see her in action with Spidey and Iceman – we don't get to see her too often in the 616 Marvel Universe, and when we do it's with the rest of the New Warriors, not with Spider-Man one-on-one. Watching Spidey get uncomfortable around another female superhero is also fun: that dynamic doesn't work with the Black Cat anymore, not since they've become ex-lovers.

Hmm... now that Spidey is in a Brand New Day, he's available! I wonder what Firestar is up to these days?

Overall Rating

Definitely worth a read. If you can pick up a copy of this, by all means do so.