Being the resident Spider-Man aficionado here at Comicdom Wrecks!, I felt it was only fitting that my first installment of our Saturday Morning Cartoons feature be Spider-related. But instead of starting with the popular Spider-Man animated series of the 90’s (trust me, I’ll get to that), I decided to go back a little bit further. All the way back to the year 1981.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran from September of 1981 till November of 1983, Saturday mornings on ABC. This week, I’ll be covering the very first episode “The Triumph of the Green Goblin”.
While it does feature the Green Goblin, sadly it does not feature his triumph over anything thanks to the Spider-Friends! (Seriously, that’s what they call themselves.)
Spider-Man’s amazing friends are Angelica Jones, aka Firestar, and Bobby Drake, aka Iceman. While you’re probably familiar with Iceman from the X-Men, Firestar was created specifically for this show. When it was originally pitched, the character rounding out the team was intended to be the Johnny Storm, aka the Fantastic 4’s Human Torch. In a problem that would foreshadow Marvel Studios’ trouble with wrangling all of their characters back together, Marvel had optioned the television rights to just the Human Torch to another production company. When they decided to make a Fantastic 4 cartoon in 1978, they didn’t have the right to use the Torch, so they replaced him with a lovable robot named Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics, better known as H.E.R.B.I.E.
Human Torch wasn’t removed from the Fantastic 4 cartoon because people believed dumb kids would set themselves on fire trying to emulate/immolate their hero, as the urban legend would have you believe. It’s simply because Marvel didn’t have the rights to him. For that same reason, Firestar was created for this show.
The three Spider-Friends are all students at Empire State University and they all live in Aunt May’s house. Thanks to their pal Tony Stark, they’ve got a bunch of tech in their headquarters to help them fight the bad guys.
You’d think Aunt May would have noticed all of that being installed. Maybe they did it during one of her stays in the hospital after she’d had another attack of frailoldladyitis. There’s also Aunt May’s dog, Ms. Lion, who apparently has her own karate outfit.
As we open the episode, Spidey (voiced by Dave Gilvezan, who you might recognize as Bumblebee from Transformers) and Iceman (voiced by Frank Welker, who you might remember from every cartoon ever) take out a couple of jewel thieves during a thunderstorm. They make quick work of it because they’ve got a hot double date to get to.
While this is happening, Norman Osborn has just gotten out of the loony bin where he believes he’s been cured of the insanity that makes him the Green Goblin. He absolutely has to get out of that place and home right away, so he charters a small private plane to fly through the storm. The plane gets struck by lightning and they have to parachute out. It’s a traumatic experience and would you care to wager a guess as to what it does to Norman? If you said “drives him crazy enough to become the Green Goblin again” you win a genuine Marvel No-Prize! This version actually mutates into a goblin type creature, much like the Ultimate version would years later.
Back with our heroes, they’re on their way to a “comic book costume party”. Okay…so even though the Marvel heroes clearly exist in this world they also seem to be comic book characters as well. Sure…let’s go with that. Marvel did establish this as an in-comic alternate reality during the Spider-Verse story. Things did not work out well for this world when the Inheritors showed up.
Bobby is dressed as Captain America, his date Mona Osborn is dressed as Medusa. Angelica is dressed as Spider-Woman because her date Peter is dressed as Spider-Man. Yup…just his regular costume with a cheap Halloween mask. Also, when a random girl at the party starts hitting on Peter, petty-ass Firestar uses her powers to ruin her hair & makeup.
It’s not too long before Peter’s spider sense alerts him to something and he goes off to investigate. He finds the Green Goblin, who traps him with some sort of freezing energy beam. By the way this Green Goblin, voiced by Dennis Marks, sounds just like CeeLo Green. He’s the CeeLo Green Goblin! Gobby uses a device called the “future finder” (which is basically just a fancy crown) to tell Spidey his plan to turn everyone in New York into a goblin like him through the classic villain trope of poisoning the reservoir. He’s come to his lab at the university to find his goblin formula but had no luck so far. He figures his niece Mona will know where it is, so he goes looking for her.
Meanwhile, notorious poon hound Bobby Drake is flirting with both his date and Peter’s.
Firestar goes off to look for Peter. She manages to get him free of Goblin’s freeze ray, but he’s already taken off to enact his evil plan. Bobby & Mona leave the party for a private nighttime stroll when the Green Goblin shows up to grab her. Bobby does nothing to stop this because he thinks it’s just another party goer dressed as the Green Goblin. It takes him a few minutes to realize that this guy flying around on an honest to goodness goblin glider might actually be the real Green Goblin.
The team takes off in three different directions to look for where the Goblin might’ve taken Mona with their battle cry of “Spider-Friends! Go for it!”. Spidey finds him in an abandoned Oscorp factory. He knows that he must be in the right place because he finds the future finder just lying on the floor. You’d think if you had a device that could predict the future you’d take better care of it, but maybe that’s just me. Spidey gets caught in a giant box placed over a basically a giant garbage disposal. He thinks that he’ll just hang out on the walls until he can find a way of the trap, but the walls start getting hot, oozing oil, or spouting sleeping gas. It’s actually a pretty ingenious trap for Spider-Man, which makes you wonder when Goblin had the time to put it together since he was in a mental institution until just a few hours ago. Anyway, Spidey gets out of the trap by webbing up the metal mashers at the bottom and slipping through, but not before Goblin heads out the window with a canister full of his formula. But don’t worry, Spider-Man is in hot pursuit!
Just as Goblin knocks Spidey off of his glider over Central Park (there’s nothing for him to swing off of!) Firestar & Iceman show up to save the day. Goblin manages to dump his formula into the reservoir but Iceman freezes the whole damn thing before it can spread too far and Firestar cuts the chunk of tainted ice out. Then they just melt it and let run down into a storm drain, which seems wildly dangerous & irresponsible.
While fighting Spider-Man, Goblin crashes his glider into some power lines and explodes. When Spidey searches the wreckage, he finds that Norman is no longer the Green Goblin and doesn’t remember anything after jumping out of the plane. He vows to go back to the nut house until he’s cured…again. So that means, if you’re keeping score at home, aviation accidents can both trigger and turn off Osborn’s mutation into the Green Goblin. Much like getting hit on the head with a coconut can both cause and cure amnesia.
Having saved the day, the team goes back home. They drop a hint that Ms. Lion may know that Peter is Spider-Man. I wonder what implications that will have on the rest of the series. Or maybe she’s just a dog who likes treats, who knows?
Thanks for reading! Here’s the episode on Youtube, for your viewing enjoyment: