With each of the Spider-Man movies that have been provided to us by Sony Pictures (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse out Dec. 14th, 2018), I always thought Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends would get some kind of royal DVD or Blu-ray treatment. With each and every movie, there seems to be some sort of tie-in or re-release and this one always got left out. This was my Spider-Man growing up as a kid. His adventures on Saturday morning were my first and best introduction to the Marvel Universe. Sure, I watched the ’67 series but this was cool, hip, and didn’t feature the same animated swinging sequence over and over again. Since having the chance to watch them all, finally for the first time (via JustWatch.com), I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the series again. Dan Gilvezan is and forever will be the voice of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man to me. Much like Josh Keaton will be for one generation and Christopher Daniel will be for another. However, I found some of the moments (I narrowed it down to 8) drove me absolutely crazy to the point where I would call them gut-wrenching. So without further eloquence, here are my "8 Gut-Wrenching Moments from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends". I guess some Spider-verses are better than others.
8. Crap Tastic Villains
Today I know why certain characters are on some shows and not in others. It all has to do with licensing, which is why we couldn’t have the Daily Bugle in Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and so forth. In 1981 there was really no excuse. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends featured an incredible assortment of characters from the entire Marvel Universe. We saw Avengers (separately), X-Men, and the likes of Doctor Doom. So why did Spidey and the gang have to battle the likes of Videoman, The Gamesmen, and Cyberiad? Arcade, Zzzx, and Deathlok all would have been better.
7. The Fantastic Mr. Frump
He may go with number 8 but he wasn’t really a villain so we’ll cut him that much slack. In what may be the third worst episode of any series ever we find the Spider-Friends battling a doofus who picked up a Doctor Doom trinket by mistake. Sure, there is a lesson to be learned here but, as this episode goes on, one has to wonder why Doom didn’t annihilate this idiot. It’s 23 minutes you’ll never get back again and makes episodes like “Swarm” seem brilliant.
6. The Transylvanian Connection aka “The Bride of Dracula”
What kid’s show doesn’t feature Dracula and the Universal Monsters sooner or later? There is no copyright on these characters and sooner or later you just need a straight up great villain. The writers behind “The Transylvanian Connection” missed a great opportunity to involve Marvel’s Dracula (from "Tomb of Dracula") and his nemesis Blade. Instead, we get some huge leaps in logic with air travel, a two rotor plane catches up to a jet in minutes, and the Frankenstein creature is actually a robot. What is really gut-wrenching is that after Spidey and Iceman save the day Dracula reverts back to his human form and forgets everything. What? Chalk this one up to writing around the sensors, I guess.
5. The Red Skull vs Professor Hiawatha?
The Red Skull and Captain America are the salt and pepper of the Marvel Universe. So why when the Red Skull makes an appearance on the series does he battle Professor Hiawatha? Was Cap busy that week? Captain America makes an appearance on the show but never in this episode. Damn, we even have a Nazi symbol in the episode! Yet, no Cap!?
4. Wolverine Gets Stuck
The X-Men make two full appearances on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, outside of a few cameos too. Only one of these features Wolverine. “A Firestar is Born” features two of the greatest gut-wrenching moments in the series. The first is when Wolverine speaks with an Australian accent (which is great foreshadowing in hindsight). Why is that again since he is Canadian? The second happens when Wolverine gets his claws stuck into a wall while battling the Juggernaut. As my introduction to the character, I thought he was pretty lame.
3. The X-Men Blunders
As I mentioned, the series did feature a couple of appearances of the X-Men. There are three instances that are in question that I consider “blunders”. In “Sunfire” we meet the mutant, Sunfire and learn that he and Iceman have tussled a few times. Why? Weren’t they both trained at the same school? Wasn’t Sunfire always a good guy? Let’s move on, shall we? In “The X-Men Adventure” we meet the entire X-Men team from "Giant Sized X-Men #1". Sunfire is not present but the deceased Thunderbird is and can transform into great animal spirits. What? Cool that Thunderbird made an appearance, but why the manifestation of his powers in this manner? In the third and final X-Men blunders, Francis Byte (aka Videoman) gets enrolled into the X-School despite receiving his powers from a video game surge and not being born with them. Yes, you read that right, he’s not a mutant!
2. The Green Goblin Transformation
What might be the biggest faux pas in the entire 3-year run is their treatment of the Green Goblin. In this Spider-verse, Norman Osborn goes through a physical transformation, like the Hulk, and becomes the Green Goblin (again, Ultimate Universe foreshadowing). One could argue that you never see the transformation completely but at the end of “The Triumph of the Green Goblin,” we see Osborn in the goblin get up with white skin and cornrows. Oh yeah, he also wanted to turn everyone in NY into goblins, as well (like the Lizard in Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man).
1. Miss Lion Saves the Day
I understood why she was on the show. She was cute, cuddly, and if there would have been a toy line she would have been in it. She was also the comic relief. Before I bash her, I gotta give her props for standing up to a T-Rex in “The Crime of all Centuries”. However, her very appearance in “7 Little Superheroes” is probably the most gut-wrenching moment in the history of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.