Wednesday, May 4, 2011

X-men Marathon: Spider-man and his Amazing Friends - the X-men episodes

Looking at the episode list on Wikipedia, there are a total of four episodes of this cartoon that featured X-men characters besides Iceman. For the longest time, I had only ever seen "A Firestar is Born."

Firestar and Iceman are both former X-men and they are going to attend an X-men reunion. Spider-man wants to join them but apparently those who are sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them are prejudiced against mutates, because he’s not allowed. Lucky for him, he runs into Juggernaut who is on his way to attack the X-men. Spidey takes a beating though and Juggernaut gets away. Spider-man and Juggernaut have fought in the comics before, and I think the result was pretty much the same.

The X-men in this episode are made up of Angel, Storm (who is described as a new member), Wolverine (also new), Cyclops, and Professor Xavier. Wolverine has a strange accent and talks very differently than the comics. He greets Firestar saying “Hi-ya doll!” Storm asks Firestar to tell her about herself which leads into a flashback origin story for Firestar. It revolves around this mean girl who hates her because of her heat powers. There’s an almost Carrie like moment where the girl teases her at a dance and she heats up, but sadly she only turns the sprinklers on rather than burning them all alive. I say sadly because mass murder might have actually made this story interesting. Firestar slowly learns to use her powers properly and even saves her dad’s life. The mean girl tries to set it up to make it look like she stole something, but in the end Firestar outsmarts her and gets the mean girl caught. At the end of the night Iceman, Angel, and Cyclops show up to ask her to join the X-men. We see brief clips of her training in the danger room and fighting Magneto (pronounced Mag-net-o) and a Sentinel.

Juggernaut shows up at the reunion conveniently after her story is done. Storm’s eyes lose her pupils as she begins to use her powers, which is a nice touch, and the professor gives the X-men commands telepathically. Cyclops’ beams are apparently powerful enough to create a big chasm right in the front lawn of the mansion. Australian sounding Wolverine, on the other hand, is pretty useless. He tries to remove Juggernaut’s helmet but ends up stuck with his claws in a wall instead. Spidey is actually the one who arrives just in time to save the Professor. I guess since it is his show, they had to make him look best. Firestar says they need to thank Juggernaut for guaranteeing that the class reunion was not boring.

The last line: “Spider-man and the X-men – friends forever!”

As you can tell, this is a cheesy, goofy 1980s cartoon. It’s really just a cameo for the X-men, with each of them only getting one or two lines a piece. The Firestar origin is the worst of it, as the mean girl is ridiculously cruel for no real good reason what so ever, and remains that way for many, many years. It’s the kind of thing a kid would accept without question but us adults can see right through and groan at.

I recently discovered another of these X-men related episodes, fittingly titled "The X-men Adventure."

This one starts with Firestar training in the danger room while Spider-man, Iceman, and the X-men look on. This time the team is made up of Cyclops, Storm, Thunderbird, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde who is referred to as Sprite, and Colossus. Thunderbird is a strange choice here considering how quickly he died in the comics. Also, it's pretty shocking that there is no Wolverine. Was he not as popular a character back then?

The main plot this time is that a guy from Firestar's past who is now half cyborg, calling himself Cyberiad, takes over the mansion and tries to kill the X-men to get revenge on Firestar for causing the accident that created him. Apparently the entire mansion is full of traps for people who attempt to invade it. There is also, for no good reason, an entire room called "The Maze of Madness" that is basically an M.C. Escher painting on acid. The X-men get split into groups and then attacked.

We see that Storm is afraid of enclosed spaces, which is true to her character. Cyclops is afraid of going blind, according to this episode, though I've never heard that before. Thunderbird turns into a giant bear, rather than having his normal abilities of super strength and speed. Cyclops' optic beams are yellow rather than red. At least they were accurate with Nightcrawler, saying he leaves a smell of brimstone when he teleports.

There was one thing that was just so hilarious I had to get a screen cap. At one point the professor, Firestar, and Spider-man are all in an elevator, and Cyberiad cuts the cables. Firestar tears a hole in the top of the elevator, and she and Spidey head into the shaft - she grabs the cables, he uses his web to grab on to the falling elevator. But..

They forgot to draw in the elevator!

In the end, Firestar saves the day. There's also a shockingly mature part to the story, in that Firestar is still in love with Cyberiad, and she feels really terrible about having to defeat him.

Despite the various inaccuracies, this is a much higher quality episode. I didn't feel like I was being talked down to and it was not anywhere near as goofy as the other one. I was wondering before how my dad could have tolerated this series, and it's good to now know that it wasn't all as bad as that last one.

The other two episodes are only barely X-men related. One features Sunfire, who joined the X-men at the same time as Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler but left quickly afterward. The other episode features Magneto (pronounced correctly here) freeing his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Blob, Toad, and Mastermind) from prison.

All four of these episodes are currently available on Youtube if you wish to satisfy your curiosity. Only the first season was ever released on DVD and is currently out of print. All of this series, as well as pretty much every other Spider-man cartoon, will soon be available streaming on Netflix.

Up next in the marathon: Pryde of the X-men!


  1. Love the missing elevator! LOL Thanks for screencapping that.

    As for Wolvie's Aussie accent--they must have had a glimpse he'd be played by one someday?

  2. I didn't even think about Hugh Jackman... apparently their psychic powers were still in effect for the next cartoon I'm going to talk about. :)


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