Series: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Season 1, Episode 7
Production Code: 107
Production Company: Marvel Productions
Original Air Date: October 24th, 1981 (assumed)
Credits: Christy Marx
Feature Characters: Spider-Man, Iceman, Firestar
Supporting Characters: Flash Thompson, Aunt May, Ms. Lion
Villains: Electro (Max Dillon; first appearance in this series), Video-Man (first appearance)
Comments: The physics lab briefly seen in this episode is named the Osborne Science Building. Peter Parker suggests to Aunt May to go visit Ms. Watson next door, which is the first reference (though indirect) to Mary Jane Watson in this series.
No nicknames in this episode but we do get both a “Spider-Friends, go for it!” and a “let’s go for it!” Does that make up for it? Not in my heart.
Changed For TV: Electro is blue and yellow instead of green and yellow, because of the green paint shortage afflicting the world at the time (you did NOT want to be the Hulk’s colorist in 1981). Also Video-Man is a completely original character. Oh, no I mean he is a character that had never appeared before. The concept of Video-Man is total grand hackery.
This Month In X: Electro had the year off in 1981, not appearing between Spectacular Spider-Man #42 and #66.
Synopsis: Christy Marx gives us a standard episode that hits all the usual plot points.
- Cute school-related activity up top - The Spider-Friends study in an arcade (you know, because their campus had an outbreak of typhoid) while Flash obsessively plays a video game.
- Firestar flirts with everything - It’s implied that she and Flash are dating, but she blows him off because he’s playing too much Video-Man. Also Iceman is jealous of Flash. You should be dude, chick’s totally sending you mixed signals. Not rad.
- Firestar fights the villain first before getting the men - This happens in EVERY episode. And it’s not like Firestar gets beaten up in the first fight of every episode. No, the bad guy usually just gets away after a half skirmish. But why can’t Firestar actually do some good? Or why can’t Iceman encounter the villain first?
- Aunt May and Ms. Lion hijinks - There’s an extended bit with the Spider-Friends keeping Aunt May from seeing their tech’d out crash pad. It involves Ms. Lion getting trapped behind a rotating bookcase and is as thrilling as that sounds.
- The Spider-Friends split up and Firestar and Iceman get captured - They get captured because they don’t know how to dodge energy blasts from slow moving villains.
- Ridiculous use of powers - Electro unleashes the video game monster Video-Man on the world. Video-Man’s blasts transport the victim into a computer, which is what happens to Flash, Firestar and Iceman. Firestar and Iceman’s powers somehow still work inside of the video game, sometimes ricocheting like a Pong ball, sometimes working like they do in the real world. I shrug my shoulders and move on.
- Spidey saves the day - I can’t fault the series for this. It is SPIDER-MAN and his amazing friends after all. Spidey destroys the superconductor Electro was using Video-Man to help build and the captives burst free. Flash Thompson forgets the entire adventure.
- Cute chuckle-worthy ending involving Ms. Lion - After being tortured by Electro with the video game Pongo (or Pong), the newly freed Flash goes back to playing video games. Firestar picks up Ms. Lion and asks Flash if she’d like to challenge Ms. Lion to a game of Pongo. Flash freaks out, having terror flashbacks to being tortured by Pongo. Ha ha ha, it’s hilarious how he’s scarred for life from that trauma that he doesn’t remember anymore! Also, why did you ask Flash if he wanted to challenge a dog, Firestar? Dogs can’t play video games! Do you understand how intelligent thought and opposable thumbs work?
Review: It’s a by-the-numbers edition of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, yes. And it’s a Christy Marx episode, yes. Neither of those bode well. But this episode is…fine. It’s better than the worst but not as good as the best. The heavy use of early ’80s video game technology is both charming and extremely boring now. Seriously, if games of pong and generic cars racing in a direction don’t sound menacing to you, then you are going to think Electro is incredibly lame.
My big problem with Christy Marx’s episodes is that there are big chunks that don’t make sense. And I get that this is a kids’ show and not Oscarbait, but can’t it still make sense? Like why are the Spider-Friends studying in an arcade? I know there’s some business up top about Firestar helping Flash study, but it doesn’t happen. Why couldn’t the Spider-Friends have been playing video games too, and studying after? Why do Video-Man arcade games have to be delivered to places for Video-Man to travel through when it is shown over and over again that Video-Man can travel through power lines? Just choose one mode of transportation and stick to it.
So there’s some stupidity in this episode, but overall it didn’t aggravate me as much as previous episodes.
Quote: “And when the timer reaches zero, the game shuts off. Everything in it, including you, will be wiped out. Erased. You won’t exist.” Electro, this is an Electro quote, Electro is a bad guy and he said this