Comics for Kids: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

by Betsy

As part of my ongoing effort to entertain my superhero-crazed three-year-old son, I've started investigating some cartoons. After all, anything involving superheroes can't possibly be as annoying as Dora the Explorer... can it?

Jack and I checked out Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, and I quickly learned that they are bad choices for him. I suspect they'd be fine for an older kid, maybe 7 or so, but they made Jack into a crazy, rammy nutbar who is incapable of not hurling himself off of the couch, getting boo-boos, crying, and repeat into infinity.

Then, I came up with a genious idea: a bootleg of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I loved the show as a kid - would Jack agree? And would I like it for any reasons other than nostalgia?

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends now airs on the Disney Channel's Jetix, but if you're crazy internet saavy like me, and have access to little-known sites like "Google," then you too can obtain a bootleg of questionable quality.

If you are not a child of the '80s and aren't familiar with the show, the premise is pretty simple. Spider-Man is a student at Empire State, along with his friends Iceman and Firestar - a character who was created solely for the show. Firestar not only provides powers that contrast with Iceman's, but also serves as a token female. The three of them live with Aunt May and her puppy, Ms. Lion, and fight crime when they're not in class. Plus, as a bonus, the whole thing is narrated by Stan Lee.

Jack absolutely loves this show. He geeks out at the frequent guest appearances - from Captain America to the X-Men, and all kinds of characters in between. He finds the action scenes exciting, but not scary. The bad guys in this cartoon are really not that bad - they are pretty much as evil as the gang that tried to steal gas from Steve Martin's character in The Jerk. Everything resolves neatly in half-hour installments, and there are jokes that only a kid could love.

As an adult, I find that there is considerably less to love about this show. I do enjoy watching it with Jack and explaining who Namor is, and I like that I can leave him alone to watch the show without worrying about his seeing anything age-inappropriate. But the plots are thin, the storylines are often lame, and the humor is cringe-worthy. And be warned: the music (all two instrumental pieces repeated on a constant loop) will get stuck in your head. I wouldn't watch it myself, but with a little kid, it's a lot of fun.

Jack's rating: A
My rating: C+


Cindy Cooper said...

I loved that show as a kid!

But, I'll take your word for how it holds up as an adult. I wouldn't want to shatter my nostalgia for it.

Well, unless maybe I decide to get the bootleg for my nieces. Hmm, now there's an idea!

Thanks, Betsy. :-)

Betsy said...

Not a bad idea, Cindy. Firestar is a decent female role model, after all. Plus you've got to admire her confidence to wear so much yellow spandex.

Matt said...

I used to love this show and Logan and I have caught it a couple of time. They are kinda lame now but watching my son, with his eyes totally wide open and glued to the tube, makes it totally worth it.

Doug Smith said...

Definitely a show I loved as a kid. Ahhh, fun memories.

Patrick Gaffney said...

I have a VHS tape full of these somewhere. I might have to see if I can find it and see how they aged.