Marvel Comics’ famed webslinger returned to Saturday morning in 1981 with a pair of new companions. In this incarnation, Peter Parker was a college student at Empire State University, boarding with his Aunt May. While at ESU, Peter met fellow students Bobby Drake and Angelica Jones. The group ended up exchanging secret identities—Peter was the wall-crawling Spider-Man, Bobby was frosty mutant Iceman, and Angelica was red-hot fellow mutant Firestar. Bobby and Angelica moved into Aunt May’s as well (along with Angelica’s dog, Ms. Lion), and Peter and Bobby converted their room into a secret crimefighting HQ (revealed when anyone shifted the football trophy on the mantle).
Spider-Man and Iceman were old standbys in the Marvel universe, but Firestar was a new creation, added over fears that intended Spider-Friend the Human Torch would encourage impressionable viewers to play with fire. Other holdovers from the comics included Aunt May, jock jerk Flash Thompson, crusty newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and a bevy of super villains—the diabolically insane Green Goblin, eight-armed Doctor Octopus, metal-faced dictator Doctor Doom, master of illusions Mysterio, tubby crime boss Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter, and others.
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Adding two Amazing Friends made for plenty of buddy banter, giving this series a lighter tone than previous and later versions. The trio teased and mocked their way through battles, regardless of the stakes. The fun atmosphere caught on, and the show stayed on NBC’s lineup for five years. In the second season, the show teamed with another classic Marvel character for The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. For season three, the web-slinger regained top billing in The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. After that, the Hulk was dropped, and the show returned to its original title for the remainder of its run.
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