From creating blockbuster movies to making well-received television shows, Marvel has things figured out. It is in an even greater position of power after becoming a part of Disney, and continues to please fans with its current catalog as well as it’s anticipated future films and shows.
Prior to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, Marvel had a string of films, shows, and cartoons that were sometimes hits but other times misses. This is particularly evident with its early animated shows. On one hand, there are cartoons like X-Men: The Animated Series and Spider-Man, which fans look back at fondly, but there are also shows that didn’t fare as well, such as Fantastic Four and the original Avengers series. And then there’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
Debuting in the early eighties, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was a mainstay of Saturday morning entertainment and focused on the adventures of Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar. The series is remembered for introducing characters and concepts from the comics including the X-Men, Captain America, and Doctor Strange, but it is also remembered for its weirder episodes with bizarre plotlines that felt out of place for younger viewers. One such episode is “The Bride of Dracula!”
This episode is loosely based on a portion of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, has a creepy tone, and contains questionable content, especially considering the audience. While the Amazing Friends are attending a college dance, Angelica Jones, aka Firestar, is approached by a man who is much older than her, and he proceeds to hypnotize her and convince her to leave the dance with him.
This sets off Peter Parker’s spider-sense, and he convinces Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, to come with him to check on Angelica. Despite chalking this up to Peter’s jealousy, the two go outside and see the strange man talking to Angelica. While they attempt to get through to her, the hypnotism is too strong, and Angelica ignores them and gets into the stranger’s limo. Although the driver of the limo is not seen in the beginning, it is clear he is as weird as his master given his gruff tone and a shadowy demeanor.
There is a lot wrong with this, including the fact that an older man abducted a college student, hypnotized her, and coerced onto an international flight with the desire to forcibly marry her. This all happens on the day the two just met, and the show isn’t over yet.
While Dracula successfully lands in Transylvania and takes Angelica up to his castle, Iceman uses his powers to change the course of the plane that he and Spider-Man are on so they can get off at Transylvania. Before her friends arrive, Dracula places Angelica in a coffin, explaining that she has to get used to the way it feels. The shock breaks his hold over her and she turns into Firestar right before her buddies arrive.
Spider-Man and Iceman battle a Frankenstein-like monster as well as the chauffeur, who is a werewolf. In the end, they defeat Dracula when Firestar emits a bright blast from her body resembling the sun. This turns Dracula back into a normal man with no memory of what has happened, and the werewolf changes back into his human butler.
As if all of that isn’t weird enough, the Amazing Friends return to ESU where the dance is still going on, and Angelica immediately swoons for another older man. This time, Peter and Bobby intervene and remove her from the party.
One of the quirkier episodes of the series, “The Bride of Dracula!” reminds viewers how far Marvel has come in terms of on-screen entertainment. It is also an episode that perhaps should not be revisited by Marvel’s animation team or by fans.
Spider-Man, Firestar, and Iceman face off against Dracula, and it's pretty creepy for children's show.