Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Women's History Month Part 3: A Fire-Star Is Born!

But first, The Mysterious Case of The Human Torch:In the late '70s, a Fantastic Four cartoon series aired for one season on NBC, but in a departure from the comics, founding member Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch, was replaced by an annoying R2-D2-esque robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. Among fans, there are two explanations as to why this was. #1. There were plans underway to produce a separate Human Torch movie, thus the rights weren't available for the show or #2. They were afraid that kids would try to emulate the Human Torch and light themselves on fire. Both stories are pretty rampant and I don't know which is true. Maybe a combination of both? But anyway... in 1980, NBC created a new Saturday morning cartoon based on Marvel Comics...Initially, the plan was to team Spider-Man with two buddies, Ice Man from the X-Men and The Human Torch. However, once more, The Torch was dropped and replaced. Possibly for the same reasons, or possibly because #3. NBC wanted a female character on the show, which makes more sense. And thus we have...
The Fabulous FIRE-STAR!
I effing LOVE Fire-Star!!! I mean, I LOVE FIRE-STAR!!!
(NOT to be confused with Starfire from yesterday's blog.)

Fire-Star was not an existing Marvel character. She was invented for the show. Apparently, they were dead set on the ice/fire powers dichotomy and needed a fire powered character to play off of Ice Man.She went through numerous identities in the planning stages. At one point, she was Firefly and as you can see from this illustration, at one point she was Heatwave. At least her secret identity remained the same, Angelica Jones. Or as the cruel kids who tormented her as a kid called her, "Miss Angelica Jinx!" No explanation has ever been given as to why Angelica looked exactly like Spider-Man's comic book girlfriend Mary-Jane Watson (above). Also, I can't forget to mention Angelica's pet, Ms. Lion, a vaguely anthropomorphic pooch who once saved the day when the Spider-Friends (wonder where they stole that name from) teamed up with a bunch of other heroes to battle The Chameleon. Other than that, apparently, Ms. Lion, like every other "mascot" from an 80s cartoon, seemed to be there so fans had one character on an otherwise awesome show to EFFING HATE!

Fire-Star's transformation ranks right behind Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman twirl... she starts out with that straight, lifeless hairdo, then glows red hot and suddenly, she's wearing the disco-iest outfit this side of Dazzler and her hair is all full and glam... like Farrah Fawcett's but ginger and more heroic!
Check it out at approx. 1:00.

As one character in the recent Marvel Divas series commented, "Oh my God! Fire-Star! Best! Costume! Ever! (Except for Dazzler's.)" Perhaps lending credence to the "not wanting kids to light themselves on fire," Fire-Star's powers rarely looked like fire. They were more like heat rays... in the comics, they explained that she could control microwaves.On the show, like Ice Man, she was a former member of The X-Men, who guest starred on two episodes (secretly as a backdoor pilot for a possible X-Men cartoon series, which failed to materialize). Nice ascot, Professor X!

Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends seemed like a hit (to me) at the time. Yet, they only produced one full season, and a few new episodes each subsequent year to sprinkle in with reruns from Season One. Likewise, there were very few tie-ins. There wasn't even a comic book series, just one issue, adapting the show's first episode.
There were two additional comics produced as promotional give-aways:"Danger In Denver?" Ha. I doubt anything dangerous or exciting has ever happened in that place! In fact, this comic is probably the most exciting thing to ever happen there... that and the rampant homophobia. Denver can suck it. Speaking of homos...I guess the Dallas Ballet wanted to tap into that lucrative comic nerd market. "Let's see, they enjoy comics, role playing and Star Trek reruns. They ought to LOVE The Nutcracker!" It's pure logic, really.
Hardee's had some of the best fast food premiums when I was growing up and this was absolutely one of my FAVORITES! Their kids' meals came in these boxes, designed like movie theaters, which included a comic strip you fed through the back and 3D glasses built into the front, so you could read a 3D comic telling the origin of one of six Marvel heroes, Fire-Star, Spider-Man, Iceman, Captain America, The Hulk and one of my other favorites Spider-Woman, whose origin is so complicated that I'm surprised her comic strip wasn't the size of a roll of toilet paper! Damn, I wish I had these still. Also, considering the nature of the premium, cardboard and paper... that once housed FOOD, I doubt many of them are floating around. It's a miracle that I could even find a picture of one!

Marvel, at the time, seemed to have no interest in developing Fire-Star as a feature character. It wasn't until the 90s that she got a steady gig, as one of the New Warriors.In the recent Marvel Divas series, she learned that her microwave powers had given her cancer.
This cover, while great, is rather cheesecake-y when the actual art inside was more quirky and indie influenced:Now that professionals that grew up loving Fire-Star on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends are writing comics and developing toys and such, we're seeing more Fire-Star merch than ever existed in the '80s:Sadly, it appears things have been somewhat unfabulous for Fire-Star. She now works at a doctor's office. "May I see your insurance card?"But at least on Friday nights, she can cut loose with the gals from the office at Don Pablo's. "Extra jalapenos, please! Oh and it's Bethany's birthday! Can you bring out a fried ice cream with a candle in it? But don't tell her, I told you!":
And then there was that time she kissed Seth Green:
And every so often, she gets together with Spidey (who, let's face it, has let himself go... perhaps he should be on Celebrity Fit Club) and Iceman and reminisce about the good ol' days. Look, she even brought Ms. Lion!
Of course, they cause a scene where ever they go. "Spider-Friends... Go For It!"

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