“Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” had a relatively brief existence as a first-run Saturday morning cartoon — 24 episodes aired between 1981 and 1983 — but more than 30 years later, it still holds a strong nostalgic sway among many who watched it as it aired, in repeats or on random VHS tapes found at yard sales. After all, the legacy of the show is rather impressive: It introduced Firestar to the world — an animation-to-comics transition years before Harley Quinn — along with a Lhasa Apso named Ms. Lion, a trophy-activated headquarters, a villain named “Videoman” and Wolverine with an Australian accent; years before “Pryde of the X-Men.”
Firestar and Iceman have been a part of “Amazing X-Men” since the Marvel series debuted last November, and this week’s issue #7 adds the missing piece of the trio for a one-shot story: Spider-Man, freshly back in control of his faculties following the “Superior Spider-Man” era. In between the runs of outgoing writer Jason Aaron and incoming duo Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, the issue is written by Kathryn Immonen, recently of “Journey Into Mystery,” and illustrated by X-books veteran Paco Medina.
CBR News discussed the story with Immonen, who freely admits that she’s not an “Amazing Friends” superfan, although she calls the dynamic of the three main characters “delightful.” And while it’s one of the first team-up stories for the once-again “Amazing” Peter Parker, Immonen says the issue isn’t really about that — is is, rather, about “alien babies and ham sandwiches.”
CBR News: Kathryn, “Amazing X-Men” #7 reunites the main “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” cast, albeit in an entirely different context and continuity. It’s a show that still conjures faint yet powerful memories for many. How familiar were you with the cartoon going into this issue?
Kathryn Immonen: Honestly, I knew it was a thing that existed and that people are irrationally fond of it, but that’s about the extent of it. I’m not the right age for it to have been on my radar, and I’m not going to embarrass all of us by actually figuring out what I was watching on the weekends at the time, although it was probably mostly old horror films and episodes of “Captain Harlock” in French. Which I guess is not that embarrassing and explains nothing.
Within the Marvel Universe, how good of friends are the collective Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman unit? Obviously Firestar and Iceman are Amazing X-Men together, and Spider-Man has teamed up with just about everyone in his career, but has this specific trio spent much time together in the past?
For this standalone, I really tried to just proceed from the first six issues of “Amazing X-Men”: Firestar and Iceman are teammates with some history, Spidey knows everyone and the last time he and Bobby met, he was behaving badly.
It might be that the interactions are a little bouncier than before and so maybe it’s not where these characters were at exactly 5 p.m. yesterday when issue #6 clocked off, but we are springing from the centers of the characters, their cores as it were. As a one-off, I’m really trying to capture a whole lot of tone and energy for a single issue that people can pick up and have a good time reading.
One more group-minded question — what do you enjoy about the dynamic of these three characters interacting together? What about that mix makes them fun to write?
Oh, who knows. I’m always willing to be surprised and these three just rubbed up against each other in the most delightful way. I guess it’s mostly, like in any story, the way they all react differently to the same situation and how their aims are in conflict. But they get there in the end.
Timing-wise, this issue is conspicuous in that it’s one of the first appearances of Spider-Man in the post-“Superior” era, and certainly one of the first times we’ve seen him interacting with multiple other superheroes since that experience. How much did that inform your story?
It’s certainly something that is addressed but briefly, and I’m sure some will say cursorily. But this is not an issue about the aftermath. It’s about alien babies and ham sandwiches.
The X-Men are also in an interesting place right now (aren’t they always?). You’ve had a couple of deep dives into that world before — “Pixie Strikes Back” and “Wolverine and Jubilee” — what do you find creatively intriguing about the current state of the X-world?
It’s just such a huge pool to play in with an amazing breadth of characters. I like that you can still just about fit a piece of paper in between the individuals and their powers. As for the X-universe… I couldn’t possibly comment on its current state. Can we talk about something easier? Like global markets or the internet?
Paco Medina illustrated “Amazing X-Men” #7. It’s your first time working together — from your perspective, what makes his work and your writing a unique match?
There’s a kind of elegant reserve about what he does that is a really interesting fit for the lunacy I seem to be inclined to deploy on occasion.
This is a one-issue story, and it comes to mind that you’ve done quite a few one-issue or shorter stories at Marvel in the last year or two — the “Avengers” annual, an “Age of Ultron” one-shot, “A+X” and “AVX” stories. What do you like/don’t like about telling these types of shorter stories?
I probably complain more than normal when I’m doing them. It’s not a lot of real estate and it can’t affect continuity. While I think the “fill-in” is often seen as a waste of time, at best, I think they are incredibly important… for new readers as gateways and for existing readers as a discrete moment to explore some other aspect of the characters that we all love. As I’ve said before, the only thing more difficult than a one-shot is a 10-pager. However, it is incredibly satisfying when you figure it out.
It also, at least based on the preview, appears to be a fairly lighthearted story. Presuming that’s a correct assumption, how important is it to you to get those types of stories out into the superhero world (since they sometimes can be hard to come by)?
Sure. The interstitial issue is not, in my opinion, the place for anything heavy. But I also don’t necessarily see it as an antidote to something. I just really want people’s reading experiences to be satisfying. Crazy, right?
“Amazing X-Men” #7 is now on sale.