How Spider-Man taught me to distrust VHS boxes

Spider-Man and the X-Men fight the Juggernaut? How can it go wrong? Oh, like that…

As you can probably tell by listening to the to a couple episodes of Cape Crisis that I, the host, have been a huge Spider-Man fan since I started reading comics. In fact, I was such a rabid fan at age ten that seeing Spider-Man on anything seemed like the perfect item, and that included VHS tapes of his cartoons. So imagine my excitement when I spotted this while grocery shopping with my mom in 1992:


Spider-Man AND the super cool X-Men!??! And according to the back of the box they fight the Juggernaut!?!?!!??!?!!? I was already sold the second I saw Wolverine’s tiny head.

So imagine my surprised when I popped this in the VCR in my living room and saw that it was actually the origin story of Human Torch replacement Firestar, with Juggernaut and any interesting action shoved to the background. Instead of a no-holds-barred battle, I get treated to a G-rated version of Carrie. Watch for yourself:

(Incidentally, props to the uploader for this pristine version of the episode.)

I suppose “A Firestar is Born” taught me important lessons, like how high school cheerleaders are really mean, or that my dad might appreciate me making him coffee. Also, it probably gave me my deep appreciation for Firestar, a character created for Amazing Friends and one that eventually bled into the regular comics (she was even an Avenger).

Still, the X-Men in the show were so useless, and the early 80s roster was nothing like I was currently seeing Jim Lee draw. On top of that, the garbage animation was nothing like my imagination created after seeing the VHS box. (Where was Nightcrawler?!?) But for as bad as the animation was, the voice acting was SO much worse. Wolverine was Australian, Juggernaut went from an angry jerk to a boring, booming exposition machine, and Cyclops sounded like he was the hero of a 1930s radio play. Christ…

It also solidified for me the concept that guys with cool, sharp weapons in kids cartoons never get to do anything. Much like Leonardo’s stupid uses for his swords, Wolverine only uses his claws to stab fruit and misses even scratching the invincible Juggernaut. He follows that up by getting his claws stuck in a wall. How lame can you get?

At least now. as an adult. I can appreciate a few things about this cartoon, like how I now know Iceman is voiced Frank Welker aka Megatron/Freddy on Scooby Doo. And any Spider-Man fan can tell the opening battle with the Juggernaut is inspired by one of the best Spidey stories ever from Amazing Spider-Man 229 and 230, meaning the creators could recognize good source material.

This was one of my earliest contacts with cynicism, but hardly the last. Not only did my mom’s money get us ONE 24 minute episode of a crummy, decade-old cartoon, but I’d been totally hoodwinked. If Marvel Comics could sell me a lie on a VHS box, did this mean every comic cover was lying to me too? (Obviously the answer to that question is a resounding yes.)

17 thoughts on “How Spider-Man taught me to distrust VHS boxes

  1. Twenty-four minutes sure beats the ten minutes of the Pryde of the X-Men VHS tape that helped introduce me to Marvel.

  2. i had a vhs that i think may have been 2 episodes and it was of the fox show, one where rouge took cyclops power and everything went poorly, and one where i think professor x was invading possibly sabertooths mind, and i recall a cool scene with brick walls in his mind.

    either way the more articles the better!

  3. This whole series is streaming on Netflix now, and I have sat through it. Sadly, the best one is 4 or 5 episodes into season 1, were a swarm of space bees turns people into bee-zombies to build some doomsday MacGuffin. And yes, I did say bee-zombies. It is one of the biggest mind-f**ks I have ever experienced. But Hank the Tank is right, this episodes sucks balls.

  4. Just to clarify, when in 1992 did you buy this? Before the 1992 series started and you just didn’t know what you were getting into? Or after the 92 series started and you were horribly disappointed in comparison?

  5. I remember liking the Amazing Friends shows, but I was quite young when they were on.

    I’ve been watching the Star Trek Next Generations movies on BluRay, and it’s either amazing that they pack so many extra features into a single disc, or a shame that so many movies and TV shows use the space so poorly and come out on several DVDs and BuRay discs. One half hour (24 minute, even) show on a whole VHS tape is incredibly sad, though.

  6. “Frank Welker aka Megatron/Freddy on Scooby Doo” ZOINKS! my mind just got blown (away)

  7. I always really liked watching this show. I saw it on netflix recently and I still enjoyed it, although it was probably just the nostalgia. Still, if I would have gotten a VHS tape with only one episode on it I would have been pretty disappointed too.

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