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.)