The following contains spoilers for Dark Web: X-Men #1, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
The X-Men have been dealing with some tumultuous times recently, especially as they steadily approach the chaos of the upcoming Fall of X. But along the way, they’ve gotten the chance to try and shore up their alliances to other masked heroes of the Marvel Universe – with their latest also serving as a fun extended reference to a major piece of the publisher’s history.
Dark Web: X-Men #1 (by Gerry Duggan, Rod Reis, and VC’s Cory Petit) pairs up Spider-Man with Iceman and Firestar – recreating the dynamic of one of Spider-Man’s most iconic animated shows, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends with a modern style and making a good case for the team-up to occur more often in the current Marvel Universe.
Who Are Spider-Man’s Amazing Friends?
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends ran for 24 episodes from 1981 through 1983. The animated series focused on Spider-Man as a student at Empire State University, where he found roommates/crime-fighting partners in the form of Bobby Drake (aka the X-Men veteran Iceman) and Angelica Jones (Firestar, who’d been created for the show). Together, the trio teamed up with various heroes from across the Marvel Universe and fought against villains like Doctor Doom, Juggernaut, and large swaths of Spider-Mans’ rogue’s gallery. The animated series has remained a cultural touchstone for the character and has been referenced in some other stories and mediums.
The core-Marvel Universe versions of the trio got another chance to go on such a team-up in Dark Web: X-Men, which is connected to the recent events playing out in the lives of Spider-Man, Venom, and the X-Men. After forging an alliance with the newly minted Queen of Limbo Madelyne Pryor, Ben Reilly has helped usher in a wave of demonic forces into New York City. This has left the heroes scrambling to contend with the sudden monstrous forces at work.
While some of the X-Men move straight to Limbo to confront Madelyne, Iceman and Firestar remain behind to help protect the citizens of New York from the chaos.. The entire time, Iceman and Firestar are treating the entire situation with a certain amount of comical snark — debating if killing the demons counts as murder and ultimately failing ot prevent a demon from reaching the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, Quickly infusing the tree with demonic energy, Firestar and Iceman are soon joined by Spider-Man as they contend with the suddenly murderous Christmas decoration — which is just as ridiculous as it sounds.
Why Modern Marvel Might Need Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends
Spider-Man’s presence quickly gels with the other two, as the trio chats about clones and chaos while saving lives and protecting the city. But befitting the hard luck status of Spider-Man and the X-Men alike, their plan to save the day goes somewhat sideways. Although they eventually stop the rampaging tree and save numerous innocent lives, their actions more or less destroy one of the city’s holiday landmarks, leaving the locals to actively boo the heroes for their performance. Still, it’s a victory for the heroes and a good reminder of how fun those three characters can be when they’re paired up. Given the generally dark and serious events that have made up recent events in Spider-Man and X-Men titles, having a fun friendship like this could benefit all the characters.
The battle against an evil Christmas tree is the exact kind of goofy threat that used to occur in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, just played for a slightly older audience. That was a show that fully leaned into the weirder side of the Marvel Universe, and utilized it for laughs and thrills while playing up the rapport between the three heroes. It’s a fun dynamic that instantly comes across on the page, with the constantly snarking Spider-Man contrasting well against the more straightforward heroic Firestar and the unintentionally goofy Iceman. As the X-Men continue to reaffirm their connections with the rest of the Marvel Universe – including with Spider-Man, as seen when Wolverine and Greycrow helped rescue Mary-Jane from an Ocrhis plot. It would be exciting to see some of the mutant heroes continue to pursue a heroic partnership with Spider-Man.