Saturday Morning Draculas.
Saturday morning is not the only time where cartoons live these “on demand” television days. There was a time, however, when Saturday Morning was where the best cartoons were…it was a prime cut of air space for children’s television, and more importantly, marketing to those very same kids. I’ve commented before on Marvel Studios’ “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends”, and how despite having a small number of episodes, amazing popularity and re-run endurance.
Only 24 episodes, in fact. Three superheroes, in college, living in a Three’s Company style arrangement in Aunt May’s upstairs. A good chunk of the time they actually stop superheroing to worry about paying Aunt may the rent, or the various situations of their very, very flexible dating lives. It was, I suppose the end of the seventies…as is clearly evidenced by the art design.
There’s one episode in particular was behind this…initially titled “The Transylvanian Connection,” and then bewilderingly changed in later prints to “The Bride of Dracula.” The plot is so amazingly cheesy, that it could not fail to be one of the best episodes of the entire series. That is, if by “best,” that means you want a very, very high Cheese Factor.
Let’s talk about the plot after we check out the color art, without text. It was a real chore to do, so I’m including it. Also, there’s a color piece at the end of the post…so if you don’t feel like laughing your way through my criticism of the episode, scroll down some.
While attending the Empire State University spring dance, Angelica (who is also the superhero Firestar) encounters a handsome, yet potentially deadly stranger. Seriously, she has no idea whol he is, he’s not a student, but he has good looks and a foreign accent. Unaware of his true identity, she rapidly succumbs to his charms and is lured outside. Why? Presumable for some sort of make out session, because it was a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and college dating wasn’t as scary as it is now. Peter (Spider-Man) and Bobby (Iceman) grow suspicious and follow…which is creepy in it’s own way.
So now you need to hold onto your hats, True Believers, because things happen FAST. The “gentleman” puts Angelica under a powerful hypnotic spell from his eyes and just hauls her into his limo, which is waiting. They bolt for the airport where they board a private black jet destined for Transylvania. That’s not scary at all, right? Meet a guy at a college party, and then Bam! He’s flying you to the Carpathian Mountains not ten minutes later. Maybe Spidey and Iceman were onto something. \
Spider-Man and Iceman, by the way, don’t give up on this. They anxiously pursue her by stowing away on a commercial plane. On the OUTSIDE of the plane. They just straight up grab onto it. During the flight the gentleman reveals himself to be the infamous Count Dracula. He becomes a whole lot less good looking when this reveal happens, as well. His Big Plan? The exact second they land at his Old School Dracula Castle, he plans to marry Angelica.
I want to make it clear here…there’s a point in the episode where the big plan that Spider-man has is to jump from one moving airplane to another, during a thunderstorm. It’s hard to imagine a cooler trick than that.
Because of Reasons, Angelica is momentarily revived from her trance. The “bride to be” is suitably unimpressed by the proposal, since Dracula looks like a Dracula, and not Pierce Brosnan…so she transforms into Firestar. Delighted by this discovery, the Count once again places her under hypnosis…pretty much his “go to” strategy. Predictably, when Spider-Man and Iceman arrive, he commands her to destroy them….because superheroes always fight each other. They usually have Reasons.
So…things happen, fast again. Spidey and Iceman then escape with Angelica, who is out cold, deeper into the castle….instead of using their sweet super powers to just leave. Having discovered Dracula’s laboratory, Iceman fends off Frankenstein and the Wolfman as Spidey uses science to develop a concoction to revive Angelica. I’m sorry. Did I not mention that the Wolfman and Frankestein work for Dracula? I assumed that you knew.
Spidey wakes Angelica up with some kind of fume of dubious medicinal value. She then transforms into Firestar and emits a blaze of sunlight throughout the castle, reverting everything back to normal. Seriously, the Wolfman becomes a dog, the decor is from Bed, Bath and Beyond…whole thing changes. Without missing a beat, the team returns to the spring dance.
There need to be at least two Transatlantic flights to Eastern Europe from New York for the plot to hold water. If they had been at the dance at maybe eight PM when Dracula got all co-dependent, that means that the trio has at least two TEN HOUR flights to make, meaning TWENTY hours of air travel. Forget time to and from the airport. What kind of Epic Party School is Empire State University if they have a Twenty Four Hour Spring Dance?
And now…you see why it is impossible to not love that cartoon. It is so @#$% @#$ crazy, it comes out the other side and becomes cool again. It stops in that Cool Area, builds a house, and lives there. Even the little things, like turning to Firestar blowdrying and highlighting her seventies hair, so that no one will realize it’s her. Of course, straightening it when she turns back, because that happens.
Once again, in the art we have evidence for the protagonist’s empirical lack of skill at flying. In this case, it looks to be a clear case of lack of skill at landing, and it seems that she’s going to land pretty @#$%ing hard. On the plus side, it adds real action to the art, which it needed. Otherwise, its a just a guy in a tuxedo stalking a girl from the 1970’s…which is really disturbing when you think about it.
Also, in retrospect…Iceman seems really concerned about Angelica’s dating habits…more so than really concerned about the idea that “Oh man…that guy’s a Dracula!” Considering the recent revelations about Iceman…I’d envision him being protective of probably his best friend, sure…but less putting on a competitive show. Maybe going through the motions a little bit…but not to the extent that the episode suggests.
I think you’d be more like, “Oh @#$%…my best friend was making out with a @#$%ing Dracula. That’s messed up.”
Just my thoughts. I’m not that keen on Vampiric Americans in general…the late eighties and early nineties kind of did in that chic for me. Even the “B-Totallers” of the Ankh-Morpork League of Temperance….sort of an Alcoholics Anonymous for Vampires are kind of “meh” for me. Keep your black ribbons, guys…I’m good.
A portion of my thoughts about the episode came from the fact that I’ll be back at school in a little over a week. I’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering at lunch with some of the students, and wanted to put together a Vampire themed deck. One thing led to another, and suddenly, I’m watching an old cartoon and drawing. Talking about the Black Ribbon Society.
Vacation is a good thing.
Also….here’s a color treatment on yesterday’s Fifth Anniversary cover. Presumably the party in Kandor also lasted 24 hours…since it would automatically be a Kryptonian Super Party.
Not much more to say…Saturday Morning…out!