Firestar #1 (1986)

Firestar #1 (March, 1986)

“Mark of the Mutant!”
Writer – Tom DeFalco
Pencils – Mary Wilshire
Inks – Steve Leialoha
Letters – Tom Orzechowski & Lois Buhalis
Colors – Daina Graziunas
Edits – Ann Nocenti
Chief – Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75

Today we’re going to take a look at one of the first (comic book) appearances of Angelica Jones – Firestar!  While she’s gone on to be featured in a whole lot of comics over the years, perhaps most notably the New Warriors and a stint with the Avengers… I gotta figure a lot of folks reading this probably associate her more with the media she actually first appeared in – as one of Spider-Man’s Amazing Friends in, well… Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

I never really watched that cartoon growing up… but, I certainly remember my first time ever seeing it.  It was at Brooklyn Hospital in 1984… and my mother had just given birth to my younger sister.  Naturally, I already knew who Spider-Man was… but, hadn’t the first clue who his Amazing Friends were.  I couldn’t tell you which episode is was… but I know it opened with, if I’m remembering right… a pan over a swamp, with Stan Lee’s narration introducing the story.

It’s been a long while since I’d last read this… probably over a quarter century.  Let’s give it a goo, and see what we see.



We open with our titular character, Angelica Jones having her palm read by her beloved Nana.  The lines on her left hand converge to form the letter “M”… which, according to Nana means she’s special.  My hand also has an “M” on it, and I’d contend that Nana, beloved or not, might just be full of it!  Ehh, at least she means well.  Anyhoo, it’s time for Angelica to leave for her first day at a brand-new school.  Her father, Bartholomew gets shuffled around quite a bit due to his job, and so… this “first day of school” isn’t an altogether new sensation for our young Ms. Jones.



Once they’re left alone, Dad and Nana chat a bit.  Dad thinks Nana should maybe lay off suggesting that Angelica is in any way “special”.  Wow, father of the year, ova hea’.  While trying to do some dishes, Nana has herself a little scare.  Bart offers to take her to the doctor, but she refuses… citing that they can’t afford it.  I wonder if this’ll come up again… ehh, prob’ly not.



We next follow Angelica to school, where she immediately runs afoul of some… rather foul-looking “mean girls”.  They don’t cotton to the new redhead on campus… and whisper mean nothings about her to one another… just loud enough for our gal to hear ’em.



Suddenly… a wild hunk appears!  The leader of the “mean girls”, Cassie decides to head over to him… and he kind of looks like a stoner version of Prince Adam from He-Man.  First thing he does is… ask about the cute new redhead.  Cassie ain’t diggin’ this one bit… even still, Chuck the Hunk saunters over to see if the new girl needs any help.



We shift scenes over to Xavier’s School, where… shock of shocks… Cerebro is on the fritz.  Seems like they’re always trying to fix that, doesn’t it?  Oh well, at least this helps expedite the Jim Shooter demandment of filling in any potential new readers on the finer points of the issue in hand.  Kitty Pryde fetches what looks like a soldering iron, but is actually a “continuity pulse tester” (which I feel like Marvel can use a box of nowadays), for Professor X and Nightcrawler to continue tinkering.  We get a glimpse of the New Mutants having themselves a volleyball game on the school grounds as an example of the sort of young people Cerebro might help the X-Men track down.



Here’s the thing though… they’re not the only ones looking for fresh young mutants.  From here we jump over to the “famed” Massachusetts Academy… where one Ms. Emma Frost has the same sort of mission in mind.  We watch as the conservatively-dressed Headmistress enters a hidden elevator… and lowers down to a more Hellfirey floor below.



She sees that one of the Hellfire Goons she has posted are kind of being lax in their duties.  Ya see, nobody is manning the “Mutavac”, which I suppose is the anti-Cerebro.  Emma flips out a bit and psychically assaults her underlings… because this lapse in surveillance very well may have cost them a new mutant.



Let’s head back to West Morris High School.  Angelica is being questioned by her teacher about the Treaty of Versailles… which, she admits she never learned about at her last school.  This prick of a teacher doesn’t wanna hear any excuses… and tells her she needs to keep up with the rest of the class.  Okay, jerk.  Whatever the case, it gives the Mean Girls the opportunity to make fun of her for not knowin’.



Then, it’s lunch time… and poor Angelica can’t find anyone to sit with.  She attempts to make nice with the Mean Girls, but they ain’t feelin’ it.  This really upsets our gal… who, at this very moment id beginning to manifest her mutant power.  Unfortunately her manifestation “climaxes” while she’s opening her little carton of chocolate milk… and so, she winds up climaxing all over her teacher’s face.  Um… I really ought to say some of these things out loud before committing them to the blog.



This “climax” manages to ping on the White Queens Mutavac or whatever… but, as quickly as it comes, it goes.  We jump ahead a few months… and it’s December.  Angelica and Chuck the Hunk are palling around, and we learn that our gal is something of an artist.  She’s going to be in an ice-sculpture competition.  Ice sculptures?  What kind of high school is this?  Does Zack Morris go here?  Turns out Angelica is quite good at this… much to the annoyance of Cassie the B*tch.  Cassie also ain’t pleased at how close Chuck is getting to Angie.



The next day, our gal prepares to head to school… and her dad leaves for work.  Once all alone, Nana decides to die.  Well, she really doesn’t have much choice in her expiration… but, she does pass.



Angelica arrives at school, to find that the Mean Girls destroyed her ice-angel.  The Mean Girls don’t even bother to deny it!  Angelica goes back to staring at her hand… which, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it… but, she keeps staring at her hand, because of the “M” on it.  One of the Mean Girls notices this, and asks why she keeps doing it.  Angie tells them that… she does so because her Nana told her it made her special.  Oh, honey… don’t do that.



She’s none too pleased that Nana lied to her, and so, after the Mean Girls scatter, we get another instance of her powers manifesting.  This time she climaxes in the direction of all the other ice sculptures.



Chuck the Hunk then hunks on over to see if everything is okay… but Angelica runs away before they can talk.  She goes over to a payphone to call her Nana… and give her the business for lying to her, but… she’s in such a panicked state that she winds up melting the receiver.  This exhibition of power is enough of a “ping” for Emma Frost to deduce our heroine’s location.



From here, Angelica decides to rush home… only to be greeted by a whole bunch of police, an ambulance, and her dad.  She learns here that her grandmother had passed.



We jump ahead to Nana’s funeral, where Angelica brings up the notion that she is “special”.  Daddy Bart doesn’t wanna hear none of this spoo… but then, our gal demonstrates her specialness, by melting all the snow around her.  This… isn’t very well received.  Her father laments the fact that his kid is a “blasted mutie”.



That evening, the Jones’ have a surprise visitor… someone who calls themselves “a friend”… who can help them with their new situation.  It’s… duh… Emma Frost.  She offers to take Angelica back with her to her special school.  Welp, all our gal needed to hear was the word “special”, and she was all about it!



We wrap up with Professor X and Nightcrawler pulling up to the Jones house… and upon seeing their rival already there, figure all hope is lost in recruiting young Angelica Jones.




This was really good!

I really enjoyed this story.  I wasn’t prepared to feel quite as bad for Angelica as I wound up being.  This poor girl didn’t stand a chance.  I felt legitimate sadness when she told the Mean Girls why she stares at her palm.  That’s… that’s just rough.  It kinda hits you where it hurts.

I was something of an outsider myself during my schooling years… I didn’t stare at my hands or anything, but I wasn’t especially well-loved by any of the popular groups.  I guess I can kind of relate to those feelings of isolation and solitude.  It was really well done… though, perhaps a bit tropey in the “hunk with a heart of gold” aspect.

I appreciated watching the manifestation of Angelica’s powers… “climax” gag and all.  I thought this was a great way to depict her abilities making their presence known.  It also drives home the point that, Angelica is potentially dangerous… especially around a tiny cartons of chocolate milk.  I will admit that I wasn’t all that keen on her being able to control her powers following her Nana’s funeral.  That seemed a bit too convenient… and almost makes it so she doesn’t actually need all that much in the way of training.

Speaking of training… having Emma Frost and Professor X in a race to recruit the new mutant was really cool.  Reminded me of how things went when Kitty Pryde first made the scene… which, I’m guessing was probably the intention.

Coming into the comics when I did, in the early 1990’s, I missed out on this weird, almost cold-war-esque rivalry between the New Mutants and the Hellions.  They were rivals, yes… but… maybe not actual “enemies”?  By the time I became an X-Fan, things were a bit more black and white.  Good guys were good… bad guys were bad.  It wasn’t quite as nebulous nor as deep as the Frost v Xavier deal.

The art here was wonderful.  Mary Wilshire is great with facials, and makes Angelica actually look like a thirteen year old girl.  This felt very high in quality… in a way that plenty of miniseries’ don’t.  Really good stuff!

I’d definitely say this one’s worth tracking down… it isn’t likely to break the bank if you’re out hunting in the cheapo bins… you’ll probably find all four issues in the dusty recesses of the store where very few brave souls (like us) bother to dwell.  For the less ink-and-pulp dependent among us (oh, how I envy you!), you can find this in digital format both at Comixology… as well as part of Marvel Unlimited.


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2 Comments

  1. I was a huge fan of the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends show. There was an episode called "A Firestar is Born", that told the animated origin of Angelica. Both stories have a mean girl plague Angelica, but the TV story was less than half of a 30 minute episode and told the story in a less decompressed way.

    Not to get too far ahead in this mini series but I loved the twist at the end of issue 4 with her choice of which mutant school to attend.

  2. As a 9 year old kid in the I was reading the Marvel UK weekly Thor and the X-Men when I discovered the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon. Around the same time Marvel UK renamed their weekly Spider-Man comic to match the cartoon and I switched to that comic with it's first issue (no. 553).

    After reprinting the only actual story Marvel had produced with that team it went back to reprinting regular Spider-Man comics with Fantastic Four reprints counting as the Amazing Friends.

    Over the years I continued to read Marvel UK, eventually discovering Marvel US as well but always wanting more Firestar stories.

    In May 1987 I went on a school day trip to France. At one point in the day we were taken to a mall and sent out to buy stuff whilst practicing our French. Inevitably in every shop in a town on the coast 20 miles from England everybody recognised us as English and spoke to us in English and we got no practice. But one of the shops sold comics and I bought Un Recit Complet Marvel number 16 which reprinted the entire Firestar limited series in French. I "read" the series in French and loved it. Obviously I missed one or two nuances of the plot but I loved it.

    It is a great little book. I like the fact that it is small in scale. Even though there are villains and other superheroes it ultimately is about a teenage girl coming to terms with super powers and trying to live a normal life.

    I still have my French edition of Firestar but I have now read it in English thanks to Marvel Unlimited and I retain a lot of affection for it. I also watched a couple of episodes of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends when we got Disney+ and that was bad. It turns out that my childhood taste in comics surpassed my taste in cartoons.

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