December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #316: Videoman

Spider-Man had this really faddish enemy on one of his animated series.

Characters like Spider-Man, who have been around for decades, don’t always have the most interesting of enemies.  Oh sure, Spidey has a huge and colorful rogues gallery, one of the best in comics alongside the likes of Batman and the Flash, but that doesn’t mean every enemy has been worth remembering.  And if a character like Spidey is around long enough, then there’s sure to be some duds, especially ones based on fads like, I dunno, 80s video games.

And that’s where Videoman came from.

Now, to be fair, Videoman did not originate in any 80s comic book.  No, his first appearance was on an animated TV series, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends where Spider-Man teamed up with founding X-Man Iceman and new character (also said to be a founding X-Man) Firestar to fight various baddies, some classic Marvel foes, some new characters.  Among the new characters was Videoman.

He…does not have a consistent origin, appearing as he did in three episodes of the show.  Videoman was a character from an arcade game, a two-dimensional construct who could fire off 2-D squares of destructive power from his arms and teleport around a bit.  He could also manipulate electronics.

And…in his first appearance, he was a construct created by Electro to act as a distraction while Electro committed crimes.  Later, Electro had the thing suck Spidey, Iceman, Firestar, and Flash Thompson into a video game, and they had to fight their way out.

I won’t pretend to know when Electro learned this trick.

And then came Videoman’s second appearance, where he was now sentient.  I actually remember that episode!  He conjured up two arcade game friends–a Pac-Man thing and a flying saucer thing–and Spidey and his friends managed to defeat the giant flat goober by getting the three constructs to fight each other, a fight that sounds cooler in concept than it probably did on the show.

So, that’s two appearances, and he was basically a different character each time.  But I said there were three appearances.  Can we get a third iteration on the same character?

Oh yeah!  In his third and final appearance, teenage arcade addict Francis Byte was so engrossed in a video game that he ignored his girlfriend, the hypnotic waves coming out of the machines, and the fact the console he was playing and the one next to it exploded, transforming him into the new Videoman!  This one tried to be heroic, but he was also clumsy, naive, and after Spidey and his friends did defeat him, so to speak, they took him off to join the X-Men and learn how to use the powers he just got.

Now, for what it is worth, this being a comic book feature, Videoman has appeared in a comic book…as near as I can make, he’s appeared in exactly one, a Spider-Man Family special issue from 2006.

In this one, he could talk.

You just know the kids were clamoring for that guy in ’06!  It’s not like he’s a dated character based on a fad and technology that we’ve since surpassed in so many ways.  Maybe he can team up with the Pinball Wizard or something.

Now, everyone go bug Jimmy Impossible to get back to his Epic Spider-Man Rewatch so we can eventually get an expert’s thoughts on this…character.