Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends was a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon from 1981 to 1983, but had a huge impact on me. Much of my love for Marvel comics dates back to this animated gem, hitting me during those key ages between six and nine. It had Stan Lee's enthusiastic narrations, and Spider-Man was THE man in those days (though for two of the seasons of the show he split billing with the Hulk and his companion stories), but for me, the character I enjoyed most was Firestar.
Show creators wanted the Human Torch as the third character in the show alongside Spidey and Iceman, for their own little song of fire and ice. The rights to the Fantastic Four weren't available, so they created Firestar out of whole cloth. In her civilian identity as Angelica Jones, Firestar was a college student alongside the alter egos of Spider-Man and Iceman, and together they engaged in the usual superheroics one might expect of young mutants/altered humans. They also had a bitchin' secret lab pad funded by Tony Stark. This was awesome stuff. And yeah, Firestar was a scorching redhead. I still like redheads now because this was essentially my ideal woman when I was seven.
Don't think the networks didn't know that she was sexy, either. In fact, there is a wonderful bit of history that describes how the censors were upset that her assets were drawn in excessively suggestive detail. Over at Comic Book Legends Revealed, you can see how the animators responded to network pressure. It's pretty funny. (http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/.../comic.../3/). God forbid second graders see a hint of yellow spandex butt cleavage.
Firestar might have been created for a cartoon, but she made the leap into the official world of Marvel comics via the pages of the X-Men as a confused young mutant. Eventually, she overcame her insecurities and became an Avenger. Not bad for a girl who was invented because Johnny Storm wasn't available.