Challenge of the Super Friends: Season 1
DVD | Box Set
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Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season (DVD)
This exciting animated series features the adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman with their teenage friends Wendy and Marvin.]]>
Challenge of the Super Friends is the ultimate animated all-star contest of good versus evil. The original Super Friends (running from 1973 to 1977--Wonder Twins and Gleek anyone??) was made up of the greatest DC Comics superheroes fighting together to uphold justice for all mankind. Overall, it was a pretty good show, but getting stale very fast. In 1978, the superhero animation bar was raised high when the first (and only) season of Challenge of the Super Friends hit the Saturday morning circuit. Immediately these 16 episodes made up the best that Super Friends had to offer for one reason alone: the creation of the Legion of Doom, banding together the 13 most sinister villains of all-time from remote galaxies. Led by the sinister genius of Lex Luthor, the Legion of Doom was dedicated to take over the universe, and only the Super Friends, led by Superman, Wonder Woman and the Dynamic Duo, dared to challenge this intergalactic threat and bring them to justice.
There is no denying that animated superhero shows have come a long way since Super Friends. The Challenge of the Super Friends is very '70s in presentation, riddled with inconsistencies and drawing mistakes, and allowing heroes to fly even if they couldn't fly in the comics. However, there is no denying the staying power of the stories, its concept, the superheroes/villains pairing and its overall charm. Included in this set are a couple of nice features, particularly the superheroes/villains biographies, each with their own mini-video. There is also a good, brief documentary of today's comic book and TV show creators reflecting on their impressions of Challenge of the Super Friends and its influence on their careers. If you want to take a trip down memory lane to the Hall of Justice or the swamps of the Hall of Doom, you will not be disappointed by this set. --Rob Bracco
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That's how announcer Stanley Jones (voice of Lex Luthor) opened this classic show from 1978. The opening scenes showing the Riddler caught [like a deer in headlights] in Batman's spotlight, and Black Manta tied up atop a whale "piloted" by Aquaman still look cool.
The appeal of Challenge of the Superfriends is in the fact that they waged an ongoing battle against actual villains from the comic books. Most of which were direct counterparts i.e. Green Lantern/Sinestro, Flash/Captain Cold, Batman/Scarecrow, etc. So the battles never got repetitive the writers wisely mix-matched the contenders. And don't forget the Legion's very cool Darth Vader-headed headquarters based underneath the swamp.
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin, Hawkman, Flash, Green Lantern, Black Vulcan, Samurai, and Apache Chief.
THE LEGION OF DOOM: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Solomon Grundy, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, Bizarro, Cheetah, Black Manta, Giganta, Gorilla Grodd, Sinestro, Captain Cold, and the Toyman.
This 2 disc set contains all 16 episodes from the season.
Episodes (by aired & production order):
01. 09-Sep-1978 Wanted: The Superfriends
02. 16-Sep-1978 Invasion of The Fearians
03. 23-Sep-1978 The World's Deadliest Game
04. 30-Sep-1978 The Time Trap
05. 07-Oct-1978 Trial of the Superfriends
06. 14-Oct-1978 Monolith of Evil
07. 21-Oct-1978 The Giants of Doom
08. 28-Oct-1978 Secret Origins of the Superfriends
09. 04-Nov-1978 Revenge on Gorilla City
10. 11-Nov-1978 Swamp of the Living Dead
11. 18-Nov-1978 Conquerors of the Future
12. 25-Nov-1978 The Final Challenge
13. 02-Dec-1978 Fairy Tale of Doom
14. 09-Dec-1978 Doomsday
15. 16-Dec-1978 Superfriends, Rest in Peace
16. 23-Dec-1978 The History of Doom
Commentary on selected episodes
Saturday, Sleeping Bags & Super Friends: A Retrospective
Hall of Justice - character bios
Legion of Doom - character bios
Trailers - Batman: The Animated Series, The Jetsons: Complete First Season, The Flintstones: The Complete First Season, Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season
Full Frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio
English and Spanish mono tracks
English, Spanish and French subtitles
Anybody else remember the scene where the Flash uses his super-speed to grab Captain Cold and place him in the path of his own coldgun ice-blast thereby freezing himself? "Wild!"
The original Superfriends were great of course, and as a classmate from grad school pointed out to me once, one of the important things about the show is that these super heroes were FRIENDS before all else. Yes they worked together to fight crime and protect the American consumer culture which spawned them, but they cared about each other just like the rest of us care about our friends & family. It made them more human, and even apprentice super heroes Marvin, Wendy (one of my earliest crushes) along with the annoying Wonder Dog and later Gleek the Super Chimp always came across as actual people. With "Challenge of the Superfriends" the core Justic League outfit was expanded with the addition of several other DC Comics heroes. There were even ethnic super heroes added for cross-cultural appeal, all of them incorruptable, honest, modest and totally devoted to upholding justice.
BUT THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW WERE THE VILLAINS!! and that's where this particular 16 episode series really outshined all other incarnations of The Superfriends. Without a good villain super heroes can be kind of boring, even silly, and this series' creators were well aware that while we may have been rooting for The Flash & Green Lantern, the real reason we kept tuning in week after week was because of the fantastic array of super villains they populated this series with: Black Manta and Solomon Grundy were always my favorites. They had a Dark Side mentality to them that allowed the kids watching to actually precieve a threat that required Superman or Wonder Woman to intervene on the behalf of mankind lest our whole planet be doomed.
Super villains also require super plots at global domination to make them memorable, and this show had plots to set the world on fire, send it back or forwards into time, enemy invaders from the cosmos who were indifferent to the meek, humble ordinary humans populating the planet. No nation was safe from the chicanery of The Riddler or Captain Cold either -- the Russians, Chinese and Arabian nations were just as likely to be clobbered by some super plot as the USA, linking those of us on the world together in needing to oppose tyranny from wherever it came. The USSR may have been bad news but they weren't as bad as the Legion of Doom.
Gone are the days of hand-drawn animated cartoons of this nature, and this DVD set is a treasure trove of material that continues to look fresh and exciting when placed next to the computer rendered animation of today. Sure some of it was goofy, the repetitive, over-excited music gets kind of routine after a while, and some of the plots border on the ridiculous: Trapping the Superfriends in the classics of literature anyone? It may have been clumsy but ultimately that episode might have encouraged young viewers to read the books in question, so in the end you wound up learning something even if it wasn't as cool as "Swamp of the Living Dead" or "Revenge on Gorilla City".
I simply cannot recommend this box set enough: Any kid will be delighted and any parent will be oddly compelled to go out and find a box of Quisp or Freakies to wolf down. Just remember to get an extra box of cereal for the kids too, since traditions are best handed down from generation to generation intact.