15 June 2009

Retrospective 1979

Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon

For anyone that has high hopes for a good live-action Captain America movie, here is a peek at how terrible wrong it could go. Cap actually got two live-action made for TV movie in 1979. In the movies, Steve Rogers is the son of a WWII operative. His extreme patriotism earned him the moniker Captain America.

After an injury, Steve was given an experimental formula FLAG (Full Latent Ability Gain) giving him super strength and reflexes. He then becomes a superhero and is given a specialized van and motorcycle which boasts a windshield that converts into his trademark shield.

These new abilities lead the intelligence official who told Rogers about his father to recruit him and give Steve a costume based on his drawing. As Captain America, he also makes significant use of a specialized van, out the rear of which can be launched a modified motorcycle. The bike has a round windshield with concentric circles that alternate between red and transparent around a centered star. He detaches this and uses it as his shield when he goes on foot. At the end of the first movie, Rogers briefly appears in a redesigned costume that bears a stronger resemblance to the one seen in the comics, and which he wears in the sequel.

Spider-Man The Dragon's Challenge

This "movie" was really just a packaged release of the the final 2-hour episode of the 1977 Amazing Spider-Man series. Basically, it was Spider-Man meets Hong Kong with the same subpar production as the rest of the series.

Legends Of The Superheroes

Making Spider-Man look like Shakespeare was the variety hour Legends of the Superheroes a live action spin-off from the Super Friends animated series. There was some variation to the Super Friends team roster due to rights issues and also trying to balance out the teams gender ratio. This team featured Batman and the Boy Wonder Robin, Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, while Captain Marvel, Huntress and Black Canary were added to the mix. Notably absent were Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman as well as the characters invented for the cartoon show (Wonder Twins, Samurai, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan).

The first installment centered around the birthday party for retired hero Crimson Cyclone's birthday (Why not just use Red Tornado? I guess robots don't have birthdays...?). The party was interrupted by the Legion of Doom featuring Riddler, Weather Wizard, Sinestro, Mordru, Dr. Sivana, Giganta and Solomon Grundy. The heroes ended up powerless, but still pulled out a victory.

The second episode was a celebrity roast of the superheroes hosted by Ed McMahon. Thankfully, they stopped at two.


According to the title sequence, Jessica Drew was bitten by a poisonous spider as a child; her father saved her life by injecting her with an experimental "spider serum", which also granted her spider powers (apparently spiders can fly and shoot lasers). As an adult, Jessica is editor of Justice Magazine, with two other employees featured; photographer Jeff and Jessica's teenage nephew Billy. When trouble arises, Jessica slips away to change into her secret identity of Spider-Woman.

What the theme-song doesn't tell you is that Spider-Woman only came into existence to secure copyright on the character name after Filmation tried to create a heroine with the same name (ultimately renamed Web Woman).

World's Greatest Super Friends

Once again, the Super Friends were rebranded with the core team was returning to the original Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman along with Zan, Jayna and Gleek. Only eight new half hour episodes were created for The World's Greatest Super Friends which were paired with episodes of The All-New Super Friends Hour for airing. Lex Luthor made an appearance in one episode, tying this new incarnation to the previous season.

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show

The Plastic Man show initially focused on Plastic Man, girlfriend Penny, and sidekick Hula Hula globetrotting to stop threats.

After Plastic Man and Penny married, Baby Plas was introduced and given his own segment. Baby Plas was also featured in a Plastic Man Family segment.

Another segment titled Mighty Man & Yukk aired during the Plastic Man show. This segment was about a tiny superhero (Mighty Man), and his talking dog Yukk who was so ugly he wore a doghouse-helmet over his face. His ugly mug was in fact his secret weapon.

Other segments during the show featuring non-superheroes included Fangface and Fangpuss (about a reluctant werewolf and his baby cousin) and Rickety Rocket about an artificially intelligent space ship created by a group of African-American kid geniuses who solved mysteries in the future.

Fred & Barney meet the Thing

Despite the limitless potential for "cool" offered by the title, the show really was just back to back stand alone segments of the Thing followed by Fred and Barney. The titular Fred, Barney, and Thing only crossed paths during the show's opening title sequence and in brief bumpers between segments.

The Thing segments were a very loose adaptation of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four character which followed a teen Thing, Benjy Grimm, who transformed into the rock-skinned superhero by touching together magic rings and reciting the words "Thing ring, do your thing!" Lets just say, comic book fans were not amused.