11 June 2009

The Justice League: A Super Friendly Tour (Part 7)

In 1980, the heroes reclaimed the original title, simply Super Friends.

Super Friends (Shorts)

This time around, episodes were produced as 7-minute shorts with 3 airing each week packaged with a 20-minute rerun from previous years. The new adventures featured appearances by the same core team members including Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Zan, Jayna and Gleek, but there were also occasional guests stars from previous seasons including old favorites Hawkgirl, Rima the Jungle Girl, and the Atom. Also making his debut was the created for the show character El Dorado.

No origin was provided for the El Dorado' character but he had a smorgasbord of powers including mind reading, casting illusions, teleportation, and lasers eyes. He assisted the Super Friends whenever they were forced to enter unfamiliar ruins or areas in Mexico or Central America.

This format continued for the next three years. In all 66 shorts were made, though the last 24 would become part of next weeks focus-The Lost Episodes

Availability: Check YouTube.

Up Next: Super Friends - The Lost Episodes

10 June 2009

Whip It Good

This is who Iron Man will be fighting in Iron Man 2. Doesnt seem like it should be a long fight, but who knows. Maybe old Whiplash's skin is mre impervious than it looks.

08 June 2009

Retrospectives 1977 & 1978 Revisited

And so it goes. In preparation for the upcoming Retrospective 1979 that you all must surely be anticipating, I became aware of some neglected and bizarre nuggets from 1977 and 1978. The respective entries have been updated, but in fairness to the creators of these fine shows, they are getting their own spotlight in this post. Trust me, you don't want to skip this.

The New Adventures of Batman

Along with the titular Batman, The New Adventures of Batman featured Robin the Boy Wonder, Batgirl and Bat-Mite, a a well meaning imp from another dimension called Ergo, who considers himself Batman's biggest fan. Hmm. Sure why not. Seems like a logical addition to Batman's universe, maybe the next Batman movie can be called Bat-Mite Returns... Some will consider this one of the Dark Knight's darkest hours. It was the Joker's inclusion in this series which kept him from appearing in the Challenge of the Super Friends series that ran during the same time frame. Likewise, Riddler and Scarecrow's membership in the Legion of Doom precluded them from appearing here.

The series was paired up with a Tarzan animated series in 1977 which expanded into a series titled either Tarzan and the Super 7 or Batman and the Super 7 in subsequent years. Stay tuned for the rest of the Super 7 to debut in 1978.

Space Sentinels

Also arriving in 1977 was the series The Young Sentinels which although it only lasted one 13 episode season was renamed midway through its run to Space Sentinels. The racially diverse cast has earned the series a footnote in the annals of history.

In this series, the Roman mythological figures Hercules and Mercury are joined by Astrea, a character created specifically for the series, to form a superhero team to protect mankind. As the series intro described:

Many centuries ago, three carefully selected young Earthlings were transported from their native lands to my faraway world. Here they were granted astounding powers, and eternal youth, then returned to Earth. Their mission: to watch over the human race, helping the good in it to survive and flourish. In the course of history, their names have become legend: Hercules, empowered with the strength of a hundred men. Astrea, able to assume any living form. Mercury, the amazing athlete who can match the speed of light. Working together with me, Sentinel One, and my maintenance robot, Mo, these teenage guardians form the greatest team the world has ever known: The Space Sentinels.

The heroes would continue in 1978s The Freedom Force.

Click for the rest of Retrospective 1977

In 1978, existing shows Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and The New Adventures of Batman were repackaged with 5 new shows to create Tarzan and the Super 7. These included a live action segment, Jason of Star Command and four Superhero themed shows: The Freedom Force, Manta and Moray, Superstretch and Microwoman, and Web Woman. I don't remember watching these as a kid, but honestly, I am amazed these things even got made. They look pretty terrible.

* The Freedom Force

The Freedom Force showcased took Isis from the live-action The Secrets of Isis series of the time and added Merline, Sinbad, Super Samurai, and Hercules from 1977's Space Sentinels

* Superstretch and Microwoman

Superstretch and Microwoman can kind of be described a Plastic Man and the Atom get married. The show featured Chris and Christy Cross, your average suburban African-American couple. Chris could take virtually any shape (such as a plane, a robot, a rubber ball, a perfect double of a villain, etc.) while Christy could shrink to microscopic size. A match made in heaven. Frequently tagging along on their adventures was their little dog, Trouble with whom they battled Granny Candy, the Toymaker, and evil counterparts from another dimension, Superstarch and Magnawoman.

* Manta and Moray

You know what hero is cool? Aquaman. Manta and Moray, a pair of amphibious superheroes hoped to win over some of that rabid Aquaman fanbase. Manta (Monarch of the Deep) was the last survivor of the ancient civilization of Mu, which was destroyed by a terrible explosion, but Manta was engulfed by a wave of unknown radiation, and placed into a form of suspended animation deep beneath the waves. He was discovered and awoken by Moray, a human woman, whom he subsequently married. He was amphibious, but could not be away from water for too long or he would weaken and die. Like Aquaman he could communicate with sealife, but he could talk to land animals as well. Moray was raised by dolphins after the plane her parents had been flying in crashed into the sea. , she learned to live in the ocean. Together with Whiskers the sea lion and Guppy the whale they protected the sea.

* Web Woman

Web Woman was the alias of Kelly Webster. She was originally going to be called Spider-Woman but Marvel getting wind of the plan invented their own Spider-Woman to assure the copyright which would debut in her own series in 1979.

Kelly saved the life of an alien insectoid who was swept into a raging river during a thunderstorm. In gratitude, the alien gave her with a mysterious ring, which gave her the powers of the entire insect kingdom. Her transformation into Web Woman was brought on by a vocal command combined with the power of the ring that spoken like this:

"Insects of the world...small creatures of the cosmos...lend me your powers...NOW!"

She has a variety of weapons, such as a webline from her utility belt, and the ring could produce sleeping gas and an energy beam that solidified into webbing. She was aided in her missions by a furry little insectoid-like alien named Spinner. She traveled in a spider-shaped, 8-legged flying saucer called Webtrac. Sounds pretty cool.

Click for the rest of Retrospective 1978