Super Friends! “The Giants of Doom” (part 1 of 5)
We return to the world of crappy renditions of legendary superheroes with this entry from the Challenge of the Super Friends iteration of the Super Friends! series. Having already suffered through a first season episode, I wanted to tackle an episode that was not only shorter, but would also hopefully not make me want to bash my face in with a shovel.
Challenge of the Super Friends was the first time the creators of the show actually got it right… Well, kind of. Gone were the annoying sidekicks from the first season, as well as the faceless nobodies they usually employed as villains. In their place is the Legion of Doom, a conglomeration of famous and not-so-famous villains from the DC universe. As we’re about see, this only makes for a marginal improvement.
The Super Friends still have Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, but they’re joined by more superheroes, including three new characters created in a desperate attempts to add diversity to the show. They are: Black Vulcan, Samurai, and Apache Chief. And if you can’t guess the ethnicity of each of those three, this might just be the show for you.
Without further ado, let’s get to the starting lineups!
First up, we get a rundown of the new, beefed up Justice League. In addition to the Big Four, we have:
Green Lantern: A pretty cool hero, though this is minimized a great deal by the cartoon’s budget, not to mention the writing.
The Flash: The fastest man in the world, who can also occasionally fly whenever the writers forget what his actual superpower is.
Hawkman: Um, yeah. Basically, all he can do is fly, which makes him as redundant as a freezer in an igloo.
Apache Chief: Of the three new heroes, this dude is the only memorable one, if only for that episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law that featured him.
Black Vulcan: Okay, now you guys are stretching things.
Samurai: Screw you.
On the side of evil, we have the Legion of Doom, 13 super villains who travel in a large fortress that looks oddly similar to Darth Vader’s helmet. They’re comprised of the following:
Lex Luthor: Everyone knows him by now.
The Riddler: Ditto times two, though he doesn’t appear in this episode.
Scarecrow: No, not the deranged psychiatrist we saw in the movie, or that big huge mother that The New Batman Adventures trotted out. This is just a guy who hisses when he talks and makes fear gas. Yep, real intimidating.
Solomon Grundy: Okay, now this is sort of an improvement, since if you’re going to try and take over the world, you could do far worse than employing a huge zombie.
Bizarro: Of course, having Superman’s idiot savant twin helps… sort of.
Sinestro: Green Lantern’s arch enemy, one of the toughest bad guys on the show… and also the one who gets used the least.
Cheetah: She fights Wonder Woman now and then, at least when she’s not fighting off that copyright infringement suit from Catwoman.
Gorilla Grodd: A big talking gorilla scientist. Yeah. Flash never really had the best villains.
Toyman: I’m guessing they asked Joker to join up, but he wasn’t available, so they brought in his retarded cousin.
Captain Cold: Another Flash villain. You can probably guess what he does.
Giganta: The female version of Apache Chief. Well, in the sense that she can also grow to enormous heights, and is also absolutely useless.
Black Manta: Do you realize how much it must suck to not only be Aquaman’s chief nemesis, but to also consistently lose to him?
The intro sequence begins in space, as images of the villains rush at us while a narrator orates.
The Darth Vader Helmet rises from a swamp, and we get some footage of the Legion in action.
Braniac flies around in a weird vehicle, Captain Cold manages to fire a gun that covers the earth in melted marshmallows—uh, I mean, he freezes it.
Next, Sinestro torments Green Lantern with his yellow power ring. You know, because Green Lantern’s weakness is anything colored yellow. Yeah, I know. I know.
We now get footage of our heroes, with a flurry of images showing them in action, as the narration winds up and takes us to the title card. I won’t be bringing up all of the narration here or in future episodes; just keep in mind that it’s as omnipresent as it was in the first season, and just as pointless. The only difference is that Ted Knight isn’t doing it.