Hanna-Barbera premiered the Super Friends show in 1973, an overly kid-friendly series featuring the Justice League of America: all of DC Comics heavy-hitters (Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman), and a few invented for the sake of racial equality, like Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and Samurai. The villains were especially non-threatening the first season, when the sidekicks were flares-and-cape wearing teens Wendy and Marvin, and some sub-Mumbly thing called Wonder Dog. The second season all the way in 1977 - was a little more in tune with the comics and introduced the super-powered aliens Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins. In 1978, the third season gave the fans what they wanted: the cutesy teen sidekicks were gone, and the JLA went head-to-head with a coalition of their greatest enemies, The Legion of Doom.
The formula for episodes of Challenge of the Super Friends is simple:
This first volume of the series presents four of these episodes:
So there's your four doses of Super Friends for this disc. Which seems a little sparse, considering the Artisan release of Speed Racer contains 11 episodes. But it bears mentioning that the four episodes included seem to give the villains somewhat equal exposure. (What? You thought we were here to watch the heroes?)
Warner owns the original film for this series, and that shows with a very clear transfer from almost immaculate elements. I say almost because the digital clarity of the image allows you to see every little imperfection in the animation cels. Dust is especially a problem. None of the episodes contain chapter stops.
It's possible to see each episode with an introduction by Story Editor Jeffrey Scott. Don't expect exciting insights into specific stories, however. The intros are all very general and are obviously taken from a larger interview.
Hall of Doom takes you to profiles of each of the villains in the Legion. The profiles include text entries on Powers, First Appearance, and whose archenemy they are; the announcer reading a rather purple piece on each; and a "Villain Video" that edits together villainous goings-on from the series in the style of a music video. After that there is simply Super Friend or Super Foe, a tiresome and useless "game" in which you are supposed to guess which villains in a static tableau are actually Super Friends in disguise.
It's most likely, however, that anyone buying this disc is not doing so on the strength of its extras (fortunately for Warner). But those visiting the cartoons for the first time since their youth may be shocked to discover exactly how limited is the animation. If they can get past that, there is some fun to be had with this trip back to the 70s.
Dr. Freex, 6/9/2003