Making the Grade: The Super Friends

su_supermanSuperman
What can you say about Supes? He’s got the powers, the look, the whole nine yards and a few furlongs besides. Including the modesty; let’s face it, if I were him I’d be the biggest jerk in the Hall of Justice. And who could blame me? In one episode, when everyone thinks Superman is dead, Darkseid laughs triumphantly because at last he can begin his invasion of Earth without any interference. In other words, the rest of the Super Friends are mere speed bumps on his road to conquest. But then Superman shows up, and Darkseid is sent whimpering back through his Star Gate. Call me petty if you must, but that’s the kind I would lord over the rest of the Super Friends if I were the Man of Steel. A

Wonder Woman
Yeah, yeah, yeah — she flies an invisible plane, only it doesn’t make her invisible, and isn’t it funny how you can see a squatting woman flying through the air. Now, that’s a joke I haven’t heard in the past five minutes or so. Seriously, aside from providing much-needed transport to the non-flying/non-billionaire members of the team, Wonder Woman’s role was sadly limited mostly to saying “Merciful Minerva!” or “Great Hera!” at dramatically appropriate moments. And don’t even get me started about the appalling lack of scenes showing her tying up all the naughty, naughty men. C-

su_aquamanAquaman
Okay, so he can communicate with fish and get them to do his bidding. I get that. But he can also talk to whales and dolphins, which are, as we all know, of the mammalian persuasion. So does this mean Aquaman can also get other mammals to do his bidding — dogs, monkeys, half-drunk co-eds at last call? And what about amphibians? They’re only half-marine animals; do they fall in on his command, or just consider his orders as mere suggestions? Enquiring minds want to know. C

su_batmanBatman
This one’s a tough call; I was all ready to give the Adam West-voiced Caped Crusader a decent grade, but then I thought about how cool the 1970s Super Friends would have been if the Kevin Conroy-voiced Batman of the ’90s had joined up instead. Or maybe even the Will Friedle/Terry McGinnis Batman from Batman Beyond. If I follow this line of thought any further, I’ll really start to show off my summa cum geeky degree, so let’s cut to the chase: Batusi or no Batusi, he’ll always be the Dark Knight to me. A-

su_robinRobin
Yeah, I suppose if you want the Dark Knight, you’ve got to take the Brightly Coloured Squire that comes with the set. Don’t get me wrong, I stand second to no man in my awe of Casey Kasem’s voice talents, but giving Robin a berth in the Super Friends clubhouse is stretching the definition of “super,” to say the least. “Hey, Superman, meet our new member! He ain’t faster than a speeding bullet and can’t speak to squid, but look how cute he runs in them there green shorts!” D

su_flashFlash
He runs fast. That’s about it, really, which kind of explains the serious underexposure he got in the series. Don’t get me wrong, if I had my choice of super powers, “running really fast” would be fourth, maybe third, on my wish list, but all in all it’s a pretty limited talent. Consider Superman, who can not only run fast, but can also bench-press asteroids, fly through space, bend steel with his pinkies and freeze a lake with his super breath. Hell, even Supe’s super-ventriloquism sounds like more fun at parties than the Hotfooted Hoofer here. C-

su_greenlanternGreen Lantern
Potentially the most powerful of the Super Friends — who wouldn’t like the ability to conjure up an army of lime-colored sex slaves on command? — but, alas, he’s kept from soaring to godlike heights by one teensy little weakness: his magic ring cannot affect anything that’s yellow. A primary color, for the love of Odin. So of course, word gets around and the next thing you know all the criminals in town are wearing Big Bird and Spongebob costumes when they hold up banks. Which you have to admit is pretty funny, traumatized preschoolers notwithstanding. B

su_hawkmanHawkman
“Beware, forces of evil, lest I swoop down from the skies and beat you with my wings.” Or something like that. I dunno, I know in the comics he can do the Aquaman-talks-to-fish thing except with birds, but did he ever use them to peck out the eyes of bad guys in the cartoon? I hope so, because flying in itself is a pretty lame power, and I doubt the ability to molt strikes that old-fashioned fear into the hearts of evildoers. C-

 

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