Making the Grade: More Super Friends

su_apachechiefApache Chief
I have to confess, this is the one Super Friend I never saw in action the first time around. By the time I was old enough to reach the TV dial, I guess his moment in the sun had passed. Anyway, my elders and repetitive DVD viewings tell me his contribution to the show was growing really big by yelling “Enuck Chuck!” or some such thing. And that he spoke English like Tonto with marbles in his mouth after an all-night bender. I’m sure it was all considered very P.C. in the ’70s. C

su_blackvulcanBlack Vulcan
While one can appreciate the cultural sensitivity that led to such characters as Apache Chief and El Dorado joining the show, you really have to wonder about the producers’ sincerity in the case of Black Lightning. Hurling electric bolts and yelling “Great Lightning!” every time Gleek jumps out of a cupboard ain’t exactly the third verse of “We Shall Overcome.” Then again, he brought more to the party than Aquaman ever did, who stayed as far away as possible from Black Vulcan for obvious reasons. C+

He’s young, he’s hip, he comes with his own can opener. No problem seeing how this titanic teen ended up on the show. But here’s where I get lost — in the episode that shows him joining the Super Friends team, he’s the son of a robotics genius who doesn’t want to be a superhero; oh no, he only wants to help amputee kids at the local community centre. But when trouble comes a-callin’ he just happens to have a white-noise sonic blaster and a computer interface thingamabob that lets him download data from any computer. Am I missing something here, or are these items standard issue down at the Boys & Girls Club? B+

Upside: Incredible atomic powers that allow you to alter the molecular structure of any non-organic material. Downside: Sharing head space with your middle-aged physics teacher. But his head’s on fire, so it’s cool. I always wondered what kind of villains they’d come up with if they went even further with his built-in weakness and made Firestorm’s powers ineffective against just, say, organically grown produce. “Sufferin’ isotopes! It’s Captain Kale and his Lethal Legumes of Doom! Golly, Professor, we’re in for a real fight now!” B-

As yet another of those ethnically diverse Friends who never appeared in the comics, Samurai is a bold attempt to insert a representative of a tragically under-represented segment of our population into the Super Friends team. I speak, of course, of the Village People. I think “samurai” and I think a Japanese warrior in full-body armor, not someone in green Speedos with matching plunging V-neck vest and armbands. Muy macho. Then again, there was that one episode where he used his tornado powers to turn a giant mound of ice cream into whipped cream. That was pretty cool. C

su_marvin su_wendyWendy & Marvin
Why? Why? Why were these Riverdale rejects even allowed near the Hall of Justice? By all that’s good and Code-approved, they shouldn’t even have been allowed on the tour, let alone tagging along on the Super Friends’ adventures. They’re like the demonic result of some brain-damaged focus group gone mad. “Yeah, sure, we really dig Superman and Wonder Woman, but do you know what the show really needs? Teenage hijinks! Plus a dog with a cape.” D

The Wonder Twinssu_zan su_jayna
“Wonder Twin powers… activate!” Boy, did my neck hairs tingle every time I heard those stirring words, because you just knew serious butt was about to be kicked. Or, you know, slightly moistened. Were these two an attempt to cash in on the then-rampant Osmond-mania phenomenon, or just a desperate ploy to make Hawkman look useful in comparison? No doubt, the ability to turn into, say, a glass of water or a warthog is useful somewhere in the world, but I haven’t met a lot of thirsty safari hunters in my time, so I can’t say. D

Like your recent bout with testicular cancer or those magazines you hid under your mattress during your teen years, some things are simply better left unmentioned in polite society. I mean, he’s blue, fer crissakes. D-


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