The Super Friends

» SEE ALSO: Super Friends Chronology

+ History

What many fans don't realize is that the Super Friends series was actually written as an in-continuity series (for pre-Crisis times). Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and the editor make frequent footnotes to events going on in other DC Universe books (I note these in the Chronology where they appeared). Post-Crisis, it would be very difficult to make the case for the Super Friends in-continuity. Also, Zan and Jayna now have completely new in-continuity origins, as do Marvin & Wendy.

The comic book series actually began after the first cartoon series was cancelled. When the cartoon was relaunched with Zan and Jayna, the comic followed suit (and explained the transition). Bridwell said several times in the letter that he did not want the Legion of Doom to appear; so they never did.

The series' unique, multicultural heroes Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, Samurai and El Dorado never appeared in the Super Friends comic, but Samurai appeared later in Super Powers v.3 #1-4 (1986). It's unclear whether DC or Hanna-Barbera owns these characters.

Collected editions:

Super Friends! (2001, collects #1, 6-9, 14, 21 & 27).

Super Friends!: Truth, Justice and Peace (collects #10, 12, 13, 25, 28, 31, and 37, plus the backups from #29 & 36)

Best of DC Digest #3 (1980) also reprinted Super Friends stories

Apache Chief

Real Name: Unrevealed

First appeared: The All-New Super Friends Hour Episode 2/4 "The Antidote" (First aired: 17 Sept. 1977).

Television appearances: Episodes of he All-New Super Friends Hour (1977), Challenge of the Superfriends (1978), The Super Friends Hour (1980), The Super Friends (1981), Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984).

Comics appearances: DC One Million 80-Page Giant (1999).

Action figures: None.

Origin revealed: Challenge of the Superfriends Episode 16/2? "History of Doom" (First aired: 23 Dec. 1978?).

History: An Indian brave is confronted by a grizzly bear. His father quickly gives him a magic powder. When the brave speaks the magic word "inukchuk," he is transformed into a giant who easily deals with the grizzly. A woman, who had witnessed the amazing events, steals the magic powder away from the father. She sprinkles herself with it and becomes a giant as well, albeit an evil one, calling herself Giganta.

He once also was key to calming the menace of an old Mohawk Indian spirit, Haudenosaunee. After menacing a city, Apache Chief led the spirit back to his native burial landsd. (Super Friends: The Lost Episodes, "Once Upon a Poltergeist")

The JLA member Manitou Raven was inspired by Apache Chief. So was, it seems, a charcater named Tall Tree, who appeared in Freedom Fighters #11 (1978)

Powers: Apache Chief has superior tracking skills and the power to grow into a 50 foot giant.

» SEE ALSO: Manitou Raven

Black Vulcan

Real Name: Unrevealed

First appeared: The All-New Super Friends Hour Episode 1/4 "Whirlpool" (First aired: 10 Sept. 1977).
Television appearances: Episodes of The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977), Challenge Of The Superfriends (1978), The Super Friends Hour (1980), The Super Friends (1981), Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984).

Comic book appearances: DC One Million 80-Page Giant (1999)

Action figures: None.

History: Unknown.

Powers: Black Vulcan can generate lightning bolts from his body and has the ability to fly.

» SEE ALSO: Black Lightning

Rima the Jungle Girl

Rima appeared several episodes of Super Friends, as a guest star, and also in her own DC series.

» SEE: Rima

Samurai

» SEE: Heroes of Japan

El Dorado

Real Name: Unrevealed.

First appeared: The Super Friends, Episode 2?/3? "Alien Mummy" (First aired: Nov 14th, 1981?).

Television appearances: Episodes of The Super Friends (1981), Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984), The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985).

Comics appearances: None.
Action figures: None.

History: Unknown.

Powers: El Dorado has the ability to read minds and create illusions. His red cape also grants him the power to teleport anywhere he wishes.

Villains

The Elementals

On a June morning in 1978, four enormous jewels were sighted in and around the United States — a ruby near the Gotham City Police Station, an emerald atop Metropolis' Galaxy Building, a diamond outside New York City's United Nations and a sapphire on a beach near Aquaman's sanctuary.

As each location's resident super-hero stepped forward to investigate, the gems opened to reveal strange beings. Superman, for instance, found a hooded man in brown calling himself "the Gnome — master of Earth." The Gnome possessed super-strength, magnetic powers, the ability to phase through solid matter and, most significantly in this case, the gift of transmutation — which he used to convert the emerald into Kryptonite.

Elsewhere, Aquaman was facing a woman in a blue/green scaled costume who called herself the Undine and possessed total command of any water body. Learning that the Sea King would not be harmed by a crushing wave of water, the Undine caused the ocean to recede from his presence instead. Aquaman's invocation of Proteus' name led the water elemental to transform herself into a gorilla. "Like many other sea deities, I share his shape-shifting abilities."

In New York, Wonder Woman clashed with a blonde woman in light blue known as the Sylph. In addition to the power of flight and control of the wind, she also commanded lightning and could become "as intangible as air."

And finally, in Gotham, Batman was menaced by the Salamander, a fire-wielding female in a scaly red costume. She managed to hold the Dark Knight at bay with unrelenting bursts of fire emitted from her eyes and mouth. Rushing to the rescue were Robin, Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna and Gleek. The Salamander was doused by Zan (in the form of a wave), the Gnome was rendered unconscious by Robin's gas pellets and the Sylph was hypnotized by Jayna (in the guise of an Exorian bird known as the Thrib). Elsewhere, Gleek distracted the Undine with his elastic tail while Aquaman summoned help from the creatures of the sea. The water elemental picked up the telepathic command herself and immediately called a truce. "I read your thoughts — enough to detect the way I had been deceived — when told you were a villain."

The four elementals were brought to Hall of Justice, where Batman recognized them as four of Gotham's elite who had attended a party thrown by Bruce Wayne and fellow millionaire Sandor Fane. The Gnome was Arden Chemicals' founder Grant Arden, the blonde Sylph was singer-songwriter Jeannine Gale (she met the League in Super Friends #4 and wrote a song in their honor for their telethon, #5), the red-headed Undine was author Crystal Marr, and the raven-tressed Salamander was "the nation's leading couturiere" Ginger O'Shea (owner of the Gotham-based Chez O'Shea, first mentioned in Super Friends #6).

Fane spoke of his recent discovery of a manuscript believed to have been written by 16th Century alchemist Paracelsus. "In those days, it was believed that there were only four elements — earth, water, air and fire— and the spirits which inhabited these them. He offered to demonstrate the technique for the quartet, who unwittingly found themselves serving as hosts for four elementals. The Elementals claimed that they were given form by the Overlord, who told them the Justice Leauge were evil-doers.

Released from the elementals' control, the Gothamites were angry at Sandor Fane, who was revealed as the Overlord. Superman convinced them to stand up and recombine with the elementals, though they were adamant, "we won't be the super-heroes," added Ginger. (Super Friends #14)

The Elementals took ownership of their alter egos and donned new toga-style costumes of Ginger's own design.

Manipulated by his scheming Underling, the Overlord struck at them first. The new heroes held their own, though, while the Man of Steel found the Overlord's satellite, and Batman discovered his base, and he was taken down.

After his master's defeat, the Underling bragged that hed' been running the show from the start. "I had the ideas — but not the money to carry them out. That's why I needed Fane — and used him, while pretending to be his servant. (#15)

Powers

The Elementals live for 300 years. To link with human souls, they must gain the material bodies. This can also be accomplished by marrying a human, or doing good over a long period.

Chemist Grant Arden/the Gnome invented the fabrics of their uniforms which resisted tearing while they used their powers. The Undine's costume was made mostly of water, which put it under her control. The Salamander's was flame-proof. The Gnome's was made of metallic threads, so his powers could affect it. The Sylph's becames invisible and intangible as air.

The Sylph wore blue and could unleash a blizzard.

The Undine, in green, could control water.

The orange Salamander could transform into and manipulate flame.

The Gnome, in black, had magnetic powers and could pass through stone.

Giganta

Name: Dr. Doris Zeul

First appearance: Wonder Woman #9 (June-July 1944)

Featured appearances: Wonder Woman #9, 28 • Wonder Woman v.2 #175 , 179-185 Secret Files #3

Giganta was an obscure Golden Age villain left unseen since 1948. She was resurrected by Hanna-Barbera for the Challenge of the Super Friends TV show in 1978.

In her original appearances, she was a member of Villainy, Inc. This band was retooled and reintroduced by writer/artist Phil Jimenez in Wonder Woman v.2 #175 (2001). They also appeared in Wonder Woman #179-185; Wonder Woman Secret Files #3).

Toyman II

  
The first meeting of Toymans new and old; from Action #432 (1974). Art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

The second Toyman, from Action #454 (1975). Art by Curt Swan.
Superman #299 (1976). Art by Curt Swan.

Name: Jack Nimball

First appearance: Action Comics #432 (Feb. 1974)

Featured appearances: Action Comics #432, 454 • Superman v.1 #299, 305

Another enigmatic character from the Challenge of the Super Friends was the evil Toyman. He looked nothing like the Toyman most readers might know from DC Comics, but he did in fact appear in comics a few times before that. The original Toyman was Winslow Schott, an older, heavyset man with glasses and a suit. The new Toyman was far more eccentric in appearance sporting a loud jester type costume and mask.

The youthful successor was Jack Nimball, and he took up the name of "Toyman" after the Schott had supposedly reformed and retired. But when Nimball hit the town, Schott was angered and set out to squash the new pretender. After Superman sorted them out, Nimball was captured and Schott went back to a crime-free retirement. (Action #432)

The Toyman's next appearance was rather routine but he employed many gadgets to keep Superman away from his robberies. (Action #454) He was also part of a group of Superman's arch foes. (Superman #299) Schott must have had time to stew over his successor's career because when the original Toyman next returned, it was to crime—murder. (#305)

He appeared on TV as a member of the Legion of Doom in 1978. After that, one might think DC would keep this version alive and well in the comics but alas, he had already been killed off by his predecessor, Schott, inSuperman #305.

One fan online speculated that Toyman wound up in the Super Friends because of a Bat-character ban (which didn't include the Riddler or Scarecrow), which opened up space for other villains.

Alex Ross gave a nod to this version of the Toyman, recreating him as a giant marionette in the 12-issue limited series Justice (2005).

List of Villains created in the Super Friends comic book

  • Char Ymat (alias Cherry Mott) (Super Friends #10)
  • Colonel Conquest (Super Friends #9)
  • The Conqueror (Super Friends #45, 46)
  • Dr. Ihdrom, Anti-Man, the Apparition, Bombshell, Firelord, Powerhouse, Spectrum, Sub-Zero, Thunderhead, the Traveler, Turncoat, Ultra-Light (Super Friends #3)
  • Grax (Action #342, #417, Super Friends #7-9, 38)
  • Greenback (Super Friends #5)
  • Green Thumb (Fargo Keyes) (Super Friends #42)
  • Johnny Witts (Detective #344, Batman #201, Super Friends #26)
  • Kingslayer (Super Friends #11)
  • The Menagerie Man (Wilson Gable) (Super Friends #6, 19, 33)
  • The Monocle (Danton Graeme) (Super Friends #40)
  • Overlord (Sandor Fane) (Super Friends #11, 14, 15)
  • Underling (Super Friends #11, 15)/Overlord II (Super Friends #15, 25, 39, 43)
  • Futurio (clone of Overlord II) (Super Friends #39)
  • Futurio-XX (clone of Overlord II) (Super Friends #43)
  • Skyrocket (Super Friends #4)
  • The Super Fiends, Yeltu (Capeman, Superiorman, Waterman) and Fegla (Birdwoman, Capewoman, Wonderous Woman) of Exor (Super Friends #21)
  • The Super Foes, the Junior Super Foes, Chick, Honeysuckle, Kitten, Sardine, and Toyboy (Super Friends #1, 2)
  • Warhead (Rupert C. Nall) (Super Friends #36)
  • The World-Beater (Super Friends #3, 45, 46)
  • Yarq of Exor (Super Friends #44)
  • Zond and Zhanra of Exor (Super Friends #24)

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • The Best of DC Digest
  • #3 (Jan-Feb 1980): Reprints #3, 4, 10. Published between #27 and #28.
  • Super Friends Special
  • #1 (1981): Reprints #19, 36.
  • Super Friends! TPB (2001): Reprints Limited Collectors Edition #C-41 and #1, 6-9, 14, 21, 27

» SERIES:

  • Super Friends, 47 issues (1976–81)