Rest in Peace, Superfriends

Click here for the first half of the episode. Technology allows me to share my pain.

Click here for the first half of the episode. Technology allows me to share my pain.

I might seem mean-spirited with these rants against Superfriends, but I only complain because of all the hours I spent watching and enjoying that show as a kid (proof that television rots your brain). This time around, I’m graduating to the more “mature” version of the show, Challenge of the Superfriends. I’ve been raiding YouTube for clips, and sat down and revisited one of the episodes of that series called “Rest in Peace.”

After a jazzy opening that reminds me that both Apache Chief and Giganta need to start wearing underwear when they rampage through a city, we start with a shocking scene: one of the Superfriends has been killed. The narrative takes its sweet time telling us who died, but it’s pretty obvious that the only major Superfriend missing from the crowd is Batman. He’s even got a bat-shaped tombstone, which kind of kills the mood by making me laugh out loud. Holy bat-funeral!

We move on to find that the Superfriends are watching Batman’s funeral through a monitor in a secret hideout. I guess they thought it was funny enough to replay as well. Apparently needing to further explain to each other what they have just experienced, Superman replays a video designed to fill us in. Turns out that Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom dug up a crystal made of a special element, noxium, which has the power to kill the Superfriends. But the element is locked away in a special box that only Superman can open. Good thinking, Supes!

Then we flash to the Hall of Justice just as the Legion of Doom launches an attack. The highlight of this battle is the Green Lantern trapping the Legion of Doom’s mobile death-fortress with a giant mousetrap. I get the feeling that the writers really didn’t know what to do with the Green Lantern. “Okay, we’ve got this guy who can do anything with his magic ring. Let’s have him waste all that power by doing lame things like catching a giant deathbot in a mousetrap!”

Superman confronts Lex Luthor, who easily tricks him into zapping open the box containing the noxium crystal. Bad thinking, Supes! Superman’s reaction? Run away! I didn’t know it took only a small rock to make the world’s greatest superhero run like a little girl.

Now that the initial exposition is over, Superman explains the danger of the crystal. It contains Kryptonite that can kill Superman, yellow energy that can kill the Green Lantern, and, uh…other stuff capable of taking out the rest of the Superfriends. The other heroes don’t have easily categorized weaknesses, so Supes is pretty vague. Maybe the crystal shoots bullets? After all, bullets can kill the rest of the Superfriends. Yeah, I bet it’s bullets.

All this time I’ve been kinda bored because Batman isn’t on the screen. Why am I so keen on seeing Batman? Because I’ve got a major man-crush on Adam West and this is in the era when he always voiced Batman. But when the Legion of Doom lures Batman into a trap by holding Commissioner Gordon hostage, what do I discover? It’s not Adam West doing the voice at all! Boo! As a result, I cheer when the Riddler zaps Batman with a ray from the crystal, causing the Dark Knight to crumple like a rag doll and die. Take that, impostor!

Incidentally, the somewhat anticlimactic death of Batman makes me immediately flash forward to 1992’s Batman: the Animated Series, where Batman’s death (albeit fake) was handled much better:

Mark Hamill will be remembered by many as Luke Skywalker, but it’s as the Joker that he consistently turned in his best performances.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Batman’s dead, and the Legion of Doom is now deciding which superhero to take on next. They pick Wonder Woman and decide to lure her out of hiding by attacking her family on Paradise Island. In the Superfriends’ hidden base, Wonder Woman decides to save her people. The other Superfriends try to convince her not to go, as she’s walking into an obvious trap. It’s nice to know where the other guys fall: “No, let your people die and your ancestral home be defiled! If you risk your life, you might die saving others! Then what kind of hero would you be?” The lesson here is that the Superfriends are a bunch of pansies. They’ll fight evil as long as they know they can’t be harmed, but they aren’t willing to actually risk their lives. Except, of course, for Wonder Woman, who isn’t a pansy and flies off to Paradise Island – alone, I might add. The other Superfriends are too busy wetting themselves at the big bad crystal to actually help a friend in need. The end result? The Superfriends watch from afar as Wonder Woman dies and then talk about how nothing could have prevented it. Yeah…it’s not like she could have had the help of the fastest man alive or the Man of Steel or anything.

And now we move onto the next target of the Legion of Doom: Superman. Perry White and Lois Lane are in peril, so Superman’s got to run off to save them. Again, the rest of the Superfriends act like total wusses and tell Superman to let his friends die rather than risk his life. Superman runs off to certain doom alone, because once again his so-called friends are too afraid to help out.

Now, to be totally fair, Superman puts up a decent fight. For once, he realizes that he has super speed and uses that along with some trickery to dodge the blasts from the crystal. Heck, it almost looks like he could probably take out Luthor and Solomon Grundy if only he had a little help. If only he had, like, some friends. Friends with superpowers. Superfriends, if you will, who would fight evil instead of hiding in a secret cave and moaning like cowardly mice. But Superman is on his own and gets weakened by a near miss from the crystal. He continues putting up a good fight, but is ultimately killed while Lois Lane and Perry White look on helplessly.

Superman’s funeral is held in secret on a military base. It is interrupted by Lex Luthor’s broadcast message to the Superfriends telling them to get off the planet or get dead. Surely the Superfriends won’t just leave the planet, knowing what the Legion of Doom would do in their absence. Oh, wait…they totally just leave the planet, even knowing what the Legion of Doom will do in their absence. They fly off into space, and we spend much of the rest of this episode watching the Legion of Doom terrorize the globe. Good job, Superfriends.

But wait: during one of the Legion of Doom’s heists, the Superfriends surprise the villains by proving they’re not pansies after all. Unfortunately, the ensuing fight sucks big time. Apparently, Sinestro was pretty ticked that the Green Lantern pulled off the mouse trap gimmick earlier, and wants to one-up GL in the field of lame power ring antics. With his yellow ring he creates…bagpipes. Bagpipes?! Yeah, bagpipes. Bagpipes that shoot a yellow laser. And the Green Lantern’s solution? He creates a giant green baseball bat and knocks the laser into Sinestro and Cheetah. Apparently, the writers went and forgot once again that Hal Jordan’s ring can’t effect things that are yellow. It’s odd they would forget that, since this very episode made mention of the yellow impurity in the Green Lantern’s ring.

Thankfully, Lex Luthor puts an end to the pathetic hoe-down by blasting the remaining Superfriends with the noxium crystal. The best part of the ensuing slaughter is when he flies over Aquaman and the Flash, gives a long-winded speech about what he’s about to do, then kills them. All the while, Aquaman and the Flash apparently have forgotten that they have any superpowers at all, such as, say, super speed that would allow them to get out of the way.

And so the Legion of Doom has won the day. The Superfriends are all dead, so there’s no way they could screw this up, is there? Well, Lex Luthor could assume that the crystal is now worthless and throw it into the sewer, but that would just be stupid – oh wait…he totally goes and does that. Soon afterwards, some figure in a white radiation suit finds the crystal and shoots it off into space. Gee…I wonder how this story is going to end.

Later, Lex Luthor gathers together the world’s leaders and tells them of his newest extortion plan that they have to obey because otherwise he’ll sick the pantsless alien and talking monkey on them. But the apparent leaders of the world are actually the Superfriends in disguise! The ensuing fight tries to one-up the previous battle in terms of lame-ness, since now everyone is trying to out-suck the Green Lantern and Sinestro. Wonder Woman’s lasso turns into a massive bird cage that catches Cheetah, who apparently doesn’t realize that she could just push aside the bars, since they’re made of rope. The Riddler uses magic tricks to stymie Batman, pulling a giant fanged rabbit out of a hat. Batman foils the Riddler by using a batarang to take the magic wand, make the rabbit disappear, and imprisoning the Riddler in his own magic hat. Somewhere, Zatanna is saying, “Ssik ym ssa,” to Bats for stealing her routine.

Lex Luthor wins the prize for lamest battle tactic, though. His plan for foiling Superman? Drop him down a hidden pit. Yeah, that’s right. Apparently Lex has been punched in the head by Superman one too many times and has forgotten that the last son of Krypton’s array of abilities includes things like flight. Superman promptly flies to safety, while Lex has this wonderfully dumbfounded expression on his face as he tries to figure out how his brilliant scheme to drop the flying man down a pit could have failed. Then the Green Lantern gets into the action by turning Lex Luthor into a giant talking $1,000 bill.

You might be asking if you read that last part right. You did. The Green Lantern turned Lex Luthor into a giant talking $1,000 bill. The episode is 20 minutes long and has possibly set a record for stupid tricks with a power ring. Between mouse traps on giant steel robots, laser-shooting bagpipes, and now this fiasco, I’m kinda wishing that Hal had been killed by that crystal.

Speaking of the crystal, now’s the time for the Superfriends to explain why they aren’t dead as originally presumed. As it turns out, the dead Superfriends were all robots who were programmed to die, convincing Lex Luthor that the crystal wasn’t needed anymore and getting him to toss it into the sewers. I’m sure the Amazons on Paradise Island, Lois Lane, and Perry White will all love hearing that the supposed superheroes who rushed off the save them were in fact incompetent robots meant to die at the hands of their enemies. It’s also worth noting that apparently the robots’ programming including hiding in a cave and cowering even when the Legion of Doom wasn’t around, not to mention holding secret funerals for their dead coward-bot companions.

During the exposition, Apache Chief holds up the radiation suit he wore when he fired the crystal into space. This leads me to wonder how he managed to hide a whole radiation suit under that loincloth of his. I’m betting the villains are pretty dumbfounded as well, since they never saw the radiation suit and therefore have no idea why that Indian guy just whipped a whole set of clothes out of his rectal cavity so he could wave it around.

The last line goes to Superman. Anyone who has seen shows like this knows that a bad pun is coming up. Brace yourselves.

“And now that the Legion of Doom is under control, the Superfriends can finally…rest in peace!”

Go die already, Superman.

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2 Responses to “Rest in Peace, Superfriends”

  1. Adam West didn’t voice Batman on Super Friends until the final two 80s seasons, where it was the Super Powers or something.

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