With “Volume Two” now available on DVD, fans can complete the first season of Super Friends in their collection. This two-disc set presents the season’s last eight episodes, which first aired Saturday mornings on ABC in 1973. From the appearance of the video, they look to have come straight out of the vaults and been mastered to DVD because the prints are marred and dirty.
Super Friends was Hanna Barbera’s take on DC Comics’ Justice League of America. The team’s roster features well-known characters Superman, Wonder Woman (in her first animated appearance), Aquaman, and Batman and Robin, although Robin wasn’t a member of the JLA in the comics. Teenagers Marvin and Wendy and their pet Wonder Dog, characters reminiscent of HB’s hit series Scooby-Doo, join them. Their inclusion may have been so children would have someone to identify with, but few HB productions during ’70s avoided the Scooby-Doo formula. Although he appears on the cover and earlier in the season, The Flash is not in these episodes.
Unfortunately, none of the heroes’ villains appear in the episodes, so the stories have the heroes dealing with aliens and evil scientists. Because of television standards for children’s programming, there’s not much fighting, and the stories usually offer a message. For example, “The Balloon People” deals with pollution.
The writing shows not much thought was put into the series, possibly because it was a kid’s show. That would explain why one smart villain goes by the name Noah Tall (Get it? Know-It-All), and King Plasto uses plastics in his schemes. “Gulliver’s Gigantic Goof” reveals the producers’ gigantic goof. After the Super Friends have been captured, Wendy and Marvin say there’s no other team member but Green Arrow to help, but both the Flash and Plastic Man appeared earlier in the season. Also, Green Arrow is a tad odd in his appearance, frequently referencing things Robin Hood-related in his dialogue, such as Nottingham’s Ghost, even though it was a place not a person so there wouldn’t be a ghost.
As in the Volume One, “Super Friends Trivia Challenge” is the lone Special Feature. An individual or teams are given five questions to test their knowledge about the series’ main characters. The questions aren’t restricted to the episodes in the set and also cover the comics and previous DC cartoons.
Super Friends doesn’t compare to modern superhero cartoons, but some may enjoy its quaintness. “The Fantastic FREPs” has some funny moments when the heroes golf at a charity event, like Aquaman hitting out of a water hazard. I was most surprised to find my 11-year-old nephew enjoyed them. I thought the slow pace of the approximately 45-minute episodes would have bored him.