Challenge of the Super Friends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes which ran from September 9, 1978, to December 23, 1978, on ABC. The complete series (16 episodes) was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Warner Bros. Television and is based on the Justice League and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics and created by Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. It was the third series of Super Friends cartoons, following the original Super Friends in 1973 and The All-New Super Friends Hour in 1977. It continues to air on Boomerang in the United States.
The plots for this series were, at the time of its initial airing, arguably the best effort to portray comic book heroes in animated television shorts. As originally aired, this season consisted of two half-hour segments. The first of these featured the Legion of Doom, a team of thirteen recurring foes, the Super Friends' worst enemies. Every episode would feature battles between the thirteen supervillains of the Legion of Doom and the eleven superheroes of the Justice League of America. The Legion of Doom dwelled in a murky swamp and launched their attacks for global conquest from a sinister looking, swamp-based, mechanical flying headquarters called the Hall of Doom (which also resembled Darth Vader's helmet) as a suitable contrast with the Super Friends' gleaming Hall of Justice.
The second segment of this season was an adventure with Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, similar to those that had aired the previous season in The All-New Super Friends Hour. Thanks to these episodes being shown using the opening credits of the All-New Super Friends Hour in syndication, the second segment along being used with the Challenge of Super Friends opening, and confused references to the show it is often mistakenly believed that the first and second segments were two separate shows.
When the Challenge of the Super Friends season was originally conceived, it was named “Battle of the Superheroes” and featured the introduction of Captain Marvel to the Super Friends. The group that challenged the heroes was called the "League of Evil", led by Marvel's nemesis Doctor Sivana. However, Filmation produced Shazam! and The New Adventures of Batman which prevented the use of characters such as Mister Atom, King Kull, Beautia Sivana, Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Catwoman. Early conceptual art drawn by Alex Toth would also include Heat Wave, Poison Ivy, and Abra Kadabra.
Narration, music and character designs
Bill Woodson provides the uncredited voice of the narrator in Challenge of the Super Friends. The show's main theme and original music was composed and arranged by musical director Hoyt Curtin. The music supervisor was Paul DeKorte. Character designs for this particular Super Friends series were done by Andre LeBlanc.
Team composition experimentation
Hanna-Barbera's writers experimented with team composition as well. Challenge of the Super Friends added The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and Hawkman (Katar Hol) who were members of the Justice League of America, as well as several new characters: Black Vulcan (who was based on the DC Comics character Black Lightning), Apache Chief, and Samurai. These characters were created to add racial and cultural diversity to the show (this was also mentioned in some of the episode introduction extras on the first two Challenge of the Super Friends DVDs).
Super Friends/Justice League of America
Eleven heroes make up the Super Friends/Justice League of America. They are:
Legion of Doom
Thirteen villains comprise the Legion of Doom during the Challenge of the Super Friends season. They are:
Despite the claim in the program's title sequence that the Legion's members hail from "remote galaxies", only Brainiac and Sinestro are extraterrestrials; the remaining members are all natives of Earth (though Bizarro is an imperfect duplicate of the Kryptonian Superman, he was created on Earth).
- Jack Angel - Flash, Hawkman, Samurai
- Marlene Aragon - Cheetah
- Lewis Bailey -
- Michael Bell - Riddler, Penguin, Zan, Gleek, Fearians (in "Invasion of the Fearians"), Romlock (in "Terror From the Phantom Zone"), Young Lex Luthor (in "History of Doom")
- Bill Callaway - Aquaman, Bizarro, The Capricorn Kid (in "Batman: Dead or Alive")
- Ted Cassidy - Brainiac, Black Manta, Barlocks (in "Conquerors from the Future"), Diamond Exchange Man (in "Super Friends: Rest in Peace")
- Melanie Chartoff -
- Henry Corden - Dr. Varga (in "Invasion of the Brain Creatures"), Brain Creature Leader (in "Invasion of the Brain Creatures") Torahna (in "The World Beneath the Ice")
- Danny Dark - Superman, Commissioner James Gordon (in "Super Friends: Rest in Peace"), Superboy (in "History of Doom")
- Al Fann - Young Apache Chief (in "History of Doom")
- Shannon Farnon - Wonder Woman, Aphrodite (in "Secret Origins of the Super Friends"), Empress Zana (in "The World's Deadliest Game")
- Ruth Forman - Giganta
- Bob Hastings -
- Bob Holt -
- Buster Jones - Black Vulcan
- Stanley Jones - Lex Luthor, Opening Narration, Caesar (in "The Time Trap"), Evil Being (in "Swamp of the Living Dead"), Giant (in "Fairy Tale of Doom"), Hull (in "Terror from the Phantom Zone"), Jonathan Kent (in "Secret Origins of the Super Friends"), Jor-El (in "Secret Origins of the Super Friends"), Lord Dar-Con (in "Demons of Exxor"), Sinbad (in "Sinbad and the Space Pirates")
- Casey Kasem - Robin, JLA Computer, Colorado Soldier (in "Super Friends: Rest in Peace")
- Don Messick - Scarecrow, Astronaut (in "Giants of Doom"), Domed City Ruler (in "Conquerors from the Future"), Fear-Gassed Gorilla (in "Revenge on Gorilla City"), Vartoo (in "The Final Challenge")
- Vic Perrin - Sinestro
- Renny Roker -
- Stanley Ross - Gorilla Grodd, Nar-Tan (in "Doomsday")
- Dick Ryal - Captain Cold, Hall of Doom Computer, Abin Sur (in "Secret Origins of the Super Friends"), Captain Nemo's Sailor (in "Fairy Tale of Doom")
- Michael Rye - Green Lantern, Apache Chief, Outer Galaxy Region Ruler (in "Conquerors from the Future"), Solovar (in "Revenge on Gorilla City"), Rayno (in "History of Doom")
- Olan Soule - Batman, Astronaut (in "The World's Deadliest Game"), Vull (in "Demons of Exxor")
- Jimmy Weldon - Solomon Grundy
- Frank Welker - Toyman, Lilliputians (in "Fairy Tale of Doom"), Mr. Mxyzptlk (in "The Rise and Fall of the Super Friends")
- Liberty Williams - Jayna
Note: Bill Woodson also provided voices for the show, but is not credited.
Warner Home Video originally released this season of Super Friends on two separate DVDs on June 1, 2004. The first one being "Challenge of the Super Friends: Attack of the Legion of Doom", which featured the "Challenge" segments, and the second being Challenge of the Super Friends: United They Stand", which featured the Super Friends segments. Both DVDs only featured four episodes. The first season was re-released as "Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season" on July 6, 2004. The second season was re-released as "Super Friends: Volume Two" on May 24, 2005. Both of these DVDs were a box set with all sixteen episodes.
|Title||Type||Ep No.||Release date|
|Challenge of the Super Friends||The First Season||16||July 6, 2004|
|Super Friends: Volume Two||Volume 2||16||May 24, 2005|
Cartoon Network produced a couple of commercials spoofing Challenge of the Super Friends.
- One dealt with the idiosyncratic nature of the Legion of Doom and Brainiac’s odd manner of dress (Brainiac: “Look, I just want some pants...a decent pair of pants!” Solomon Grundy: “Solomon Grundy want pants, too!”).
- The second, co-starring The Powerpuff Girls, dealt with Aquaman’s powers (Aquaman: “My ability to talk to fish is of no use to us, Wonder Woman!”) as well as the level of violence compared to today’s cartoons, as Wonder Woman and Aquaman look away while the Powerpuff Girls beat up the Legion of Doom, going so far as to set the Scarecrow on fire. Most notably was Bubbles' double-entendre reply to Wonder Woman's compliment on how they were developing as superheroes. "Someday we'll be as developed as you." Lex Luthor, as a villain with a dirty mind, began laughing. His underlings understood the joke and laughed as well. When a piece of the Hall of Doom's ceiling fell on Luthor's head, everyone laughed.
In 2003, Cartoon Network Latin America aired the spoof series The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour that starred Aquaman as a children's television show host and the Legion of Doom as his bankrupt villains.
Legends of the Superheroes
The two NBC televised live-action specials of Legends of the Superheroes produced by Hanna-Barbera was based largely on Challenge of the Super Friends while featuring Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin of the 1966 Batman television series fame (West would go on to voice Batman in Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians). The Justice League starred Batman, Robin, Captain Marvel, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Huntress, and Black Canary against the Legion of Doom which featured Mordru leading Doctor Sivana, Riddler, Giganta, Sinestro, Weather Wizard, and Solomon Grundy (Superman, Wonder Woman, and their associate characters were absent due to the Superman film and Wonder Woman television series licensing the rights, respectively).
DC Super Friends
Despite using the main theme from the World's Greatest Super Friends, the 2010 DC Super Friends "The Joker's Playhouse" shares several elements of its opening sequence with Challenge of the Super Friends including introducing the Legion of Doom.
Robot Chicken DC Comics Special
The opening sequence of the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special parodies the opening of Challenge of the Super Friends with the Legion of Doom substituted for Robot Chicken original characters Chicken, Mad Scientist, Nerd, Humping Robot, Composite Santa, Gummy Bear, the Unicorn, and Bitch Puddin'. The Legion of Doom, Hall of Doom, and Hall of Justice also feature prominently in the episode.
- ↑ Hanna-Barbera Superfriends Chronology (archive)
- ↑ LBS Communications
- ↑ McNeil, Alex (1997). Total Television Book and CD-ROM. Penguin (Non-Classics). ISBN 0-14-026737-9.
- ↑ Nobleman, Marc Tyler (29 July 2011). "Super ‘70s and ‘80s: "Super Friends"—Darrell McNeil, animator". Noblemania. http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2011/07/super-70s-and-80s-super-friendsdarrell.html. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDSj5ZvlbuU
- Challenge of the Super Friends at Big Cartoon DataBase
- Cartoon Network: DOC – Challenge of The Superfriends – cached copy from Internet Archives
- Challenge of the Super Friends at Internet Movie Database
- Challenge of the Super Friends at TV.com
- Challenge of the Super Friends @ Legions of Gotham
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Category:1978 American television series debuts Category:1979 American television series endings Category:1970s American animated television series Category:American Broadcasting Company network shows Category:Animated Batman television series Category:Animated Justice League television series Category:Animated Superman television series Category:Animated Wonder Woman television series Category:Super Friends