We all know the classic DC Comics superheroes known as Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. One of the first cartoon shows to bring all of them together is The All New Super Friends Hour (1977-1978). Whenever there’s trouble, the Super Friends are called into action from their home base, which is called the Hall of Justice.
What truly makes this series different is that there are no back-stories, secret identities, or any arch villains, only superpowers and superhero action. Each superhero has their own specialty, so it all depends on the situation as for which heroes are best suited for the job. The bigger missions require the whole team.
Among the Super Friends are young heroes Zan and Jayna the Wonder Twins, along with their mischievous space monkey Gleek. Together the Wonder Twins can shape shift, but their options seem to be limited. Jayna can only change into any animal and Zan can only turn into liquid or objects made of ice. As for Gleek, his long tail is very crafty which does explain what he’s actually good for. The only missions these three do solo are minor ones about rescuing reckless teens from certain peril. Otherwise, they are always told to stay behind at the Hall of Justice. What a drag.
On occasion, other superheroes join in on the action. Ones like, Hawk Man, Hawk Girl, The Atom, Green Lantern, Apache Chief, Rima the Jungle Girl, and others. However, they are always accompanied by one of the regulars, and once again only powers and action are featured as the crucial element.
In between the groups of episodes, there are short segments. They include De-Coders that feature a secret code word that has something to do with an episode, PSAs about safety and health, simple magic tricks, and fun craft projects. I had almost forgotten about that material.
One thing I had missed about Superman is that when he takes to the skies he uses the catchphrase, “Up, up, and away!” In the newer versions of Superman cartoons, he doesn’t say that anymore. Then again, with today’s edgier superhero standards, catchphrases like that can appear to be corny.
This series is a real classic from when I was growing up. Even though each superhero is a champion in his or her own hometown, bringing them all together didn’t create a clash of egos, which I find surprising. Of course, it didn’t end with this show. That same concept continued with other versions of The Super Friends even today with shows like Justice League. There were so many different versions, the franchise became hard for me to keep track of. I still wonder, whatever happened to the Wonder Twins?