Super Friends Special #1 (1981)
“The Mystery of the Missing Monkey!”
“Warhead Strikes at Gotham”
Writer – E. Nelson Bridwell
Penciller – Ramona Fradon
Inkers – Bob Smith & Vince Colletta
Letterers – Ben Oda & Milt Snapinn
Colorists – Adrienne Roy & Jerry Serpe
Editor – Julius Schwartz
On this week’s Weird Science DC Comics Podcast, Reggie and I discuss the DC Explosion/Implosion on our new segment Weird Comics History. One of the things we talk about is the various lines of comics DC put out during the mid-to-late 70’s, including their Fantasy-Adventure line (featuring Warlord among others) as well as one we’ll be covering today, the DC-TV Comics line.
DC-TV featured four series which, as the name implied, were adaptations from television properties. They would include Shazam! which ran from 1974-1976 on CBS, Isis from the The Secrets of Isis which ran from 1975-1977 on CBS, Welcome Back, Kotter (?!?) which ran from 1975-1979 on ABC, and the series we’ll be touching on today, the Super Friends, which had a couple of iterations during the 1970’s on ABC.
|The DC-TV Comics Lineup|
Today’s issue is actually a collected edition of two post-Implosion Super Friends issues [Super Friends #19 (April, 1979) and Super Friends #36 (Sepember, 1980)] that was released in 1981 along with a dozen “activity” style pages. There was no cover price on this one, so I assume it was assembled as some sort of giveaway, or as perhaps a pack-in.
Now, let’s take a look at this DC-TV oddity, and see what’s what!
“The Mystery of the Missing Monkey!”
Our first story opens with Aquaman training Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna how to use their powers underwater. When a shark approaches, Zan takes the form of a wave and Jayna takes the form of a Remora, they both take a “free ride” on the shark to shore.
Ashore, the Batmobile pulls up to bring them back to the Hall of Justice, where Gleek has been left in charge. At the Hall, the three are surprised to find that Gleek is missing. Jayna takes the form of a bloodhound, and immediately picks up the scent of bananas.
Later, the Super Friends put their heads together and come to the conclusion that the culprit must be Wilson Gable, the Menagerie Man! Moments later, the Friends receive a distress call from Commissioner Gordon who informs them that the Kangaroo Disco has been overrun with… well, Kangaroos. The team heads out and finds that The Menagerie Man has employed Kangaroos to mug all the patrons of the Discotheque… filling their pouches with jewels and purses, natch.
After dispatching the terrible ‘Roos, the Super Friends try to determine the Zoo-Man’s next move. We also observe a brief vignette showing that Menagerie Man is in fact holding our Gleek hostage. Gleek doesn’t seem to mind, however, as he will do just about anything for a banana.
Back with the Friends, they figure their best bet to catch the crook is to go to the auto show. I guess they’re hedging their bets, and hoping that all of the animal-named cars would be a draw. They are of course, absolutely right. After the Wonder Twins take the forms of a Rhinoceros and… a sheet of ice (?), Menagerie Man enters on a cougar-powered chariot.
In the ensuing ruckus, Gleek is attempting to pinch wallets. He is grabbed be an off-panel character. Later on at their hideout, Menagerie Man and Gleek are checking out their take. Menagerie Man opines that a pinched diamond necklace feels cold and wet… why, ice is cold and wet! Wouldn’tcha know it, Zan took the form of ice-diamonds, and Jayna took the form of… well, Gleek. The Super Friends enter and Menagerie Man is neutralized.
The story ends with a cute bit showing that Gleek is now something of a master thief, having stolen items from all of his Super Friend… friends.
“Warhead Strikes at Gotham”
Our next tale opens with Plastic Man and Woozy Winks getting the skinny on Rupert C. Hall, the devastating Warhead! He is believed to be robbing military bases, and Police Chief Branner thinks S.T.A.R. Labs may be among his next targets.
Plas decides the best way to deal with such a threat is to infiltrate Warhead’s gang in his alter-ego of Eel O’Brien. We get a brief glimpse of Warhead and Company at their hideout. Among Warhead’s men is some schmo called Matches Malone… hmm…
O’Brien gets some intel from a stoolie about Warhead, and learns that the Gotham Armory is his next target. Plas makes sure to be on the scene, in the shape of a red and yellow tank. Just as he’s about to get the drop on the villain, Plas receives one helluva kick to the mush from Robin, the Boy Wonder! Grayson claims that it was an accident, and in the confusion… Warhead escapes.
After meeting with the stoolie again, Plastic Man learns that the next target is the Gotham Navy Yard. Just as Plastic Man is about to capture Warhead this time, he finds himself on the losing end of both Wonder Woman’s lasso and Aquaman’s head and torso! The gang escapes once more.
Another day, another raid. Plastic Man head to the Gotham Air Base. He lures Warhead and Company in, posing as a heavyset pilot. They open-fire, and the bullets bounce off. All appears to be going according to plan when a tremendous gust of wind sends Plastic Man airborne. Oops! Upon seeing the ensuing fracas, Superman used his… super-breath, and accidentally blew Plastic Man… away. Superman is the only Super Friend to actually apologize to Plas. Heckuva guy, that CK.
Finally, Warhead launches his plot to raid S.T.A.R. Labs in search of their Anti-Superman-Weapon. Wait, what? Anti-Superman? Weapon? Why in the hell? Okay… moving on. Eel O’Brien bumps into that schlub Matches Malone… and the two share their secret identities.
The two interlopers join up and take down Warhead from the inside. Plastic Man takes the form of a gigantic bowling ball, and runs down Warhead’s toadies. Batman calls in the Super Friends, and it’s academic from that point.
Following the “One Minute War”, Plas and the Gang shake hands… all the while Plastic Man knows he could have taken care of Warhead quicker and cleaner had the Super Friends kept their damn noses out of it.
Not really a whole lot to say about this one. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I can’t honestly rank it any lower than “fine”. I didn’t actually grow up with the Super Friends, as I was born just a hair too late. I suppose if they were more a part of my early childhood this one would have resonated with me.
The writing and art were competent, and the stories were light and fun. I cannot figure out why DC chose to collect these two stories in this issue. The first tale felt like more of an introduction to the Wonder Twins, and they hardly even show up for the Plastic Man story. I would figure they would want to focus more on the main cast rather than side characters for a collection such as this.
If you grew up on Super Friends, you’ll likely enjoy this… if not, I think I can safely say you’ll be fine passing on this one.
While on the subject of the Super Friends, I would be remiss not to mention that our great pals over at DC in the 80’s are currently holding an art contest featuring the Super Friends. Just complete the image below… and click on it for complete contest details!
Super Friends Special Fun Section:
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UPDATE 5/8/23 – “Remastered” for WordPress!