BANDED TOGETHER FROM REMOTE GALAXIES ARE
13 OF THE MOST SINISTER VILLIANS OF ALL TIME:
THE LEGION OF DOOM.
DEDICATED TO A SINGLE OBJECTIVE,
THE CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE.
ONLY ONE GROUP DARES TO CHALLENGE
THIS INTERGALATIC THREAT…
[Here I find further evidence that the assemblers of the Challenge of the Superfriends DVD package half-assed their job. I long ago noted, for instance, how the DVD packaging, menus and even subtitles designate the titular assembly as the “Super Friends.” This occurs in contravention to the cartoons themselves, which clearly delineate the team as the “Superfriends.”
As another example, the DVD menu lists this episode as “Doom’s Day,” while the episode title card in the cartoon clearly says “Doomsday.” Perhaps this was meant as a witty commentary on the program’s well established problems with continuity, but somehow I doubt it.]
When last we checked in with the Superfriends, they were…ah, who can remember that far back? And, uhm…HOLY CROW! Did I really never notice that in the show’s friggin’ opening credit sequence there’s a shot of Superman and Wonder Woman flying through the sky, which is kind of odd because Wonder Woman doesn’t fly in this version (she has the Invisible Jet). And, oh, yeah, also flying with them is Aquaman. Aquaman?! Have I really never caught that before? Good grief.
Aquaman’s holodeck program.
With the final episode of the 16 chapter skein of Challenge of the Superfriends approaching, we once more discover the program exhibiting greater flexibility in its formerly rigid structure. Indeed, it seems a while since we opened with the once traditional reused footage of the Hall of Doom rising from the fetid waters of Slaughter Swamp.
Instead, we open upon dark and storm-tossed waters. This no doubt prompted groans from the show’s savvier Saturday morning audience members, as it forebodes a quick appearance by C-lister antagonists Aquaman and Black Manta. This is along of lines of going to a Broadway play and hearing, “Dame Judi Dench will not be appearing tonight. Her role will be played by Kristen Stewart…”
“Thousands of miles from land in the vast Pacific Ocean,” Our Familiar Narrator explains, “the world’s largest nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Dauntless, circles the globe.” I think that should more properly be “continues to circle the globe,” unless it really is the world’s largest nuclear powered aircraft carrier. More importantly, it’s hard to see Aquaman saving (or Black Manta menacing) a gigantic aircraft carrier, so perhaps my earlier fears are happily unfounded.
We cut to the ship’s bridge. “Our reconnaissance mission is complete, Admiral Hubbard,” asserts the rather poorly drawn Captain of the Dauntless. “We’re ready to return to Pearl Harbor.” I guess the Dauntless has, in point of fact, just finished circling the globe. I’m also not sure what sort of ‘reconnaissance’ mission that would be. ‘Inform the President that the Earth still goes all the way around,’ one imagines Hubbard barking.
Suddenly, a nearby radar man shouts out to the Admiral. I’m not sure that’s proper bridge protocol on a U.S. aircraft carrier, but anyway. He reports that their instruments have picked up an unidentified object approaching the ship from deep below. “And it’s not responding to our radio calls,” the ship’s Captain adds. How would he know? The Radar Guy just announced the object two seconds ago, directly after the Captain was wrapping up a routine status report.
Adm. Hubbard orders the crew to battle stations and tells the Captain to “notify the Superfriends.” Now, I admit all sort of insane crap happens on this version of Earth, and pretty much all the time. Even so, it’s pretty lame for the senior officer on the U.S. military’s mightiest vessel of war to go bleating to the Superfriends before even finding out what’s going on.
Good work, Superfriends. Apparently the people in this world can barely wipe their own butts without sending you a Trouble Alert first. “Flash, Green Lantern, help! I’m out of toilet paper! Well, OK, I actually have one roll left. But it’s single-ply, and a bit scratchy! And could you pick me up a half gallon of soy milk on the way over?”
On to the Hall of Justice. Amazingly, somebody on the show’s production apparently figured out that it was pretty stupid to draw the massive Hall’s sole piece of furniture, the central meeting table, with only four chairs around it. So now, finally, it’s been redesigned with eight chairs around it.
This is a distinct improvement, since now upwards of two-thirds of the team would actually have seating during a meeting. It also closes the dreaded Chair Gap with the Legion of Doom, who somehow always managed to provide chairs for all their members, even Toyman and the Riddler. In any case, good work on that, fixing this problem after only 13 episodes and with three entire episodes left to go.
Superman arrives at the Hall, having flown in whilst bearing a giant albino ape-like being over his head. “Holy Abominable Spaceman!” Robin blurts, somewhat mysteriously. “What’s that?!” Walking past with his cargo, Superman responds, “It’s the Moleman of planet Theta.” Well, duh. What else would it be? I mean, what says ‘mole’ like a white furry Bigfoot? And what else would you do with it / him / her than remove it from its native planet and ferry it back to the Hall of Justice?
Apparently this is SOP, however. Superman, accompanied by the Dynamic Duo, marches the creature through a previously unseen door. Beyond this lies a hallway featuring a series of cells which contain an exotic array of captured alien monsters. Superman stuffs the Moleman into one of the few empty chambers.
”We’re being sued by the ACLU and PETA.”
Really, they keep all these creatures in the Hall of Justice? Does that comport with local zoning laws? And are any of these beings sentient? Does the Justice League have some sort of universal franchise to lock up such beasties sans any trial or due process? And the cells are like 10% larger than the monsters themselves, which doesn’t seem very humane. The prisoners don’t even have any chairs. Not too surprisingly, really; as noted, chairs were never in overmuch abundance in the Hall of Justice.
Suddenly the Trouble Alert sounds. “It’s the Trouble Alert!” Obvious Person, er, Wonder Woman announces. And here I thought Batman was the world’s greatest detective. The incoming alert unsurprisingly proves to be the message from the Dauntless, which at least is sent “scrambled through the naval security channel.”
The captain of the Dauntless appears on the Hall’s televiewer. “We’re being followed by an unidentified craft,” he explains, “and it appears to be hostile.” Huh? In what way does it appear to be ‘hostile’? Also, again, why is the captain of an American war vessel asking the Superfriends to deal with this?* Good lord, sir, show that uniform you’re wearing some respect. Good thing John Paul Jones wasn’t around to witness this. “I’ve not yet begun…to snivel to the Superfriends for help!”
[*Oops, forget this show was produced during the Carter administration. Asked and answered.]
”Superfriends, one of the men thought he saw a fish!”
Enjoying a rare moment of glory, Aquaman announces to the others that he’ll “head out underwater.” Turning to Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, he continues, “You two can follow from the air.” That’s right, Aquaman is trying to boss around Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Sadly, the animators failed to draw Green Lantern smirking and strenuously rolling his eyes at this, or Wonder Woman bursting out laughing and kicking Aquaman in the crotch.
By the way, although the location of the Hall of Justice is kind of fuzzy, I think it’s pretty much been established as being on the East Coast. And remember that we’ve already been told that the Dauntless is currently “thousands of miles from land.” And while, yes, the seas are nominally Aquaman’s domain, his normal mode of aquatic conveyance is a jet ski. I’m pretty sure both GL and WW would arrive at the Dauntless several days ahead of the Wet Wonder, even if they stopped for pizza first.*
[*This would also be a good moment for Superman to go, “Naw, already checked it out. Everything’s fine. Hey, Aquaman, I hear there’s a pool owner on 87th Street who’s experiencing skimmer issues. Why don’t you go check that out?” And then Wonder Woman would burst out laughing and kick Aquaman in the crotch.]
Also, not to be pedantic or anything, but a) I think we’re still a ways away from being factually able to assert that the ship is “endangered,” and b) again, what kind of danger is it that both can overcome a United States nuclear aircraft carrier, but at the same time be thwarted by friggin’ Aquaman? And remember, this is well before they turned Aquaman into a Namor clone. I mean, if we were talking a pseudo-Submariner here, no problem. That guy used to scuttle Nazi U-Boats by tearing them open with his bare hands.
Our heroes set out, Wonder Woman in her jet plane, Green Lantern flying via his ring, and Aquaman… oh. Forget the jet ski. He’s riding a giant sea horse out down to Hawaii. Well. I’m sure that will be faster than a supersonic aircraft. Taking a bit of pity on the Orange Avenger, the Narrator blithely notes that all three heroes “streak off toward the endangered carrier.” Yes, ‘streak’ off. On a sea horse. Nearly as fast, I’m sure, as a regular horse.
Meanwhile, the mystery craft continues to close in on the inaptly named Dauntless. “She’s right on our tail!” the radioman gulps. “Whatever it is, it’s unaffected by our radar scrambler!” What the hell does that even mean? Is that some sort of breakfast entree at IHOP? ‘I’ll have a Radar Scrambler with wheat toast, please.” Presumably the device is meant to screw with the mystery object’s radar. However, I’m pretty sure if it’s already “right on the tail” of something as big as the “world’s largest aircraft carrier,” that they’re past the point where radar is entirely necessary.
“Our only chance is to outmaneuver them,” Adm. Hubbard asserts. OUTMANUEVER THEM!! With an AIRCRAFT CARRIER!! Yea gods! “Right full rudder!” he commands. “Nuclear engines to full power!” Do they really have to stipulate “nuclear” engines, being that they’re on a, you know, nuclear aircraft carrier? And again, I know a Nimitz-class ship could turn surprisingly tightly, but still, that’s ‘surprisingly tightly’ for an aircraft carrier. This is actually a contest that even Aquaman’s sea horse could win. Once he gets there next week or whatever.
Suddenly a periscope breaches the surface of the water. The camera pans down and we see it’s attached to the Hall of Doom. Man, that place is awesome. It flies, it cruises through outer space, it can teleport (I think I remember that), and while traveling underwater it can outpace the world’s most advanced nuclear aircraft carrier.
Also, it means the Dauntless isn’t being threatened solely by Black Manta, which would be sort of laughable. On the other hand, this means that Aquaman’s going to be even more laughably outclassed than usual, should he ever get here.
Indeed, being less namby-pamby than the Superfriends, the Legion isn’t even pretending that Black Manta is in charge. Looking through the periscope*, we see, is Lex Luthor. On the other hand: “Once we capture that nuclear powered carrier,” Superman’s archnemesis booms, “we can ransom it and its crew for millions.”*
[*The lens of the periscope is shaped, unsurprisingly, like the Legion of Doom headquarters. Because why not?]
Really? That’s about the lamest, most picayune plan the Legion’s ever come up with. Admittedly, only on this show would holding a nuclear aircraft carrier for ransom seem like small beer, but here, oh yeah. What’s next, knocking over 7-11s? Three Card Monte stands? Aluminum siding telemarketing?
Luthor orders his comrades to “prepare the torpedo tube.” And here Black Manta gets his own moment to shine, as he’s the one to open the torpedo hatch. Wowsers. Yep, not much Aquaman’s archenemy can’t accomplish. Admittedly, Solomon Grundy is the one to actually heft the torpedo into place. That’s a money saver right there. No hydraulic lifts needed when you’ve got Grundy or Bizarro around.
”Don’t worry, Grundy, you can always count on Black Manta!”
Again, though, this is the laziest Legion of Doom operation ever. They’re really just phoning it in. Hold a ship for ransom, and capture it with a torpedo? Admittedly, I’m betting on a force field torpedo or something, but still. Pretty weak. There was a time these guys would have whipped up a pocket universe to steer the ship into, or tossed it far into the future where only they could find it, or turned all the crewmembers into mindslaves that looked just like an army of Gorilla Grodds in sailor caps. They’ve really lost their passion for the work.
And really, once you start introducing the idea that the Legion requires money, the whole thing kind of falls apart. There are so many issues there I don’t know where to begin. Well, OK, here’s one. Remember the time that Toyman created an entire, bobby-trapped artificial planet that he then sequestered inside a black hole? How much did that cost? Quite a few ransomed Naval vessels, I’d bet. Hell, Steve Austin cost six million dollars, and he only had three bionic limbs and an eye.
And that was just some money they allocated to freakin’ Toyman, for Pete’s sake. Imagine what Luthor or Brainiac’s R&D budget must be like. Seems to me once this bunch spends an entire morning capturing an aircraft carrier, they’re already going to be several billion dollars in the hole. It would be like Donald Trump busing tables for tips.
Up on the bridge, the Captain of the Dauntless spots the incoming torpedo via some binoculars. (!!) Yes, that’s much better than using a sonar array or something. I mean, that’s how they did it back in WWII, right? It’s not like military tech had gotten any better since then. For that matter, I’m not sure those are real binoculars. They might be a pair of toilet paper rolls taped together. Also, the guys assigned lookout duty? The Captain and Adm. Hubbard. Sure, why not?
As the deck crew scatters, the torpedo slams into the carrier. However, it doesn’t explode; it just lodges into the side of the ship. Everyone sighs in relief, believing the missile to be a dud. However, the truth is far more
retarded sinister. Below decks, we watch as the exposed torpedo nosecone, penetrating through the outer bulkhead, is cut off from inside via a laser. From the interior of the torpedo emerges the terrifying…Cheetah.
Not, again, the modern half-human Cheetah, but the woman-in-a-not-particularly-yiffy-cat-costume Cheetah. I know she’s supposed to be Wonder Woman’s opposite number on this show. That’s largely, though, because they almost never let Wonder Women employ her Hercules-level strength (as established in an earlier episode.) But really, Cheetah is going to be able to take over an American war vessel with a crew 6,000 plus strong? Even for this show I’m calling Shenanigans. She doesn’t even have bulletproof bracelets.
Cheetah pauses to congratulate herself on a “purrrr-fect landing,” (gack) and hefts a handheld doodad with a single red button. This gadget, a “radiation neutralizer,” will “deactivate their nuclear engines.” Having achieved her task of button pushing, she enters the main engine room. Luckily for her, this is sparsely manned and lacks any armed guards. I mean, why would a warship on red alert have armed men stationed in vital areas?
Back in the Hall of Doom, Luthor notes that the Dauntless is indeed losing power. This accomplished, he orders Toyman to “fire Torpedo Tube Two!” Torpedo Two, oddly enough, proves to be Black Manta’s mini-sub. Not only is this not, strictly speaking, a ‘torpedo,’ but it has its own engines, and thus isn’t really ‘fired.’ So I’m not sure what that button Toyman pushes was supposed to do. Make him feel like a big man, maybe.
Also, the button firing the first—well, actual—torpedo was pushed by Scarecrow. Talk about make work! Two ‘super’villains to push two buttons that do pretty much the same thing. Not to mention:
- · One guy to open a torpedo hatch.
- · One guy to manually load the torpedo.
- · One lady to ride in said torpedo, cut herself loose, and…yes…push another button.
At least Luthor gets to look through the periscope and bark orders like he’s doing something. I mean, why not just send Bizarro over there? He wouldn’t have to ride in a torpedo, and he could just threaten to sink the ship if they didn’t surrender, which would take him about ten seconds.
Instead, with Cheetah having ‘accomplished’ her ‘part’ of the ‘mission,’ Black Manta is the one to broadcast their demands for surrender. I guess it’s possible that Luthor is just a super dick. Having to surrender the Navy’s greatest warship to the likes of Black Manta and Cheetah is certainly rubbing salt in the wound. It’s pretty easy for those losers to act all super-duper when they’re got the likes of Bizarro and Grundy at her back. It’s like the scrawny kid who terrorizes everyone at school because his older brother is a hulking psycho.
Sinestro, riding with Manta (and hence the hulking older brother cited above), notes that the ship will soon be there’s. “That’s what you think, Sinestro!” says a suddenly appearing Aquaman. We see him jumping over the guardrail, which is odd since aircraft carriers ride something like 80 feet above sea level. And man, that’s one speedy sea horse. Again, we’re to believe he got here before Green Lantern and Wonder Woman?
“He won’t give us any trouble,” Sinestro sneers. Yeah, you’d think. Talk about outclassed. Sinestro launches Aquaman high into the air. Luckily for the latter, his teammates arrive just at that second, apparently having started out after taking a long nap or a viewing of the extended director’s cut of Avatar or something. “Aquaman’s in trouble,” Green Lantern announces. Presumably his surprise is a piece of japery, matched by Wonder Woman goggling her eyes in mock amazement while picturing herself laughing and kicking Aquaman in the crotch.
Aquaman: A Day in the Life.
So Green Lantern swoops down to catch Aquaman just before he hits the water. (Really, that would kill him?) Meanwhile, Wonder Woman lands safely on the carrier. Doesn’t the Hall of Doom have SAMs or something? Anyway, Cheetah blithely announces that she’ll take care of Wonder Woman because, I don’t know, she possesses an overwhelming sense of self-empowerment and actualization or something.
Her plan to accomplish this feat involves running at Wonder Woman with her fingers splayed out over her head. Astoundingly, the Princess of Power manages to survive this fearsome attack by
spraying Cheetah with a spritzer bottle tossing a net over her foe.
Oops, no, that suggests too much dignity for Cheetah. Instead, Wonder Woman pulls a rather convenient lever, raising one of the flight deck’s landing nets. Cheetah manages to run into this under her own power. Somehow bumping into the taut netting means she’s captured or something. I mean, it’s not a spider web.
Wonder Woman’s archenemy.
Green Lantern announces that the villains have lost (?), and Sinestro calls him a “green fool.” Again, everyone really seems to be just going through the motions here. On cue, the Hall of Doom rises from the waters and shoots a *ho hum* death ray at Green Lantern. He somehow manages to escape this—oh yeah, because he can fly—and lands on another part of the ship.
“If they can bring in reinforcements,” he exclaims, “so can we!” Then he uses his power ring to make himself grow into like a two hundred foot (not to mention very badly drawn) giant, somehow without destabilizing the ship. First of all, I’m pretty sure GL’s ring doesn’t work that way. Second of all, I’m pretty sure making yourself bigger couldn’t constitute “bringing in reinforcements.” Third of all, way to steal Apache Chief’s only shtick, Green Douche.
So GL is now so big he picks up the Hall of Doom like it was a snow globe. Again, he’s somehow reached this tremendous size and accompanying mass without destabilizing the Dauntless. Inside the Hall, Scarecrow and Toyman are freaking out, while Bizarro just sits there looking bored. And rightly so, since he could, for instance, could fly through GL like a bullet anytime he wants. Also, that ray beam they just fired melted part of the flight deck. Duh, shoot Green Lantern in the face with it, dorks.
”Man, I should have done this years ago!”
Instead, even Luthor punks out. “Let’s get out of here!” he yells, no doubt staining the floor with his urine as he causes their headquarters to jet away to safety. (This is Superman’s primary foe?!) “It looks like the Legion of Doom isn’t very brave,” Green Lantern chortles. Wow, worst day for the Legion ever. By the way, notice that Green Lantern routed the entire Legion with this growing maneuver, which (naturally) he never tries again.
Back on the Dauntless, a chagrined Sinestro blurts out, “We’ve been deserted!” If he feels that way, imagine how Cheetah and Black Manta feel. He’s still got his Power Ring. They’ve got…well, Jack and Excrement. Before they can make a run for the Manta Ship, GL scoops them up and sneers at them. Again, I’m not sure how this would keep Sinestro from escaping, but whatever.
Cut to the Sinister Threesome being confined at the Hall of Justice. Since there’s 15 minutes of left, I think we can safely assume their capture is in fact a pointlessly elaborate plan to allow them to infiltrate the Superfriends’ headquarters. This makes the Legion look a bit less pathetic, although security at the Hall of Justice is such that this entire plan seems like overkill. They probably could have just walked in the front door.
The trio is put in one of recently established cells, next to one containing Cthulhu. Superman explains that they’ll be held until the “Galactic Police” show up (aren’t the Green Lanterns the ‘galactic police’?). At that point they’ll be taken to “the maximum-security prison planet.” I guess they thought that sounded more impressive than saying they were going to Space Jail.
Then Batman gets a video call on his weirdly huge mobile video phone. (Weirdly huge for a world where people are whipping up pocket time machines every other day, I mean.) “This is General Thompson at the Maratoa volcano installation,” his caller explains. You have to admit, you’ve got to like a world where the military builds themselves volcano bases. Or maybe they just took over one Blofeld deserted.
On the other hand, sure enough, they are calling for the Superfriends to provide them security during an upcoming test on “the Army’s newest, most powerful weapon.” Upcoming, as in five minutes from now. Look, everyone knows the Justice League seldom does stuff, so why bother booking them in advance.
And sure enough, Flash cuts into the call. “Apache Chief and I are in the area,” he reports. Sure, two guys off patrolling (what looks to be) a remote Pacific island area. Why not? And again, who the hell formulates the League’s duty rosters?! Why is the Flash patrolling with Apache Chief? Flash could patrol the entire Pacific Ocean on his lonesome in about 20 seconds. Instead, they stick him with a guy who can’t even spit out more than five words a minute.
Of course, the timing of the call means that it’s overheard by Sinestro. Oh, and, uh, Black Manta and Cheetah. Weird, I almost forgot them for some reason. With nothing better to do for the next five minutes, Sinestro suggests they escape, take over the base and grab this new weapon. Once this is accomplished, they can “launch our revenge against the Legion of Doom.” OK, so I guess they really were deserted by their compatriots.
Of course, on this show the saying is largely the doing. Black Manta points out they are still stuck in their cell. No biggie to Sinestro, though. “I know the way into the universe of Quard,” he explains. “We can slip into the Quard universe and leave three antimatter robots in our place. When the Superfriends touch them, they’ll be blown into oblivion.”
Sure enough, Sinestro walks two steps forward and disappears. Manta and Cheetah kind of shrug—this is the kind of stuff they call ‘Tuesday’—and follow along. Then the three robots (uhhhhhhhhhhhhh…….) appear to take their place. They are exact duplicates of the three, except that they have glowing red eyes. That seems like kind of a design flaw, but what do I know?
”Get the Visine…Stat!”
Cut to the base, which is an installation literally built inside a volcano, because, why not? The weapon appears to be a rather run of the mill giant ray beam projector, sitting (of course) behind bay doors. “Put on your goggles, Superfriends,” says the one and apparently only scientist guy running this whole gigantic installation. “The extreme power of this weapon is blinding.” Oh, wait, there’s a second scientist. OK, now I can believe it. One guy to say, “Push the button!,” the other guy to push it.
“Thermonuclear generators on,” Scientist #1 says. “Alpha wave condensers, full power!” Yep, that’s Science!, all right. Then Scientist #1 puts on a helmet or a headset or something and notes we’re “Ready for test number one.” The bay doors open, and the beam is fired, up into space. There it apparently creates a new star. (!!) “With our new mental matter ray, we can turn any thought into instant reality,” he explains. Yes, well, that certainly worked out well for the Krell.
Having created a “giant sun,” (as opposed to…), Scientist #1 now blinks it out of existence. “A device like that could be invaluable in maintaining world peace,” Apache Chief opines. Uhhhhh…I guess? “But in the wrong hands,” Scientist #1 replies, “it could be disastrous.” Well, yeah, when you put it like that. Luckily, there’s no way they could ever learn about it. It’s not, say, Batman would have a conversation about their secret base in front of three of the galaxy’s most notorious supervillains.*
Oh, wait, no, he did. Ooops.[*I included Black Manta and Cheetah in that count, in case you’re confused.]
Therefore we are vastly unsurprised when they are interrupted by Sinestro & Co, who warp in from the Quard universe, I guess. So Sinestro can do that any time? How the hell does he ever get captured? Why does the Legion spend so much time breaking into things when he can just walk into them? That includes the Hall of Justice; hell, he and two others just teleported themselves out of one of their security cells.
And why hasn’t Sinestro evinced this power before? Why doesn’t have ever use it again after this episode? It’s like a game where you get a superpower card and only get to play it once. (Of course, that’s true for everyone. Green Lantern, you can bet, will never turn into a giant again, and naturally we will never hear of the Krell Machine again either.)
“It’s the Legion of Doom!” Flash exclaims, which is weird since he could have beaten them all up, stolen their clothes and dumped them in New Jersey in the same amount of time. Sinestro sniffily informs them, though, that they are no long association with those “common criminals.” Because if you were you going to raid the Legion of Doom for talent, I guess, Black Manta and Cheetah would be who you’d grab on the way out.
After a bit of mandatory trash talk, Apache Chief *gasp* utilizes his one superpower and grows to giant size. Seizing Cheetah by the tail, he yanks her up in the air. “It looks like the big Cheetah is only a little kitten now,” he preens. What a wad. However, Cheetah suddenly has a secret weapon she failed to use against another giant-sized foe literally four minutes ago.
Aiming her palm at Apache Chief, she unleashes a cloud of gas that, I guess, knocks him out while also causing him to slowly shrink back to normal size. It would have a lot funnier if he had just toppled over and crushed her to death. Especially since before she releases the gas, she says “The bigger they are, the harder they fall!”
Oh, so she has all the powers of a cat.
By the way, it’s really quite lame that when Green Lantern is a giant, he sends the entire Legion of Doom fleeing in terror in literally about ten seconds. Meanwhile, Apache Chief, the guy who grows into a giant for a living, can’t even capture freakin’ Cheetah without getting his ass whipped.
Black Manta produces a ray pistol and announces his intention “to take care of that oversized Indian.” First, he’s not oversized at the moment. Second, wow, you’d think a guy called Black Manta would be a little more aware of racial sensitivities. The Flash then stops to note that he “only got 1,000th of a second to stop Manta!” Of course, saying that takes him like three or four seconds, or roughly 4,000 times the amount of time he said he had, but anyway.
Since no one can punch anyone in this universe, Flash grabs up a nearby fire extinguisher and hoses Black Manta down. (Uh, Flash, you can pull the trigger faster, but that doesn’t mean the device will spray any faster; certainly not within a “1,000th of a second.”) I’m not sure why that keeps Black Manta from firing his gun, but OK. “That should extinguish your evil plans!” Flash cracks. Think about it. In ‘Flash time’ he had like fifty years to come up with a joke, and that was the best he could do.
It’s bewildering to watch anyone who doesn’t have Superman-like invulnerability not instantly fall to the Flash. Even if we say he doesn’t have instant reflexes, again, once he recognized him why hasn’t he grabbed a rope and tied all three of these guys up in a couple of milliseconds? The guy can move faster than the speed of light. How can he possibly be beaten by anyone short of a Superman or Bizarro?
Somehow, though, Sinestro gets the drop on him, despite the fact that he also pauses for a little trash talk. In the end, though, he somehow manages to enclose Flash and the recovered Apache Chief in his power ring beam. This time the beam encases them in a big yellow diamond. This is so dense that Flash can’t vibrate his atoms through it. (Yes, he’s fast enough to vibrate his very atoms through matter, but Sinestro still somehow captures him.)
”Man, I have got to start paying attention!”
In a really weird bit of bad mis-writing, they have Flash say “My molecules have transformed to diamond!” That’s what he says, it’s even reflected in the disc subtitles. Clearly what he should be saying is “Air molecules have transformed to diamond.” Then Cheetah says, “It looks like diamonds are a villain’s best friend! Purrrr, purrrr, ha, ha, ha ha!” (Note to Cheetah; purr or laugh, but doing both sounds weird.) Wow, she came up with a joke just as stupid as Flash’s but in a fraction of the time.
Suddenly a soldier calls out they the villains are surrounded, and sure enough, they somehow noiselessly positioned a bunch of battle tanks inside the lab. (??) Hey, at least they’re trying. However, Black Manta uses the Thought Actualizer to turn all the soldiers into young children. You know it’s a powerful weapon when it allows Black Manta to actually be effective. “This mental matter ray is the greatest weapon we’ve ever possessed!” he enthuses. Yeah, have to admit, it’s pretty sweet.
They still went vengeance against their erstwhile comrades, so they use the Army’s tracking computer (it’s in the lab with them, why not) to locate the Hall of Doom. This takes them about one second. You know, we’ve never gotten even the slightest indication that the Superfriends, possessor of a computer so supposedly badass that supergeniuses Luthor and Brainiac serially attempt to steal it, can track the Hall of Doom. But the Army can? Shenanigans.
Meanwhile, the Galactic Police, who sport some gawdawful, vaguely Judge Dredd-ish space uniforms, arrive to take in tow the supposedly captured villains into custody. “Sinestro, Black Manta and Cheetah are wanted throughout the galaxy,” the lead cop says. Black Manta!! Cheetah!!!! Oh, my gravy. “They won’t be giving us any more trouble,” Superman boasts. Ha, in your face, Superman.
”Hello, Superman, I’m Judge Gladd.”
Astoundingly, Batman recognizes the ersatz prisoners are robots right off. (Perhaps the glowing red eyes gave them away.) “It looks like they’ve pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book on us!” Superman ruefully admits. To be fair, they live in a universe in which switching one’s self with a robot probably is one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Proving even dumber, Superman nonchalantly puts his hand on one of them, and there’s a burst of light. All that’s left of him and the robots is a pile of ashes. This, if you remember, because the robots were made of anti-matter. Perhaps fearing that the kiddies in the audience would misconstrue Superman’s fate—although even a five year old would have thought they are actually going to kill Superman—they have Batman immediately blurt out, “Great Gotham! Superman must have been blown right out of the universe!”
And sure enough, for some reason Superman has been transported to the Quard Universe, the one Sinestro escaped through earlier.
Superman immediately identifies where he is, and he’s Superman (so he can see and presumably smell on a vast spectrum), so I actually kind of buy it. “The Universe of Quard,” he deduces, “where the highest goal is evil and justice is a crime.” Up is down, and doughnuts eat people. And so, because time’s a’wastin’, Superman is immediately confronted by an evil Space Knight. We can tell he’s a Space Knight, because he rides a unicorn. Yes, nothing says ‘evil’ like a unicorn. Good work.
Black Manta materialized him off this bitchin’ van he saw.
This fellow is Nartan, “the Black Knight of Krypton.” Huh?! Whatever, just go with it, I guess, or we’ll be here all day. “Banished to the Quard universe for crimes beyond the imagination,” he boasts. This is like when a movie trailer says a film takes place in “a world beyond imaging.” If that were true, they couldn’t make a movie about it; nor could Nartan have committed such crimes. And even if he did, how would he be adjudicated? ‘The prisoner is accused of…’crimes beyond the imagination.’ So…we can’t really describe them, I guess. What’s the sentence for that?’
Because left is right and salmon eat bears in this world, here Nartan is a lawman. (Lawful Evil, presumably.) “And you, Superman,” he explains, “are on the most wanted list.” Well, yeah, you’d think. Using his Space Energy Lance, Nartan whips up a giant glowing dragon to grapple with Supes. “It’s a Kryptonite energy form!” Superman expositories. Well, that’s not so hot.
Back to the Volcano Installation. Using the lab’s giant Televiewer (everyone has them), the now freelance villains call up on the Hall of Doom on the monitor. They catch them stealing the fuel from the Alaskan oil pipeline. Really? The big boy version of siphoning gas from a car tank? Man, these guys just really don’t care anymore.
Anyhoo, Black Manta uses the Thought Actualizer to create a duplicate of the Hall of Doom, the better to carry the fight to their old teammates. (Couldn’t Sinestro basically do that with his power ring? Isn’t that device, in fact, a Thought Actualizer? Still, I guess he doesn’t have to keep thinking about this ersatz Hall to keep it in existence, so there’s that.)
Back to the Quard Universe, where the Kryptonite Energy Dragon still has a hold of Superman. “I’ve got to use all my strength to stop this phantom dragon,” Superman says. To who, exactly? Ah, well, he’s probably delusional from radiation poisoning. He manages to break free. Then, having learned of the Power of Going in Super-Fast Circles from the Flash, he spins around the dragon until it, I guess, ceases to exist. Because that’s the kind of thing that happens when you do that.
I have to say, they are really inconsistent on the Kryptonite front. Sometimes a little exposure turns Superman weak as a kitten, here he still obviously enough juice for that maneuver.
Superman still needs help getting home, though. So he tells Nartan that “I’m still more powerful than anything you can dream of, Nartan. You’d have to use your energy lance at full force to effect me.” OK, see, I can buy that something is more powerful than Nartan can dream of. But what, Nartan can’t dream of something being defeated by his own energy lance at full strength? Think these things out, Superman!
Being a chump, Nartan unsurprisingly falls for this bald ruse. “Thanks for the information, Superman,” he replies. “I think I’ll do just that.” What a mook. By the way, doesn’t his lance shoot a Kryptonite beam? At full strength, wouldn’t that just kill Superman? Nope. Instead the beam causes an explosion which casts Superman back into his own universe. Hell, right back into the Hall of Justice. Because it does, that’s why.
The remaining Superfriends are standing around when Superman appears back in their midst. Now that he’s back, he learns that his assembled teammates are literally just standing around waiting for the villains to announce their presence. Again, the Army tracking computer found the Hall of Doom in like one second. Man, it’s hard to figure out which team is lamer.
So in Alaska, the Legion is siphoning the oil pipeline. “As soon as we have all of Alaska’s oil,”* Luthor reports to his comrades, “the Legion of Doom will hold the strings on America’s industry!” Their next plan: Siphon all the nation’s Starbuck’s coffee, leaving the populace groggy and unprepared for attack.[*Note to Luthor: Not all of “Alaska’s oil” would be in the pipeline.]
I’ll say this for the show; it’s actually gotten enough continuity now that in neither the Hall of Justice nor the Hall of Doom did we see any of the characters established to be off-site. This might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but we saw that sort of thing all the time in the earlier episodes. At the Legion’s meeting table in this scene they even drew three empty chairs to indicate where Sinestro, Cheetah and Black Manta would normally be sitting.
Suddenly they are interrupted by the Hall’s Intruder Alarm, which is weird, since there aren’t any intruders. However, they do spot the duplicate Hall of Doom on their own Televiewer. Suddenly a beam shoots out from the Duplicate Hall and smashes into the original. The Legion members are thrown into a panicked tizzy. This might seem pretty lame, but then they are used to fighting the Superfriends, who would never actually ‘attack’ anyone.
Caught unawares, the real Hall of Doom takes quite a pounding. Again, you sort of have to ignore the fact that they could just send out Bizarro to batter the Duplicate Hall into oblivion, but that sort of thing never happens, so why start now? Indeed, all the Legion members just stand around shouting like helpless weaklings. Two or three of the greatest supergeniuses in the universe, and they all are just standing their wetting their pants. (Or, in Brainiac’s case, his shorts.)
With their defenses fried, the Hall of Doom is a sitting duck. Answering my earlier query as to which team was lamer, Luthor goes for the gold by…calling in the Superfriends to save their asses. You’d think they’d at least have him say something like, “Let our enemies fight themselves. Whoever loses, the Legion of Doom will be the winner!” But they don’t. Luthor is just a sniveling punk who pleads for his enemies’ help the moment he gets into trouble.
The call is quickly picked up at the Hall of Justice. For the first time ever, the Superfriends actually assume this call for help is a trap. However, when their scanner shows the Hall of Doom being battered by its duplicate, they realize Luthor’s telling the truth. Then they all break out laughing, turn off the Televiewer and Wonder Woman kicks Aquaman in the crotch.
”Quick! Somebody make popcorn!”
Well, that’s what should happen. Of course, instead the Superfriends dutifully head out to save the Legion’s bacon. Superman is annoyed enough for once, though, that he finally allows Green Lantern to belay the fiction that all of the Justice League members are equally useful. “The three of us,” Green Lantern says, including Superman and Black Vulcan, “can get there the fastest. Let’s go.”*
[*Wait, I thought Aquaman was the fastest by dint of his sea horse. The volcano lab is on an island, after all. But more seriously, what about Wonder Woman and Batman’s jets? Still, I kind of like this new, “Smell you later, losers” reality streak we’re seeing here.]
Meanwhile, Sinestro & Co. decide they’ve incapacitated their former comrades, and use the Thought Actualizer to whisk everyone—minus the Halls of Doom—back to the Volcano Installation. Their fellow miscreants, unsurprisingly, are safely contained in an energy bubble.
Sinestro reads them the riot act for having abandoned them. In answer, Toyman (!) literally whines that they were going to come back for them, at some unspecified point in the future, I guess. The funniest line is when an equally irate Black Manta promises “You’ll regret the day you left us for dead!” For dead?! From the Superfriends?! Not the mention all the torture and sexual humiliations.
Meanwhile, Supes, Green Lantern and Black Vulcan have arrived at the place of battle, only to find the contestants gone from the scene. “Our only chance is to split up and search the globe,” Black Vulcan muses. I guess nobody has noticed how the world’s highest security Army base, scheduled to test the world’s most powerful weapon a few hours ago, has fallen off the grid. (Also, the soldiers had time to surround Sinestro & Co. there, but didn’t bother to send out an SOS or anything?)
“I’ll check the Western Hemisphere,” Black Vulcan decides. “I’ll scan the east, Superman,” Green Lantern continues. “You check over the oceans.” Which apparently are in neither the Eastern nor Western Hemispheres, I guess. “While Black Vulcan, Green Lantern and Superman scour the planet,” the Omniscient Narrator booms, “a deadly revenge is about to unleashed on the Legion of Doom.”*
[*Note: The revenge is not deadly.]
“Now you’ll find out what happens when you play games with us,” Sinestro chortles. Black Manta uses the Actualizer to, well, encase their former teammates in transparent energy bowling pins. Seriously. Then, not to surprise the hell out of you, but he also materializes a giant bowling ball to scatter said pins. Again, I can’t say this ‘revenge’ seems particularly ‘deadly.’
Also, isn’t this more of a Toyman sort of revenge? I can’t really say it smacks overmuch of Black Manta.
At least if Toyman were doing it, he’s use some of the obvious puns; “Aren’t you going to beg us to spare you” or “You never should have split on us” or “I think you’ll find this right up your alley” or “Here’s where we strike back” or…well, you get the idea.
Still imprisoned in their diamond, Flash and Apache Chief look on. You’d think they’d be enjoying the show. Yet of course they’re the good guys, and so they don’t. Instead, they pretty much ignore what is, after all, a pretty amazing site (even for them), and work on an escape plan.
“If I can just vibrate fast enough,” Flash opines, “I may be able to give off a high-pitched signal that the Superfriends can pick up.” Really, it took him several hours to come up with that idea? The Flash only does two things on this show; runs in circles real fast, which is hard to do when trapped inside a confined space, and vibrate real fast. What a lunkhead. Also, he’s vibrated real fast before, and I don’t remember the result being a “high-pitched signal.” I guess there are various types of vibrating real fast.
Superman, “thousands of miles away,” hears the signal. Because, uh, he’s Superman, I guess. He hears that one thing. This after, as he expositories to himself, he’s “scanned millions of square miles” of the Earth. Using his little communicator, which he’s holding in his hand as he flies and which is nothing like the walkie-talkie ones Batman and Flash used earlier, he contacts Green Lantern and Black Vulcan. He gives them the signal frequency—30,000 megacycles, for those keeping track—so that they can triangulate Flash’s location.
And, wheeeeeeeee, a continuity error! When we cut to a close up of Black Vulcan, his arms are flesh colored. In the next shot, meanwhile, they apparently remembered his costume includes sleeves. Ah, that takes me back.
Back at the base, Sinestro & Co. have removed the others from their transparent energy bowling pins, and…shrunk them and stuck them in transparent energy pool balls. These, needless to say, they are playing pool with. I should point out that Sinestro is the owner of (except for the Actualizer) the galaxy’s most powerful weapon, one the effectiveness of which relies on the willpower and imagination of the person wielding it.
So transitioning from battering the Legionnaires trapped in bowling pins to battering the Legionnaires trapped in pool balls perhaps explains why his crowd keeps getting beaten by lameoids like the Superfriends. “I’d say you’re behind the eight ball now,” he snickers. Oh, Sinestro. Then he calls for “Captain Cold in the corner pocket.” So he’s trying at least. Personally I would think “Time for you to be subjected to the rack” would be funnier, but tastes vary. And really, how do you skip “Here’s your cue”?
“No more!” Luthor whines. “We’ve had enough!” What a wuss! This guy fights Superman for a living?! Admittedly, though, in a universe in which no one is ever subjected to real physical duress, I guess these ‘tortures’ are pretty extreme. (Although again, hardly “deadly,” as they were described before.)
So Cheetah goes from “We’re not done yet” to “I think they’ve learned their lesson” in about five seconds flat. What, no battering them in transparent energy tetherballs? Or battering them in transparent energy hacky sack bags? Or battering them in transparent energy ping pong balls? Or battering them in transparent energy bowling pins…oh, wait. They did that one. Never mind.
So Black Manta uses the Actualizer to free his comrades, as Sinestro & Co.’s thirst for (not all that deadly) revenge has apparently been slaked. “Perhaps now we can resume our partnership in crime,” Manta concludes, walking away from the Actualizer. However, and I hope you’re sitting down for this, now the other Legionnaires are pissed off. “Not before you pay for what you’ve done,” Luthor exclaims. Maybe we’ll still get that tetherball thing after all.
Their bickering is interrupted by a glance at the televiewer, though, which shows Superman, Green Lantern and Black Vulcan speeding their way. Toyman grabs the Actualizer helmet (why the hell are the others letting losers like Black Manta and Toyman run this thing?!), and conjures up giant watery hands to grab the heroes as they fly over the ocean. So when Black Manta uses it, he conjures toy-like stuff, and when Toyman uses it, he creates water-based menaces. Stupid writers.
“The Superfriends are about to face their doomsday!” Toyman giggles. Wow, he said the title! Since these hands are created by thought-power, they prove impervious to the Superfriends’ powers. As the three heroes are grabbed up, Luthor snickers, “Not even Superman and Green Lantern are a match for the power of the mind.” (Even Toyman’s, apparently.) Hey, what about Black Vulcan, dick? He’s actually useful. I mean, if it were Hawkman, OK.
With the destruction of their teammates close to hand (see what I did there), Apache Chief slowly notes “We’ve got to break free and help the other Superfriends.” Nothing gets past that guy. Unlike the Flash, who just now decides that maybe more superfast vibrating might shatter the diamond. Of course, you’d have to think he’d just liquefy Apache Chief, who presumably lacks the (physical) density of diamond.
Still, the episode’s almost over, so it works. “There are too many of the Legion of Doom to handle ourselves,” Apache Chief notes. Well, considering he earlier got punked by Cheetah, of all people, I’d have to think so. Luckily, a nearby control panel has a handy button (which somehow he knows what it does) to trigger an eruption of the volcano they’re sitting on. Because, why not?
So he turns this to create an eruption, which panics all the Legionnaires, even the invulnerable ones like Solomon Grundy and Bizarro. Man, I’m starting to feel outraged on their behalf. Also, the art here is horrible. Soloman Grundy is, like Black Vulcan before him, miscolored, while the heavily off-model Bizarro looks like a pasty Richard Nixon for some reason.
Man, I don’t even want to know what Bizarro is doing back there.
Apache Chief then runs for the now unattended (??) Actualizer—because he’d get there faster than Flash, I guess—and uses it to deactivate the Water Hands. Then Flash turns off the Eruption Button, the one Apache Chief was turning on five seconds ago. Yes, that totally makes sense.*
[*Actually, as evidenced by the show so far, we know the Flash thinks really slow, so maybe Apache Chief using the Actualizer makes more sense than I initially thought.]
With the eruption forestalled, the Legionnaires regroup. Luthor notes as Apache Chief did before that, “So the two of you thought you could stop all 13 of us, did you?” For whatever reason, Apache Chief has left the Actualizer—what the hell, people—so the point is again valid. However, not for long, as Superman, Green Lantern and Black Vulcan make the scene a second later. “This time it’s doomsday for the Legion of Doom!” Superman predicts. Wow, he said the title too!
Instead of grabbing control of the Actualizer again—which they just used to stymy the most powerful Superfriends like three minutes ago—Black Manta attempts to threaten Superman with the Army’s “new laser tank.” This proves about as effective as you’d suspect, given the whole ‘Superman’ thing. Superman just punches the tank, which traps it and Black Manta inside a laser force field or something. Because SCIENCE!
“You super chumps will wish you’d never found us when I get through with you!” Sinestro spleens. I’m pretty sure a remark like that requires him to continue with “I’m going to murdelize the bunch of you,” although sadly he doesn’t. Instead, he uses his power ring to make a giant energy rat. This grabs Black Vulcan, who I guess forgot he can turn into lightning. However, Sinestro himself apparently that his archenemy Green Lantern has the same powers he does. So GL trumps him by making an even larger giant energy cat to chase off the giant energy rat.*
[*I know Green Lantern’s energy powers don’t work on yellow objects, but I guess they work on yellow energy constructs? Or something?]
With only a minute of runtime left, Apache Chief proves the only guy in the room to remember the Actualizer, so he returns to it and dons the helmet. He traps the Legionnaires in a transparent energy egg carton. (No, really.)
“This is your fault, Cheetah!” Luthor snaps. “You never should have attempted to take over a military installation.” Being a chick, Cheetah takes this entirely valid constructive criticism personally. “I don’t know why we ever decided to forgive you,” she sniffs. Take that, Lex! Burn! However, I can think of other rejoinders she may have tried:
“Uh, Sinestro and Black Manta were also in on the thing, so how am I alone to blame, YOU MORON?!”
“Uh, what about our predicament here was predicated solely on us being on a military base? We weren’t defeated by the military, YOU MORON!!”
“Uh, you’re the only who just this morning sent me in a torpedo to single-handedly take over the world’s largest aircraft carrier, YOU MORON!!”
By the way, Luthor better watch it. Before he skipped mentioning Black Vulcan, and now he’s singling out Cheetah for blame. He’s going to have HR all over his ass if he doesn’t lay off the minorities.
“Good work, Apache Chief!” Green Lantern enthuses. Yeah, sure, because it takes a lot of skill to work a device that almost allowed Toyman to kill Superman. “This should teach the Legion of Doom a lesson,” Superman agrees. “Never keep your eggs all in one basket.* Even if they are hard-boiled.” (???) And…wrap.
[*It’s not a basket.]
You might have noticed at some point that this episode doesn’t have much of a throughline. The last episode, Fairy Tale of Doom, had a central premise and stuck with it. This chapter smacks to me of a program nearing the end of its run. The writers, bereft of any decent plot, just grabbed all the notecards of half-assed plot ideas off the office bulletin board and basically taped them together into a script of sorts:
- · The Legion attempts to capture an aircraft carrier.
- · The Hall of Justice gets more chairs.
- · There’s a breakout in the (newly introduced) Hall of Justice prison section.
- · Civil war in the Legion.
- · The Legion attempts to steal a Thought Actualizer.
- · Superman is cast into and stranded within an anti-matter universe.
- · Superman fights an evil Space Knight.
And so on. Frankly, it’s not very satisfying.
Then there’s the way the show in general works over time to showcase all its myriad characters. I mean, they do try. Here comparatively obscure villains and heroes like Cheetah, Black Manta, Aquaman and Apache Chief each get the spotlight. Over the course of the show, pretty much every hero and villain has had several moments in the sun.
But other than their (often vague) powers, there’s not much to differentiate any of them. No one really has a personality, per se, other than the Superfriends being collectively ‘good’ and the Legionnaires being collectively ‘bad.’ No one seems to like or dislike any one teammate over another, on either side of the aisle. It’s not like we learn anything about Sinestro or Cheetah or Black Manta as they occupy center stage all episode. You could switch out any of them with any of the other villains with no real consequence.
It’s an OK episode, but let’s hope they raise the bar a bit for the final two chapters.