Back at the Hall of Justice, the assembled Superfriends are, per usual, standing around in front of their giant TV monitor. A Scotland Yard detective is explaining that the Crown Jewels had been stolen, but were already retrieved and returned by the Legion of Good. Superman admits that the whole reformation thing is weird, but notes, “all the evidence seems to prove they’re all right!” And really, it’s hard to argue with him. The Legion’s been up to this for hours now.
Further discussion is delayed when a bald alien from the planet Santar calls to explain that solar flares are threatening that world. Here we get what might well be the single funniest line the show ever provided:
Superman: “Santar is trillions of light-years from Earth. We’ll have to leave immediately!”
However, before they can get going, Lex Luthor’s visage pops up on the monitor. He’s all “Nah, dawg, we got it.” Then he turns away—amusingly enough, although he’s presumably cut the feed to the Hall of Justice, we see little evidence of this—and begins (oh, no!) laughing evilly. “We’ll show them we’re good, all right!” he chortles. “Good at conquering justice! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Now, you might have noticed that all this has apparently little connection to the episode’s title. This quandary is answered when the Riddler (!!) follows up Lex’s statement by exclaiming, “And we’ll go it by traveling far into the future, where there aren’t any Superfriends to bother us!” With this declaration, he then promises to “Leave a clue on planet Santar!”
OK. Two points. First, if your basic plot involves escaping into the future, what’s with all the rigmarole involving the Legion of Good? Why not just disappear, or fake your deaths and disappear? I really don’t see that pretending to be good guys adds anything to the deception.
Second, I know the Riddler’s ‘riddles’ are generally meant to lead the Superfriends into a trap. However, when even he starts calling these leads ‘clues,’ maybe it’s time to start leaving him out of the equation.
Anyway, he takes off in a small space rocket (albeit one apparently equipped to travel “trillions of light-years”), promising to lead their foes “on a wild riddle chase!” Again, why even bother? If you plan to disappear into the future, just get on with it.
Here the Narrator kicks in: “As the Riddler speeds off to Planet Santar, the entire Hall of Doom is hurled into the uncertain future! Thousands of years later, in the year 3984â€¦” Said future finds the earth a desolate wasteland, although we do see a futuristic bubble city. Said city is oddly situated right near an actively erupting volcano, which seems weird, but what do I know? In any case, this seems like a sort of bleak world to bother conquering, all things considered.
Cut to a control room, in which three people, presumably the city’s leaders, are standing before a giant monitor screen. (The more things changeâ€¦) There’s an old dude with, naturally, a tall staff and a long white beard; a fit young black guy; and a girl who, given that this is the future, is of course wearing a matching red ensemble consisting of boots, shower cap and a legless pair of leotards, accessorized by a white half cape and gold belt.
On the monitor, they watch as some shaggy, brutish primitives shoot lasers from their hands (?) at the city’s protective dome. “Yerba,” the woman gasps, “the Barlocks [oh, brother] are attacking the city again!” The Old Man (suddenly sans staff) reassures her. “Don’t worry, Zemora,” he says. “The protective domes have kept them out of Earth’s cities for hundreds of years!” Uhm, wouldn’t she know that? And is it really necessary to say “Earth’s” cities. What other planet’s cities have the *cough* Barlocks been attacking?
Perhaps it’s the younguns’ first day on the job, though, for Black Guy is equally worried. “But if they break into our capital city,” he asserts, “they could get control of the entire planet!” Really? That’s an odd system. Anyway, Yerba the Elder assures them that this will never happen. So saying he turns on some spotlights, which send the illumination-sensitive *snicker* Barlocks fleeing back to their caves. I guess Yerba’s right. It’s difficult to truly fear an invading force you can shoo off with a Maglight.
Meanwhile, a party from the Legion of Doom is preparing to assay forth. This consists of Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, andâ€¦Toyman, Cheetah and Black Manta (!). Good grief, that’s like redesigning the commando team from Predator to include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and three clones of Screech from Saved by the Bell. “According to our sensors,” Lex asserts, “the capital city of Earth is just beyond those distant hills!” Er, doesn’t the Hall of Doom fly? Why take off for ‘distant’ hills on foot when you can just fly closer?
The team sets off and soon finds itself surrounded by a handful of Barlocks. If Lex had a better sense of humor, he’d say, “Grundy and I are heading onâ€¦the rest of you handle this,” and then watch all three of them crap their pants. “Why,” we can imagine Black Manta sputtering, shaking his fist at their attackers, “if we were on the water, and I had my boat, I’d murdalize ya!” Instead, he says, “If this is what the people of Earth are like now, we should have little trouble taking over the planet!” Again, thoughâ€¦why would you want to?
Typically, though, things end with Black Manta getting totally humiliated. He’s no sooner done boasting then one of the Barlocks fires a yellow beam from his hand, which creates an energy field that surrounds the Legion members. (Whatever, dude.) Anyway, they’ve given one Barlock dark hair, apparently so that we can pick him out as the leader. With the Legionnaires thus trapped, Dark Hair orders that they be taken to the Barlock’s caves.
Cut to the cave, where the Legionnaires stand before a whole half dozen Barlocks. (What are the other Legionnaires doing? Wouldn’t they be monitoring their comrades?) Dark Hair accuses Lex and the others—even Toyman?—of being sent from the City to destroy them. “Now we will punish you!” he declares. So saying he fires another yellow beam at them.
However, Black Manta deflects this with a mirror, or something, and the beam ends up trapping Dark Hair and his, er, men. (You know it’s embarrassing when you get punked by a guy whose main claim to fame is that he is Aquaman’s archenemy.) That’s funny. The Barlocks were all spread out in a shot seen five seconds ago, but now they are suddenly clustered together in a tight group, allowing them to be captured all at once. Weird.
You know, it’s common knowledge that of the various permutation of the Superfriends back in the ’70s, this was the best skein. (And just think about that for a moment.) One oft stated reason is the lack of ‘comic’ sidekicks, like the Wonder Twins. More often mentioned, however, is the presence of authentic supervillains, no matter how emasculated, for the Superfriends to fight, rather than generic mad scientists and the like.
However, when you get down to it, this probably remains the most popular batch of episodes because the Superfriends are so seldom onscreen. Seriously, this year should really have been collectively called The Challenge of the Legion of Doom. This episode is typical in that regard. We’re about seven minutes in (minus the opening credit sequence), and I think the Superfriends have been featured for maybe a minute or two. Otherwise, it’s all Legion of Doom, baby, and that’s just the way the kiddies liked it. I mean seriously, would you rather be watching Solomon Grundy, or Hawkman? Grodd the Gorilla, or Apache Chief? I think we all know the answer.
Having actually accomplished something for once, Black Manta is in a magnanimous mood. “They seem to have great powers,” he allows, “but don’t know how to use them too well.” Toyman is for getting rid of them, but of course Luthor thinks they are exactly the tools they need to take over the city. Really? Dude, you’ve got Solomon Grundy and Bizarro on your side. And they aren’t even afraid of flashbulbs.
Setting them free with a ray gun blast (um, exactly what sort of ray gun is that?), Luthor offers to cut the Barlocks in on ruling the city if they provide their help. Dark Hair naturally agrees to this. Even assuming that Luthor intends to double-cross his new allies at some point, this plan still seems like more trouble than it’s worth. But then, I’m not an Evil Supergenius. On the other hand, he’s never really beaten the Superfriends, so Lex could probably use all the help on the strategy front he can get. “The Earth will soon be ours!” Luthor gloats. Yeah, the utterly decimated Earth and all its mutants. Whoooo!
We now (finally) return to the series’ nominal stars. “Back in time,” the Narrator reminds us, “at the Hall of Justiceâ€¦.” The Superfriends are naturally just standing around, yakking. “I wonder how our newly changed Legion of Good is doing?” Superman ponders.
The answer arrives quickly, when they receive another message from Santar. On the telescreen we see a city literally wilting from the solar heat generated by the planet’s twin suns. “Superfriends, I don’t understand,” the alien ambassador moans. “You could have helped us, but now it’s too late!” Does this mean the planet was destroyed while the Superfriends sat on their asses? I mean, the Legion of ‘Good’ says, “We’ve got this,” and the Leaguers just shrug and go back to watching Oprah and don’t even bother to call Santar to see what’s happening? What a bunch of morons!
Of course, they aren’t really going to let the Superfriends be responsible for the destruction of an entire populated planet (as amusing as that thought is). So the Justice League finally gets going. Indeed, in the next scene they’re suddenly on the planet, which, should I need to remind you, is “trillions of light-years from Earth.”
Amidst a completely devastated city, the Ambassador is meeting with Wonder Woman, Black Vulcan and *snicker* Hawkman. Lest I need point it out, two of this selfsame triad couldn’t deal with an impaled blimp a while ago. As the surrounding destruction would indicate, however, they’ve already arrived too late.I’m not sure what they can do about massive solar flares, but I’m sure they’ll do something.]
“Our planet is finished!” the ambassador moans. Here the noble superheroes immediately jump into action by attempting to deflect any responsibility for this. “If not for the Legion of Doom,” Hawkman replies, “we could have saved Santar!” Actually, you ass, you could have saved it anyway. You just chose not to. ‘Oh, well, maybe these same villains who have been threatening the universe all this time really have reformed, and will save Santar while we just sit around on our butts back on Earth. Only one way to find outâ€¦oops!’
Suddenly the floating Hall of Doom appears above them, although I’m assuming this is a hologram. The bottom of this acts like a giant screen, and the Riddler appears to offer them aid in foiling the Legion’s latest scheme. (Again, what kind of superpower is that?) “Now I’ve got a riddle for you! We’ll slip through your fingers if you give us the room, so be very careful or you’ll end up tombed.” Actually, it’s ‘en’tombed, you moron.
The three superheroes chase after the purported Hall of Doom as it flees into space. Hawkman again doesn’t need oxygen, I guess, or even a shirt. But how would his wings work in space? Or Wonder Woman’s airplane, for that matter. Moreover, how do they keep in a group? Wonder Woman has a supersonic jet, while Black Vulcan literally moves as fast as lightning. Can Hawkman really achieve those kinds of speed?
Anyway, the Hall of Doom appears to blow up as they pursue it. “Great Hera,” Wonder Woman exclaims, “the Hall of Doom exploded!” Maybe they should call themselves the Super Obvious Friends. However, all is not as it seems. “It was just an inflated decoy!” Black Vulcan reports. Yes, that makes a lot more sense than a hologram.
However, this in itself is a trap. “Oh, no,” Hawkman gasps. “The gas it was filled with is breaking down our molecular structure!” (Gas as a weapon in a total vacuum?!) Wonder Woman immediately grasps the problem. “In a few moments,” she says, as they begin to fade from sight, “our atoms will be scattered into space!” If you say so.
Back to the Legion. Lex has given his orders to the Barlocks, who set out to put them into effect. I was kind of hoping that Lex would prove to have just issued them sunglasses to neutralize the City’s spotlights, but sadly that wasn’t so. Instead, the Legion stands outside the city’s entrance and pretends to be under attack by the Barlocks. “They’re not Barlocks!” Wise Old Yerba cries in the control room. “They’re like us!” Yes, including the massive albino zombie, scarecrow guy, chalky reverse-Superman and huge gorilla.
Falling for this devilishly clever scheme, they open the gates to give the Legion sanctuary. The Legionnaires, however, jam the gate open (somehow), allowing the marauding Barlocks to enter. “Halt, or we’ll freeze you!” warn a pair of security guys with jetpacks, which only allows the Barlocks time to immobilize them with their yellow beams. So the various cities’ guardians have had centuries to plan for this eventuality, and this is what they’ve come up with? Good job. There is a secondary defense, but it’s an energized fence, which Bizarro takes take of in quick order.
Meanwhile, the Barlocks roam through the city, surprising any number of security guys from behind. This is because the city apparently doesn’t have an alarm system. Good grief. Again, what’s even the point of taking over this future world? So you can boss around a collection of mutants and congenital dumbasses?
Distracted by the sight of the Barlocks on the Viewing Screen, the Three Guardians are caught off guard when the entire Legion magically pops up in their control chamber. Black Manta (seriously, guys, you’re getting pwned by Black Manta) swipes Black Guy’s gun before he even knows the villains are in the room. And needless to say, neither Yerba nor Zemora have weapons, because they are, respectively, old and a chick. I guess maybe Zemora could throw hot coffee at them or something, but she doesn’t.
“You tricked us,” Zemora pouts. “We thought you needed help!” Luthor chortles in reply. “We did,” he sneers. “Help to get us into the city, so we could take it over!” Burn! “It’s time we announced to the world that they have new leaders,” Black Manta interjects. Man, that guy’s really feeling his oats today. “At last,” he concludes, “The Legion of Doom has conquered the Earth.” Well, yeah, sort of. I guess. Not “the Earth” as it’s generally understood, but if you’re happyâ€¦.
Back to Santarian space, where Hawkman, Wonder Woman (and her plane) and Black Vulcan continue to slowly fade away into nothingness. Say, isn’t Black Vulcan living electricity? What kind of gas would work both on him and normal biologicals? Or maybe I’ve got his powers wrong. Hell, on this show the writers usually didn’t know who could do what, or, for that matter, who needed an air helmet in space. Whatever.
“Wait a minute!” Black Vulcan exclaims. Yes, in the vacuum of space. “If I can create a magnetic field with my lightning energy,” he muses, “our atoms may be able to pull back together!” Yes, that sounds highly scientific. Apparently Black Vulcan uses ‘magnetic fields’ the same way the Flash uses running around in tight circles at super-speed: to do any damn thing he wants. Which is pretty convenient, actually.
In fact, after writing that, I resumed watching the episode and learned that Black Vulcan creates this magnetic field byâ€¦flying around in a tight circle at super-speed. Circles. Is there anything they can’t do? “It’s working!” Wonder Woman exclaims. Whew, I was really worried for a while there.
This accomplished, they immediately radio the Riddler’s clue back to the Hall of Justice, so that the remaining heroes can set to work ciphering out its undoubtedly retarded ‘meaning.’ My prediction is something like this:
Batman: “We’ll slip through your fingers if you give us the room / so be very careful or you’ll end up tombed.”
Robin: “Holy Temporal Anomalies! Time slips through our fingers!”
Batman: “You’re right, Robin! The Legion of Doom must have traveled into the distant future! And ‘tombed’ sounds like ‘two’, so they must have traveled two thousand years!”
Wonder Woman relays a tape of the Riddler offering his clue. Despite the fact this is purportedly a replay, however, the riddle is actually different this time. Good continuity, morons. I mean, seriously.
First Version: “We’ll slip through your fingers if you give us the room / so be very careful or you’ll end up tombed.”
Second Version: “We’ll slip through your fingers if you give us the room / so be very careful or you’ll end up in a tomb.”
This aside, let the solving commence:
Batman: “Slip through your fingers, end up in a tombâ€¦that’s it! What slips through your fingers?”
Batman: And where will you find a tomb in the sand?”
Robin: “Holy pharaohs, of course! The pyramids of Egypt!”
Ah, I forget to account for the fact that there’s still nine minutes of show left, and so the Superfriends must go on a wild goose chase before confronting the Legion in the future. More embarrassingly, I forgot the Rule of Three. This is only the Riddler’s second clue. My bad. And so Batman and Robin take off in the Batplane, with Samurai flying along behind under his own power.
Back to the future. We watch as a series of giant statues in the likenesses of the Legion are erected throughout the City, which is actually sort of amusing. Like that would be your first order of business. (Also, shouldn’t Giganta’s statue be like ten times bigger than everyone else’s? There’s an argument I’d have liked to have seen.)
This is, naturally, the Gloating Stage, and the Legionnaires are taking full advantage of it. Inside some chamber, Black Manta, Lex and Cheetah look over a table heaped with treasure, as the Monitor shows the statues going up. “Gold! Jewels! Statues erected in our honor!” Black Manta preens. “An entire planet at our feet,” Sinestro agrees, lazing in a hover-couch, while a nearby Toyman sucks at (I swear) what I can only assume is a highly futuristic juice box, “and all the comforts of the Fortieth Century.”
First, this “entire” planet seems mostly to be a collection of isolated domed cities, so that’s sort of defining the term ‘planet’ down a bit. Second, Sinestro came from a pretty futuristic alien race, so I’d imagine he could have enjoyed a floating recliner without having gone to quite this much trouble. Still, juice boxâ€¦oh, and it too floats. A floating juice box!! You can’t argue with that.
Luthor, however, still has a bit of conqueritis. And who can blame him? They pop into the future, ad hoc a plan minutes after meeting the Barlocks, and manage to take over the ‘entire’ planet in about a half hour flat. “I say it’s not enough!” Lex declares. “Why be satisfied with the Earth when, with the power at our disposal, we could rule the galaxy!”
“With the Barlocks under our command,” he continues, “we could conquer every planet within the Milky Way!” Sez who? Since he knows absolutely nothing about these planets’ varied defensive capabilities, this seems a bold claim. I mean, what if tons of planets out there have their own, potentially even more powerful, versions of the Justice League? What if other versions of the Legion of Doom have already taken over their respective planets, and would naturally oppose this one sticking their nose in?
In contrast to my own doubts, however, Grodd finds Lex to be a bit of a piker. “Why stop there?” he slurps. “Before long, we could control the entire universe?” You know, I’m not even really sure what that means, much less how you would accomplish it. And “before long”? Really? The entire universe?
To be fair, though, this actually is one of the program’s few legitimate reasons for why the Legion never wins in the end. They never consolidate their victories. Like Hitler, they just keep pressing on, stretching out their forces until a grand collapse is almost inevitable. This is the same thing that keeps the Legion from just eliminating one Superfriend at a time. Whenever they have one or two of heroes at their mercy, they roll the dice trying to get all of them at once. Frankly, I’m not even sure they want to conquer the world, or the galaxy, or the universe. This whole thing sounds like a cry for help to me.
Cut to Lex, Sinestro and Black Manta (seriously, what the hell?) standing before some space rockets. “I’ll lead the first wave into sector 13,” Lex announces. “Good!” Black Manta replies. “I’ll take the second fleet into the outer galaxy region!” Wow, they really have the particulars of this plan nailed down, don’t they? After this, four space rockets take off. Er, from that I assume each ‘fleet’ is composed of two ships? Oh, yeah, this scheme couldn’t possibly fail.[Say what you will, though, you again have to take your hats off to the writers for trying to cram this much lunacy into 20 minutes of cartoon. Let’s see, Legion reformsâ€¦ endangered alien planetâ€¦ time travelâ€¦ death trapâ€¦ escape from death trapâ€¦ wild goose chaseâ€¦ conquering of planetâ€¦ plans to take over universeâ€¦. And we’re now a tad more than thirteen minutes into things, including the opening credits.
I will note again, though, that the whole “We’ve reformed and we’re now good guys” thing that opened the show has had absolutely not a thing to do with anything that’s followed. It like they came up with it after looking at all the other stuff they had on the board and saying, “Well, that’s not 20 minutes worth of material.”]
Meanwhile, back to Egypt of the present day. Hilariously, we see Batman, Robin and Samurai trudging around a pyramid with flashlights. “This is the last pyramid,” Robin notes. Apparently they’ve already searched all the others. On foot. Speaking of, why does this show insist that people who could fly, like Superman or Samurai, would walk around so much?
Again, though, seriously? You’ve been searching all the various chambers of all the various pyramids on foot? How long have you been at this? If a foot search was in the cards, wouldn’t it have made sense to send the Flash, who could have run to Egypt, searched every pyramid, and returned with his report before the others even realized he’d left? Man, they’ve really got to think this stuff out better.
And so they enter the very last empty chamber in the very last pyramid, having heretofore found nothing. As the final room is also empty, they decide they must have gotten the clue wrong when suddenly the Riddler appears behind them. (That was his master plan? To follow them around all this time, until they’d searched every pyramid? Oy gevalt. On the other hand, we are talking the Riddler here, so it’s not like he’d have anything better to do.)
Inevitably calling them “Super-fools,” the Riddler admits that they “figured out my clue perfectly.” Yes, that Riddles for Two Year-Olds book really comes in handy. However, as he notes, “You weren’t careful, and you wound up in a tomb!” So saying, he pulls a switch and the Superfriends are trapped behind a falling door.By the way, what are the odds that the very last chamber amongst all the various pyramids these guys ended up in was the one with the trap? Seems unlikely, doesn’t it. The Riddler must have been following them around thinking, “Damn, you’ve got to be *&#~$(@ kiddin’ me here.”
“He’s trapped us!” Batman exclaims. “These walls must be a foot thick!” Yeah, boy, what a quandary. I mean, Samurai has all sorts of admittedly ill-defined superpowers, and Batman not only has explosives, but probably a Bat De-Tombing Spray in his utility belt. (That’s actually the sort of thing he carries even when he doesn’t know he’s going to a tomb.) So this doesn’t exactly seem as awesome a death trap as the one with the exploding fake Hall of Doom that was filled with gas that disintegrates you in space.
My theory? Maybe the Riddler spent so much time dicking around on that one, giggling and drawing little pictures of Wonder Woman’s bra disintegrating (or, knowing him, Black Vulcan’s codpiece) in the margins of the schematics, that when he looked at his watch he realized he’d have to whip up the second death trap on the fly. Sort of like in school, when you’d have a block of text to stick in a box, only you realized halfway through that you’d been writing too big, so you had to start writing smaller and smaller to fit everything in there? That sort of thing.
So, wow, I guess they’re doomed, right. No, because Batman reaches into his utility belt, and produces—I swear to Jabootu—a “Bat mini-jack.” He then uses this to jack open the stone door the Riddler dropped. (Luckily, the door doesn’t quite reach the floor, allowing for the jack to be easily inserted.) I was sort of hoping that right behind the door they’d find the Riddler standing there with a gun, and he’d be all, “Like I didn’t know that would happen!” and shoot them in the head. Sadly, not so much.
However, probably because he’s such a suuuuper-genius, the Riddler somehow did anticipate the slight, ever so remote possibility that the heroes would manage to overcome his, uh, door. By the way, I like how they took all of 20 seconds to get out of the room, but exit at an extremely sedate saunter, as if there was no way they were going to catch up with the Riddler at this point. Yeah, he could literally be several yards away by now.
“It looks like the Riddler was prepared for our escape,” Samurai notes, pointing out another (the third!) ‘riddle’ scrawled on the hallway wall:
“You escaped with your lives,
but to us you’re long dead
If you bet you can find us
we’ll be a dollar ahead!”
Now here’s the thing. It’s not so much that the Riddler is a useless dick whose only ‘super’ ability involves leaving behind clues that help the Superfriends foil the Legion’s plans. It’s that the rest of the Legion seems entirely cool with this. They even make his shenanigans part of their schemes. After conquering future “Earth,” the Legionnaires all sit and float around and talk about how good it is not to have the Superfriends in their hair. (Well, Lex doesn’t have hair, but you get the idea.)
And so they have finally escaped their perennial foes, and thereafter achieved their goals during what amounted to a longish bathroom break. And yet here they actually facilitate the Riddler informing the Justice League that, yes, they’ve gone into the future. I mean, seriously, what the hell is that about?
Most obvious answer? They realize all the fun is in the conquering, and not in the boring, post-victory administration of their captured domains. So they don’t really want to keep their prizes. Meanwhile, making the Justice League get off their butts to stop them is just their perverse way of yanking the Superfriends’ chains. I mean, there’s always some point in the show where the Legion has won, only to blow it all through what appears to be some epically moronic miscue. Maybe they’re slyer than we thought.
Next we get a typically idiotic ‘solving’ of the Riddler’s ‘clue’:
Robin: “Holy confusion! What does it mean?”
Batman: “It’s simple, Robin. Where would they have to be for the Superfriends to be long dead?”
Robin: “In the future!”
Batman: “Right! [Well, duh.] And if we bet we can find them, they’ll be a dollar ahead. A dollar equals a hundred cents, short for a hundred centuries!”
Samurai: “Of course, Batman! The Legion of Doom has gone into the future 10,000 years!”
Uhm, what now? Does that math check? Let’s see, 1978 (the year the show was made) plus ten thousand years equalsâ€¦the year 11,978. Right? I mean, I’m bad at math, but am I that bad? Meanwhile, the announcer previously established that the Legion had traveled to the year 3984. 3984 minus 1978 is 2,006 years, not 10,000. Good grief, how did they screw that one up?
Sure enough, though, Batman radios the Hall of Justice and reports, “According to the Riddler’s clue, the Legion of Doom traveled 10,000 years into the future!” Good grief, the Legion of Doom is going to take over the universe because the World’s Greatest Detective is a product of the American educational system.
Accounting errors aside, it’s sort of lucky how all three of the, you know, actually powerful members of the Justice League—Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash—just happen to be the ones who have stayed behind. “We can break the time barrier and arrive in the future in seconds!” Green Lantern informs his comrades, just in case they don’t know how their own powers work.
I do kind of like the idea, though, that all three can travel through time via their own methods, and yet with such unvarying precision that they’ll all pop back into existence at the exact same instant. Of course, that doesn’t really help them in terms of knowing exactly where in time the Legion is (especially given their general calculations are off by 8,000 years), much less where they will be found geographically. And let’s not even get into the matter of how you’d even end up rematerializing back on the planet, considering that short of some pretty impressive figuring, the Earth would presumably be at a different point in its orbit around the sun.
They all take off from the Hall of Justice. As the Narrator explains, “Traveling at incredible speed, the Superfriends penetrate the time barrier, disappearing 10,000 years into the future.” To the year 3984. *cough*
Sure enough, they all arrive together, albeit the Flash does so on foot. (Mustn’tâ€¦ thinkâ€¦ aboutâ€¦ it.) By now, Earth’s once mighty cities are but a bunch of ruins. “It’s incredible!” Green Lantern gasps. “It looks like Earth’s civilization is gone!” Well, first of all, you’re standing in one place, so for all you know you’re in a futuristic garbage zone. Second, I’m pretty sure that over 10,000 years, the Earth would have several “civilizations,” not just one. Thirdâ€¦is it really that surprising to start with? Dude, you’re 10,000 years in the future.
Standing in place, Superman scans the entire planet (!!!!) with his “telescopic vision.” After several milliseconds of intense searching, he proclaims, “There are no life forms anywhere!” Really? None? No plants? Insects? Not even any bacteria? Wow, that seems unlikely.
“There may be no life forms, but there is something,” the Flash responds, pointing straight ahead. “Look!” And there, I swear to Jabootu, standing all of ten feet away from them is a thirty-foot tall insect monster. First, how the hell did neither Superman nor Green Lantern notice this? Second, under what criteria was Superman operating that he didn’t classify this thing as a “lifeform”? I mean, it has form, and it’s aliveâ€¦isn’t that pretty much the definition?
Superman, who obviously has a good deal of super-egg on his face, boasts that his superstrength will take of things. However, the beastie grabs him (despite the fact that Superman can move as fast as the Flash when he wishes to), and leaves the Last Son of Krypton to moan, “It’s draining my power!” Dude, you are totally punked! Damn, this is about the most embarrassing display for the Superfriends ever. And that’s saying something.
Having learnedâ€¦exactly nothing from seeing arguably the most powerful being in the universe rendered completely helpless in two seconds flat, Green Lantern acts like this whole thing is just business as usual. “A blast of my power ring should handle it,” he avers. Needless to say, it doesn’t. “Great Galaxies!” he exclaims. “It [his power beam] went right through it!” At this the monster leans forwards and grabs up the other two heroes as well. Including, that’s right, the Flash, who as we just saw can run so fast he can travel through time. Figure that one out.
Apparently the Monster is a giant mutated spider, and so it naturally dumps our heroes into a big web. “This web is unbreakable!” the Flash observes. Because when it comes to breaking things, he’s your go-to guy. Not, you know, Superman. Although I guess we’re to assume that he’s all still de-energized, despite the fact that Earth’s yellow sun is still blazing away.
As for the Green Lantern, he notes, “My power ring is useless on this ghostly matter!” Wow! Too bad then that you can’t use your ring to manipulate something else and smash the web up. Also, if the web is “ghostly,” then how is it holdingâ€¦oh, never mind. “We’d better do something fast,” Superman replies, “or we’re liable to wind up ghostly matter ourselves!” Sadly, that might be the best quip in the history of this program. However, seconds later the trio find themselves surrounded by a circle of giant spider beasties. Say, can we get back to that thing about why they aren’t lifeforms?
Meanwhile, we indeed go back to the year 3984, where the Legion had landed. This means that the 10,000 years thing was a lie. This could be taken to mean that I was dumb for making so much fun of the writers’ inability to do basic math. After all, the figure was grossly incorrect on purpose.
However, the Riddler’s whole bag is predicated on the fact that his clues are incredibly difficult to figure out (yeah, I know), but on the other hand adhere to a stringent rule that they always play fair. So by having the Riddler lie in a clue, you completely invalidate him as a character. Even so, apparently the writers weren’t going to worry about that if it meant they could get their script banged out five minutes earlier.Anyway, I’m going to take a flier and say Supes and the others escape, and then come across one of the giant statues of the Legion, which will have a convenient plaque explaining when they were erected. See, then the villains would be undone by their own hubris. Genius!
As the Narrator fills us in, “Luthor’s attack fleet approaches the ruling planet of sector 13.” Uhm, an entire sector of space has one ‘ruling’ planet? If you say so. Anyway, that’s pretty convenient, considering that Lex’s “fleet” indeed consists of three spaceships. Uh, wait, now there’s four. Seriously, did this show even employ a continuity director? Anyway, I withdraw my previous complaint. Taking over a planet with three ships is a silly idea. But four ships? Piece of cake.
After the ships’ lasers bombard one entire single building—presumably the headquarters of the single planet that is the headquarters of space sector 13—for a good couple of seconds, the inhabitants surrender. Wow. Why even bother with the four ships, then? Surely Lex could have just found the one guy who rules the one building that rules the one planet that rules space sector 13 and pantsed him, and gotten exactly the same result.
“Prepare to turn over your ruling seat!” Lex commands, having accepted their capitulation. Wow, now he knows how the victors of the Eighty Years’ War must have felt after signing the Treaties of Munster and Osnabruck.
“Meanwhile,” the Narrator continues, “on the other end of the galaxyâ€¦.” There the ships under Black Manta’s command (BLACK MANTA’S COMMAND!) are firing upon a similar handful of larger but fleeing alien spaceships. Apparently the entire galaxy was colonized by the French at some point in the next 2,000 years.
“They’re on the retreat!” Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!) boasts. He forces the ships down on their ice planet, which is when we learn that the aliens have giant spaceships, but live in big igloos (!!!). “Call off your attack!” the presumed Chief Alien squeals. “Our planet is yours.” Damn, I’d have more respect for these guys if they lost their planet in a game of flag football.
Having secured the planet following this harrowing military adventure, Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!) radios in to Lex, reporting “The outer region of the galaxy is secured!” With this, their master plan is achieved. “Excellent!” Luthor gloats. “We now control the entire galaxy!” You know, I’m not entirely sure the writers of this show knew what a ‘galaxy’ is. In any case, if I’m following this, Lex and Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!) have all but single handedly taken over the entire galaxy in maybe a day or two since they arrived in the future.
By the way, in each of the two Legion command ships, Lex and Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!)* were flanked during their ‘battles’ by a pair of standing Barlocks. Yes, I can see why getting the Barlock’s cooperation was so important to the Legion’s plans.[*I kid, but then again, a spaceship is a sort of boat, and back on Earth Black Manta was the only member of the Legion of Doom who had his own boat, soâ€¦ OK, that’s as far as I’m going with that. My head hurts.]
Back to Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash, who “remain in great peril.” I have to say, Batman, Robin and Samurai really got the cushy assignment this week. The Superfriends here in the future are being threatened by giant mutant spiders, and Wonder Woman and her chums were nearly disintegrated. Not to mention that Wonder Woman fell almost to her death. Meanwhile, the direst fate the Caped Crusaders and Samurai faced was the possibility that Batman would pull his back while leaning over to work the Bat mini-jack.
Anyway, surrounded by the ring of giant bugs, the Flash notes, “This web has drained my molecular energy. I can’t speed up enough to cut loose.” Or Footloose, for that matter. “We’ve only got one chance left,” Superman replies. Which really isn’t that bad, because that’s all they ever have. “If we can combine our powers,” Superman outlines, “we may have enough energy to break free.”
Now, in a previous episode Superman and Green Lantern actually physically merged into one supremely powerful (not to mention retarded) super-being. This allowed them to escape from a black hole. Here’s Superman is speaking a bit more prosaically. “I’ll try my heat vision,” he explains. “Focus your energy where I aim!” Green Lantern sends a power beam to the same spot, and, uh, red curve lines emanate from the Flash’s arm—look, I’m just reporting here—and sure enough, this works on the “ghost matter,” for no really apparent reason than because otherwise the heroes would be killed.
In fact, it’s dumber than that. They make a hole in the web and fall, whereupon the mutant spiders just give up and amble away, walking right past them. Wow, how dramatic.
“The Legion of Doom tricked us!” Green Lantern carps. (Yeah, and they really had to work at it, too.) “They could be anywhere in the future!” Actually, at this point there’s no real reason for the Justice League to think the villains have, in fact, fled into the future. They could be hiding in their own regular time, or have gone to another planet, or entered another dimension, or gone into the past rather the future, orâ€¦well, you get the idea. Still, let’s just go with it. We’ve only got a couple of minutes left to wrap things up.
“It could take us ages to find them!” Flash moans. However, luck is on their side. “Great Scott!” Superman exclaims. “Books! We must be in a library!”* Because, I guess, libraries in the distant future, thousands of years from now, would naturally still store information in paper books. And because if there are books around, it could only be a library, because where else would one conceivably find a couple of cases of books?
Luck, who is surely straining every muscle she has at this point, remains with them, for immediately at hand is a tome entitled “A History of Earth from the Year 2000 to 7000.” Wow, that’s handy! Alsoâ€¦seriously?! They just happen to find themselves standing in a library with no walls, but with books that have presumably survived thousands of years of weathering?! Damn, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my idea about them finding the Legion’s giant statues with date plaques on them was actually better.
Flipping through the book, Superman observes, “It looks like the Riddler’s attempt to throw us off backfired on him!” Yes, that’s certainly the first time that’s happened. He then begins to read the appropriate entry. “According to this book, a group of strangers from the past took over the planet in the year 3984,” he explains. There’s a handy picture of the Hall of Doom on the page, too, just to make sure he knows this is right passage.
You know, I can’t help thinking that the whole “strangers from the past” thing is kind of weird. The book covers Earth history back to the year 2000, which is pretty close to the time period in which the Legion of Doom was taking over the world, or the galaxy, or the universe, five or six times a year. (These victories didn’t generally last long, true, but still.) I mean, how could no one have figured out who the ‘mystery’ invaders were—especially since even in the future they were always standing around referring to themselves as the Legion of Doom—if enough historical records lasted to allow the book to cover events back to the year 2000?*[*Sadly, there’s an all too obvious answer for this, which is that the book was a popular history. By which I mean, it basically covered five thousand years’ worth of Britney Spears and Princess Di and Kato Kaelin analogues, with only the odd, sporadic mention of the occasional world war or planetary conquest.]
“Now that we’ve pinpointed them,” Green Lantern preens, “they’re as good as caught!” This from the three guys who were just nearly eaten by a big bug. Anyway, they take off again at superspeed—although this time the Flash is flying too (seriously, WTF?)—and head toâ€¦somewhere on Earth, sometime in 3984. Still kind of vague, although I’ll wager they end up in exactly the right spot to put things instantly aright.
Sure enough, they arrive in exactly the right spot just as “the Legion of Doom’s attack fleet regroups on Earth.” Well, that’s handy. On they other hand, Lex and Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!) appeared to have conquered the galaxy during their lunch break, so it’s not like they were off-planet all that long. “We’ve finally done it!” the Riddler brags as they meet their comrades. “No more Superfriends, and a galaxy at our fingertips!” Yeah, Riddler, good thing they brought you along to help out with all that.
Lex exits his ship, and notes, “As soon as we’ve refueled, we’ll conquer the entire universe!” You know, I’m not entirely sure the writers of this show knew what ‘the universe’ is. Needless to say, this is exactly when the Superfriends show up. “You’ll have to conquer us first!” Superman calls, surprising the dastardly miscreants in their sinister tracks. “Superfriends!” Lex cries, although it’s really just the three of them. On the other hand, it’s the three who actually can do stuff, so I guess he’s got a point.
They’re not ready to give up the ghost yet, though, as Black Manta (BLACK MANTA!) jumps out with a (of course) trident-shaped ray gun. Yeah, I’m sure being jumped by Black Manta is scaring the crap out of Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash. And, of course, even though he’s dealing with three dudes who can move fast enough to travel through time, he not only expects to hit them with his ray gun, but pauses to talk trash before he even fires.
Lamely, Superman doesn’t even move. The beam rebounds off his manly Kryptonian chest, whereupon it naturally bounces back to hit Black Manta, trapping him in a red energy field. I should note this is only Black Manta’s 834th most embarrassing defeat. I mean, he routinely gets beaten by Aquaman.
The rest of the Legion, who need I point out include quite a few heavy hitters, turn tail and try to escape in their spaceships. Yes, from Superman and the Green Lantern. I know. What can I tell you? Anyway, I think you can figure out the result.
The action soons moves to outer space, where Sinestro fires a “neutron torpedo” at his archenemy. This at first looks like a standard elongated missile, but then seconds later like a giant, fat bullet (!!!). Green Lantern swats this away with (what else) a green energy baseball bat he materializes. The sad thing is, the missile would have been immune to GL’s green energy if Sinestro had just bothered to paint it yellow. I mean, seriously, how lazy is that? Especially since he could have just made Scarecrow do it.
In any case, the, er, neutron bullet flies back and hits Sinestro’s spaceship, which disintegrates. At this point the villain is left floating through the ether, no doubt thinking, “Oh, yeahâ€¦I can travel through space under my own power! Right!”
“It’s no use!” Lex radios the other remaining ship. “Retreat!” Man, how lame was the galaxy to get conquered by these guys? “Sorry, Luthor,” Superman replies. (OK, I’ll buy that he can fly through spaceâ€¦but how the hell can he talk in it?). “Once you’ve started a battle with the Superfriends, you’ve got to finish it!” Actually, the entire history of this program demonstrates that exactly the opposite is true. Moreover, it would have been a lot snappier if Superman had just said, “Luthorâ€¦you’ve just been served!”
Superman grabs Lex’s ship (which was one of two remaining, but I guess they forgot) and hurls it, and somehow even though they were all in space a second ago, the thrown ship ends up returning to the launch pad on Earth and coming to a safe stop. I’m not sure how that would work, but there you go. Grodd now orders the Barlocks to “stop the Superfriends,” but seriously, what were the odds that would work? Beside, the “superfriends” he points to is the Flash, who’s been standing there the whole time Superman and Green Lantern where flying around in space, so you wonder what Grodd was waiting for.
Flash takes care of the four Barlocks by (are you sitting down?) going around them in a circle really, really fast, at which point the Barlocks levitate (???) from the raised launch pad down to the ground. He dumps them in the jungle somewhere, noting “You won’t cause any more trouble now.” Then he flies back to join the others. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t, THE FLASH CAN’T FLY.
Superman turns control of Earth back to Yerba, Zemora and Black Guy. “We’ll see to it that the other planets of the galaxy are returned to normal,” Yerba assures them. Uhm, how are you going to do that? Weren’t you just cowering in your domed city from the Barlocks before the Legion of Doom showed up? Even so, Superman takes him at his word—even though blindly taking people’s words is how this whole mess got started in the first place—and they fly off (yes, including the Flash) and even teleport the entire Legion of Doom with them back to the 20th century.
Back at the Hall of Justice, the now fully assembled Superfriends (except they forget Samurai) are regarding the Legion (except they forgot Bizarro, and for some reason Brainiac never even appeared in this episode), who are safely (?) contained by a metal ‘fence’ with spaced bars you could crawl right through, even if you lacked superpowers.
“There’s one thing I don’t understand, Superfriends!” the Riddler admits. (Dude, quite clearly there are a lot of things you don’t understand.) “How could you have possibly found us when we could have been anywhere in the future?” Again, this would be a good opportunity to zing them about their vanity statues, except that the writers didn’t think of that. And also, again, why would they assume you were even in the future?
In any case, Superman explains about the ‘history’ book. In fact, Superman has actually brought the book back with him. The book that, from this temporal vantage point, reveals the future for the next five millenniums. Yeah, that’s a good idea.
“In fact,” Green Lantern continues, “We knew for certain that we would capture you, too!” This leaves Black Manta flummoxed, because, you know, he’s a complete dumbass. “How could you have possibly known that?” he asks. “Very easily,” Superman replies. “Not only did this book tell us the Legion of Doom took control in 3984, it also mentioned that they were captured shortly afterwards by the Superfriends.” Wow. The mystery is solved. It was in the history book. No wonder that was an enigma so inexplicable that even the Riddler was unable to penetrate it.
And so ends the episode, with no hint of how the Legions escapes for the next episode (and I don’t imagine it will be address there, either), and, oh, yeah, completely forgetting the fact that the previously inhabited planet of Santar has been utterly destroyed. Good job, Superfeebs.