Challenge of the Superfriends Episode 12: The Final Challenge Part 2

Return to Part One of this review

But no, Vartoo instead returns the contestants back to their respective holding pens and proceeds with the second ‘challenge.’  Wow, how’s he going to top a maze?  Despite my derision, however, he indeed strategically out-lames the first challenge right from the start but choosing as his pawns Black Manta and Aquaman.  There’s a valuable lesson for all of us:  never underestimate a god-like extra-dimensional being.   Even this one.

The two materialize on a big iceberg, or something, lodged in a large body of black liquid.  “Welcome to the Lake of Terror,” Vartoo’s voice echoes.  Wow.  Labyrinth of Death.  Lake of Terror.  Only the Superfriends get themselves kidnapped by villains who are so obviously half-assing everything.

Vartoo gives the two contestants their assignment; to get in the water and swim to the shore.  Aquaman stands around trying to process these complicated instructions, leaving Black Manta to be the one to—brilliant strategy!!—just dive into the water and start swimming.  And remember, this is a contest that actually manages to play to Aquaman’s few supposed strengths.  Anyway, now that his archenemy has taken action, Aquaman can just copy him, so he does.

The water is filled with pernicious versions of earthly sea life, either natural or manufactured, thus adding (sort of) a danger component to the whole thing.  For instance, Aquaman is quickly menaced by a giant seahorse.  Read that sentence again.  That about sums up Aquaman for you.  “Great Neptune!” he cries in response.  “A giant seahorse!”  Nothing gets past that guy.  To escape from this peril he employs his “aquatic telepathy.”  (That this would affect alien wildlife struck me as a bit unlikely, but there you go.)  Aquaman is the only hero whose main power is to tell marauding fish, “Ow, stop that!”  Namor would be wearing that thing’s head as a hat by now.

Instead of swimming and, you know, winning, Black Manta stops to lay a trap for his foe.  Swimming right near a gigantic clam, he produces out of nowhere a rope.  Yes, a rope.  There’s a reason this guy is Aquaman’s archnemesis.  Then the clam sends out a huge tongue and snares him.  He screams for Aquaman to save him.  Aquaman does, only to be snared by the clam himself.  (Why doesn’t his telepathy work on clams?  Got me.)  Black Manta sneers and swims off to shore, and he and a properly humiliated-looking Aquaman are teleported back to the others as Vartoo declares Manta the winner:  “Underhanded, but effective!”

There’re more metric tons of lame in that previous paragraph then I can begin to chart.  Seriously, every sentence in it is a document of shame.  The cherry on the sundae is that Aquaman already saw Vartoo teleport both Riddler and Batman back after their contest was over.  All he had to do was win and Manta would have been the loser rescued from the clam in like fashion, instead of himself.  Seriously, wouldn’t Superman be more than a little pissed right now?  Imagine the Son of Krypton being condemned to death because frigging Aquaman couldn’t even win a swimming contest.

“Meanwhile, in the incredible atomic universe…”  Hawkman and Green Lantern are now surrounded by energy bubbles.  “There are only seconds before we explode!” Hawkman helpfully recaps.  Now, veteran fans of the program are already anticipating the strategy they’ll employ to escape from destruction: spin around at a very fast rate.  This is the favorite technique of the show’s characters, especially the Flash, to deal with any imminent but highly vague peril.

Green Lantern, amazingly, offers another dubious solution.  “If we can move together,” he explains, “we may be able to neutralize the atoms!”  Uhm….  OK.  On the other hand, Green Lantern was the one who knew that the only way for him and Superman to escape the interior of a black hole was for them to merge into a composite, half Green Lantern / half Superman.  That worked, and so does this.  The stalwart duo bumps their energy bubbles together, there’s an explosion and Bob’s your uncle.

In fact, the collision solves both their problems:  “Great thunder!” Hawkman exclaims as we see the two floating in normal space.  “It blew us right back into our own universe!”  Well, that’s kind of helpful, when you think about it.  Meanwhile, Green Lantern has put on his thinking cap.  “It looks like the Legion of Doom planned this trap!” he declares.  Wow, all those years hanging out with the ace crime-solver Batman are really starting to pay off.

Cut to another wacky, picaresque universe.  This one is absolutely stuffed full of floating, glowing geometric shapes.  It’s like the interior of the Tupperware Shape-O Ball of the Gods (from the book of the same name by Erich von Daniken).  Rocketing around this, Robin sagely observes, “There’s nothing in this universe except strange geometric objects!”  Sinestro is equally on tops of things.  “We’ve got to keep looking,” he replies.  “The others must be somewhere!”  Seriously, does anyone on this show know what a ‘universe’ is?

Anyway, the Batplane flies past a giant floating cone, whereupon it manifests eyes and shoots ocular beams at their craft.  (So, wait, does this cone head predate the ones from SNL?)  Naturally, this encases the Batplane in a large transparent box of space glass or antimatter or energy or some damn thing.  “Something’s happened!” Sinestro blurts.  “We’ve stopped!”  Again, nothing gets past that guy.

Suddenly an elfin figure attired in curly-toed boots and jester’s cap materializes over the Batplane’s dashboard.  (Despite the too good to be true opportunity this presents, nobody bothers to bust Toyman’s chops over the sudden appearance of his mini-me here.) 

“Do not worry, my friends,” the fellow declares in an echo-y voice.  “No harm will befall you.  The three-dimensional beings in this world are quite mischievous and love to play tricks on visitors.”  Robin enquires about their missing comrades, and the being declares that they are not to be found in this universe.  Hey, it’s good enough for me.

In perhaps the series’ most laughable and lazy deus ex machina yet (and man, that’s saying something), the Being manifests his “crystal cube,” with which “I can see into all worlds.”  Well, that’s a bit of a time-saver.  (Insert your own ‘but he doesn’t get HBO’ joke here.)  “Oh, my,” he says but a second later.  “There they are.”

Sinestro just ups and grabs the Cube, though, and then pauses for some obligatory sneering.  “Thanks, fools!” he gloats.  “Now that we’ve got this, we no longer need you!”  So saying, he and the others teleport out of the Batplane.  “They stole my crystal cube!” the Little Jester whines.  They have bigger fish to fry, however.  “Holy Sinestro traps!” Robin exclaims.  (You know, it really is OK with me if he dies in this universe.)

The Boy Wonder, we soon see, is referring to a gigantic glowing bug that is….I don’t know.  Approaching the Batplane, maybe?  Something.  I guess.  In any case, I’m not sure how this is a “Sinestro trap.” It’s glowing, so maybe it’s meant to be something he whipped up with is energy ring.  But it’s more brown than yellow.  And don’t these energy constructs dissipate if they aren’t being focused on by Sinestro, who is now off-scene?  Of course, on this show you can’t allow little details like that to lead you to any conclusions.

After an apparent commercial break, we cut back and now see that the bug (which earlier was against a formless background) is actually in the impossibly gigantic hold of the Batplane itself.  You know, we’ve seen the outside of the Batplane before.  We have a rough idea of how big it is, and unless it’s utilizing BatTARDIS technology…oh, whatever.  So you have a sedan-sized bug threatening Robin and Samurai, who even in the improbably sizable interior of the Batplane would have trouble using his particular powers to their full effect.

Robin has apparently left his pilot’s chair, exited the cockpit and entered the hold to stand directly before the bug.  It now grabs him up in a huge pincher.  “Help, it’s got me!” Robin helpfully explains.  I mean, dude, what did you think would happen? You guys run into giant bugs all the time.  Is it really standing operating procedure to go stand right in front of them?  Are you surprised to be snatched up when you do?  Because again, I’ve seen this happen numerous times on this show before.

And suddenly, somehow, the bug has both Robin and Samurai caught up in its…tusks, I guess.  And now the creature is like ten times bigger than it was before.  The continuity people on this program, busting their asses like usual.  Although again these guys get out of similar fixes on a weekly basis, this time it’s apparently up to Little Jester to come to the rescue.  “I know,” he muses.  “I’ll turn it into a dodecahedron.”  Seriously, the show’s writers must have gone through a lot of acid.  Anyway, he does so and Robin and Samurai are freed.

After giving with the thanks, it’s back to business.  “We’ve got to find the Legion of Doom before they discover the others,” Samurai posits.  Uh, they have the Crystal Cube now, right?  So wouldn’t they have discovered them already?  In any case, Robin concurs.  “We’d better try another universe,” he suggests.  Yes, good plan.

Back to the red universe of Vartoo the Alien, where the Tournament of Stuff is ongoing.  Having already wasted a fair amount of time (and no doubt annoyed to have watched Aquaman screw the seapooch yet again), Superman decides it’s time to interject. 

“This is no way to administer justice,” he avers to their captor.  Even though they’re in the same boat, the Legion can’t help getting all up in the Last Son of Krypton’s grill.  “What’s the matter, Superman?” Scarecrow mocks.  “Afraid you might lose?”  Dude, you’re Superman and you’re getting punked by Scarecrow.  Maybe Aquaman isn’t particularly lame after all.
(Well, OK, he is.)

Vartoo is all, “Whatever,” and starts the third contest.  With a wave of his star-strewing arm, he teleports away Cheetah and Wonder Woman (because they are both girls, so they can’t possibly face off against anyone else).   Disappointing millions of fans, their contest doesn’t involve mud or oil wrestling.  Japanese readers will be similarly aggrieved to learn that no tentacles come into play, either.

Instead, they appear before a gigantic mountain, and nonchalantly assume their task is to climb it.  This is soon confirmed by Vartoo’s echo-y, disembodied voice.  “Great Hera,” Wonder Woman exclaims.  “It must be 10,000 feet tall!” 

Doesn’t Wonder Woman have the strength of Hercules or something?  I don’t know, she certainly should be more superpowered than Cheetah, meaning this contest should be cake.  But as usual, the show completely ignores all issues of power levels and assumes this to be an equal contest.  (Except that the heroes would never, ever lose unless the villains cheat.)

In fact, the contest is more ludicrously stacked (in a manner of speaking) in Wonder Woman’s favor than I initially thought.  Vartoo explains that the winner must not only reach the summit, but “cap the volcano.”  How the hell would Cheetah cap a volcano?  She doesn’t have any particular superpowers, and she doesn’t have any equipment or explosives.

Hmm, then again, I probably shouldn’t say that.  On this program, just because she’s never had any such devices before, and wears a skintight neko suit with no pockets, doesn’t mean she won’t suddenly be shown holding a bomb whenever the script calls for it.  And indeed, Cheetah herself nonchalantly replies that the assignment “sounds puuurrfectly simple.”

Sure enough, the task of climbing a 10,000 foot peak and capping a volcano is apparently too absurdly easy to constitute decent sport.  And so, as Wonder Woman points out (this, one can only suppose, thus being the sort of thing that needs to be pointed out), the volcano starts erupting just at this moment.  As a result, the ladies must ascend the peak whilst dodging and picking their way alongside various cascading streams of molten lava.

Let’s see, Batman had to not fall into any gaping holes—at which he failed at—and exit a maze.  Aquaman had to avoid getting captured by a giant, stationary clam—at which he failed—and swim to the edge of a lake.  Wonder Woman has to climb an actively lava-spewing volcano and somehow cap the thing when she gets to the top.  No wonder she’s pissed about only getting paid 65% of what the male Superfriends make.

Cheetah ascends the peak by going on her hands and knees—yes, that sound like an expedient way to travel—while Wonder Woman ropes various prominences with her magic lasso and swings her way up.  I guess it is a magic lasso, since it seems to retract to pull her up the cliff face more than anything else.

Despite this fact, Cheetah gets sufficiently ahead of her foe to find herself where Wonder Woman’s line is secured around a rock.  “Never let it be said that the Cheetah was afraid to cheat,” she laughs.  I guess it’s a pun on ‘Cheet’ah.

Anyway, she grabs an extremely convenient at hand wooden staff and levers the anchor rock loose.  Wonder Woman plummets (luckily the rock just disappears rather than mashing her) before arresting her fall with another toss of her lasso.  Well, actually, she pulls loose a conveniently flat slab of rock, which acts as a surfboard when she hits the lava.

She rides to safety, but in these few seconds Cheetah has gotten to the top of the volcano, which fortuitously has yet another large, standing flat boulder on its rim.  She is using her staff to jostle this other rock, but Wonder Woman instead tosses her lasso around the staff, seizes control of it, and finishes the job herself.  Moreover, she does this somehow without splashing Cheetah, standing all of three feet away, with any of the spurting lava.  “No fair!” Cheetah replies.  “You cheated!”  I guess it’s comical because…oh, never mind.

They are teleported back to their respective energy bubbles, where Vartoo declares Wonder Woman the winner.  For those keeping track, the Superfriends are ahead two contests to one.

Then we cut away.  “Meanwhile, back in space,” The Narrator establishes, “the Legion of Doom continues to search for their missing colleagues.”  (Let’s admit it; they’re looking for Bizarro.  Like they give a rat’s ass that Cheetah or the Riddler are missing.)  “It’s no use,” Luthor admits.  “With the infinite number of universes to look in, we’ll never find the others.”  Well, not with that attitude, Mister!

However, here their team of comrades returns.  “Don’t worry, Luthor,” Sinestro avers, “with this crystal gazing cube, we can look into any universe.”  Lucky it just find whatever you ask for.  Otherwise, it would be like looking for somebody when you have a magic crystal that allows you to gaze into any house in the world.  “Well, that finishes Germany off!  And it only took me two years to check!  Unless he went from one house to another while I was gazing at a third house…dammit!

Looking in the cube, they see the two energy bubbles holding the respective teams of prisoners, as well as Vartoo.  I guess the Crystal also automatically provides context, since they didn’t ask to see their comrade’s surroundings.  Also, I’m not sure again how this helps identity where they are.  “Look, there they are, in a living room!” one might cry, pursuing my previous earthbound analogy.  “They’re clearly at 148 E. Maple Drive in Lennox, SD!”

But no, that would be dumb.  Instead, now that they’ve seen their image in a small crystal cube, Luthor can use “the Hall of Doom interatomic homing device” to “take us right to them!”  Why they had to wait until now to employ this typically fanciful-sounding device remains unexplicated.  This causes the Hall of Doom to spin (?), and as the Narrator explains, “the Hall of Doom dissolves out of the universe.”   ‘Dissolves’ out of the universe?  What the hell does that mean?

Anyhoo, back to the Stupor Bowl, where the fourth contest is about to begin.  This, naturally, pits against each other traditional archenemies Scarecrow and…Apache Chief. 

Uhm, OK.  Here’s an idea, Apache Chief:  Grow really big, and step on Scarecrow and squish him.  Or grow really big and pin him under a boulder.  Or grow really big and just carry him around in your fist, so he can’t do anything.  I realize I’m kind of going with a theme here, but you know, it’s kinda based around the fact that you have a superpower and the Scarecrow doesn’t.

Not that it matters, because obviously they can’t have the Superfriends triumph until the firth and final contest.  Because, you know, the suspense.

The two are transported to an alien swamp—well, not very alien—where their assignment will be to find and capture “the deadly two-headed serpent.”  As I noted, the Superfriends are likely to lose this contest just for scripting reasons.  Apparently nobody thought about what a total putz this would make Apache Chief look like.  Either that or somebody actively hated him and considered this was a bonus.

I mean, not only is our Stalwart Native American pitted against a non-super powered foe, but one who’s also a city slicker psychiatrist and lab jockey.  Whereas Apache Chief is, you know, an Injun, and thus all conversant with Nature and such.  So I don’t really see how Scarecrow can credibly defeat him, unless he plies Apache Chief with his one vulnerability, a weakness for the firewater.  Also, he can toss some litter on the ground and make Apache Chief pause as a single tear runs down his face, but that’s a temporary advantage at best.

Apache Chief soon displays his inevitable tracking skills by sticking his fingers in some (I hope) mud that—I guess—marks the serpent’s trail.  “Still wet,” he muses.  “The serpent should be within a half mile.”  However, the ‘putz’ thing is soon all too prevalent when he talks to walking upon what is clearly the back of the huge serpent itself, all unknowing.  “The tracks end,” he explains.  “The serpent has got to be in this area.”  WOW!!!  This might be the single most embarrassing Superfriend moment ever.

To our vast surprise, it turns out that the striped, tubular, giant serpent-like object Apache Chief is standing upon is, in fact, a striped giant serpent.  And those two ‘branches’ of the objects were, in fact, its two submerged heads.  Wow, what an utterly unexpected turn of events.  Rather than doing anything (like, I don’t know, grow into a giant), Apache Chief decides to just stand there and comment on this.  “I have walked right into its trap!” he exclaims, since of course as an Indian he can’t use contractions.

So the beast twines around Our Hero, and things look pretty grim.  It dunks him underwater, where he somehow manages to break free.  Rising from the water, he grabs the beast.  “Great God!” he avers. (Yes, that’s what he appears to say—it even reads that way on the DVD subtitles)  “If I can just overpower this head…” he continues, wrestling with it.  Maybe I’m just a one trick pony sort of guy, but again, how about using your superpowers, Apache Chief? Just a suggestion.

On the other hand, defeating the one head involves thrusting its neck between (and I have no idea how the hell this just happened to be at hand) between a forked tree limb, and somehow then tying the neck in a knot via a manner that I believe would be impossible.  “Now to take care of the other head,” he continues.  Luckily, the serpent apparently was a signatory of the MultiUniverse Fair Play Act of 1972, and thus didn’t attack Our Hero with his second head while Apache Chief was busy with first one.

Here Scarecrow finally makes the scene, whereupon he observes “It looks like Apache Chief’s got the job half done.”  He also says, “And why the hell hasn’t he turned himself into a giant?!  What a *%^&~#@$ moron!”  At least I think he said that.  Somebody did, and I’m the only other one here at the moment.

Scarecrow complicates things for Apache Chief by freeing the secured head from the branch.  Finding himself again facing a most sinister tête-à-tête-à-tête, Apache Chief dives for cover under the water.

Whereupon—AND I SWEAR THIS HAPPENS!!!!—we cut to Scarecrow spinning a swamp vine lariat.  “Now for some fancy double-roping!” he says.  (Actually, this whole scenario would have made a lot more sense if the Batman foe Apache Chief was up against was Two-Face, but he wasn’t a member, sadly, of the Legion of Doom.  I guess he wasn’t up to the snuff of guys like The Riddler.)

Not only does Scarecrow manage to snare the two heads—“In this contest, two heads are definitely better than one,” he japes—but actually looks to have saved the cornered Apache Chief’s life in the process.  And no, Apache Chief still hasn’t turned into a giant.  In the end, Jabootu help him, he was defeated by Scarecrow’s superior roping skills.  Again, this might actually quality as the single most embarrassing defeat of a Superfriend ever.  And that’s saying a lot.

Hey, I just had a thought.  If Apache Chief had turned into a giant, he could have just grabbed each of the serpent’s heads in his two hands and easily won the contest.  I realize I’m Monday morning quarterbacking here, and that 20/20 hindsight is always more accurate.  Still, imagine if Apache Chief had remembered he had superpowers.  The whole thing would have been a blow-out.

Back to Vartoo, who notes that Scarecrow’s actions were “unethical,” but names him the winner nonetheless.  (Plus, you know, he won.)  Needless to say, the score is tied at two even, so it’s now time for the Final Challenge.  Hey, that’s the episode title!  I get it!

Unsurprisingly, the final challenge goes to Superman, and also unsurprisingly, his opposite number is Bizarro.  If the writers were smart, they’d have Superman point out that the Bizarro equivalent to winning is losing, and then just have him sit back as Bizarro intentionally throws the contest.  However, the writers really weren’t that on the ball.

They end up floating in red space. (Are they under a red sun?  If so, Superman should be sans his superpowers, and pretty much floating around dead by now.  I’m not sure if Bizarro shares the red sun vulnerability, however.)  Their assignment will be to stop “the giant space robot Golatan!”

Then (presumably) Golatan himself materializes nearby, and proves to have four arms but an otherwise rather uninspired design, like some low level animator dashed his specs off so that he could leave early for a long weekend.

During this, we also cut away to Green Lantern and Hawkman flying through space in “another distant universe.”  Remember, Hawkman doesn’t need air or even a shirt in outer space because he came from another planet, and thus presumably the writers thought of him as being ‘from space.’  (Or he didn’t, since Hawkman has been supplied with a number of different origins over the decades.  We’ll go with that one, though.)  On the other hand, they forgot to animate an energy bubble around Green Lantern, so he should definitely be dead.

In any case, they are saved when the Batplane materializes nearby. (Seriously, who through Batman’s airplane was equipped to teleport from one universe to another?  Can his car do that?  His boat?  I mean, why not?  What’s the difference?)  Soon the two are conversing with Robin and Samurai.  The latter explains how they got screwed over by the Legion. 

Hawkman, however, calls them over to a radar array screen or some damn thing.  “It appears our villainous friends made a terrible mistake,” he explains, “and forgot to cover up their tracks.  The infrared radar has picked up their trail!”  A radar trail from one universe to another?! “Hang on,” Robin responds.  “We’ll follow them right out of the universe.”  Sure.  Why not?  Let’s just wrap this up.

Back to the Robot, who naturally has managed to grab a hold of Superman despite the fact that the latter can fly fast enough to literally travel through time.  From his eye slot, Golatan fires a green beam at Our Hero.  “Great Scott!” he replies.  “It’s been equipped with Kryptonite beams!”  Actually, a more realistic reaction from Superman at this point would have been, “AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!  AAAAAAAAHH!!!  Kryptonite!!  It’s burning my flesh!!!!

Bizarro figures this is a good juncture to take a stab at things, but Golatan grabs him up too and fires him away clasped in a rocket-propelled robot fist.  Time is running out for The Last Son of Krypton, however.  “I’ve only got one chance!” he says.  “Got to try to cut off his vision with my freeze breath.”  Yes, surely a robot that travels through deep space will be especially vulnerable to cold.  Anyway, this works, and Golatan’s eye slot is quickly iced over.

Moreover, Golatan has one or two other minor design flaws.  Breaking free, Superman notes “While he’s momentarily sightless, I can sneak into that open vent.”  Yes, Golatan just has a big, pointless hole in one side.  I guess this was designed by the same architects who designed the Death Star.

Superman’s inside, but Bizarro, who has also broken free, is right behind him.  Looking about at all the machinery, Superman notes “One of these mechanical devices has got to affect Golatan’s operation.”  Yes, I guess that’s a safe bet, given that they’re Golatan’s innards and all. 

Luckily, these involve big pistons and turbines, and Superman manages to disable the robot with the very first thing he wrecks.  Two seconds later he and Bizarro are whipped back to the energy bubbles, where Vartoo declares Superman the victor.  Wow, an epic challenge indeed.  The writers clearly really bust a nut coming up with that script.

Anyhoo, that’s the best three of five, and (surprise) the Superfriends are triumphant.  Given this, Vartoo makes to eliminate the Legionnaires by dropping their force bubble into an acid lake, this being the sort of acid that eats through force fields. 

With their foes seconds away from a pretty grisly demise, Batman makes to whisper to Superman, “I don’t care how peaceful Vartoo claims to be, we can’t let this kind of injustice take place.”  Superman agrees, noting that “Even the Legion of Doom deserves a fair trial!”  I guess it’s not the horrible death by acid thing that bothers him so much, as the lack of due process.

Conveniently, the Superfriends have been released from their own force bubble.  Moreover, Wonder Woman and Batman are able to sneak up on Vartoo and lasso him from each side.  All trussed up, he whines “You have no right to question my authority.” 

Right, smight; how are they able to do this is the question.  Wasn’t this guy omnipotent just a moment ago?  Now you can beat him with a rope?  When Vartoo complains that this is his universe, Wonder Woman responds by noting, “From the moment you brought us here, it became ours too.”  Frickin’ Marxists.

Anyway, with their former captor thus occupied, Superman flies down and rescues the Legionnaires.  He can actually fly through the acid, so apparently Bizarro at least wasn’t in all that much danger.  Indeed, since the acid seems to have been eating through the walls of the force bubble, where it wasn’t even touching, Bizarro could have just flown them to safety without any help at all.

And even if that weren’t the case, the other potential victims were Riddler, Scarecrow, Blank Manta and Cheetah.  So, really, there wasn’t a lot at stake here.  In fact, the best reason for Superman to save these guys is to keep the Legion as lame as possible.  On the other hand, the Superfriends now have another reason to stand around preening about how awesome they are after they inevitably allow all the villains to escape again.

Meanwhile, Vartoo has responded to their insolence by turning into that giant skeleton with the glowing red eyes that we saw in the maze earlier.  Yes, the one that was already defeated by Batman by his lonesome, so he’s not really scaring the tights off anyone here.  But he runs through the motions, scooping up Batman (again) and Wonder Woman and saying they will all perish.

“This is a job for Superman!” says Superman, because he’s a super-egomaniac who enjoys speaking in the third person.  Again, Batman already beat this giant skeleton by tripping it, so this is a job for Superman like finishing off the last piece of pizza is.  The ‘job’ for Superman proves to be to fly over and snatch away Batman and Wonder Woman, which at least half the team could do, including Flash on those occasions when the writers forget he can’t fly.

Then Superman flies back, gets grabbed again (superspeed, apparently Superman’s least favorite superpower), and then breaks free.  This smashes Vartoo into a bunch of shards, which is shockingly quite nearly an act of violence.  “Looks like Vartoo is nothing more than a pile of old bones,” Superman replies.  What a dick.

Then Vartoo changes into Golatan.  Yes, changing into things already beaten by a single Superfriend to challenge a whole batch of them is surely a flawless strategy.  So he grabs up all of the assembled Superfriends and Legionnaires in one robot hand (since they all conveniently huddle together), and I guess this is going to be the end of them although I can’t see how that would possibly work.

But then a yellow power beam hits Golatan, and this proves to be the Hall of Doom coming to the rescue.  This beam shrinks Golatan and changes him back to Vartoo (?), and encloses him in his own energy bubble.  Again, how come his was totally god-like before, and now they’re totally punking him?  Other than the fact that the episode is nearly over, I mean.

Batman thanks the Legionnaires for saving them, and Black Manta returns the thanks too.  But now that they are even, he says, they have a “surprise.”  The surprise is that the now entirely assembled Legion, surrounding this handful of Superfriends (including Apache Chief, recently pantsed by Scarecrow), are preparing to attack them.  Not really much of a surprise, you’d think, but there you go.

“It won’t be as easy as you think, Luthor!” Superman replies.  “Look!”  And sure enough, now the Batplane appears, firing ray blasts at their foes.  These are apparently identical yellow force field rays like the Hall of Doom shot at Vartoo, and soon the villains are captured.  Yes, the Superfriends appear to have finally caught their foes.  Is this the end of the Legion of Doom?!

But suddenly, Deus ex Machina Vartoo takes a hand again.  Wow, it’s like his powers are effective whenever the writers find it convenient for them to be so.  “It was I who brought you all into this universe,” he expounds, “and I shall be the one who gets rid of you.”  Vartoo sounds a lot like my mom.

So everyone is back in the regular universe, and the status quo is (whew!) maintained.  Robin is sufficiently miffed that he wonders if they should have let Vartoo get rid of them when they had the chance.  (Yes, imagine facing a Legion of Doom without Riddler, Black Manta, Cheetah and Scarecrow.  Chilling.)  “I don’t think so,” Wonder Woman responds.  “Vartoo’s brand of justice only creates more injustice.”  Yeah, that sounds like something an Amazon would say, all right.

Yikes!  Only four more episodes to go.  Join us in two months as we peruse The Fairy Tale of Doom.

  • KeithB

    Speaking of the guy who designed the Death Star,
    have you seen this:

    Some truther stormtroopers.

  • joliet jake blues

    As always, superb work. Is it just me, or is it that the Superfriends dont WANT to finish off the Legion, and put themself out of a job?

    Poor Apache Chief. Forgetting to use his superpower – he must have been fooling (Aquaman losing I can understand).

  • Peter Johnson

    Wow, I can’t believe the writers crammed all that into 30 minutes. Do you think they could have adapted the entire Lord of the Rings saga into one 90-minute movie?

  • Tork_110

    I remember watching this episode a few years ago and getting to the point where Aquaman loses in the dumbest way possible and thinking that Ken would have a field day with that. I forgot that Apache Chief looked even worst.

  • Ericb

    Too bad the copyrights to these shows are probably extremely strict since I bet someone could have a lot of fun redubbing these things ala Sealab 2021.

  • OTL

    One more piece of stupidity that should probably be pointed out: the Manta Ship has “space sonar”. Space sonar? As in, sonar used in space? As in, a device that relies on sound used where there is no sound? That… actually makes about as much sense as anything else on this show, really.

    Lordy, but I do love this show…

  • fish eye no miko

    Back to Vartoo, who notes that Scarecrow’s actions were “unethical”

    Whereas all the other Legionaries’ actions have all been completely above board… [shakes head]

    They end up floating in red space. (Are they under a red sun?

    Yeah, I wondered that back when you first mentioned it. I guess that’s yet another screw up by the writers/animators/whoever’s in charge of these things.

    I love how the guy from the “peaceful” universe pits our characters against on another, and then attacks them, instead of, say, just sending them home. I think there might a translation problem, and in Vartoo’s universe, “peaceful” actually means “pointlessly sadistic”.

    Yay, another Super-Friends post! Thanks, Ken!

  • ginbot

    Little known fact, a writer of this show went on to direct Attack of the Eye Creatures.

    Speaking of which, what’s up with this?
    The Copper Scroll of Mary Magdalene (2004)

    Actually, I can’t think of a single MST (or any movie for that matter) that had as much Deus ex Machina as this show. It’s like the writer/editor was like

    “They’re just dumb kids. Just say Scarecrow lassos the snake, and Apache Chief decides to not use his superpower as that would be un-honorable.”

    “But, that would run the show over 30 mins?”

    “Well, cut out the explanations. They’re just kids.”

    “How about we just cut the battles down to 3 and get rid of the ‘universe search’?”

    “No, no. Just cut out the explanations and useful exposition. But, be sure to leave in the extraneous banter and pointing out of things being shown. I mean, have you seen our drawings? Who can trust the kids to know what they are suppose to be. Anyways, we’ll get that large demographic of kids with Echolalia on-board.”

    “Ok, whatever. Can I take the rest of the week off?”

    “Why not, it’s Tuesday after all.”

  • Attack of the Eye Creatures was directed by Larry Buchanan, and made 13 years before Challenge of the Superfriends. Are you thinking of another movie?

  • Zereth

    Don’t you mean “Attack of the the Eye Creatures”?

  • Just FYI, the Hawkman in the comics of this time could fly through space without a suit. He was an alien, and Thanagarians are tougher than us Earthers. Their skin can hold bodily fluids in, even in vacuum–including the membranes of their corneas. And that hawk-hat contains an oxygen supply.

    Hawkman has also been the chairman of both the Justice League and Justice Society, so showing him as leader is also consistent with the comics.

  • ginbot

    > Attack of the Eye Creatures was directed
    > by Larry Buchanan, and made 13 years before
    > Challenge of the Superfriends.
    > Are you thinking of another movie?

    Sorry, Ken. My connection was too obscure, and now I have to explain my joke (proving it’s unfunnyness and your more apt skill).

    I was referring to the host segment when Larry visits Deep 13 and reveals, like the writers of this show obviously, that “he just didn’t care”.

    And it would be possible for the writers to write for a movie 13 years in the past after this show. It must have an exploding atomic collider… or lets say the Flash ran really fast.

  • Dude. Everything else in the universe is red. Why not Our Heroes?

  • Zandor Vorkov

    Is it just me, or did Vartoo get defeated almost exactly like “God” from Star Trek V?

    He turns into a monster and has the hero(s) at his mercy when, suddenly, a spaceship appears and shoots him.

  • I don’t remember William Shatner getting defeated in…oh. The other ‘god.’

    And yes, the parallels are quite amusing. Good call.

  • Reed

    Three things:

    First: apparently “nugget” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Only you could write a piece of this length on a 30 minute show!

    I kid! I kid because I care.

    Second: This was perhaps the funniest reivew that you have ever written.

    Third: Aquaman was a pathetic rip-off of Namor from day 1. I thought that it was even more pathetic when they made him a mad barbarian king of the technologically advanced undersea king of Atlantis, just like Namor. Why did DC think that was a good idea?

  • Hey, Carl! Thanks for the Hawkman notes. I’ve admitted before that I’m not as up on DC characters as Marvel ones. I do know that Hawkman has had lots of origins, but I’m assuming the ‘space’ Hawkman was in place by the time this series came about.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Okay, either my copy of Super Friends Vol 2 was seriously defective, or I was mostly through my second six-pack, but I don’t remember this episode even slightly.

    Remember, friends don’t let friends watch DVDs drunk. Not even Super Friends.

  • dconner

    I love the “search the universes parallel to ours” bit, particularly because… y’know the one guy who might be remotely capable of performing this task? Stuck on monitor duty with Black Vulcan!

  • CharityB

    To be fair, I think the show made a point that Vartoo wasn’t that peaceful at all. I don’t think we were meant to agree with his self assessment.