Monday, March 24, 2008

Review: Super Friends #1

I didn't read comic books a child. Well, I didn't read comics consistently. From time to time my mother would buy me certain books that I picked out while at a newsstand or at the bookstore, but I never bought issues week to week or followed story arcs on a monthly basis the way I do now. My initial exposure to superheroes came in the form of the animated series Super Friends.

In 1973, Hanna-Barabara produced the series based on DC Comics Justice League. When the show first aired, it featured Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Over the series run, additional characters appeared as guest stars such as Plastic Man, the Flash, and Green Arrow, just to name a few.

Unlike the animated series which have come after, such as Batman the Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, which have a more mature tone, Super Friends was geared exclusively towards children. The plot lines were simple, the dialogue was humorous, and each episode stressed the importance of teamwork and good triumphing over evil. When watching these shows now its difficult not to laugh and tease oneself about how at one time we thought these shows were the coolest we've ever seen. But, in an era of morally ambiguous superheroes, and a blurred line between right and wrong, Super Friends harkens back to a time of moral certainty among its heroes. A concept foreign to superhero stories today.

Although the show has been off the air for just over 20 years, DC has recently shown us that the series may be gone but not forgotten. This past week, DC released a new monthly series based on the old television show and the highly popular action figure line that followed. Following in its predecessor's footsteps, Issue 1 is simple, offering a plot that children can easily follow and understand. The main villain is a man named Professor Ivo. He is, as almost all villains are, a scientific genius. He has created hundreds of different inventions over the years but nothing he creates garners any media attention or accolades because the press, and the public at large, are always focused on the Justice League and their exploits. Ivo wants to be famous. In an effort to gain the notoriety he believes he so richly deserves, he creates an android by the name of Amazo (clever, huh?) to defeat the Super Friends for good so they can no longer steal his limelight.

Amazo turns out to be more than just an android. He is programmed to possess all the powers of each member of the Justice League, and he is instructed to use their powers against them. Seemingly defeated, the Super Friends must ban together as a team to defeat an enemy too powerful for any one member to handle. I won't spoil the ending, however I will say that the solution to the Friend's problem is also a life lesson for kids to keep them safe in the future. Think of it as a "knowing is half the battle" type ending for all you G.I. Joe fans out there.

Super Friends is a great jumping on point for children to be introduced to the heroes of the DC Universe without being turned away by the decades worth of continuity plaguing the mainstream titles. Parents should run to the store to pick this up. It's fun, it has interactive puzzles to get the kids involved in the story, and it will get them reading. Something all kids could do a lot more of.

4 stars out of 5!

1 comment:

Yvette said...

Interesting to know.