Challenge of the Superfriends: Season 1 (1978)

Like millions of other thirty-something-year-old dorks, I have fond memories of Saturday morning cartoons growing up. While many cartoons only stuck around for a season or two, the Superfriends (in one form or another) appeared once a week for almost an entire decade. One season had the superheros teaming with Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog (titled simply The Superfriends), while several versions of the program paired the heros with twins Zan and Jayna and their monkey, Gleek. From 1978-1980, Challenge of the Superfriends featured the largest roster of superheroes to date from the Hall of Justice up against The Legion of Doom, led by arch-villain Lex Luthor.

Similar to Scooby Doo, Hanna-Barbera got a lot of mileage out of one basic plot. In almost each of the sixteen episodes spanned across the three DVD set, the Legion of Doom plans to take over the earth, only to be foiled within 22 minutes by the Superfriends. Each superfriend has a matching nemesis (Superman has Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman has Cheetah, Aquaman has Black Mantis, etc) so there’s really no surprise as to who will be fighting one another. Each episode has a unique “twist” that separates them, but don’t expect any real cliffhangers. Of course this DVD set is more than just about the plot of Saturday morning cartoon fodder — it’s about good memories, hand-drawn animation and good consistantly triumphing over evil.

Extras within the set are disappointingly few. Only two of the set’s sixteen episodes contain commentary tracks. The third disc contains a ten-minute documentary about Saturday morning Superfriends and how they influenced some of today’s comic book creators, and an interactive roster containing every member of both the Hall of Justice and the Legion of Doom, showing each member’s strengths, enemies, and a brief action video.

As a whole the episodes are even more hokey than I remember them, with tons of strange, drawn-out dialogue and bizarre animation errors (colors changing, objects disappearing, and so on). Viewers picky about digital artifacts and dirty negatives will have a field day picking these occasionally rough transfers apart. The video’s full screen (just as the originals were) and the audio’s mono. And yet, I cannot help but enjoy them. The episodes’ goofiness reminds me simpler times. My four-year-old son watched them as intently as he watches anything put out today, and was surprised to learn that “Superman was friends with Batman”. Despite any glaring issues arising from the show’s age they’re still fun to watch, which is what Saturday morning cartoons are all about.


01. Wanted: The Superfriends
02. Invasion of The Fearians
03. The World’s Deadliest Game
04. The Time Trap
05. Trial of the Superfriends
06. Monolith of Evil
07. The Giants of Doom
08. Secret Orgins of the Superfriends
09. Revenge on Gorilla City
10. Swamp of the Living Dead
11. Conquerors of the Future
12. The Final Challenge
13. Fairy Tale of Doom
14. Doomsday
15. Superfriends, Rest in Peace
16. The History of Doom

[ End of Review, Beginning of Useful Information ]

Do not confuse this DVD set with any of the previously released DVDs:

Challenge of the Superfriends: Attack of the Legion of Doom contains episodes 1-4 of season one
Challenge of the Superfriends: United they Stand contains episodes 5-8 of season one
Challenge of the Superfriends: The Challenge of Doom contains episodes 9-12 of season one
Challenge of the Superfriends: Journey into Oblivion contains episodes 13-16 of season one

Challenge of the Superfriends: Season One contains all 16 of the above episodes of Challenge of the Superfriends.

Challenge of the Superfriends: Season Two is actually The Superfriends from 1978-1979, and contains the following episodes:

01. Rokan. Enemy from Space
02. The Demons of Exxor
03. Battle at the Earth’s Core
04. Sinbad and the Space Pirates
05. The Pied Piper from Space
06. Attack of the Vampire
07. The Beasts are coming
08. Terror from the Phantom Zone
09. The Anti-Matter Monster
10. World Beneath the Ice
11. Invasion of the Brain Creatures
12. The Incredible Space Circus
13. Batman. Dead or Alive
14. Battle of the Gods
15. Journey through inner space
16. The Rise and Fall of the Super Friends

Bonus. The ballad of Zan and Jayna
Bonus. Pajama-Rama Super Friends Retrospective

The following information was gleaned from the Challenge of the Superfriends site. For more information, please visit them!

The Superfriends (1973-1974)
Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Marvin, Wendy, Wonder Dog.

The All New Superfriends Hour (1977-1978)
Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Zan, Jayna, Gleek the Monkey

The Superfriends (also 1978-1979)
Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Zan, Jayna, Gleek the Monkey

Challenge of the Superfriends (1978-1979)
Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Samurai. (These are the ones where they always battled the Legion of Doom)

The World’s Greatest Superfriends (1979-1980)
Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Zan, Jayna, Gleek the Monkey

The Superfriends Hour Shorts (1980-1982)

The Lost Superfriends Episodes (1983-1984)

Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984-1985)

The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985)

Comments are closed.