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Super Friends:
The Lost Episodes

How does a series like Super Friends end up with "lost episodes"? It turns out that somewhere between adding characters like Zan and Jayna and refreshing the series to tie in with the Kenner Super Powers action figures, a whole season was produced that ABC didn't bother showing.

Eventually these episodes made it into syndication, but they're a curious bridge to DC superheroes getting a little more serious on television. For the most part, they're not serious stories, a hodge-podge of eight minute installments with little more linking them than they're licensed DC characters. And then near the end, continuity actually appears.

Following the demise of the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Super-Friends, Lex Luthor and a few of his fiends disguise themselves as a construction company to salvage their old headquarters. For just one episode, it almost matters what order you watch them in.

This looks to be before producer/writer Alan Burnett joined the staff and started nudging the show in a direction that would, indirectly, pave the way for Paul Dini and Bruce Timm to rock the world with Batman: The Animated Series. As such, they're not always the most logically written, but they're fun for younger kids.

Superman and Batman team up after Mr. Mxyzptlk kidnaps them into the 5th Dimension, where he sentences Superman to be a farmer. It's as hard to fathom as it is to pronounce the imp's name. But the World's Finest team gets the better of him, and the episode could have fit anywhere in the evolution of the Super-Friends, since no other characters from any of the series appear.

In the wake of this summer's Wonder Twins and Gleek action figure debacle, I found it particularly poignant to see an episode featuring Gleek's evil android duplicate. Created by Gorilla Grodd, the little blue monkoid destroys the Super Friends, or at least, that's what they want him to think. Then he goes on to buy cases and cases of himself separate from the Wonder Twin figures. At least, that's the sequel episode in my head.

The DVD set comes with a downloadable and printable comic book, an interesting extra. Downloading as a .pdf file in color, the comic features the cover from the first issue of Super-Friends, with Wendy and Marvin on the cover. The main story involves Doctor Mist of the Global Guardians, and features Zan and Jayna tracking down a mutated super-mole. Yes, this story was once published by DC. And in a back-up slot, an Alex Toth-illustrated story of Wendy and Marvin exploring the JLA satellite that first appeared in the Super-Friends oversized DC Special.

Here's hoping that Warner does more packaging like that - there's a lot of potential in the upcoming Batman: Brave and the Bold collection having the first issue of the DC Kids' series on hand. That's just one possibility; maybe there are more lost episodes, or maybe it's time to just start repackaging these cartoons with reminders that they all started with those things called comic books.

Derek McCaw


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