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Warner Home Video presents
Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season (1978)

"The Justice League of America versus the Legion of Doom! This is the Challenge of the Super Friends!"
- opening narration

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: August 10, 2004

Stars: Danny Dark, Olan Soule, Casey Kasem, Shannon Farnon, Michael Rye, Jack Angel, William Callaway, Buster Jones
Other Stars: Frank Welker, Vic Perrin, Michael Bell, Jimmy Weldon, Ted Cassidy, Dick Ryal, Marlene Aragon, Ruth Foreman, Don Messick, Stanley Ralph Ross
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 05h:47m:00s
Release Date: July 06, 2004
UPC: 085393162627
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Greetings young ones, and the young at heart. This is Kal-El, hailing from the icy spires of the Fortress of Solitude. You may know me as Superman, the Last Son of Krypton. I am happy to be revisiting some of my earliest animated adventures with you. Challenge of the Super Friends was a very special time in my life. This was one of the first times I made the leap from page to animated screen, and I've got to tell you, it was a lasting symbol of victory for those of us who fought to uphold truth, justice and the American Way!

Back then, I was residing in the famed Hall of Justice, just around the corner from the U.N. I was joined by a band of very dear Super Friends: Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and Samurai (sorry, no Wonder Twins). They were standup examples of heroism, and many of them are still my close friends, though Batman and I have had our moments. Armed with a barrage of superpowers and one-liners, we faced evil head-on and saved the world from certain disaster—threats that some say would not have existed if it were not for our super charity. Rubbish, I say, though it seems there's always a yin to a yang—someone who wants to stop those who do good.

Lex Luthor, that poisonous snake (I didn't get to use biting lines like that until Superman II)! He's always trying to hatch some dastardly scheme to rid the would of the Super Friends' super teamwork, to get rich quick, or even to attempt the simple, tried-and-true world takeover. He headed the devious, evil Legion of Doom, and our Challenge throughout these adventures was to stop him and his cohorts: Toyman, Sinestro, Riddler, Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, Black Manta, Brainiac, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Giganta, Grodd and Scarecrow. There were deadly villains from each of the Super Friends' Rogues Galleries. They cracked their devious plans within a secret base hidden in an unknown swamp.

That's it, citizens. It was us versus them, and each week, Luthor cracked a new scheme, we played right into his hands, and well, finally outwitted him with our super-togetherness. Our powers and intellect combined to create some of the most dazzling adventures you can imagine for 1978! Okay, truth be told, these were some pretty campy struggles compared to my later adventures, but Jimmy Olsen, were they epic! We had time travel, mind control devices, Gorilla Cities and even Earth-shifting climate changes to deal with. Later on, you get to learn secret origins! Not for the faint of heart, young ones! For some reason, Luthor got rid of his multimillion-dollar company to lead a group of thugs from inside a base that looked strangely like a squished Darth Vader helmet. Wait, did he ever have that company? How did he pay for all those schemes?

We stepped up with the commitment necessary to exact justice on wrongdoers. Powered by the same yellow sun that gives Green Lantern that healthy tan, my Alex Toth designed Super Friends and I blasted and flew across the screen with dazzling color! And those sound effects! Watch out! Keep the Kryptonite and lead at home, boys and girls. We were simply unstoppable, even though for some reason, we never thought to find that accursed squished Darth Vader helmet base...

Here are the 16 adventures brilliantly captured on this super special set: Wanted: The Super Friends, Invasion of the Ferians, The World's Deadliest Game, The Time Trap, Trial of the Super Friends, The Monolith of Evil, Giants of Doom, Secret Origins of the Super Friends, Revenge on Gorilla City, Swamp of the Living Dead, Conquerors of the Future, The Final Challenge, Fairy Tales of Doom, Doomsday, Super Friends: Rest in Peace, and History of Doom. For a taste of some plot details, head on over to my friend's previous review about our stunning exploits; Dan Heaton has written a few summaries on that upstanding looking web page that rivals some of my best work at the Daily Planet. I meant the work of Clark Kent. Great Caesar's Ghost! I wasn't supposed to say that!

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I was looking at these old adventures, and by the Red Dun, do they look shiny! The fine citizens at Warner Home Video have certainly done their civic duty and given us a transfer that shows good detail, and bold, rich color. The image can be soft and shows some damage, but they look superb. We sure looked bright back then! These even look better than the Batman: The Animated Series—Volume One set that was recently reviewed at this superheroic DVD website.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The mono audio is limited, but sounds bright, clear and has minimal hiss. The deep baritone of my voice is well captured here, and the music sounds appropriately bold, considering our great heroics demonstrated on screen. Humility, Kal, humility...everyone knows Black Manta's voice was much cooler.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Batman: The Animated Series—Volume One, Johnny Quest: The Complete First Season, The Jetsons: The Complete First Season, The Flintstones: The Complete First Season
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by writers Mark Waid and Geoff Johns (on Wanted: The Super Friends and History of Doom)
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Hall of Justice and Legion of Doom interactive text/audio feature
  2. Free ticket to Catwoman (good for one admission up to $12.00)
Extras Review: There are even some stunning extras that I couldn't find in my archives here in the Fortress. Good thing this set came along. First thing I noticed was the bright, bold packaging that features some great looking artwork. The menus on these discs are also designed well, looking like one of my old comic books. The first seven episodes are on Disc 1, while the double-sided Disc 2 contains the other nine.

There are two commentaries from two morally-sound comic book figures: Geoff Johns and Mark Waid, two great writers at DC, my comic brand of choice. They seem to laugh and make fun of our courageous adventures a little too often (Matt's note: not often enough—these tracks are hilarious!), but they offer some great insight into the background of these tales, and how they helped make their own stories even more exciting.

Saturday, Sleeping Bags & Super Friends: A Retrospective (13m:42s) is a great look back at this series. We hear from comic icons such as the two aforementioned commentators, DC's own Dan Didio, James Tucker, Paul Dini, and the best artist to ever create a likeness of me, Alex Ross. They all have wonderful and flattering things to say about my friends and I, what they liked about our heroics, and even how the Hall of Justice was not up to the design quality of the Hall of Doom. What!!?!?? They even caught some of our costume mistakes. We had good days and bad.

Finally Hall of Justice is a neat little sampling of biographical information about myself and each of member of the Justice League. Likewise, Legion of Doom covers those insane villains we had to face. Each section has a short corresponding video montage showing our powers in action set to some great '70s primal tunes.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Warner has created a fine testament to the amazing, bold, colorful adventures of myself and my fellow Super Friends. Justice is upheld in this set, which boasts great a/v quality, and some fine tributes from some upstanding citizen experts. I'd buy one of these for each fan faster than a speeding bullet, but sadly, the Daily Planet doesn't pay me enough. Oh, Kryptonite, I did it again. Well, so long and remember, victory is yours, just don't forget to brush your teeth!


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