Challenge of the Superfriends Episode 2: Invasion of the Fearians

You can understand how disappointing it would be to join something as awesome-sounding as the “Legion of Doom” only to find out that their weekly schedule is pretty much endless meetings with a bald guy who looms over you and nonsense plans from whatever villain dreamed up something ridiculous the night before. Today, it’s Captain Cold, whose only solution to any of life’s problems it to shoot it with a freeze ray. He’s got connections, because Cold said that he’s been in touch with the Fearians over on Venus there, who are totally down with helping the Legion. You know, for a price.

One of the reasons that Challenge of the Superfriends attained cult status is that you might never witness such well-funded laziness in all your life. The writers rarely bother to think outside the box, so naturally the Fearians have three heads, talk like robots, and wear Buck Rogers tunics. Their only request is that the Legion of Doom help to make earth more like Venus for colonization — just a bit warmer and more full of jungle growth — and in return they’ll let the Legion be the rulers of the world.

Sure. Sure they will.

Considering that Venus is about 880 degrees Fahrenheit and has an acidic atmosphere, you’d think the Fearians would want away from that hellpit of a planet and not try to terraform another one to be like it. You’d also think that the Legion of Doom wouldn’t be making treaties with alien races trying to wreck the same planet they want to rule. Oh, and you’d definitely think that Captain Cold wouldn’t be in the business of warming things up several hundred degrees.

“Thinking” is not something you should do when you watch this show, because it inevitably leads to a headache. Or if you’re a science teacher, hearty sobs into a textbook that the show’s writers never opened.

So how are our bad guys going to get the earth up to a toasty 880 degrees? That’s simple: Captain Cold is going to blast everything with a souped-up version of his freeze ray and trigger “another ice age.” I… what… I can’t even with this show. Only on the Superfriends does freezing everything make stuff warmer.

Hawkman gets a bad reputation for being pretty useless in this show, but I beg to differ. When the trouble alert is blaring and a giant light is flashing, he’s the first to point at it and say the obvious. Also, every time he turns around quickly, he bowls one or two Superfriends over with his giant wings, which keeps everyone there on their toes. That’s got to count for something.

I’m not sure why Captain Cold was needed in this show or assigned to be Flash’s nemesis, as Flash already had Gorilla Grodd. In any case, Flash assumes that he’s the one to deal with this, and in a nice touch, as he’s explaining this to the Superfriends, he’s also about 80 miles away and traveling fast before he reaches the end of his sentence.

Cold and Flash have it out in New York City. With a single punch, Cold cracks the entire foundation of a frozen skyscraper and sends it tumbling to the ground. With only seconds to spare, Flash makes a ridiculous gesture, gets out his trademark “Great Wings of Mercury!” and talks through the entire situation before actually doing something helpful.

That’s pretty much SOP with the Superfriends: emphatic gesture, trademark exclamation, and unnecessary narration of the problem.

You won’t even believe what Flash’s solution is, because it’s as nonsensical as anything else on this show. He speeds over to the Brooklyn Bridge, unties one of its main cable supports, speeds over to the skyscraper, ties the (miles long?) cable around the top, and snaps the building back into place like a rubber band. Meanwhile, hundreds have plummeted to their death in the Hudson as the bridge collapses.

OK, so the whole point of this was to eventually make Flash run around like crazy to defrost the cities and send plumes of steam into the air. To make things warmer, you see.

Superman declares that the rest of the day should be calm and quiet, which shows how much he’s paid attention to the kooky progression of the Legion of Doom’s schemes. Sure enough, another image comes on the monitor. “It’s the Pacific Ocean!” Wonder Woman exclaims. “And it’s on fire!”

The ocean. The entire Pacific Ocean, which is kind of wet and a smidge big. Is on fire.

Black Manta taunts Aquaman to come deal with it, and Aquaman, showing the shrewd foresight that only the world’s most brilliant minds possess, takes the bait like an eager little puppy.

If you’re a fan of mocking Superfriends-era Aquaman — and hey, who isn’t? — then you’ll love this next segment where Aquaman speeds to the Pacific from the east coast on a teeny tiny jetski, only to get rammed by Manta’s ship. He then summons a One Direction fanclub-sized mob of fish to form a giant wave to douse the flame. Said wave then, hilariously, continues on to the island that Aquaman was trying to protect, flooding it as a tsunami. Nobody’s shown drowning, but considering that the hero seems perturbed by this development, it can’t be some random uninhabited rock in the Pacific.

After the commercial break, Aquaman tells the Superfriends that the wave didn’t just wash over some small island — as the episode painstakingly showed earlier — but “all of the coastlines in the western hemisphere.” All of them. By waves caused from fishies. If I keep slamming my head onto the desk this hard, I’m going to have a dent that I can’t easily explain to my family.

Next up in this nonstop parade of lunacy, Sinestro sends six radioactive comets flying to earth. Green Lantern catches up with him, as Sinestro steps out from “the anti-matter universe of Quaad,” and traps Greenie in a giant yellow gyroscope. Naturally, he’s “spun out of the universe” and can’t do anything until the light wavelength changes the gyroscope from yellow to blue.

Am I the only one who never quite bought into the color-immunity portion of the Green Lantern books? I mean, it’s a color that we all deal with on a daily basis without the extreme difficulty that this guy seems to have. Some creator picked two random crayons from a box back in the day and comic book fans have had to defend this setup ever since.

Green Lantern quickly returns to Earth and seeing that the comets are about to smash into the planet, comes up with the only logical solution: He uses his ring to move the entire planet out of the way. So if you wondered who was really to blame for global warming, it was Green Lantern’s rash move back in the fall of ’78. Thanks a lot, dude.

Question: If Green Lantern’s ring could move the whole planet, which is what Sinestro wanted, couldn’t Sinestro also do that with his equally powerful ring? Why not just cut out the middleman?

The long and the short of this is that the Superfriends have borked Earth’s environment, bringing the temperature up to an incredibly chilly (for a Fearian) 110 degrees.

Also, there are now jungles all over the city, because that’s what happens in the course of an afternoon when there’s a little humidity thrown into the atmosphere. The Superfriends sigh at the thought of all that weed whacking that lays ahead.

“I’m sorry, ‘we?'” objects Wonder Woman. “You got a mouse in your pocket there, Aquaman? Last I saw, you were the numskull that flooded the entire western seaboard because you wanted to put out a fire that was going to go out on its own unless it magically learned to use saltwater as a fuel source. Idiot.”

“There’s no time to think about it” is the official motto of the Superfriends. Why think when you can ping-pong from one crisis to another while completely playing into your enemies’ hands?

And ping-pong they go, reacting to various local hotspots. Apache turns one horrible flood into two, while Hawkman — and I am not making this up — pulls a few weeds off the Golden Gate Bridge and calls it a day. You’re helping so much there, lil buddy!

Meanwhile, the Fearians show up, and as promised, they jet over to the Hall of Justice to deal with the Superfriends. In an entire room full of (mostly) powerful beings, only Superman throws one (1) punch at the bad guys’ force shield, fails, and then gives up. The Superfriends are bubbled up and left to be entombed.

“Holy impenetrability, we’ll never get out of here!” cries Robin.

“SHUT UP,” everyone else says.

Personally, I want to see the Fearians start to colonize the Earth, but instead the episode goes to what looks like the House of Representatives in D.C. where, naturally, Braniac is making android copies of other world leaders. I mean, if you’ve already got an entire alien army and your own roster of superpowers, why not stack the deck in your favor?

Also, I’d like to point out that Brainiac, an android, is making other androids, which makes him a proud papa. May all of his robot babies lack his fashion sense.

Has there ever been such a group of useless dorks as the Superfriends? Literally inside the same bubble is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, fish guy, bat sidekick, spinny guy, and HAWKMAN — and nobody can pop this thing and save the world?

Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but the above picture is taken from a very unfortunate angle.

The Justice League computer, which spits out plot conveniences faster than Superman goes number two, informs them that they have 15 minutes to fix the whole Earth or the atmosphere will remain like Venus forever. It’s an incredibly specific computer with a weird data set.

I’d think that Green Lantern would be able to do something with this, seeing as how the bubble itself is green, but maybe he feels duty-bound to protect it. Instead, he uses his ring to turn everyone inside of it invisible (um, how?) and trick the Fearians to thinking that they escaped.

I AM SHAKING WITH EXCITEMENT. The hour is at hand! Venus is ascending and the Fearians are about to stomp all over our faces! Make it happen, episode, and I’ll give you two of my four children!

Also, don’t think that I’m going to let the script writers off the hook on the name “Venus Base One” after another episode featured “Moon Base One.” Can’t come up with any other naming conventions? Or perhaps try out different numbers?

Major spoilers here, but we don’t get to see the invasion after all. The Fearians jet back to earth at the news that the Superfriends escaped, turn off the bubble to actually help them escape, and a battle ensues. On the side of the Fearians is a “neutron eraser,” which isn’t as intimidating when you realize that it’s just one of a pair of erasers filled with chalk dust. On the side of the Superfriends is a guy who can shoot lightning from his fingertips and another guy who can make a green rocket ship to take the invaders home. That would have been nice to see the first time the Fearians showed up, but better late than never.

The Superfriends return the Earth to normal in about six seconds, but the Legion is remarkably chill at that development. I like Brainiac’s attitude here. He’s very go-with-the-evil-flow.

Of course, he’s probably a little less chill when Batman shows up with the eviscerated corpse of one of Brainiac’s children. Batman, you savage!

The Legion of Doom attempts to fight the Superfriends in the House of Representatives — a sentence I’ve been waiting my whole life to write — but this goes as well for the Legion as any physical confrontation does in the final minutes of these episodes.

At least Sinestro makes an honest effort to turn the tide. I have to imagine that next Monday morning is going to be quite awkward for congress as they come in and are eaten, one by one, by this duck-dinosaur.

Tuesday’s headline: CONGRESS DEVOURED, NATION EMPOWERED.

I have to imagine that Green Lantern uses this line whenever he sees anything in the world that’s golden. “That Twinkie is yellow, Batman! My power ring has no effect on it!” I think he’s contractually obligated to scream out his weakness every time he’s confronted with it, on the off-chance that his co-workers happened to forget since the last time he saw something yellow.

The villains are all trounced well and good, so it’s time for Luthor to come up with his Escape of the Week. What will it be? Invisibility? An Uber?

Those who shouted “he presses a button on a remote to activate a huge lift elevator in the middle of the House of Representatives to take the Legion up to the dome, which promptly blasts off to places unknown” are the only winners here.

OK. So I have a few questions with this ending that the Superfriends don’t seem eager to resolve:

  1. When did Luthor have time to install the lift and equip the dome with rockets?
  2. Do they ever return the dome or does Congress have to deal with that in addition to the giant yellow dinosaur that was still there last I checked?
  3. Are the Fearians coming back? Will the Legion of Doom get revenge on them if so?
  4. In the span of a day, the entire world has been frozen, flooded, knocked out of orbit, covered with jungle growth, and seen many of its leaders and generals replaced by androids. What’s the fallout from that going to look like? We freak out when we read some report on “murder hornets.” I have to assume this day will demolish the global economy and trigger panic attacks in millions.

But I guess I’ll have to live with the mystery. That’s episode 2, folks!

 

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