This review is a bit of a departure for me, as this episode of Challenge of the SuperFriends was . . . special. It had a grace, a power, a majesty to it, which made it almost transcendantly beautiful.
The show opens not on the swamp where the Legion of Doom is headquartered, not on the unsuspecting site where a terrible crime is about to be committed, but on a funeral. Wait . . . a funeral? In a SuperFriends episode? Yes. They're actually admitting, in a cartoon made in 1978, that people can die. And . . . holy fill-in-the-blank, is that the Justice League that's in mourning?!
WONDER WOMAN: "I can't believe he's really gone."And Robin, here, is wiping away a tear. Could it be . . . no, they couldn't! They wouldn't!
SUPERMAN: "I understand, Wonder Woman. He was a true friend to all of us."
GREEN LANTERN: "He gave all he had to protect freedom and uphold justice."
ROBIN: "So long, old pal. We'll never forget'cha."
SUPERMAN: "No, Robin. And although his true identity must remain a secret, the world will always remember him as . . . Batman."
Oh. My. Gods. They did.
And they're not just putting on a pretend funeral for show, either. They now cut to the SuperFriends watching the above funeral scene on a video monitor. It's a recording of past events. They're not watching it from the Trouble Alert in the Hall of Justice, they're watching it while sequestered away in the Batcave. And they're serious. Batman really is dead. And any one of them could be next.
ROBIN: "I still can't believe it's happened."
SUPERMAN: "It has, Robin. And it could happen to all of us if we're not extremely careful."
GREEN LANTERN: "I can't help feeling ashamed about hiding in the Batcave like frightened mice in fear of our lives."
HAWKMAN: "We have no choice. A small mistake, and any one of us could wind up lying beside Batman."
SUPERMAN: "The Bat Satellite will allow us to tap into the Hall of Doom memory tapes." [presses buttons; then, with great solemnity:] "We can take another look at the biggest blunder the SuperFriends have ever made."
Wow. I'm feeling chills down my spine watching this. And the dialog . . . this isn't the corny, watered-down SuperFriends we've come to groan at in the other episodes of this series. This is the Justice League at its finest, engaged in real pathos, pulling no punches. Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
The viewscreen begins playback, which the narrator tells us portrays events that took place "Days earlier, before terror struck the SuperFriends." Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, and Sinestro are disguised as oil drill operators, running a drilling rig near the Hall of Justice. They've been drilling a wide shaft into the Earth at an angle:
LUTHOR: "Any minute now and we will have reached our target, one mile beneath the Hall of Justice, where Superman buried a deadly element called Noxium. It was captured many years ago from Doctor Nataz, a one-time member of the Legion of Doom, who created a new element whose radiation was capable of destroying all of the SuperFriends!"
They soon reach the target depth, retract the drill bit, and venture down into the tunnel, where they quickly stumble upon the box where the Noxium is stored. However, the box turns out to be made of Krypton steel, which their equipment can't cut open. Luthor decides they need to trick Superman into opening it for them, much like he tricked him into retrieving the monolith several episodes earlier.
Normally, such a plan would strain my limits of credibility, and fill my head with all the harebrained decisions the Justice League has been shown to make throughout this series. But this has been no ordinary episode so far. The impact of those opening scenes of high drama was still riding high in my mind as I watched this. It might be predictable, it might even be goofy, but Lex Luthor tricking Superman into doing his dirty work for him might — just might — have the potential in this episode to give great pathos. I kept watching.
Sure enough, the Legion of Doom's flying headquarters soon streaks toward the Hall of Justice and begins ripping at its roof. Superman and Green Lantern, the Justice League's heavy hitters and the ones it would actually make the most sense for, fly through the new skylight the Hall of Doom has made in their ceiling to confront their foes. While Green Lantern distracts the Hall of Doom's armaments, Superman breaks in through the Hall of Doom's roof and lands right in front of the Legion. Luthor threatens Superman with a box — an eerily familiar box — with a little radar dish mounted on its lid. Luthor calls it a "molecular disintegrator," but its pale yellow beam merely bounces off of Superman's chest. Unfazed and nonplussed, the Man of Steel blasts the box with his heat vision, but instead of melting or vaporizing, the box simply . . . opens.
LUTHOR: "Thanks, Super fool, you've just sealed the fate of the entire Justice League. Now I posess the deadly Noxium!"
It's all Superman can do to fly away and save himself. Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
Thus they reach a pause in the video record of what Superman called "The biggest blunder the SuperFriends have ever made." Now, huddled together in the Batcave in fear of their lives, Superman fills us in on the threat they face:
SUPERMAN: "The Noxium crystal that the Legion of Doom posesses contains kryptonite for me, a yellow radiation beam for Green Lantern, and all the necessary elements to destroy each and every one of the SuperFriends."
. . . before Hawkman stars the video playback back up again.
In the recorded past, we now see the Bat Signal. Cheetah and Scarecrow are forcing Commissioner Gordon to summon Batman via the hotline phone on his desk. Batman could doubtlessly tell that Gordon was under duress — he is the world's greatest detective after all — but that would just let him know that he's needed even more urgently. Noxium or no, Commissioner Gordon's life is at stake. The Batmobile roars out of its secret base and rolls down the road toward police headquarters, but apparently Gotham City's villains have gotten wise to the route he usually drives, as the Riddler drives his car right across the road where the Batmobile is coming. Riddler taunts Batman, telling him he's too late to save the Commissioner and driving off, but the Batmobile goes after him in hot pursuit. A garbage truck suddenly appears across Batman's path, and it's all he can do to activate the Batmobile's rocket lifters in time to jump over it:
Batman finally corners the Riddler in front of a movie theater and lassos him. And that's when the Riddler pulls out . . . the Noxium crystal. A single narrow, green beam flies forth from the crystal's pointed end, and catches Batman squarely in the chest:
Oh. My. God.
He's not knocked out. He's not waiting for help to arrive. He's not playing possum, or sleeping, or crawling on his belly to escape. He's gone. That crumpled heap lying limp on the floor might have been Batman just a moment ago, but not any more. Now, it's just Batman's remains. The man no longer exists. The Dark Knight will never rise again. Though we can't see his eyes from this angle, the light and life have surely left them; eyes that will never behold another sunrise, never look with wonder and affection at a newborn child, never see the better and happier Gotham City their once-living owner had tried so hard to build. Those slowly stiffening, slowly cooling hands will never hurl another batarang, never punch another crook in the jaw, never type another backdoor access code into a villain's computer, never pull another lifesaving gadget out of that utility belt. The mind behind those eyes, the mind that had solved a thousand crimes no one else could, the mind to whom so many countless people owed their lives whether they knew it or not, the mind that had so often and so well earned the title of world's greatest detective — that mind too has just vanished forever from the face of the Earth. And as if to hammer home the point, to make sure we know, in no uncertain terms, how utterly permanent this truly is, a passerby exclaims, "Look, it's Batman! He's dead!"
Yes. They actually. Said. The "d" word.
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
Once again, the video playback ends, and the SuperFriends are caught up with the present. The scene shifts to the Hall of Doom, where a callous Lex Luthor stands before a bulletin-board picture of all eleven members of the Justice League and gloats. He crosses off Batman's picture like he were crossing a trivial item off a grocery shopping list. "All we have to do," Scarecrow tells us, "Is lure them out of hiding and pick them off one by one." And as they scheme to catch their next victim, the shot closes in on the picture of the remaining Justice Leaguers until the image of a single SuperFriend fills the screen: Wonder Woman.
Soon enough, the Hall of Doom surfaces off the coast of Paradise Island and embarks on a rampage of destruction, melting Parthenon-like roofs and shattering Doric columns. The local Amazon women, realizing how dire their situation is, send out a telepathic distress call to their champion overseas.
Meanwhile, the Justice League has split up. Some are still in the Batcave, but the rest are now hiding out in Aquaman's hidden sea cave. Even faced with the almost-certain doom of the Noxium crystal, they're still not giving up hope. Superman is on the viewscreen, calmly talking about a "next plan of action." They have no intention of rolling over and dying, or of abandoning the planet they've all vowed to protect. If the Justice League is going down, they're going down fighting. But then, Paradise Island's telepathic alarm gets through:
WONDER WOMAN: "They need my help!"
AQUAMAN: "You mustn't go, Wonder Woman, it's a trap!"
WONDER WOMAN: "As Princess Diana, I swore to defend Paradise Island." [runs toward the cave exit]
AQUAMAN: "No, don't go, Wonder Woman!"
WONDER WOMAN: "I've got to."
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
She makes her way back to the land of her birth, and there she places herself and her bracelets between the Hall of Doom's laser cannons and the island-nation she's sworn to protect. One by one, each beam of would-be destruction is deflected harmlessly away by the indestructible Amazonium (or, if you're a fan of the Lynda Carter live-action series, Feminum) girding her wrists. This is Cheetah's cue. She parachutes out of the Hall of Doom, landing squarely in front of the Amazonian Princess. Wonder Woman readies her magic lasso, but . . . she isn't quick enough.
Cheetah raises the Noxium crystal and, with a single jolt, Princess Diana, the mightiest of the Amazonians, made flesh by the gods and goddesses of Olympus, the favorite daughter of Paradise Island . . . falls.
And as with Batman before her, a Paradise Island native drives the point home by keeling before her prostrate form and exclaiming, "Diana! She's dead!"
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
And they're not done. No, the greatest, deepest pathos is yet to come.
No sooner does the Justice League see Wonder Woman's life vanish before their eyes than another emergency call comes in. And on their viewscreen appears . . . Perry White. And he claims, before his call gets cut off, that the Legion of Doom's got Lois Lane.
Oh, gods no. They're after the Man of Steel himself. And though he knows what the stakes are, he's going in anyway:
SUPERMAN: "If Lois is in trouble, I've got to help her."
HAWKMAN: "But that's just what the Legion wants!"
GREEN LANTERN: "If they catch you it'll mean your life, Superman. You can't risk it!"
SUPERMAN: "If I can't even attempt to help those who depend on me, then I'd rather not live."
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
Perry White and Lois Lane are, as Superman so rightly suspects, tied up inside Clark Kent's office at the Daily Planet, while a glowering Grundy and Luthor look on. Perry White tells Luthor that Superman isn't foolish enough to face him while he's got the deadly element, but Luthor knows better. He knows what Perry White and, especially, Lois Lane mean to the Last Son of Krypton. Even with Superman himself right outside the door, watching them with his X-ray vision, Luthor is absolutely right. Superman can't stay away, can't duck out while the woman that means so much to him is endangered — even if it means his own life is forfeit. And so, as though going through the motions of a scripted tragedy, Superman barges through the door and puts on his best "I'm here to stop you, Luthor!" speech, if only to delay the inevitable just a little bit longer and go down swinging.
Luthor fires the Noxium crystal at Superman, but his Super Speed allows him to dodge the beam. Before Luthor can react, Superman unties both Lois and Perry and herds them away through the door. But this seeming chance to get by unscathed is only an illusion, as Luthor fires again and it's all the Man of Steel can do to interpose his cape between himself and the green death:
The near miss didn't kill him, but it drained his strength. He slumps away out the door, still determined to get Lois and Perry to safety even in his weakened condition. It's all they can do to hide themselves away in the printing room and hope the maze of machinery will cover their tracks. Grundy stalks in after them, but is distracted when Superman starts the printing presses, allowing Superman — whose strength has at least partially returned — to come up from behind and grab him:
He stuffs Grundy into the newspasper bundling machine, binding him up in several Sunday editions that, together with their straps, appear strong enough to immobilize the albino zombie. But now Luthor knows where he is, and he closes in for the kill. He fires a beam at Superman, who picks up a wall panel and interposes it, but you can tell this near-miss hurt him just as badly as the previous one had. Declaring, "You can't hold out forever!", Luthor fires again and blasts the wall panel out of Superman's hands.
And at last, with Superman's strength gone, and with nothing left for the Man of Steel to interpose between himself and the end of all things, Luthor at last fires directly into Superman's unprotected body:
And as he falls, prostrate, onto a pallet of newspapers — newspapers that perhaps carried the very last article he would ever write as Clark Kent — Lois Lane runs to his side and bellows, "Superman! He's dead!"
Superman. Dead. The Man of Steel. Earth's Greatest Hero. Kal El, the only survivor of Krypton, the last and greatest of his kind. Dead. Brushed aside by a petty, power-mad criminal as though he were a nuisance roadblock. How many thousands — how many millions of people's lives had Superman saved over his lifetime? How many millions more lives had he touched? His hands, those gentle hands that were yet more powerful than a locomotive, had been there pulling us through the darkest hours of World War II. His hands had rescued us from certain doom, thwarted the schemes of the vilest warlords, defended the entire planet from impossibly dangerous threats from within and without on more occasions than we can count. And all the while, with all that power, with all that potential for utter destruction at his fingertips, he chose instead to use his power to uplift humanity, over and over again. He chose to show us all what we could truly accomplish, if only we cared half as much for each other as he cared for us. But now . . . now, he can never come to our rescue again. We'll never again see the red and blue speck streaking through the skies of Metropolis. We'll never see the sylized S in the brilliant-cut diamond logo landing before us, or hear "Help, Superman!" echo from the mouths of the imperilled (except, perhaps, as a desperate plea to the hereafter), or have anyone to rush to our rescue when, in our hubris or our zeal or our inevitable misfortunes, we make yet another life-ending mistake. The Man of Tomorrow is gone. Sic transit gloria Krypton.
And Luthor, gloating as he's never gloated before, calls it "The greatest victory the Legion of Doom has ever had."
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
Later, the remaining members of the Justice League stand huddled together on a Marine base. A twin-rotor helicopter arrives, and discharges Superman's coffin, draped in the red cape he wore when he was alive. Green Lantern laments that "the SuperFriends will never be the same without him," but we in the viewing audience know, with all earnestness, how this statement hardly begins to express the deep void left by Superman's passing. Even the background music in this scene, edited together on a shoestring budget from the few short clips Hoyt Curtin composed for this series, manages to be both solemn and somber. But the time for lamentation is short-lived; almost as soon as the pallbearers begin their procession, the Legion of Doom broadcasts an ultimatum to the SuperFriends, "Wherever they may be hiding." The eight surviving Leaguers watch the message on one of the Marines' communications trucks:
LUTHOR: "Three of your comrades are dead. Unless the rest of you leave the Earth, you will all meet with the same fate. You have exactly 24 hours —"
And here, the dialog beautifully cross-cuts in mid-sentence to Luthor relaying the news of this ultimatum to the Legion of Doom:
LUTHOR: "— and we have the rest of our lives to ransack the Earth without those meddling SuperFriends!"
Black Manta then calls up the White House, the office of Japan's Prime Minister, the United Nations, and presumably every major national capital on the face of the globe, to announce that the Legion will be taking over every military and every police force throughout the world, and that all governing bodies of the U.N. will be under the Legion's supreme command. Earth is theirs for the taking.
With great reluctance, the rest of the SuperFriends admit defeat. As much as the world is depending upon them, there's nothing they can do so long as the Legion has the Noxium crystal. They have no choice but to leave the planet, perhaps to plan their next move from the confines of the Justice League satellite, perhaps to leave the Solar system entirely. Green Lantern and Samurai are first to fly away into the heavens, followed by Black Vulcan and Hawkman (who presumably has some means of breathing in space not shown in this scene), followed by the Flash (who can, as a forgivable animation gaffe, fly under his own power:)
. . . followed by the rocket-propelled Batplane carrying Robin, Apache Chief, and Aquaman. Five brilliant, comet-like streaks of light sail out over the Earth's ocean of air, pulling farther away, farther, farther, converging into the distance as their contrails shrink to a barely-visible twinkle . . . and then, they are gone.
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
The world they leave behind rapidly descends into chaos as the Legion of Doom takes over and dystopia reigns. The Metropolis Diamond Exchange is robbed . . . by the police themselves, under Luthor's command. Brainiac and Riddler rewire the World Credit Center in Munich to put all the world's credit under the Legion's control, with the guards powerless to stop even the simple "computerized watchdog" the Riddler has taken with him:
The International Microwave Communications Center in Colorado appears likewise helpless in the face of the Legion. Their guards are easily paralyzed, and the Legion is sure that they'll soon be in control of all the world's communications. The planet will soon be flung into a digital dark age, where the only news, the only telephone conversations, the only faxes, and — had this show been produced a few decades later — the only Internet access will be whatever the Legion of Doom permits or supplies.
But lo! It appears the remaining Justice League members weren't as cowardly as they seemed. Their ploy to leave the Earth was merely a ruse to buy time, to find the right place from which to pick the Legion off with guerrilla tactics. They spring out from a garage in the building's side, surprising Cheetah, Black Manta, Sinestro, and Solomon Grundy without the Noxium crystal in their posession! On such short notice, it's all Sinestro can do to attack them with energy bagpipes:
. . . which the Green Lantern easily turns against them:
An incapacitating jolt from Black Vulcan, delivered as a clever bank-shot, takes Black Manta and Solomon Grundy out of the picture. It looks like the tattered remains of the Justice League finally have the upper hand . . . but then, Luthor flies to his comrades' rescue.
And he does have the Noxium crystal with him.
The next moments play out like a Greek tragedy, as one by one, the last remnants of the Justice League fall like flies. Robin:
Aquaman and the Flash:
Apache Chief and Samurai:
Hawkman, Black Vulcan, and — yes — Green Lantern:
Dead. All dead. All of them. Every last one of them. It's easy to forget, it's easy to think as you watch them toppling like dominoes that they are just casualties of war, that one death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic. Perhaps it's a defense mechanism built into our psyches, to prevent the shock of the moment from overwhelming us. But this was each of them! Every hero had his own story, every one of them was the end-product of a long, long unbroken line of parents and children that dwindled off into the ancient past. Every one of them deserved all the accolades they received. Every one of them fought for justice, and did what they could with their own abilities to protect us from the direst threats to ourselves. Every one of them, dead. Every one of them deserving of the deepest of eulogies, which now in their mass grave on some backwater lot in Colorado they will never receive.
Dick Grayson survived the deaths of his parents to become Robin, and overcame one peril after another as part of the Dynamic Duo, as the yang to the Batman's yin.
Hal Jordan trained all his young life to be a test pilot, and then through frightful happenstance became the chosen successor of Abin Sur in the Green Lantern Corps, a post which he upheld with the greatest dedication, dignity, and courage.
Arthur Curry was once King of Atlantis as Aquaman, with every living thing in the ocean at his command — oceans that covered four-fifths of the planet and even now have vast reaches where no human being has ever passed; oceans which, all things considered, are better for having known him.
Barry Allen, even if he'd never been more than a police scientist, had always fought for truth and justice — and thanks to a freak accident with lightning and chemicals, he carried on that fight faster than any other man alive as the Flash.
Carter Hall, the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, may have had only wings and an anti-gravity belt as Hawkman, but many great men have been heroes with far less.
Apache Chief, whose true name may never be known, overcame his own fear in the face of a terrible threat, so that the medicine man's Ancient Indian Powder would make him more brave instead of more cowardly. He carried that bravery with him into every fight, through every inechoh, right into the last desperate battle he and his comrades would ever face.
And then the are Samurai and Black Vulcan, whose histories may remain forever shrouded in mists. . . .
And all of them now are dead.
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
As an aside to their final victory, Luthor comments that they won't be needing the Noxium crystal any more, so he casually tosses it over his shoulder where it falls through a sewer grate. Then, the Legion moves on, presumably to cement their tyranny over the entire world.
But . . .
The next scene opens, mysteriously, on the sewer beneath the communications complex. The manhole cover in the ceiling moves aside, and an eerie figure decends the ladder, dressed in some kind of bulky gray suit with air tanks strapped to its back. He — assuming it is a he — wades into the sewer water, sweeeping what appears to be a metal detector in front of himself. With cautious glances to either side, he advances. Who is this mysterious stranger? I wondered. What could he be up to? My brows furrowed in wonder as I watched the figure sweep his way down the sewer. At last, the light blinks on his metal detector and the needle on its gauge dances across the middle of its range. When the light glows steady and the device emits a new tone, the suited figure reaches down into the water and pulls out . . . the Noxium crystal.
What is he up to? What is his interest in the thing that killed the Justice League? I could almost feel my spine tingle as I watched. He climbs back out of the sewer, Noxium in tow, and as soon as he's at the surface he takes out what appears to be either a mortar launcher or a bazooka. He drops the deadly crystal into the bazooka's tube, holds the tube over his shoulder, and fires, belching a green glowing streak from the front of the tube and the backblast of rocketlike exhaust from the tube's other end. This sends the Noxium crystal up, up, out past Earth's stratosphere into the depths of interplanetary space.
Then, taking out a hand-held radio transmitter, the mysterious figure speaks two simple words in a low, calm voice: "It's done."
Wonderful! Powerful! Drama!
Come the next day, the Hall of Doom sits menacingly between the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument, smack-dab in the middle of the Capital Mall in Washington, D.C.. It's an unmistakable symbol of the Legion's utter domination. Inside, Luthor is holding audience after audience with delegates from every nation on the planet. Or rather, they are each holding an audience with him. He demands half the income of each country, and if they object, he instead seizes it all.
Another delegation files in from eleven more nations, yet another cavalcade of the world's helplessness. But this time, when Luthor asks them what poor countries they represent, a delegate with a familiar voice proclaims, "We represent every nation, Luthor, and we're here to regain their freedom!" Then as one, he and the woman delegate next to him remove hastily-donned disguises to reveal . . . Superman and Wonder Woman?!
. . .
. . .
"But that's impossible!" shouts Lex Luthor, "You're all dead!" And I'm inclined to agree with him. I saw them die. That was the whole point of this episode! What's—
"Wrong, Luthor," replies Wonder Woman, "We're as alive as we ever were!"
. . .
I sat there in open-mouthed disbelief as all the wonderful, powerful drama of the last half hour disappeared. I shook my head in disbelief and bewilderment, over and over, while the usual ridiculous "climactic battle" of a Challenge of the Superfriends episode played itself out. The riddler with a magic wand, Luthor with a trap door against a man who could fly, the puns, the Green Lantern's wacky ring antics . . . none of it mattered. Where had all the pathos, all the drama gone? Were they throwing it all away?!
In the end, when the SuperFriends inevitably win, Luthor asks the same thing I did . . . and I perched on my seat in consternation, demanding an answer:
LUTHOR: "I don't understand it, Superman! We destroyed you all!"
SUPERMAN: "No you didn't, Luthor. Those were the SuperFriends robot duplicates you attacked!"
BATMAN: "We were hiding in the Justice League Skylab while our super duplicates played out our parts to the last detail."
WONDER WOMAN: "They were programmed to fail, so you'd think we were all dead and throw away the Noxium crystal."
APACHE CHIEF [holding the bulky gray suit]: "I retrieved the crystal from the sewer, and got rid of it for good."
You mean all that . . . all those . . . every death I saw was just . . . firk ding blast!!!
I picked up a beer can and threw it at the TV set. Then I picked up a brick and threw it right through the TV screen. I ripped the DVD player out dragging its wires behind it, with the DVD still in it, and hurled it to the ground. Then I stomped on the DVD player 'til I heard it crack and bend. Then, still fuming, I marched straight to my car, threw the DVD player into the back seat, and drove with fury in my face all the way to the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. I got out, stomped over to the middle of the bridge with the DVD player in tow, and threw it over the side into the water 300 feet below. Then a cop who'd seen the whole thing came up to arrest me because you're not supposed to throw things off the Golden Gate Bridge, but I didn't care. I was still too damn angry over that horrible ending!! So I punched him. Hard. Then I threw him over the side and into the water 300 feet below. Then his partner showed up and took me down with a taser. Turns out 300 foot falls are lethal, even if you land in water. The cop I threw over the side got about a dozen broken bones, and I ended up convicted of throwing a foreign object off the Golden Gate Bridge, assaulting a police officer, and attempted murder. I was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
I finally calmed down about the horrible ending of this episode some time during year 3.
When I got out, I decided to give this review one more go. I got a new DVD player, a new TV, a new copy of the Challenge of the SuperFriends DVD, and started watching from the beginning — but this time, knowing that all the drama was fake and seeing the show for what it really was.
So, let's review this episode all over again, right from the start.
We open on this ridiculous funeral where all the SuperFriends are mourning the death of someone important. Oh, right. Like anyone dies in the comic books. They pan to the tombstone, and guess what? It's one of their own.
It's not Bruce Wayne's tombstone, no no no no. It just says "Batman." As though we're supposed to believe that even in death, no one ever removed his mask. They probably buried him with the damn costume on, too. Morons.
Okay. Okay. Take a deep breath. You're blaming this cartoon for stealing five years of your life. Don't keep doing that. Deep breaths. It didn't really steal five years of your life. You just made that up. You didn't really throw your DVD player off the Golden Gate bridge. You didn't really get arrested. You didn't really go to prison. There's no need to keep heaping your anger on this episode. Come on. Level headed. Deep breaths. There you go. Now exhale.
*Phew*! All right. So. The scene cuts to the Batcave, where it turns out the SuperFriends have been merely watching a video recording of Batman's funeral. "Holy funerals, Superman," says Robin, because he can't bug Batman with his favorite tired cliche any more. Sucks to be you, Boy Wonder.
Superman blithely informs us that "The Bat Satellite will allow us to tap into the Hall of Doom memory tapes." That's pretty impressive. Batman built a satellite that can basically read the Legion of Doom's records any time they want to. Leaving aside the potential issues of privacy-invasion from such technology, you have to ask yourself: Why the hell haven't the SuperFriends been using this against the Legion of Doom the whole time? Usually, the Justice Leaguers get caught completely off-guard by the Legion's antics. If they'd been using this Bat Satellite technology in Monolith of Evil, they would've known it wasn't the real U.N. building down in the center of the Earth, and they would've known that Grodd had a kryptonite ball-and-chain ready for them. They could've either avoided the trap entirely or, at the very least, sent someone other than Superman. But nooooooo, I guess if we use Bat Satellite surveillance against the Legion of Doom, it means the terrorists have won or something.
Anyway, the Hall of Doom's memory tapes reveal that an oil well right next to the Hall of Justice was actually being run by the Legion of Doom:
I guess Lex Luthor's cheap rubber mask was enough to fool the Justice League's legendary security checks.
Luthor reveals that, one mile below Justice League H.Q., Superman had buried a deadly element called ... Noxium. <dramatic chord> Hmmm. Element, you say? I've never seen "noxium" on any periodic chart. Presumably IUPAC used different naming conventions in 1978 than they do now. In any event, Luthor claims this "element" was created by an ex-legion member named "Doctor Nataz." Or at least, that's how the DVD's subtitles spell this doctor's name. But you know, the people who write subtitles for DVDs don't always read the shooting script. I wonder ... was this mysterious doctor's last name really spelled with a Z, like it appears in the subtitles? What if, instead, it was spelled with an S? Words that end in S frequiently have the final S pronounced like a Z, such as "knives" or "balls." So, both the Z spelling and the S spelling would be pronounced the same way.
But look what you get if his name is spelled "Doctor Natas." Spell that last name backwards. Go on, do it. Look what you get. DOCTOR SATAN! Tell me that isn't the coolest supervillian name you've ever heard! Can't you just hear Green Lantern saying "Now to go after Doctor Satan!"? Or Superman saying, "Look out, it's Doctor Satan!"? Robin could exclaim "Holy Unholy Prince of Darkness, Batman!". The Justice League could corner him and say, "Now to send you back to Hell, Doctor Satan!". The possibilities are endless.
Luthor, Grundy, and Sinestro descend into the drilling shaft in one of their anti-gravity hover cars. The shaft is amazingly roomy, at least 10 feet wide at the top and 30 feet wide at the bottom. They would have had to excavate over half a million cubic feet of dirt to make this shaft. Which, I remind you, is right next to Justice League Headquarters. You've gotta wonder how this escaped Superman's super senses, Batman's vast array of detection equipment, etc.. Hell, even the nearby fish should have alerted Aquaman when that much dirt got thrown in their direction. But I digress. Luthor finds the box containing the Noxium, but his "Magna Ray" can't cut it open because it's made of "Krypton steel, a harmless form of Kryptonite that only Superman can penetrate."
Now you're probably thinking, "But if Superman can open the box, surely Bizarro can open the box too!" Well, that just shows how big of a dummy you are. Everyone knows that various forms of Kryptonite work backwards for Bizarro. Blue Kryptonite, for example, heals Superman of the effects of Red Kryptonite, but weakens and subdues Bizarro. (I know that's not exactly backwards. Shut up.) Therefore, if Krypton Steel is harmless to Superman, it must be Backwards Harmless to Bizarro, and he wouldn't want to get anywhere near it. You can believe me because this webpage is on the Internet.
So reasoning, Luthor decides to trick Superman into opening the box for him. He accomplishes this by launching an all-out assault on the Hall of Justice, using the Legion of Doom's giant built-in mechanical claws that we've never seen before and will never see again:
Green Lantern, repeating the wisdom of Sun Tzu, declares, "The best way to defend is to attack!", and he and Supes fly out to meet their foes. Green Lantern distracts it by creating a giant green mouse trap, while Superman punches through the Hall of Doom's roof and confronts 4 of the Legionnaires. Luthor is holding a box that looks suspiciously like the one they recovered from under the Hall of Justice in the previous scene, with a teeny little radar dish on top. "Not before I wipe you out with my molecular disintegrator!", he boasts, and fires a red beam that mysteriously turns yellow in mid-flight. Naturally, the beam bounces harmlessly off the Man of Steel's chest, and Supes stands there with his hands on his waist and replies, "A blast of my heat vision should disintegrate your disintegrator!"
But lo! All Superman's heat vision does is pop open the box. "Thanks, Super Fool!" Luthor replies, thus giving Superman his usual withering dose of witty reparté. "Now I posess the deadly Noxium!" <dramatic chord>
Superman quickly turns tail and runs like a scared rabbit. "Superman's reacting like a scared rabbit," Black Manta informs us. Hmph. Morons.
Back in the present, Superman explains that the noxium crystal contains Kryptonite, yellow, and an unspecified number of other elements that can kill each of the SuperFriends. How an element can contain elements, only Superman knows. But Hawkman is getting antsy and wants to go back to playing the movie, so we return to the past to see what happened next.
As we zoom in on the video monitor, we see the Bat Signal over Gotham City. Commissioner Gordon is calling Batman on the Bat Hotline, telling him he's being threatened by the Legion of Doom. As it turns out, he's being forced to say this. He's only pretending to be threatened by the Legion of Doom. And who's forcing him? Why, the Legion of Doom, of course. Yeah, I don't get it either. But in any event, the Batmobile is out on the road headed for Gotham City lickety-split. Soon, however, Batman runs into the Riddler in his Riddler-mobile, who cackles at the Caped Crusader and then drives away. "The Riddler must be losing his marbles if he thinks he can out-drive me," Batman declares, and takes off after him.
Now, here, you've gotta wonder. Batman knows the Legion of Doom has the Noxium crystal. The Riddler might have it. Or the Riddler might be leading Batman to the Legion member who has it. In either event, why the hell is Batman playing the Riddler's game? Why doesn't he just call the Flash, and have him grab the Riddler and tie him up in 0.63 seconds? Or Superman could descend from the sky and pulverize the Riddler-mobile before he knew what hit him. Or Green Lantern could summon a Green Supersonic Bengal Tiger to rip the Riddler's tires to shreds. If the Riddler has the Noxium, they could find it with a quick cavity search and dispose of it. If the Riddler doesn't have the Noxium, well, that's one less Legionnaire to worry about. In either case, the Justice League wins, and they're all safe. But noooooo, they have to pit Batman against a Batman villain, because comic book rules say so. Morons.
Of course, having seen the ending already, I knew why the Justice League was acting like morons. But come on. Don't tell me they couldn't've solved this crisis a hell of a lot quicker.
In any event, Batman chases the Riddler through Gotham City, jumping over a garbage truck in the process ...
... and lassos the Riddler out in front of a movie theater. Now, when you lasso somebody, it's pretty easy to make the lasso go around his arms. This prevents the lassoee from drawing any weapons. But that would make way too much sense for "the world's greatest detective" to do. Instead, Riddler's arms are free, so he whips out the Noxium crystal and gives the Caped Crusader what for:
A couple chooses this moment to come out of the movie theater and declare, "Look, it's Batman, he's dead!". They didn't check for a pulse or try CPR or anything. He's lying prone, so he must be dead. End of story.
Playback ends, and back in the present, Superman declares, "Hopefully we can learn from Batman's mistake." Yeah, right. Good luck with that, Super Fools. Given your track record in the episodes leading up to this, it's a wonder you guys can tie your shoes properly.
Cut to the Hall of Doom in the middle of its Swamp of Doom, and Luthor gleefully crossing out a picture of Batman. Next on the list: Everyone's favorite bullet-deflecting Amazonian princess.
The Hall of Doom surfaces just off the coast of Paradise Island, and detatches from its support pedestal. Why it needs a support pedestal in waters way far away from its usual swamp location is anyone's guess. But soon, it's melting all the neo-ancient-Greek buildings in the island's capital. The unnamed Queen of the Amazons declares, "Our only chance is to contact Wonder Woman!". You know, because Wonder Woman is ever-so-slightly stronger, faster, and tougher than all the super-powered Amazon women who already inhabit the island. Gathering hundreds of nearly-as-good-as-Wonder-Woman women and mustering an army couldn't possibly do any good.
Heck, if anyone had told them there were men aboard the Hall of Doom, the locals would've come out and skewered the Legion of Doom in a heartbeat. Attacking the capital is one thing, but men on Paradise Island? That's forbidden!
And before you young whippersnappers start complaining to me about "Why don't you call the island Themyscira?", that name wasn't invented until 1987. This is pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Wonder Woman we're talking about here. She comes from Paradise Island. Live with it.
Meanwhile, the SuperFriends have split up; Superman and Robin are still hiding like frightened mice in the Batcave, but five other Justice Leaguers are hiding like frightened mice in Aquaman's hidden sea cave. But lo! Wonder Woman receives a telepathic distress call from Paradise Island! And apparently, it gives her quite a headache:
Aquaman, being the team's whiny useless member, begs Wonder Woman not to go. But she's an Amazonian Princess, dog gone it, so she spins around really fast and, I'm not kidding, teleports to Paradise Island! Perhaps she had her hearthstone set there.
She uses her indestructable bracelets to deflect the Hall of Doom's laser cannon blasts, sending them hurling back against the Hall of Doom's underside. Cheetah parachutes out and lands right in front of her. Wonder Woman hauls out her magic lasso, but Cheeta hauls out the Noxium crystal and points it at ol' Princess Di. Now, remember, Wonder Woman had been deflecting ginormous laser blasts just a moment earlier. You'd think she'd at least raise her bracelets and try to deflect the beam from the Noxium crystal. But noooooo:
And Cheetah, being Cheetah, just has to quip, "My plans for you are a bit more ... purrrrrmanent."
The rest of the SuperFriends, of course, watched the whole thing unfold on pay-per-view. Robin gets all wigged out, but Apache Chief is right there to take Batman's place as his ... erm ... older companion:
A little higher, Apache Chief ... a bit more to the left ... ooh, that's it, right there! Yeeeeesss... After all, what's a SuperFriends episode without a happy ending?
No sooner does Apache Chief turned the lights down and put on a little Barry
White, though, than someone whose name rhymes with Barry White calls in
and spoils the mood.
Superman's Clark Kent's boss, Perry White, appears
on the Batcave's monitor, and tells them that the Legion of Doom has Lois Lane
before the call is ominously disconnected. Green Lantern tells Superman not to
go, Supes gives a rousing Nathan Hale speech, Apache Chief agrees, and I
suddenly realized that Green Lantern and Apache Chief have exactly the same
The Man o' Steel flies over to Metropolis, and spies on Perry White and Lois Lane while they're trapped in Clark Kent's office. The two of them are playing bondage games with Luthor and Grundy, while Luthor gloats about the deadly surprise he has waiting for Superman. Superman watches the whole exchange with his X-ray vision, and listens in with his super hearing, so he's ready to hatch a cunning plan to catch Luthor and Grundy by surprise. And what a plan it is, too — he barges through the office door, stands there for two seconds, and then says "It's about time I put an end to your evil plans once and for all!"
You can see why such a tactical genius was put in charge of the SuperFriends.
Luthor draws the Noxium crystal, makes an even longer speech, and then shoots at Superman. But lo! Luthor's shot missed, thanks to Superman's super speed. You know, the super speed he was using when he stood in the doorway and jawed with Luthor. He manages to untie Lois and Perry, but in escorting them out the door Luthor finally realizes that maybe he should shoot at him again:
The blast drains Superman's strength, but doesn't kill him. Now since it's the kryptonite component of the Noxium that's supposed to be deadly to Superman, you have to ask: How the hell did Superman's cape shield him from the kryptonite radiation? He's been exposed to kryptonite lots of times before, and in no case did he ever protect himself by wrapping his cape around himself. Did he weave some lead fibers into his cape? And if so, why did he just get around to that now? All these years, he could just have woven some lead fibers into his costume, and he'd have been kryptonite-proof.
"But he already has a lead cocoon that can protect him," I hear you cry, "The Super-Mobile! He even used it in an earlier season of The SuperFriends when he had to visit Krypton's remains to search for blue kryptonite!" True, he does have the Super-Mobile, which does have a lead-lined hull. Which begs the question: Why didn't he use the Super-Mobile to free Lois Lane and Perry White just now, since he knew Luthor had a kryptonite-laced hunk of Noxium with him?!
"Because the Super-Mobile is too blunt an instrument!" you retort. Oh yes, I can hear you, all right, you little Superman apologist. "It can't move and react as quickly and with as much precision as Superman. One clumsy move and the Legion could have killed Perry White or Lois Lane!" Sure. Maybe. And maybe Superman could have a lead-lined suit made specially for this occasion. A lead suit of armor, if you will. Hell, Batman could've easily built it for him. Why didn't he?
Why? Because the SuperFriends are morons, that's why.
Anyway, Perry White leads a weakened Superman into the Daily Planet's printing room. That oughta outwit Lex Luthor, the greatest criminal mastermind alive, yessirree. Grundy tromps in to look for the ol' Man of Tomorrow, but Superman confuses him by turning on the printing press. Given that this is Solomon Grundy, Superman could have confused him by walking and chewing gum at the same time. He uses the distraction to fly up behind Grundy and give him the single most hilarious-looking bear-hug they've ever shown on this show:
I love the way Grundy's eyes are bulging while his tongue is sticking out. It looks like he's about to pop. Superman calls him an "overgrown swamp weed," and proceeds to bundle him up in the newspaper machine:
But lo! Luthor pops up nearby, and blasts ol' Kal El with the Noxium crystal. The Last Son of Krypton manages to grab a wall panel, which somehow can deflect the beam — twice — at least as well as his cape did earlier. Maybe the Daily Planet's printing presses are made out of lead. You want the presses to keep running in case a nuclear war breaks out and all the paper delivery boys are dead, you know. But eventually, Luthor gets in a lucky hit, and the Big Blue Boyscout is toast:
Luthor does the requisite evil laugh at this triumph, and you can't really blame him. I mean, Superman's been a thorn in his side his entire life. You'd think he'd dance a jig on his corpse and mount it on a trophy stand in the Hall of Doom. But in the next scene, the remaining Justice Leaguers are at a military base, watching the Marines deliver Superman's cape-draped coffin. It arrives in a helicopter whose rotor blades actually get smaller as it descends. (New Batman invention? Naw, just their cheap animation budget rearing its ugly head again.)
And speaking of their cheap animation budget, one of the animators apparently forgot that Batman is supposed to be dead:
Also, apparently the Legion of Doom hasn't tracked them down; Luthor has to broadcast a TV ultimatum, addressed to the SuperFriends "wherever you may be hiding." He gives them 24 hours to leave the Earth, or he'll start hunting them down again. Black Manta, anxious to show that he can be a badass even though his only superpowers are a wetsuit and a submarine, jumps the gun and calls up all the world leaders. He tells them that the Earth is no longer protected by the SuperFriends, even though said Superfriends are still watching the broadcast from the same Marine base. Black Manta is obviously compensating for his feelings of inferiority, as his first command is for all countries to take their marching orders directly from the Legion of Doom, and he even renames planet Earth "the planet of Doom." He probably would've changed the Earth's name to "planet Manta" if Luthor hadn't been watching over his shoulder.
Robin utters a wan "Golly, gee, we can't just leave!" plea, but the rest of the SuperFriends are in Frightened Hamster mode and quickly overrule him. They all take off and head for outer space, including the Flash who has, once again, mysteriously re-acquired the ability to fly:
So! The Legion of Doom has taken over every nation on Earth. What do you think is the first thing they do with their newfound power? Consolidate their armies? Take ownership of all government assets? Pound the straggler nations into submission? No ... they rob some diamonds, of course. Just like in The Time Trap, they acquire practically-unlimited power and all they can think of doing is petty thefts.
Eventually, though, Luthor or Brainiac or somebody realizes that the stakes are just a weeeeeeee bit higher than that. So, next, they go after the "World Computer Credit Center" in Munich to control all of the world's credit. They accomplish this feat by rewiring a couple of computer panels. It's amazing that every nation on Earth keeps track of their Visa cards in one big computer building, and that this enormous reserve of virtual money can all be re-routed to the Legion of Doom by moving a few wires around. The building's guards go after Riddler and Brainiac with guns that look like flashlights, but Riddler counterattacks with a "computerized watchdog":
With the guards helpless in the face of such an (*ahem*) unstoppable foe, and the rewiring complete, Brainiac transfers two billion dollars to the Legion of Doom's bank account. This might sound like a lot of money, but remember, the U.S. government spends that much money every five hours. Even in 1978, when this episode was filmed, the Federal government spent 2 billion dollars every 14 hours. If the Legion of Doom wants to get serious about running the world, they're going to have to start dealing in trillions, not mere billions.
Next, in an attempt to spread their propaganda to the impressionable minds of our tender youth, the Legion of Doom moves in on the International Microwave Communications Center in Colorado, which in the SuperFriends universe somehow controls all the world's communications. They immobilize the guards with stun rays, because on a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, even the bad guys aren't allowed to use real guns. They're just about to take over, when suddenly ...
... the SuperFriends spring out from behind a garage door! Looks like they didn't leave the planet as permanently as they'd pretended to. They've got the jump on Cheetah, Sinestro, Black Manta, and Grundy, who didn't bring the Noxium crystal with them. Thus, we get a good old-fashioned SuperFriends smackdown fight involving the usual levels of ridiculousness. Sinestro opens with, I'm not kidding here, energy bagpipes:
Green Lantern counters with an energy baseball bat:
Solomon Grundy picks up Robin and is about to snap him in half like a twig. Black Vulcan shoots his lightning off a conveniently-placed parabolic dish as a bank-shot:
... which hits Black Manta and Grundy and surrounds them with a crackling halo of electricity. Robin, to his credit, replies with a pun that does not involve the word "Holy" in any way, shape, or form: "That should light up your lives!"
Meanwhile, Luthor flies in on his boot jets, and calls Robin "Boy Blunder." Which, you have to admit, is marginally more creative than calling the Justice League "Super Fools." He points the Noxium crystal, conveniently hidden in his right hand, at Robin, and down goes the second half of the Dynamic Duo:
"Great Atlantis!" Aquaman exclaims, because he's from Atlantis. Luthor flies down and corners him, along with ... is that the Flash?
By the Wings of Mercury, it is the Flash! The fastest man alive, able to react in Bullet Time, capable of outrunning a beam of light if necessary. He, of all people, gets caught in Luthor's Noxium ray. I gotta call foul here. In the time between Robin's downfall and Luthor's shooting at the two of them, the Flash could've circumambulated the globe — twice — knitted full suits of winter longjohns for the entire Justice League, removed a sick little girl's appendix, written the missing movements to Schubert's Unfinished symphony, and still had enough time left over for three choruses of "Here We Go Loopy-Loo." And yet, here he is, just standing there dumbfounded while Lex Luthor casually saunters up next to him and blasts him.
It's almost as though he's an android programmed to fail, or something.
Now, Apache Chief, I can understand. Given how long it takes him to utter a sentence, there's no way he'll react in time to get out of harm's way:
And with one last, contractually-obligated utterance of "Super Fools!", Luthor finishes off the remaining three:
Well, that's that! With the Justice League out of the way, there's nothing that can stop the Legion of Doom. Nope, nosirree. National armies and air forces are no match for the likes of Riddler and Scarecrow. Luthor is so confident that he casually tosses the Noxium crystal over his right shoulder, and lets it fall through a sewer grate. Because after all, a crystal that fires beams capable of killing an ordinary human like Robin or Hawkman is clearly useless. Okay, okay, I kid. The real reason he's getting rid of it is the same reason we never see Lex Luthor's cloaking device or time machine after they're done with it: No one is allowed to retain useful technology from one episode to the next. If you make a time machine, you use it to rob banks in the past and then never speak of it again. If you build a planet inside of a black hole, you use it to play cruel games with the SuperFriends and then never build another. It's a phenomenon known on TV Tropes as Reed Richards is Useless.
After the Legion leaves, a mysterious figure wearing one of those clean-room bunny suits goes down into the sewer, carrying what looks like a metal detector. Apparently, though, this metal detector detects Noxium crystals, because he locates said crystal in about 10 seconds. Then he gets out of the sewer, takes out a bazooka, and launches the crystal all the way into interplanetary space. Now, this is rather impressive. In order for any object to leave the Earth entirely, it has to be travelling at escape velocity, which is about 7 miles per second (25 000 miles per hour). I don't know of any bazooka on Earth today that can launch a projectile at 25 000 miles per hour. Some experimental electromagnetic railguns can approach that kind of muzzle velocity, but they require an entire room full of support equipment and power sources to achieve such blistering energies. Any bazooka powerful enough to launch a half-pound crystal all the way into deep space would have a backblast that could punch through the sidewalk. Yet the backblast here doesn't make so much as a stiff breeze:
Nevertheless, leave the atmosphere the crystal does, and the mysterious figure then radioes the mysterious words "It's done" to the mysterious ears of mysterious listeners:
Cut to the Hall of Doom, parked menacingly next to the Washington Monument. They're haranguing a group of 9 national delegates, 3 of whom are wearing turbans as a clue to the audience that they're "foreign." Luthor tells them they have to fork over half their national incomes from now on, and when one of them objects, Luthor says the Legion of Doom will just take it all. Of course, were they actually to do this, it would disincentivize the various national governments from collecting any revenue. Why work for your money if you get to keep none of it? Luthor needs to learn how to do extortion properly. As any gangster or legislator will tell you, there's a sweet spot at which to set your tax rate for which you'll collect the maximum revenue. Make it too low, and your victims will hold on to more of your money than you need them to. Make it too high, and they'll start slacking — or start finding ways to hide their income from you. You'd think Luthor would be smarter than this; maybe there's a Legion of Doom presidential election coming up soon, and he has to look Tough On National Treasuries, or something.
Another delegation files in, but lo! They're really the SuperFriends wearing
rubber masks! They weren't dead at all! Well, of course they weren't. They're
not going to kill off the show's stars with another episode left in the season.
It was all just a trick to get
me you to believe they'd actually do it.
Not that I'm bitter for having fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. No, not at all. Nooooooooo.
Thus ensues the requisite Climactic Battle of Ridiculousness that caps off each episode of Challenge of the SuperFriends. Cheetah leads off with the old world globe bowling ball trick:
Wonder Woman counters with the old turn-my-magic-lasso-into-a-cage trick:
Riddler creates a magician's hat and wand out of nowhere, and summons a rabbit, which grows into a giant monster rabbit with fangs and grabs Batman:
Batman tosses a batarang at Riddler, thus retrieving Riddler's wand. He uses the wand to make the rabbit disappear, and to shrink Riddler down inside a cage in Riddler's own magician's hat:
Luthor opens a trap door underneath Superman, completely forgetting that Superman can fly:
Unfortunately, Superman also temporarily forgets that he can fly, and falls into the Legion of Doom's under-floor vault. "This vault holds a lot of money," the Man o' Steel quips, "But it can't hold Superman," and two seconds later he's broken back out. Then Green Lantern decides it's time to stop standing around picking his nose with his power ring: "If it's money you want, Luthor, try this on for size!", and he turns Luthor into into a thousand-dollar bill:
The rest of the Legion of Doom is all rounded up in a spotlight in the center of the Hall of Doom's U-shaped meeting table. We never get to see any of the knock-out-smack-down non-action that had to have occurred between the rest of the SuperFriends and the rest of the Legion. Presumably, Apache Chief said "Inekchok!" and tussled with Giganta off camera. Flash probably spun around really fast and made a tornado. Maybe Aquaman turned the hose on Scarecrow, rendering the micro-organisms living on the surface of his stuffing into aquatic creatures that he could talk to. Black Vulcan could have zapped Toyman's toys and then said "What an electrifying experience!". Sinestro could have summoned a yellow energy ninja to deal with Samurai — or, worse, a yellow energy formal order from his Shogunate lord, ordering him back to his home province. You know how loyal those samurai are. He'd have to pack his bags and leave immediately.
Hawkman and Black Manta could have just stared worriedly at each other, wondering which one of them was more useless to his respective team.
In any event, the SuperFriends emerge triumphant, and they explain how the Legion didn't really kill them:
"And now that the Legion of Doom is under control," Superman concludes, "The SuperFriends can finally rest in peace!" The end.
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