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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians - 1985

It's been a little while since the Shrine did a recap of a Super Friends series, so I thought I'd jump all the way to the end to talk about the final iteration of the show, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians!

TSPT:GG (whew, that's a mouthful even abbreviated) ran for one season, 1985-1986, in half hour episodes that, despite the image above, basically centered on five characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, and Cyborg.

Having been a loyal--very loyal--Super Friends viewer since I was old enough to even watch TV, I remember this version of the show came around at exactly the wrong time for me. I was fourteen when
TSPT:GG debuted, and the combo of feeling a little too old to watch cartoons and it focusing so heavily on characters I wasn't all that interested in led me to stop watching it entirely. A few years earlier, Super Friends seemed as vital as air, so it was kind of a big moment.

Anyway, the first disc of
TSPT:GG on DVD features the show's first four episodes: "The Seeds of Doom", "Ghost Ship/The Bizarro Super Powers Team", "The Darkseid Deception", and "The Fear."
In "Seeds of Doom", we're introduced to Cyborg and Firestorm's drive to get him to join the team. The Super Friends cross paths with Darkseid and his minions, who are hatching a plot involving burying weird seed pods on Earth.

Eventually the heroes involved (the aforementioned
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, and Cyborg) regroup at the Hall of Justice. This is our first chance to see the other Friends, including an Aquaman in desperate need of a haircut:
...this must have been during one of Arthur and Mera's many trial separations; since she would have never let him leave the house like that.

Anyway, Aquaman makes no further appearance in the show, and has no lines. Similarly, he doesn't appear in the second episode, or the third. You can see why I wasn't that in to
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.

That's not to say the show was without its merits. While the stories were mostly dull with some odd moments thrown in (there's a sort of recurring bit about how Darkseid has the hots for Wonder Woman...no, really), its the animation that occasionally reaches for some new heights, like this nifty lighting effect from the second show when an alien woman is relating the history of her world to the Super Friends:
Its the fourth episode that the show really started shooting for the moon, content-wise. The Scarecrow is the main villain in "The Fear", and Hanna-Barbera must have been noticing how much darker Batman had been getting in the comics (this was, after all, only a year away from The Dark Knight Returns), because there are more moody, "Dark Knight Detective"-esque shots in this episode than every other SF show combined, like this one:
This episode also features a recap of Batman's origin, complete with Joe Chill gunning down the Waynes (not seen, of course), and Alfred and Young Bruce at their grave sites:
Sure, this wasn't Batman: The Animated Series or anything, but its still pretty wild for the Hanna-Barbera Batman, who was as thoroughly unmysterious as Batman ever got.

Aquaman and some of the other SFers do appear in this episode, again mostly as colorful extras. This pan across the Hall of Justice made me laugh:
...as Robin tells the Super Friends the bad news (The Scarecrow has injected Bats with fear toxin), it looks as though Aquaman, Firestorm, Samurai and the others aren't even paying attention ("Possible Straight, Possible Straight...no help...").

Not having seen many of these episodes, its kind of fun seeing them for the first time. In retrospect, I was probably a little hasty dropping the show, considering the years of entertainment it gave me. But of course fourteen is a dangerous age for nerdy kids. I still can't believe I gave away all my Star Wars toys in a desperate bid to seem grown up. *Sigh*

Anyway, I'll be checking out the rest of
the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episodes soon!

This episode's Aqua-Content: Low


David J. Cutler said...

I didn't even know of this iteration of the show--cool to see, even if Aquaman's barely involved!

IADW said...

I've never even heard of this! Cyborg is a sweet addition too.

Love the design of the current masthead too! Awesome job.

Wings1295 said...

Add me into the "never heard about this show" group! How do things like this go under one's radar so long. Hmmm...

Orin's dad said...

I remember hearing about it, but like you rob!, I was a little old for this version. 85-86 was my senior year in high school, and even a nerd like me had to try to be cool, and watching SuperFriends was one of the joys that I stopped as well...I can totally relate.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

I was a die-hard "Super Friends/Super Powers" fan. In fact, the previous season was where I heard about Firestorm for the very first time (and we all know what rabbit hole that eventually lead down).

That Batman "Fear" episode was phenomenal at the time! I was 13 when it aired and was simply blown away by the animation and story. I'm glad someone else appreciates that story, because I could never convince anyone to take it seriously.

Nice coverage, rob!

The Irredeemable Shag

Joe Huber said...

I think that there was one more scene with Aquaman in "Seeds of Doom." If I remember correctly it was a direct take on Jose Luis Garcia Lopez's version of him leaping from the water.

Anonymous said...

This was the best the "Super friends" show ever was, The stories were more intelligent, more thought out and a little darker. This was Superfriends grown up, to a certain degree. Love it. and it seems that our boy here needed a haircut. Didn't remember that! :)

JD said...

I vaguely remember this series from when I was very young, especially that weird Darkseid crushing on Wonder Woman bit.

Wasn't there also another Justice League cartoon from around 1988-89 that only lasted a season or two as well? I remember it had a noticeably more modern looking animation style than this.

Scott said...

I used to love this cartoon. This series was not as good as Challenge of the Superfriends...but, still good.

JasonMotesBowles said...

I wasn't quite the same age, but I must've hit the earliest stages of puberty because this was around the time I started sleeping later, so I missed a lot of this show the first time around.

@Joe, yeah, I remember Aquaman harvesting the Seeds of Doom using an octopus to gather them.

@JD, you must be thinking of the solo Superman series by Ruby-Spears. Wonder Woman guest starred on one episode, but she was the only other DC hero to appear on it. It was the first time she was ever animated as being able to fly.

JD said...

@Jason, Thanks! I knew I watched some episode with Supes and WW from around then! Nice to finally know what exactly I was remembering.

Wil Radcliffe said...

As I recall, the "Super Powers" shows were when Adam West (of the 1960s live action Batman TV show) started doing the voice for Batman. Original Batman voice artist, Olan Soule, continued on the show as the voice of Professor Stein (one half of Firestorm's alter ego). I believe West and Burt Ward did the voices for the 1970s Filmation Batman show as well.

Man, if trivia was oil, I'd be a one-man solution for the energy crisis.

Joe Tages said...

Aquaman has a secondary but prominent role in the episode "Escape From Space City" during this series. Check it out.

rob! said...

@Joe Huber: Geez, I just have looked away from the screen for a second, I totally missed that!

@Joseph Tages: There's another GG post coming soon!

Earth 2 Chris said...

Late to the game, but add me to the list of fans who LOVED this version of the show. It was just the right age, at around 10 when this came on. I wanted my Super Friends to match the comics more, and they did! I also appreciated the updated Garcia-Lopez influenced style guides (although I appreciate Alex Toth's work more now).