BHOC: SUPER FRIENDS #10

I bought this issue of SUPER FRIENDS, and I’m not really sure why. I was 10 years old in 1977, and like any ten-year-old, while I watched SUPER FRIENDS regularly on Saturday Mornings, I also felt somehow like it was kiddie stuff–like it wasn’t as mature or sophisticated as the mainstream DC titles that I followed. I was embarrassed to read SUPER FRIENDS, in a way that I wasn’t for JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. And so, despite the fact that it was an appealing series overall, I generally gave it a wide berth. So I might have gotten this book while on a visit to my grandparents, when options would have been limited. Or it might have just been an impulse choice. (Possibly, I cracked the cover, saw the identity of a guest character in the issue, and that convinced me to buy it.)

Writer E. Nelson Bridwell was one of the first actual comic book fans to break into the field, and he was a font of knowledge about not just the comic book stories of the past, but also a wide variety of other subjects. And he used all of that knowledge in SUPER FRIENDS, making it one of the most continuity-connected DC comics of the era–something I would have appreciated more if I could have gotten past the surface trappings. Here, he opens the story by having the newly-introduced young Super Friends Zan and Jayna taken in by Professor Carter Nichols, a figure from a dozen old Batman and World’s Finest stories (albeit one who hadn’t been seen in close to 20 years when this issue came out.) This sort of deep dive into DC stories past was a go-to weapon in Bridwell’s arsenal.

In order to give them privacy to practice with their super-powers, the Wonder Twins head to the countryside outside of Gotham City, But there, they’re witness to a strange event: a horde of monsters right out of the old Universal film library are chasing after a young blond woman. Zan and Jayna intercede on the woman’s behalf, whisking her away from her pursuers and taking her to the Hall of Justice, where the Super Friends can hear her story.

She explains that her name is Cherry Mott, from another world, and the monsters who were pursuing her were attempting to prevent her from recovering two magical golden objects hidden on Earth, an inheritance of sorts. The Super Friends offer to retrieve the objects for her and split up into two squads to seek them out. Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Gleek head for the Black Caverns, where they are ambushed by a team of the monsters. Their antagonists display super-powers the equal of their own, but the Super Friends win out, and Gleek retrieves the object they’re after: a golden ring.

Meanwhile, Superman, Aquaman and the Wonder Twins head to the Barracuda Deeps, where they two are accosted by a trio of enemy monsters. Superman and Zan team up to overcome the giant Frankenstein-looking one, only for the Man of Steel to prove vulnerable to the green radiations coming from another combatant. Her unfamiliarity with Earth animals proving her undoing, Jayna accidentally transforms into a harmless goldfish by mistake–but her goldfish form proves impervious to the emerald rays. With Jayna as a shield, Superman and Aquaman are able to overcome the other two monsters and recover the item: a golden lantern. At this point, anybody familiar with DC lore has an inkling of where this story is going.

Back at the Hall of Justice, the Super Friends consider their captives. Looking at the creature who zapped him with green energy with his X-Ray vision, Superman is surprised to see that he is wearing the uniform of a Green Lantern underneath his tattered robes. Upon learning that the Super Friends are the allies of sector 2814’s Green Lantern, the alien GL introduces himself and his partners to them–they’re a super hero team from another world, where the dominant life form appears monstrous to us. They came to Earth in order to prevent Char Ymot–Cherry Mott–from retrieving a spare Power Ring and Power Battery that Sinestro had hidden there. But they’re too late–as they’ve been making their discovery, Char has charged the power ring and is now poised to attack.

But before that can happen, the Wonder Twins activate their powers, and Zan becomes a golden fog that enshrouds Char and prevents her from using her stolen power ring. By the time she’s able to dispel Zan’s fog, the alien Green Lantern has recharged his own ring–and with his greater skill and will power, he’s easily able to defeat and disarm her. The alien heroes take Char Ymot back to their homeworld to face justice, while the Super Friends ponder the important lesson that they’ve learned, not to judge by appearances. If they hadn’t assumed that the human-looking Char was good and the horrific monsters evil, all of these problems could have been avoided early on. I have to say, I loved the alien Green Lantern, and the concept of a whole alien super hero team, as ridiculous as some of their names happened to be.

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