Super Friends #5, June, 1977

“Telethon Treachery”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon

Inker: Bob Smith, Colorist: Jerry Serpe

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

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From the Superfriends Wiki (snarky comments are edited out):

Greenback chooses to begin his crime spree during the third annual, Justice League ‘Super-Thon’ in Midtown Metropolis that is hosted by the SuperFriends and their teenage sidekicks Wendy and Marvin.

His plan involves two components, both of which hinge on the superheroes hanging around the TV studio making oblique references to other superheroes (For example: Harvey’s old Black Cat, Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman and even Iron Man, among others, get either a shout-out or a brief appearance). The first part of Greenback’s pan hinges on the hope that the superheroes will be too busy answering the phone to fight crime. The second part of his plan is to kidnap all the richest donors who call into the telethon.

Greenback waits for the names of the biggest donors to be mentioned on the air. The first are from New York, which he disregards as too far away and waits for donors from Metropolis or Gotham City.

When he finally abducts his first wealthy guy, it’s Bruce Wayne, so that’s bad luck for Greenback. One by one the Super Friends pursue the abducted Batman, eventually leaving only Wonder Woman and Superman on the phones.

In the Batmobile, Aquaman & Robin, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog follow Bruce’s signal device but are downed by Greenback’s gun and captured. Wendy sends a message to Superman and Wonder Woman via Wonder Dog (who was hiding under the Batmobile when the others were caught! WW rescues the other Super Friends as Superman rescues Bruce Wayne.

Wayne switches to Batman and captures Greenback. Back at the telethon, our heroes celebrate a record-breaking total!

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Much is made over the guest stars and donations made during the telethon – including $75,000.00 to the Heart Fund by Anthony Stark (Marvel’s Iron Man).

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The letter column reviews continue to go from loving it to hating it. It is announced that Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog will leave as of issue #7, to be replaced … but they don’t mention by whom. I Wonder …

In the meantime, the letter column says the Atom will guest-star next issue!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

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Super Friends #4, March, 1977

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Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

“Riddles and Rockets”

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

From the Superfriends Wiki:

The SuperFriends must deal with the dual crimes of the Riddler and Skyrocket. The Riddler hacks the Trouble Alert with a riddle: “When does a WonderDog cause his master the most worry?” This sends Wonder Woman and Superman to the Museum of Music where they find Skyrocket robbing the place. Together they successfully thwart the crime, but Skyrocket escapes. “Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice”, the Trouble Alert sounds off again and this time its Commissioner Gordon. He tells Batman and Robin that the Riddler has been spotted at the West Side Kennels. The Dynamic Duo rushes to the high-end kennels fearing that the Riddler will hold these dogs ransom for money. But have no fear, the crime is prevented, the henchmen are captured but the Riddler does escape.

(and by the way, the answer to the riddle is: ‘when he wonders where his dog is’. No one said Riddler was FUNNY …)

“Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice”, the Riddler successfully infiltrates the Trouble Alert system again and provides another riddle: “Why is Wendy an unusual name?” Robin guess that its because the ‘end’ comes in the middle. This leads the SuperFriends to one of two locations: [1] Since a day ends at midnight, this may be a reference to Jeannine Gale’s performance at the Castle Theater that evening where she’ll perform her latest hit, ‘Midnight in the Andes.’ Or this could refer to [2] the performance of Romeo and Juliet that evening as well and specifically the murder of Mercutio (played by Sir Harvey Arden) who is killed in the middle of a five-act play. His end comes in the middle.

Robin and Wonder Woman head to the Castle Theater. And sure enough, Skyrocket appears. It is clear now that he nothing more than a petty thief. His crimes are prevented, but he escapes. Batman and Superman head to the performance of Romeo and Juliet and this time they capture the Riddler. They find out that he considered Skyrocket a rival, so he tried to put the SuperFriends on his trail so he could get away with his crimes. The heroes realize that he probably knows Skyrockets next criminal outing. He does. He answers them with yet another riddle: “Where does Marvin have a green thumb?”

Robin believes this is a reference to ‘Marvin Gardens’ from Monopoly Game. Wendy chimes in and say that ‘Marvin Gardens’ is in the same group as Atlantic Ave., Ventnor Ave., and the Water Works. Batman adds that there is a ship named Ventnor on the Atlantic at the water front docking in the water. Its cargo is the valuable Chromium. And their off…

They rush to the water front. This time they have plan. As Skyrocket flies over the water, several whales shoot up and out of the water effectively dousing him with several gallons of water. This renders him unable to fly and he plunges into the water, where Aquaman easily captures him.

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Kurt Busiek mentioned the Superfriend’s version of Skyrocket in the notes detailing his own creation: “Power Company: Skyrocket” #1, March 2002.

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The letter column reviews of issue #1 range from positive to scathing!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Super Friends #3, February, 1977

“The Cosmic Hit Man?”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

As two separate teams, the Super Friends defeat Spectrum and Anti-Man while Wendy and Marvin safely watch from the sidelines. But after their defeat, the villains disappear.

They were captured by Dr. Ihdrom along with a hundred other intergalactic villains. He atomizes all the villains and coalesces them into one being: the World Beater!

World Beater quickly dispatches the Justice League and then appears in the Hall of Justice to battle the Super-Friends. Wonder Woman whisks Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog and tells them of her mother’s prophecy (from last issue) that they are earth’s only hope!

World Beater defeats the Super-Friends with ease (we the readers learn that Dr. Ihdrom has been captured and jailed for his murderous crimes) leaving only Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog.

They come up with a cunning plan: they assume if he has all the super-villains powers, perhaps he also has their weaknesses. They trick World Beater into using Spectrum’s x-ray powers (Anti-Man’s weakness – that is how Superman defeated him in the earlier pages of the story). World Beater is weakened and passes out.

Wendy and Marvin revive the Super-Friends and the Justice Leaguers and receive their thanks.

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The letter column explains why these five heroes were given the job of training their young recruits: through some inventive reimagining of their origins, it is explained that Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were all trained to be superheroes in their youths. Thus, having been trained as children, they know how to train children.

Ah, yes.

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The story here is still oriented to the younger audience, but still keeps a cosmic scale to it. Plus it guests most of the Justice League, whetting the appetites of the young TV-show fans who picked up the comic to read the adventures of other DC stars!

Ramono Fradon’s art is pitch-perfect for this comic. Her style is easy on the eyes and accessible to young fans who might be overwhelmed by … say … Mike Grell if he did the book. She would have been my pick for the book, too. And Kurt Schaffenberger…

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!