Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Super Friends TPB

Super Friends! TPB

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 9, 2001

Cover date: July 2001

Writers: E. Nelson Bridwell, Alex Toth
Pencillers: Ramona Fradon, Alex Toth, Ric Estrada, Kurt Schaffenberger
Inkers: Bob Smith, Joe Orlando, Vince Colletta, Alex Toth
Cover Artists: Alex Ross after Alex Toth

Reviewed by: Jason Czernich (

Story/Concept: This trade paperback reprints stories from DC Comics' Super Friends title that ran in the late 70s and were based on the animated Saturday morning television show of the same name. Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, and Robin join forces with Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog, and later on the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna (and their pet space monkey Gleek). There are also guest appearances by such Justice League members as the Atom and Green Lantern. The reprint graphic novel concludes with the legendary, and visual designer of the Super Friends cartoon show, Alex Toth giving you a step by step look into the making of an animated television show.

3Story - 3: This book is a mixed bag. There is more than one writer and many different stories in this book so giving a higher rating or a lower rating in this section just wouldn't be fair because some stories are satisfactory some are less than that.

Alex Toth's scripting on the end featurette is a true gem. Jamming all that info into ten pages is not an easy task. Toth even admits that he did the best he could and only capsulated the cartoon production process. Nevertheless, Toth gives the reader a pretty good job of how it's all put together.

E. Nelson Bridwell hits on something that is never quite addressed in the old Super Friends cartoons. Why are they the Super Friends and not the JLA? Later versions of the Super Friends cartoon such as Challenge of the Super Friends would often refer to the team as the JLA, so why isn't it Challenge of the JLA? Well, Bridwell has it so that the JLA and the Super Friends are two different things in his JLA stories. The Super Friends are Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, and Robin. The JLA are the Super Friends without Robin, joining forces with Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, Red Tornado, etc. The Super Friends hang out at the Hall of Justice with the JLA using the satellite headquarters as their base of operations. The JLA is a superhero team while the Super Friends are mentors and trainers to younger heroes such as Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog, Zan, and Jayna.

Apart from the concept of the JLA, the stories, with the exception of the Alex Toth illustrated and E. Nelson Bridwell scripted Wendy and Marvin Meet the JLA are nothing really special. The three part intro to the Wonder Twins introduces us to many heroes that would show up later in DC's history, such as Icemaiden, but here they just come across as generic. Simpler stories from simpler times. They do cross a barrier or two that its animated counterpart couldn't traverse like actually being able to throw punches at other humanoid figures and using the Penguin who couldn't be used in the Hanna Barbara series because Filmation still held the animation rights to him, Joker, Catwoman, and most of the other Batman foes.

3Art - 3: The art was another mixed bag. The pencils of Ramona Fradon and Ric Estrada are not downright terrible but they pale in comparison to the pencils on the stories that Alex Toth and Kurt Schaffenberger illustrate in this volume.

The Fradon and Estrada works were more cartoony and exaggerated than the real Super Friends cartoons ever were, whereas Toth comes across as thick lined, dynamic, and bold all at once. Everything fits together and nothing looks jumbled or out of place. If you've ever seen Toth's storyboards for the first season of Super Friends episodes you can observe rich drawings that imply movement, something that not even the finished animation of the television shows themselves could ever do justice to.

Compared to Fradon and Estrada, Schaffenberger is clean lined and has a better knack for proportion and composition in the tale he illustrates, The Origin of the Wonder Twins. Schaffenberger was one of the great artists of DC's Silver Age and this reprinted back up tale helps convey why.

Two master pencilers and two others that come across as somewhat average earn the art in this collection a rating of three. Again, I don't think I can praise the compiled art of this book with a higher or lower rating. It just wouldn't be right either way.

5Cover Art - 5: This is the one feature of the book that is gold all the way. What could be better than Alex Ross, a master of the modern sequential art field paying homage to Alex Toth, one of the comic medium's all time greats? Ross' paints lay over Toth's original promo art for the Super Friends in a very sublime way. Black cartoon outlines are replaced by shades, and tones. It's a beautifully textured piece and it's all created with pure color. It's familiar, fresh, and kaleidoscopic all at once, worthy of being made into a print or poster. If this cover doesn't freeze you in your tracks and make you take a closer glance then you need to visit an ophthalmologist. It'll have people of my generation thinking back to childhood, people who cherish great art wowing, and pop culture fans beaming.

3Overall Rating - 3

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

February 2001 March 2001 April 2001 May 2001 June 2001 July 2001 August 2001 September 2001 October 2001 November 2001 December 2001 Annuals

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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.