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Super Friends #28 - "Masquerade of Madness"

by Erick Von Erich

SUper Friends Halloween

What, you thought just because it's November that Halloween HavoK was over? Hey, both Saturday Night's Main Event and The Simpsons have aired Halloween episodes in the first week of November and gotten away with. I'm also pretty sure that somebody in your neighborhood still has an inflatale Halloween prop, plastic skeleton or a novely bag of leaves still sitting in their yard. I'll even settle for a rotten pumpkin. So, one more time for all time, let's do Halloween HavoK 13: The Happening!

Yes, "Super Friends". Known for blatant Hanna-Barbera stupidity and endless syndication re-runs in the 80's, comic book fans still gush over the show. On one hand, it's cool to see an animated version of the Justice League of America, DC's longtime super-team comic book powerhouse. Yet on the other hand, it's frustrating because the plots are (usually) ridiculous and a lot of the focus is on teen heroes who didn't appear in the comics: the Wonder Twins and/or Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog.

While DC was running the "real" version of the JLA with "Justice League of America" comic books, the popularity of the animated "Super Friends" led them to publish a second title, based on the TV show's continuity. Lasting for a whopping 47 issues from 1976 to 1981, the comic book verison of "Super Friends" featured new stories with villains and heroes not seen on the show. Yet for the most part, it existed in its own world, outside of the regular "DCU". That is, you wouldn't expect to see a story from "Detective Comics" cross over into "Super Friends". To comic fans, it was seen as "kiddie book", something akin to Marvel's "Spidey Spidey Stories" or even...gasp...Archie Comics. It wasn't until fans from the 70's grew up, looked back at the "Super Friends" comics, and suddenly thought they were a forgotten gem. DC even tried to bring the Wonder Twins, Zann and Jayna into their regular continunity, a few times.

That said, the stories in "Super Friends" are still full of the usual TV cartoon stupidity or.... like some of DC's 1950's or 1960's stories! Including this one, which is a special Halloween themed issue. It's all set at a Gotham City party for Rich People. Some folks are dressed up as Bizarro, Swamp Thing, Man-Bat, Etrigan the Demon and even Solomon Grundy (with pants). One wrinkle is that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are in attendance, dressed up as Batman and Robin. Which makes them the laziest Halloween costumers around. That's like Hulk Hogan going to a Halloween party dressed as Hulk Hogan. Of course, the Wonder Twins are there, for whatever reason, as a snowman or Yet-ayyy and a black cat.

Wonder Twins and Jimmy Olsen

Oh yeah, that's Jimmy Olsen ("Superman's Pal") as a wolfman, courtesy of a random magic potion he just happened to have. Pre-1980's/Pre-Crisis Jimmy had a lot of gimmicks and would even masquerade as "Elasti Lad" sometimes. So while it's outlandish, it's not as outlandish as you might think, and pretty much par for the 1980 DC course. Oh yeah (again), Jimmy's also made a deal with Jayna to get a smooch. Form of...creepy.

Jimmy Olsen and Jayna

The characters all explain that everyone will unmask at midnight, but when the time arrives, nobody can remove their masks, and begin acting like the characters they're portraying (inlcuding powers). Except for Jimmy, the Wonder Twins, Batman & Robin, who all have conveninent plot twists or reasons that make them exempt.

Halloween villains

It's all a dastardly scheme by Felix Faust to hold Gotham's rich and wealthy hostage. Each of them owns a rare and valuable gem, rock, ruby, or chotchki, which Faust wants to "gain the Ultimate Power".

Felix Faust

The Wonder Twins and Jimmy manage to sneak away and get word to the other Super Friends: Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Superman makes JLA fans giddy by mentioning that magic stuff is usually in the wheelhouse of their teammate Zatanna...but she's out-of-town (noteworthy, becauze Zatanna was never seen on "Super Friends"). Anyways, the team all deduces tht the only way to end Faust's spell is....to knock him out.

Yet before they can knock-out Faust, they have to face the magically powered "foes". Everyone squares off and we get a few pages of traditional fisticuffs.

Super Friends vs supervillains. Sorta

Per usual, the Wonder Twins prove key, as they get the honors of knocking out Faust. That's it. Everything's solved and the story's over!

You can nitpick the plot elements if you want to be smarmy, but this typical of an early Silver Age DC comic. Sure, it was published in 1980, but E. Nelson Bridwell wrote it. The same who did a lot of those early 60's DC yarns with eye-catching/wild covers. Another element of Bridwell and that era is that the characters all narrate the plot and try to explain the little twists or things that aren't working (such as the Twins and Jimmy explaianing why they're exempt from Faust's magic). I suppose the highlight of this issue is the cover. it's somewhat of a bait-and-switch, but I always like the traditional lineup vs lineup cover, with each side ready to charge at the other. I remember it being used in some old issues of JLA, Uncanny X-Men #100, and even in Defenders. If none of those ring a bell, then you might remember an LIVE-ACTION version of the spot at NXT WarGames 2018! The spot where the Undisputed Era lined up against War Raiders, Ricochet and Pete Dunne, in mid-cage, and they all went at it. Silly... but I loved that spot.

So that's a wrap for Halloween HavoK 13: The Happening. Sure, we didn't go crazy with the content, this year. Regardless, thank you for inviting us into your home/office/correctional facility. The pleasure has been...all ours.

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