Thursday, April 22, 2010

Throwback Thursday 04-22-10 The Super Seven

Okay, students, put all your books away and take out a pencil. Time for a pop quiz. Yesterday, I told you to take note of a particular character's origin, because it would come back into play today. Name that character!

Correct answer: Marvel's Spider-Woman!

Yes, Marvel didn't have a Spider-Woman, but when animation company Filmation planned to produce a Saturday morning cartoon character named Spider-Woman, Marvel was all like, "Aw hellz naw! We already got us a Spider-Man! You can't be all copying us!" And as I said, they quickly threw together a character named Spider-Woman and were all like, "Dibs!"
Filmation was all like, "We don't even care! We didn't like the name Spider-Woman anyway! We're gonna call our character Web Woman, which is way better, so nyah!" And they did.
Web Woman starred in her own animated shorts on a series I remember from when I was in Kindergarten, called Batman & The Super Seven. I BARELY remember it, but I remember it nonetheless. I have since learned that the show was originally called Tarzan & The Super Seven in the previous season, which I apparently missed. The show was an anthology and featured a variety of super hero series:
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
The New Adventures of Batman

Freedom Force

Manta & Moray

Superstretch & Microwoman

Web Woman

Jason of Star Command

I don't know who was in charge of doing the math on this one, but if you extract either Batman or Tarzan, that only leaves six other features, so it should have really been Batman/Tarzan & The Super SIX or The Super Seven featuring Tarzan/Batman.

Really, Filmation should have called it, "Hey Marvel and DC, Sue This!" Because that's exactly what Marvel and DC did. The show was only on for two seasons and most of the segments featured have never been seen since.

Tarzan and Batman both continued airing as stand-alone series. I recently saw Tarzan thanks to the DVD set Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 70s Vol. 1, which I highly DON'T recommend as apparently Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s were damn terrible.The one item of note was my re-introduction to Tarzan's pet spider monkey Nakima. I remember drawing pictures of Tarzan as a wee lad and I'd always draw Nakima along with him and I remembered people always saying "Is that Cheetah?" Cheetah being Tarzan's pet chimpanzee in the old black & white movies, which at 4-5 years old, I'd never seen. I was always like, "Cheetah is that cat lady that fights Wonder Woman. What the hell are you talking about? This is Nakima." Okay, I didn't say hell, but can I just say NOTHING is funnier than when little kids curse. HI-LARIOUS.
Of the Super Seven segments, the one I remember the least, meaning not at all, was ironically Jason of Star Command, but it was a live action segment, so it probably sucked. I own it on DVD, but have never watched it... probably because I can just tell it's unwatchable. But as you can see from the picture, it does have Scotty in it!
Also available on DVD is my favorite segment from the show, Freedom Force. I guess I've always preferred my heroes in teams. More bang for your buck. I was in love with FF team leader Isis, unaware that she's previously starred in her own live-action series just a couple of years earlier. The concept of Freedom Force was actually pretty cool, heroes from various points in history, gather in the Valley of Time to combat evil; Isis (representing either the present or ancient Egypt), Merlin, Hercules (riding Pegasus), Sinbad and made up teenage sidekick Toshi, who was somewhat lame... until he turned into armored giant Super Samurai. (Even cooler, in one episode, he battles his jealous rival, Scarlet Samurai! Kids love evil duplicates!)
I was unaware that, like Isis, Hercules had also previously appeared on Saturday morning on a boring-ass series called Space Sentinels. Somewhat like Freedom Force, the show featured super heroic versions of Greek gods, with Hercules teaming with an inexplicably Asian Mercury and black Astraea (the Greek goddess of Justice). In a bold move for the time, Astraea served as the team's leader. Likewise, Isis was the leader of Freedom Force.
Most of the rest of the info in this comes from Wikipedia, since I barely remember these shows.
Web Woman was Kelly Webster... a farmer! There's a first. Filmation made a habit of giving its heroes these long ass transformation sequences, I suspect to kill a lot of time and require less plotting. I still recall Web Woman's pretty vividly. (Fast forward to about 2:40.)

Web Woman was accompanied on her adventures by green alien sidekick Spinner. Filmation LOOOOOOOOVED goofy sidekicks and pets. (As you will see...)
We went to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin once just after Halloween and my cousin said to me, "I was Spider-Woman for Halloween." She then showed me the mask of Web-Woman! I said, "That's not Spider-Woman, that's Web Woman." But she showed me the box and it did say "Spider-Woman." I mean, I was FIVE and I knew that was wrong, so whatever adult was working in quality control at the Ben Cooper costume factory had no excuse for their grave error.
The pics for the rest of the shorts are going to be of poor quality, since these shows haven't aired since circa 1978 and weren't released on VHS (or Beta for that matter). So they're copied from the mysterious few people who owned a home video device in the 70s... and chose to use them to copy Saturday morning cartoons.
First, there was Superstretch & Microwoman, husband and wife detectives/health nuts, Chris and Christy Cross (cute) who lived in and battled crime in the suburbs. Yawn. Do tracksuits really count as "costumes?" Also, from what I recall, they ALWAYS wore their tracksuits, so I guess thier identities weren't of the "secret" variety.
Superstretch could... y'know stretch and turn into various things. Microwoman could shrink, which allowed her to ride the couple's pet dog Trouble into action.
With these two defending the burbs and Web Woman out in the country, it's nice to know that we were ALL safe from villainy, not just city-dwellers.
It seems there were more episodes of Superstretch & Microwoman than any of the other shorts. I'm not sure why this is, because even though I don't recall many specifics, I'm pretty sure theirs were the most boring segments.
I mean... tracksuits. Suburbs. I'm guessing in one episode they fixed the air conditioning at the VFW and saved the Friday Night Bingo game. In another, they stopped the kid who knocked on the door and asked his neighbor to buy a magazine subscription... even though the neighbor clearly had a "No Soliciting" sign on his door! We just can't have that kind of anarchy in the burbs, because first we start disobeying "No Soliciting" signs and the next we're pillaging like Vikings. It's a very linear process.
Next, there was Manta & Moray, featuring a married undersea couple. Manta (the guy), was the last survivor of an undersea kingdom. Moray was a human woman who was raised by dolphins after the plane she and her parents were in crashed into the ocean. They were joined on their adventures by their pet sea lion Whiskers.
Believe it or not, these wacko super folk made it onto a few pieces of licensed merchandising. There was a set of puffy stickers, which featured these characters all mixed and matched and many miscolored.
There was also this Bubb-a-Loons set.
I remember seeing these when I was a kid. It was this sticky goo that came in a tiny metal tube with a tiny straw, which you stuck in the tube and pulled out. You were supposed to blow these giant iridescent bubbles but with my tiny five year-old asthmatic lungs that never worked. So really it was a tube of sticky garbage. I would kill for those puffy stickers though!

Like I said, with the exception of Tarzan, Batman, Freedom Force and Jason of Star Command, these shows haven't been seen in over 30 years. The reason being that Marvel and DC went all litigious on their asses. Filmation had already tempted the wrath of Marvel with trying to name Web Woman "Spider-Woman."

Allegedly, DC then claimed that Superstretch & Microwoman ripped off DC heroes Plastic Man and The Atom, and that Manta & Moray ripped off Aquaman and Mera. (Ironically, Batman, who also appeared on the show, was a DC character.) Also, rumor has it that Marvel sued, claiming that Superstretch ripped off their character Mr. Fantastic and Manta ripped off The Sub-Mariner.

I don't buy the arguments. There are thousands of super heroes from many different companies and only so many super powers to go around! There are hundreds that resemble each other superficially. However, the fact of the matter is that the Super Seven segments in question have never been released commercially in any capacity, even when BCI had the rights to release EVERYTHING in the Filmation library. And boy did that include some stinkers! They did release Jason of Star Command and The Freedom Force, as well as The New Adventures of Batman, none of which were contested, so perhaps the comic companies did actually pursue legal action... and won.

Anyway... that's it for today!


  1. I swear that is Scotty in the live action shot

  2. Yep... still doesn't make me want to watch it, though!

  3. I saw that stuff in the Safeway the other day. Unfortunately, it was just a generic package. If I saw that card with Wed Woman on it and a tube of goo with Isis on it's I'd have a seizure. Is that your set or just a .jpg treasure?

  4. All of these images are just from Google searches, but I do have two Isis puzzles and two sheets of the stickers. Just the sheets, unfortunately, not the packaging.