Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alex Toth/Super Friends Week - The Case of the Disappearing Bat Villains!

Above is a drawing by Alex Toth of Catwoman for The Super Friends. What's that? Catwoman wasn't on Super Friends? Correct! Legend has it, that Catwoman and The Joker were slated to be part of Lex Luthor's unlucky thirteen The Legion of Doom. However, rival network CBS (SF was on ABC, just for reference) decided to pick up a new Batman cartoon animated by Filmation. SOMEHOW, both Batman and Robin were able to appear on both shows on rival networks at the same time, but their villains were not.
So the networks/studios had to split them up and since The Joker and Catwoman were such pivotal Bat-Foes, Filmation got them and Warner Brothers, instead, included The Riddler and Scarecrow in the Legion of Doom. (The Riddler appeared in the Batman opening title sequence, his suit mistakenly (???) colored purple, but never in an actual episode.)
Above is The Scarecrow as he appeared on Super Friends. It bugs me that the "ruffle" around his neck is colored differently than his face when clearly, it's supposed to be a "sack" over his head with the chord tied around it. Observe this earlier model sheet which featured a much different take on The Scarecrow, with a long tattered trench coat, scarf and actual straw protruding. The face is more comical, though. The color scheme listed is fitting, red, blue, green, yellow, brown, tan... a hodgepodge of thrown together bits... which is what most real scarecrows are! I will say, though, that the Scarecrow in the comics is always rendered in shades of brown, so the version that actually made it to TV is accurate there, but the sketch is a unique take.

While Scarecrow and The Riddler were used instead of Catwoman and The Joker, they weren't really "replacements." In the case of Catwoman, that honor went to...
Wonder Woman's foe, The Cheetah... and good for her. It was a big career boost, as most people still consider her Wonder Woman villain #1. I never understood the first episode, though, where the Legion of Doom turned every man on Earth into a Bizarro and every woman into a... Cheetah. I mean Bizarro is this twisted, backwards-logic, crazy-talkin' creation, but Cheetah is just... a lady in a catsuit. So, like... every woman on Earth suddenly had on a cowl with cat ears? I don't see the logic OR how this benefits The Legion of Doom one iota!

The role that The Joker would have filled, was instead taken by Superman's cackling enemy The Toyman. Ironically, Toyman was slated to battle the Super Friends in a later episode, during the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show season, but then HE was replaced by the identically-voiced Doll Maker. I don't know why the switch was made... maybe because the actual Toyman was long dead at that point... he'd actually been killed off in the comics prior to Challenge of the Super Friends! The Doll Maker possessed magic clay, which when Doll Maker sculpted into the form of any of the Super Friends, allowed him to control their minds. He was ultimately thwarted by the quick thinking and nonsensical powers of El Dorado. (There was another villain that same season, The Robber Baron, who I'd swear was a replacement for The Penguin.)

According to the Super Friends wiki, The Doll Maker is actually a comic book villain of Plastic Man's and his hideout is an abandoned factory previously owned by Toyman... which all sounds interesting, but I don't know where this info comes from, so who knows if someone just pulled that out of their fanfic-writing ass.
That's it for today! More Super Fun tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Something you should know about that Scarecrow Toth drawing above: Someone must have given Toth the wrong reference material or he used the wrong old comic: That drawing is quite clearly not the DC Comics Scarecrow, but the Marvel Comics Scarecrow who debuted in 1975's 'Issue 11 of 'The Dead of Night'. The details are EXACTLY the same, except the muffler / face color not has those colors reversed.