Legends of the Super-Heroes

Legends of the Super-Heroes

D: Bill Carruthers, Chris Darley (1977); with Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Jeff Altman, Charlie Callas, Howard Morris. Anyone who saw Legends of the Super-Heroes in its brief original run in the late Seventies will no doubt be astonished to find that any film or TV production house could find a way to make the DC pantheon look worse, but now both LotSH and JLA are available on tape for comparison. Admittedly, it's a tough call, as the Legends series,which ran for a grand total of two episodes ("The Challenge" and "The Roast"), is legendary for its own misfire status as a no-budget attempt at reviving the camp glee of the Sixties Batman series by dragging it out to an hour, adding a passel of other heroes (Hawkman, Atom, the decrepit Retired Man), and apparently making the writers work for tips. The result is a jaw-dropping example of the horrible effect that cathode rays can have on innocent people. "The Challenge" finds the heroes racing against time as a team of inept supervillains (Dr. Sivana, the Riddler, the "real" Weather Wizard, etc.) plot to destroy the world. Along the way, Solomon Grundy learns to work a gas pump, and Captain Marvel visits a psychiatrist who happens to have an office in the middle of the desert. Green Lantern's power ring is reduced to being little more than a glorified bug-zapper, while the Flash's super-speed is depicted by having him pose, then vanish. Whoo! Only Gorshin's Riddler has any fun with the horrible dialogue, aside from the occasional stone-sober quip from West. The other episode, "The Roast," is -- believe it or not -- just that. The heroes are brought together by host Ed McMahon in their secret headquarters so that all their most deadly foes can pop in and insult them. The barrage of stupid bird jokes brought against Hawkman alone (some by his mother!) are enough to make you want to throw the tape out the window to see if it can fly. From Legends to JLA and through so many other terrifying experiments in between, it appears the one evil that all the superpowers in the world may never truly defeat is the horrible effect of cathode rays on poor, innocent comic book characters.

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