For those of you who missed part one…
Welcome back to my biggest introduction to superheroes not involving DC characters (though that one was also Hanna-Barbera so I have Joe and Bill to thank for my love of superheroes), Hanna-Barbera’s World Of Super Adventure. This collection of 1960s Saturday morning superhero shows were collected in 1979 as an anthology series airing weekdays in syndication. This was how I discovered many of Hanna-Barbera’s superheroes, and I would meet more on Cartoon Network’s early years as it used to be older cartoons until they could create their own. These were the shows I loved as a kid and the type of shows I wish modern kids had access to. Not even these shows or characters specifically but the lack of action and superhero shows for today’s kids makes me sad.
Still, I can go over the rest of the World Of Super Adventure lineup and remember when people cared about kids having superhero access before adults took their toys away.
Frankenstein Junior And The Impossibles
Talk about burying the lead. Frankenstein Jr was the middle segment but he barely shows up. It’s all about the Impossibles, a band that also fought crime…under the same name as their band and would immediately end their concerts when their boss called through the hidden TV in Fluid Man’s guitar, so secret identities were apparently based on the fact that nobody, even the audience, knew their actual names. The show overall was an odd choice compared to the other shows in World Of Super Adventure given both had a lighter tone. I don’t remember seeing Frankenstein Jr much on the show because the middle segments were never aired with the main show, if at all. (See Dino-Boy and Young Samson in part one.) Frankie didn’t even get his own intro that I can find (or that YouTube will recommend) so here’s a clip instead.
Yeah, apparently HB did their own version of Gigantor, with Buzz Conroy’s father creating Frankenstein Jr and Buzz himself giving him orders through his “radar ring”. Like when Mighty Orbots did their take on Japan’s combining “super robots” Frankie has his own mind and personality as opposed to being just controlled mecha. Again, not surprising they would get to do Godzilla and Ultraman (their Ultraman still being canon in Japan by the way). So why the show just focused on the superheroes after showing Frankie off I can’t figure. Frankie would air on his own World Of Super Adventure episodes, which means like Young Samson he didn’t get a lot of air. Meanwhile about a decade later I’m already seeing the Impossible’s powers being used by three members of the Harlem Globetrotters on Super Globetrotters. Also fun fact: The Impossibles were almost named The Incredibles. Lucky for Brad Bird they changed their minds.
Birdman (and the Galaxy Trio)
I am not impressed that your closing credits are the same clips as your opening credits. Yeah, I should mention that most of these intros use a lot of clips from episodes mixed in with original clips for the intro. I think Frankenstein Jr. And The Impossibles is the only exception and they still used the stock footage of Frankie being woken up for his latest adventure. There isn’t a lot of info as to who Birdman is, but to be honest it’s not like the show told us anything. We would see the origin for Birdboy and Birdgirl, who aren’t even in the intro and only made the rare appearances after their introduction, but not Birdman and his sidekick Avenger, nor how he met Falcon-7, who would send him on his missions. We also don’t see Birdman’s famous returning villains, the terrorist group FEAR.
Joining Birdman in the original run but not seen on World Of Super Adventure are the Galaxy Trio, who I would have to wait until Cartoon Network to finally meet.
Hope you enjoyed that because that’s all you get for their middle segment. It’s not like the anthology used these intros anyway so I don’t know why they didn’t appear but we got Young Samson. Then again, with it being taken out of the non-superhero show I guess this would have been the only way to see it. I’m kind of glad HB stopped doing these middle segments. This is also the only time we see the Galaxy Trio interacting with Birdman because they were space cops. Why they never teamed with Space Ghost, even during the crossover multiparter finale of Space Ghost, or why they weren’t brought back for HB’s original anthology series Space Stars. Instead they gave a comedy segment to Astro of The Jetsons being part of a bungling team of space cops led by the more serious Space Ace. That’s a discussion for another time though. You know who DID join Space Ghosts on Space Stars but I was first introduced to here?
I don’t remember the intro having narration…but then I don’t remember the intro. They didn’t use them on the anthology. They did use the closing credits. As far as being somewhere in space, this show apparently called the world Amzot, which I don’t remember ever hearing as a kid. The first time I remember a name is when Space Stars called it Quasar, but apparently the original show did use the original name at least once. I think they oversold the Herculoids a bit with their descriptions, cool and powerful as they admittedly were. I enjoyed the show…though personally I still would have chosen the Galaxy Trio over the Herculoids for Space Stars. How these beings were so aware of galactic law and stuff on that show I really don’t understand given how primitive they all lived. Dorno would even refer to his parents by their names on occasion in both shows, and they seem to be the only humans on Amzot/Quasar. Guess it’s a good thing Zok could eventually travel into space and they also lived in a galaxy where there was air in space. I wonder if it was Limbo Galaxy from Silverhawks?
Anyway these last three shows also have no middle segment featuring a different show. The Herculoids just starred the Herculoids, a similar circumstance involved in our next two shows, but only the last one on this list took up the full episode runtime. Before we get into that show, let’s talk about…
Not to be confused with a certain superhero or that other genie played by Shaq, Shazzan…well, if I still have the same clip you already saw the origin story and who Shazzan the genie is. This had the kids looking for Shazzan’s real master while getting into all kinds of adventures in this Arabian Knights style fantasy world, so isekai before isekai had a Japanese name. The intro itself needed that extra segment, which if memory serves actually did make it into the World Of Super Adventure airings, because all we see in the intro is Shazzan fooling around, stopping just long enough to save the kids from bird monsters. There was no comedy here outside of the usual tension break or the kids getting used to this land. I don’t know if they needed to be two white kids from Maine but if I were to guess, they figured having two American kids who would need things explained to them made it easier for them as point of view characters for the young American audience, but as teens could still go around without too many questions.
It’s a good thing this show wasn’t called “World Of Super Heroes” because that’s two shows in a row to not feature any. Shazzan’s a genie and the Herculoids just live on a death trap planet that’s still safer than Eternia. The last show to make up Hanna-Barbera’s World Of Super Adventure however isn’t just a superhero show but the only licensed from another source, in this case Marvel Comics.
The Fantastic Four
First off, they got the origin right into the intro without narration or needing a separate clip. Good job. While the FF weren’t part of the Marvel Super Heroes anthology, that was actually to their benefit as their first post-comics appearance. However, like that previous anthology The Fantastic Four would adapt issues of the comics rather than tell original stories. The Silver Surfer and Galactus’s first comic appearance was adapted here, with Sue taking Alicia’s place in reaching the Surfer because Alicia really wasn’t in this series as Ben Grimm’s girlfriend. This also saw the debut of the Mole Man and Doctor Doom, and if memory serves the Black Panther showed up here as well. T’Challa did at least first show up in some Fantastic Four cartoon, but of course Hollyweird won’t acknowledge that. I’m surprised they acknowledge the comic at this point.
This is also the only one on this list that had full-length stories though I think some episodes did have multiple stories when needed. Sadly this is the one I was least interest in as a kid as I just couldn’t get into the Fantastic Four, not even the next cartoon where rights issues meant the Human Torch was replaced by a robot, which contrary to the internet’s longtime rumor was not because NBC was worried about kids setting themselves on fire. We waited until Jackass to find kids that stupid. Hate me if you want, but I actually liked the Thing more when Hanna-Barbera turned him into a nerdy teen who transformed with his magic rings…wait, is that a combination of the Thing and Shazzan? Nah, probably just a huge coincidence.
And there you have it, my introduction to superheroes alongside reruns of Filmation’s DC and the original Spider-Man cartoon along with reruns and new airings of Super Friends. Nowadays kids the age I was then don’t get their own superhero shows. They go from preschool and elementary age and jump right into adult shows. That’s so very sad because my childhood was better off when I could travel to this world of super adventure and enjoy heroic figures with amazing powers beat up monsters and criminals. No darkness, no “realism”, and needing to “relate” to anyone wasn’t required to cheer them on. It was just good old fashioned heroes versus villains saving the day and being fun. That was all I needed.