Before there was Smallville, before there was Batman Beyond, before there was even Super-Friends, Saturday morning television rewarded my love of superheroes in 1967-68 with the well-remembered The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.
I was relatively new to comics back then; I don’t think I had even heard of Marvel yet, just thrilled at those old black-and-whites of George Reeves in The Adventures of Superman, one of my favorite all-time shows. (More on it and its haunting legacy another time.) Not only did this series bring me an animated Superman (something I had never seen before) but it introduced me to characters of the DC Universe for he first time. (I guess the only ones I really knew were the Superman and batman families and those characters in my beloved Legion of Super-Heroes.)
On The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, various superheroes from the
When trouble erupted, the last son of Krypton doffs his identity as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kentto become Superman! When villains threaten the sea, they must face the power of its Atlantean defenders: Aquaman (my first encounter), Aqualad and Mera!
In addition to these featured characters, who had adventures every week (and I must say Aquaman was handled much better here than in some of his later comics titles), we have several other heroes' adventures. These include:
- The adventures of police scientist Barry Allen who fights crime as the fastest man alive, the Flash!
- Katar Hol, who fights crime as the winged avenger, Hawkman!
- Armed with a wondrous power ring, test pilot Hal Jordan responds to threats in his sector of space as its assigned Green Lantern!
- Scientist Ray Palmer opposes evil using his shrinking and density control equipment as the Atom!
These heroes also worked together at times as the Justice League of America. I cannot tell you how exciting it was for this youngster to see Superman teamed with other powerful heroes. I know it sounds sully now, but I had never encountered Supes with other super-heroes before!
Also, the teen sidekicks of many of these heroes had their own adventures as the Teen Titans. The Titans line-up in the cartoon was Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy. (It did not take a kindergarten rocket scientist to figure out Wonder Girl was somehow connected to the never-seen Wonder Woman; her, I had heard of. Who Speedy was remained a mystery for some time, since I had never heard nor seen Green Arrow.)
Notably absent from the Teen Titans, although I was unaware of it at the time, was Robin. This was because Robin was appearing in a different animated series at the time, so they could not use the character. Whenever the Titans contacted each other on screen at the beginning of the episode, each character would appear on separate monitors. There was one monitor that was usually blank, as I recall; presumably this would have been where Robin's image would appear.
There were a lot of differences I found in the comics once I explored them, Robin in Teen Titans being one of them.
For example, in the great Green Lantern entries, I discovered in the “funny books” that GL normally wears his power ring on his right hand. In the cartoon, though, in several shots he is firing his ring from his left hand. Also, I later discovered the main reason the show used some alien kid instead of Hal Jordan's Eskimo buddy in the comics is because these cartoons were made at the height of the civil rights movement at a time when being friends with a non-white still made a few people uncomfortable. The television executives at the time had to worry about the stations in the South refusing to air their programming over race. It is a different world, eh?
Regarding a lack of Wonder Woman, the television execs were sexist, pure and simple. A cartoon about a woman kicking butt didn't sit too well with them. (These guys weren't happy campers about Honey West and The Avenger's Emma Peel, I would suppose). How Wonder Girl made it to the Titans is anyone’s guess.
In this age of collections, I am sure these shows are available for viewing in some form or other. But I think, for myself, I would just love to relish the memories.
And speaking of memories, The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure had one of the zippiest themes of any show ever! Written by John Marion Gart in 1967, it introduces you to all the cast of the show before a single story is told. I can remember its words and tune to this day:
All the super-duper heroes,
They always fight for what is right!
Live with danger and adventure,
They are Men of Might!
Superman, the Man of Steel
Performs super deeds with ease!
Aquaman's the bold and daring
King of the Seven Seas!
Hawkman, from another planet
Swoops down on the foe!
Nothing stops the Teen Titans
Anywhere they go!Superman,
Flash defies the eye to follow
With his super speed!
Against the force of evil
The Atom will succeed!
Green Lantern's power ring
Can accomplish anything!
All the super superheroes
Are the Justice League of America,
Men of Might!
Still sends tingles down my spine! I might have to hop on the