Just in case you aren’t familiar, Super Friends was a DC cartoon loosely based on the Justice League produced by Hana-Barbera from 1973-74 and then again from 1977-1986 DC Comics published a comic book tie-in series for Super Friends from 1976-1981. Now, currently, Super Friends is somewhat canon as it was added to the official DC Multiverse as Earth-1956 in Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1. However, it was always my assumption that the Super Friends comic from the 1970’s and 80’s was not set in the main comic book continuity.
This assumption was based on two things. First, the cartoon tie-in comic series’ that I grew up with as a kid, namely Batman Adventures and Superman Adventures, were set outside of main continuity. Also, the character Fire (formerly known as Green Fury) first appeared in Super Friends #25, but most fan wikis set her in-continuity first appearance as DC Comics Presents #46. That suggests that her appearances in the Super Friends comic were not considered canon. Therefore, I just passively assumed the Super Friends comic was set outside the main continuity of Pre-Crisis’ Earth-One. However, I’ve recently discovered evidence that has made me think that the Super Friends comic was always set in main continuity.
I started picking up Super Friends back issues from my local LCS’ and discovered some surprising references to Earth-One continuity that I didn’t expect. The first instance of this came from this panel from Super Friends #4:
What stopped me in my tracks was Robin’s mention of Hudson University. This is because I knew that, in main continuity, Robin was attending Hudson University during his appearances in the Batman Family comic from around the same time period. From Batman Family #9:
That one reference made me think it was possible that the Super Friends book was canon, but it was hardly definitive. Maybe they were just trying to give more depth to the Super Friends world by mentioning things from main continuity? However, I kept running into surprising Earth-One references within my Super Friends back issues. The Wonder Twins back-up story (sadly, this back-up story is not digitized, though the main story is) from Super Friends #14 included obscure, Silver Age Superman villain Grax who originally appeared in Action Comics #342.
Also, Overlord, the main villain of Super Friends #43, made this reference at the end of the main story:
The DNA Project he’s referring to can only be “The Project” or what is currently known as Project Cadmus which first appeared in Jack Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen series at the outset of his Fourth World Saga. Kirby’s “The Project” did clone superheroes like The Guardian and even had samples of Superman’s DNA. The specific main continuity references in Super Friends started racking up.
However, I would consider the “smoking gun” for this theory to be this panel I found in Super Friends #14:
There are two things to note from this panel. First, there’s the reference to Batman’s Bronze Age girlfriend Silver St. Cloud. Second, and most significantly, is the editors note suggesting Bruce Wayne is leaving this fancy meal with his wealthy friends to tackle an adventure as Batman in Detective Comics #476. That issue is significant because Detective Comics #476 contains the classic story featuring The Joker’s smiling fish.
I revisited Detective #476 to see if it lined up with the events of Super Friends #14 leading up to this editor’s note. To start, in the above panel, Crystal Marr mentioned that Silver St. Cloud had just turned Bruce down. When we catch up with Silver in Detective #476, she’s purposely spending time away from Bruce after realizing that he is Batman:
Next, as mentioned, the editors note suggests Bruce leaves the meal to take on The Joker in the smiling fish case. Bruce even excuses himself by claiming he has “a previous engagement.” This tracks with Detective #476 as we learn that The Joker tipped off Batman and the Gotham PD before each of his murders:
It is also conceivable that Bruce left that panel in Super Friends #14 and walked right into the pages of Detective #476 as we first see him as Batman in that issue attempting (and failing) to thwart a Joker attack:
Essentially, what I discovered is that you can stop reading Super Friends #14 at that editor’s note, read Detective Comics #476, and then finish Batman’s adventure with the Super Friends in issue #14 and it does work as one, continuous story.
Now, I wouldn’t be bold enough to call any of that definitive proof. However, I would like to submit to you all that it’s plausible that the Super Friends comic was meant to be set in the main, DC, Earth-One continuity. What do you think? Do you have any evidence for or against this? Please let me know!