When Did the Superheroes Created for Super Friends Debut in DC Comics?

In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader David G. wrote in to ask, " I liked your article on Black Manta and his first comic book and cartoon appearances and it got me thinking about the Super Friends. Could you write about Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and Samurai ? Thank you."

David, of course, is referencing the new superheroes that were added to the Super Friends when the series was revamped in the late 1970s (right before the Challenge of the Super Friends, which is probably the best remembered version of the Super Friends from that era).

These new heroes - Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, Samurai and El Dorado, were attempts to add more racially diverse superheroes to the Super Friends. The annoying thing is that one of them, Black Vulcan, was an obvious stand-in for an ACTUAL African-American DC Comics hero, Black Lightning, invented so that Black Lightning's creator, Tony Isabella, wouldn't get a royalty payment due to creating the character and having it adapted into an outside medium.

The other characters were created by Hanna-Barbera, so I don't believe DC even COULD use them in comic books for a long time. That is, not until DC Comics' parent company, Warner Bros., purchased Hanna-Barbera, as well. Now that they were all under one roof, it was a lot easier to get usage of the characters, but even then, it wasn't quite as simple as you would hope (none of these things ever are).


For the reasons explained above (he is a knock-off of an established DC Comics character), Black Vulcan really hasn't appeared in a DC Comic for those very obvious reasons, outside of a minor cameo in a DC One Million story by Grant Morrison and Dusty Abell in the DC One Million 80-Page Giant...


Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen introduced their version of Apache Chief, dubbed Manitou Raven, in JLA #66...


Samurai had some different versions of him over the years, similar to Manitou Raven, but the first TRUE adaptation was in Justice League of America #46 (by James Robinson, Mark Bagley, Rob Hunter and Norm Rapmund)...


El Dorado took until the New 52 to show up. He debuted in Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Amanda Waller #5, by Jai Nitz and Cliff Richards....

So there ya go, David! I wonder if we will ever get a different version of Apache Chief in the future.



These characters don't really count towards the characters that David was asking about, but just as an added bonus, I'll let you know that the Wonder Twins made their DC Universe debut in Extreme Justice #9 (by Ivan Velez Jr, Al Rio and Ken Branch). They had already appeared in the Super Friends tie-in comic book, as well, of course...

If anyone else has a suggestion for When We Fist Met, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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