The Menace of the White Dwarf is the twelfth episode of the first season of the Super Friends television series. The episode featured a truly evil villain named the Raven, who along with Noah Tall and Roy La Post, are the only villains to really fit that category in the show thus far, as most episodes up to this point have only featured misguided individuals as antagonists. Here, the Raven is portrayed as being an enemy of Superman, who apparently put the villain away at some point in the past. The character is a mad scientist.
This episode is rich in educational material about astronomy and physics. We learn about white dwarf stars, gravity and also the way trials function in the legal system. This is also the first time in the series that the destruction of Krypton is depicted. This is the first of four times that this is shown. The second being in this season's The Planet-Splitter, the third being in Season 3's Secret Origins of the Superfriends and the fourth being in 1983's The Krypton Syndrome.
A backstory relating to the destruction of Krypton is told in this story, stating that a chunk of Kryptonite which fell to Earth ended up on the farm of Paw Martingale. He ends up keeping it for good luck. Interestingly, although this is not the first episode to feature Kryptonite, it is the first time that Marvin White and Wendy Harris seem to be aware of it, which seems to indicate that this episode takes place chronologically before the other episodes with Kryptonite that aired prior to this episode. Although this isn't completely clear, because when the Junior Super Friends are introduced to the Kryptonite it is referred to as a sky stone. It's possible that they just weren't aware that the stone was actually Kryptonite, and therefore they were unaware that it would hurt Superman. But this isn't made clear, and seems less likely.
It is a beautiful summer day, nature at her best: the birds are singing, the sun is shining, and lazy clouds drift by, but suddenly, a spacecraft zooms by at a low altitude right over a group of grazing chickens. This causes them to lose much of their feathers. Inside the ship, the pilot activates his viewing screen, bringing a locomotive into frame, which is being oiled by two men, it then disappears into thin air. Then another view comes into frame on the screen, a building being torn down by a wrecking crew. As the wrecking crane is smashing away at the building at the wrecking site, a wall of the building suddenly disappears into thin air. Next, the viewing screen sees Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog riding their bike to a gas station to air up their tire. But their bike disappeared into thin air!
Meanwhile, at the Hall of the Justice League, the Super Friends are caught up in another tense situation. Colonel Wilcox of the Secret Department of Investigation is seen on the Justice League Monitor, telling them of a U.F.O. that has appeared in their airspace, and has snatched up with it 14,000 tons of objects. The colonel then asks if anyone knows what might have caused such a thing to occur. Then Superman suggests it might be a White dwarf. Batman agrees, and the colonel tells them that the entire staff of the National Observatory thinks so too. They then have the colonel send them the data which is then printed out by the Justice League Computer. Robin begins reading off the items stolen by the mysterious spacecraft. Robin begins, telling Superman that a locomotive was snatched up at Wheeler Junction, a condemned building was snatched up and carried away from Carverville, a bicycle was snatched up from Clearview (and Marvin and Wendy tell them that was where they were, and that was Marvin's bike). Robin goes on to read, telling them that four pickup trucks were stolen in Grover's Corner. Superman then says: "So, you rubbed shoulders with a white dwarf?" Marvin then asks what a white dwarf is. Superman tells Aquaman to turn on the video bank. The projector then shows the image of a star, and Earth. He explains that a star has a much stronger gravitational pull then a planet like Earth, but sometimes, a strange thing happens, and stars begin to shrink. When this occurs the star becomes a white dwarf. Much smaller, but more dense, and it still retains a strong gravitational pull. Wendy then says it's like a giant economy-sized flying magnet. Batman then says that even a tiny sliver of a white dwarf could have done all that snatching up. They then look at the Justice League Monitor to learn the likely location that the white dwarf may have impacted. Batman tells them they should go take a look, he brings Robin and the kids with him, to the probable impact area, which was indicated on the electronic map, while Superman and the others go check out the checkpoints.
In the Batcopter, the Dynamic Duo and the Junior Super Friends head toward the probable impact area, where they find everything that was stolen by the white dwarf, and Batman suggests that it was a "white dwarf with a human brain." When Wendy questions him on how a human could be involved with a white dwarf, he admits to her that he doesn't know the answer. Robin tells Batman that he is receiving a normal gravity reading. Batman responds: "Figures." Marvin then catches sight of his bike, which accounts for everything...everything but the white dwarf that is.
Meanwhile, Wonder Dog is sniffing around the impact area, and he runs into a balloon, he then puts up his dukes as if he's going to engage in a boxing match with it. He then notices a strange object inside the balloon. He goes to the others to try and get them to come take a look. Before Wonder Dog could get them to come over there, Batman tells them that since a white dwarf can't get up and walk away, it must have been transported by someone. Robin finds such a concept to be unbelievable. Batman agrees, telling him the only way it could possibly work, is if the vehicle used to transport the star had a very powerful gravity shield for one thing. Marvin asks who he thinks is behind it.
At this point Wonder Dog is growing increasingly frustrated that the others aren't paying any attention to him, he then runs off toward some snowy rocks and he covers himself in the snow. He then returns to the others to see if they'd notice. Robin then says: "Frozen phantoms, look at that!" And Marvin believes it's the Abominable Snowman. The "snowman" then points to the balloon, and Batman runs over to it, and Wonder Dog shakes off the snow, and then Batman pops the balloon, and he clearly sees a ring. Wendy then says: "You look like you've seen a ghost." He then tells her he has, and the ghost's name is Raven. Robin then asks if he's talking about the super-scientist that Superman sent to prison. Batman tells Robin that this is his ring. Just then, a radio message can be heard over the ring, it's the voice of the Raven, and he tells them not to have Superman waste his time looking for him, because he plans on meeting him anyway.
At the Hall of Justice, Superman is examining the ring. He tells the others this is Raven's way of reminding them that he hasn't forgot about his threat he made with a promise. Marvin and Wendy wonder what that threat was, so they play back the footage on the electronic transcript. The projected image shows a judge, passing his judgement on Raven for attempting to knock the Earth off if its' axis, which could have lead to the extinction of the human race. The Raven defends himself, he tells the judge that he is a scientist, and his experiment dictated that he take that risk. The judge asks him if he has anything further to say before he passes sentencing. The Raven then tells the judge to give Superman the message; that there is no prison that can hold him.
After watching the video, Wendy says: "Gee, but I don't get it." Then Marvin asks if Raven was still in prison. Aquaman says: "Theoretically yes." But then Wonder Woman interrupts, saying that she has a feeling that when Colonel Wilcox calls back, they will likely learn that that is no longer the case. However, just then, Wilcox appears on the monitor, telling them that he spoke to the warden, and he is still in his custody. Superman tells him to tell the warden that they intend to pay him a visit.
At Gateview Prison, a massive complex of concrete and stainless steel, was constructed especially to house one super-dangerous person; the Raven. Inside the warden's office, the Super Friends ask the Warden if they could be escorted to his cell, and so the warden takes them to Raven's cell, which they refer to as the Raven's Nest. And he points to the Raven himself. But Superman learns that he's just a robot duplicate. The warden then asks where the real Raven is. Just then, Superman and Wonder Woman's Super Hearing allow them to hear some sounds, they can hear Raven's Spacecraft approaching. They then inquire how long it would take to get everyone out of the building. He tells them with all of the electronic barriers, five or six minutes. Superman then tells him that's too long. He then smashes a hole in the wall with his Superhuman Strength. They then run through the hole, and the prison disappears. They take to flight, Superman with his natural Kryptonian powers and Wonder Woman in her invisible plane. They then locate the prison in flight, and the bird pulling the strings, the Raven!! The Raven's ship shoots out a smokescreen of atomic particles, which could even block Superman's X-Ray vision. He is momentarily blinded, but before he can readjust his vision to cope with the dazzling fog, it's gone, along with the prison and Raven's spacecraft. Superman and Wonder Woman crisscross the sky, continuing their search...but they finally land, giving up...they realize that the ship and the prison should be in sight, but it's as if it just disappeared.
Back at the Hall of Justice, Marvin and Wendy are watching a diagram of a house on the screen as Superman explains to them that it represents the way we see an object. The dots on the screen represent photons, which are units of light energy focused on the retina of the eye, and there, the information is transmitted to the brain, which registers the impression of the house. So it's obvious that in order to see, we have to start with the photons. He then goes on to state that maybe Raven developed a device to send out anti-photons, which could arrange themselves in such a dense, solid pattern, that they would block photons coming from the house, making a visibility shield, the eye, would no longer be able to see the house. Marvin asks what that would do to his X-ray eyes, and Superman tells him that Raven likely developed reflective, mirror-type photons, that would deflect X-rays. Batman then tells them that they now know how Raven escaped from Superman and Wonder Woman. Marvin then says: "But, jeepers, how will we ever be able to catch up with Raven now?" Just then, a Marine TroubAlert sounds, and prints out information on a paper. Robin reads it, which says that the Freight carrier submarine called the U.S.S. Narwhal is in distress off Cape Hatteras. The kids then radio the sub, in an attempt to make contact. A man identifying himself as Captain Holloway can be heard over the radio saying that he needs help urgently, because a mysterious force is driving their sub toward the Gravesend shoals. The JLA then assure them they will send help immediately. Wonder Woman bets the trouble is caused by Raven. Superman then says: "Dollars to doughnuts you're right."
Batman, Robin and Aquaman then head toward the submarine in the Batcopter. Superman and Wonder Woman decide to come too, since they may need help, but Marvin and Wendy want to help as well, and so Superman and Wonder Woman has them post the flight paths of Raven's Spacecraft on the wall map. After the two heroes are gone, the two kids complain that they couldn't come with them to be included in the action.
The Batcopter flies threw a terrible lightning storm over the Atlantic, while in the water below, the crew of the Narwhal are struggling for their lives. The helmsman is unable to steer the sub away from danger, and they are heading toward the rocky shore. As the Batcopter settles directly above the submarine, Aquaman dives in, descending to the depth of the sub. He then sends out a telepathic signal to his undersea friends, and descends even deeper into the watery deep. His objective: the fabulous Neptune's girdle, a type of seaweed that only grows in the valleys of the ocean's bed, and it is so strong, that it can't be broken, even by the strength of Aquaman. It can be cut however, by the diamond-like teeth of the sawfish. Aquaman then calls one to his aid, and it cuts the sea vine, Aquaman then grabs the seaweed and begins his ascent toward the sub, and sends out another telepathic signal. He then entwines the Neptune's girdle around the conning tower of the submarine. Then, a pair of blue whales grab the other ends of the seaweed, and begin pulling the sub to safety. However, this time Raven uses his gravity field to change the direction of the pull, which is upward, bringing the sub several feet above sea level. The whales and Aquaman double their efforts. Just then, Wonder Woman in her invisible plane and Superman arrive, this catches Raven by surprise, and he releases control of the gravity field, this causes the sub to fall back into the sea. He then takes defensive action, turning on the gravity field at full strength, the crushing field causes Wonder Woman to blackout, her airplane then goes out of control. For Superman, it seems difficult for him to fly, making it seem as if sky is an impenetrable barrier. Superman eventually makes his way up to the spacecraft, punching a hole in the side of the craft and approaching a very frightened Raven. But then he hears Wonder Woman with his incredibly sensitive ears, calling for help. He zooms off to rescue Wonder Woman's falling plane, allowing Raven time to escape. Wonder Woman begins to come around, regaining consciousness. Superman tells her that for now, Raven got away.
Back at the Hall, the kids have finished posting the flight paths, and Marvin makes a discovery. He realizes that the flight paths all intersect at the same location. Wendy tells them they should go check it out themselves, rather than report it to the Superfriends, and although reluctant at first, Marvin finally agrees.
They then take their bike, and after hours of steady riding, they reach the intersection point, a cabin in the country, and three men, an older man and two young men are standing on the porch, telling them to get off their property, but the younger men tell them that they aren't the "same fella" from before, but rather a "couple o' young'uns." The older man asks what they are snooping around for, and they tell them they work for Superman and the rest of the Superfriends, this excites the older man, who is an obvious fan of the Superfriends. He then introduces himself as Paw Martingale, and his boys Mace and Vinnie. He then asks if they'd come in and "sit for a spell."
Inside the cabin, Paw tells the kids that he thought that they may have been the Raven. She then asks him what Raven wants from him, and he tells him he wants the Sky stone. He tells Vinnie to go fetch it for him. He told them he found this sky stone a long time ago, then he said "you could say, it found me!"
He tells them he was doing his chores in the pea patch when he heard a strange noise. He looked up and saw a meteorite falling straight down toward him, it landed in the pea patch and the explosion knocked him to the ground, making him disoriented and seeing stars, and bruising his face. It took longer than a week before the hole that was once the pea patch stopped smoking. And when it did, mushrooms were growing everywhere. He then tells them how he dug in the hole with a shovel until he finally found the sky stone.
Paw then tells them that the Raven has been offering all kinds of money for the sky stone, but he wouldn't part with it, since it's a family good luck piece. Marvin tells them they'd like to show it to Superman and the others. He then tells them he'd be pleased and proud to let them borrow it.
Back at the Hall of Justice, Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman returned from their mission at Cape Hatteras, and seen the flight paths posted on the Justice League Monitor. When the very exhausted teenagers and Wonder Dog return, Wonder Woman immediately questions them about the flight paths. Wendy tells them that they just came back from the intersection point, and that Raven has been trying to get a green stone from there on several occasions. Superman asks where the green stone is. Marvin then walks in with it, and Superman starts to shiver, and point at the rock. He starts to weaken, and he loses consciousness. But Batman catches him as he faints. He then drags him over to a chair to sit him down. The kids look on in confusion, and ask what the stone is. Then in unison, the others say: "Kryptonite."
As it was on Krypton many years ago, violent tremors caused fragments of the planet to be blasted into outer space, and who knows, perhaps that fragment called the sky stone was hurled from the final explosion all though space, until finally landing on Earth, in Martingale's pea patch.
And in the present, Batman quickly grabs a chest lined with lead and places the sky stone in it, to block the rock's radiation, which is lethal to Superman. The Super Friends then realize that there's no wonder Raven wanted to get his hands on the sky stone, as it would have totally immobilized Superman. Wendy then mentions that she doesn't understand why Raven didn't just snatch up the whole cabin, since he obviously could have. But Superman asks if their were any mushrooms near the cabin. They then tell them there were thousands of them, and that they had never seen so many, and they were green. He then clicked on the video bank and asked if they looked like the mushrooms on the screen. Robin then starts to understand what's going on, and he says: "I've got the picture now. Operation Hitchhiker, right?" Batman then explains, that some mushroom spores must have hitched a ride with the Kryptonite. They then speculate the possibility that the strange Kryptonian mushrooms may be able to cancel out the gravity of a white dwarf. Just then, a call comes in from Col. Wilcox and he tells them that Washington is worried about Raven. They tell them they wish there was nothing to worry about, but things are very bad, because of his invisibility shield and because he can attack them whenever and wherever he wants. He asks them to give their views to the National Strategy Council. They decide they will do just that, and they head for Washington and leave the kids and Wonder Dog to hold down the fort while they're gone. They ask what to do if there's an emergency, and Wonder Woman tells them to use their heads. Batman then tells them to always remember what they had taught them, that "Brain power is superior to brute strength."
And so the Hall is left in the care of the kids and Wonder Dog. Wonder Dog takes a nap in a chair while Wendy is sorting files and Marvin is dusting. Just then, the Death's Head Ring starts beeping. Wendy opens the file cabinet drawer where the ring is, and Marvin picks it up, despite Wendy's objection. Marvin starts taking into the ring, and Raven can be heard through the radio in the ring, and he asks where Superman is, and Wendy said he out, but he'll be back soon. Raven asks who he is speaking to, and she tells them their names and that they are friends of the Superfriends. Raven tells her he doesn't think much of the company she keeps. He tells them that he knows they got to the Kryptonite before he did, and he tells them to ask Superman how he likes it when the building goes into orbit. Marvin then asks what building. But the Raven doesn't answer. He does tell him however, that it will be an irreplaceable building, rich in tradition and history. He then tells them that this is going to happen and 5 o' clock sharp.
The kids then decide they need to head to Washington, so they hail a taxicab. On the way, the see the Supreme Court Building, and the United States Capitol, and they wonder if any of them could be the buildings going into orbit. Just then, the tire of the cab has a blowout. Just then, they get out of the car and Wonder Dog spots a cat and starts chasing after it. He chases the cat into the Washington Monument and the kids chase after him. He chases the cat up the stairs and to the top floor of the monument. At the top floor of the monument, Wonder Dog is to tired to continue chasing the cat, and the cat is able to escape. Just then, the monument starts to lift up into the sky, with the kids and Wonder Dog inside. Marvin tells Wendy that now they no what an astronaut feels like going into orbit.
The monument finally settles above what appears to be a cloud in the sky, but is actually the secret lair of the Raven. When the kids come out of the monument to have a look around, Raven asks who they are, and they tell him. He is delighted they came, and he welcomes them. He then tells Number 5, a robot duplicate of him, that there will be two more for dinner. After noticing Wonder Dog he says: "Oh, make that three."
A stunned nation learns that the monument as disappeared, reports of the incident could be read about in newspaper's extra articles. And at the National Strategy Council, the Spokesman of the NSC discusses the situation. He asks them what goes next, the Supreme Court building, the Senate, or the White House? Superman then stands up an tells him "no." And he promises him nothing else will get snatched away. He tells them he knows what he wants, and he assures them he'll get it in exchange.
Back at Raven's island in the sky, the Raven's robots serve dinner. And the kids are fascinated by the robots. But Raven tells them they are merely toys to help with the chores. He then shows them what he refers to as his "real achievements." He shows them his spacecraft, and tells them that with it, he has outlawed gravity, create an invisible shield and snatch up any object he wishes, such as a building, and ocean liner, locomotive, bicycle or a dog. He demonstrates how the he can use the gravity field of the white dwarf to lift Wonder Dog. He even makes him invisible. They beg him to bring Wonder Dog down, and he does, telling them that the entertainment that he just furnished them is all made possible by a tiny fragment of a white dwarf. He then shows them his Kryptonite detector. He tells them that he located Kryptonite, but the Martingale family refused to sell it to him.
And elsewhere, the Super Friends pay a visit to the Martingales. Superman asks how long it took for the mushrooms to grow. He told them it was about an hour or two. He?? told them you could see them swelling like pups with a colic. Superman asks for permission to take some mushroom spores, and he takes some spores and puts them in an envelope. Back at the Hall, Superman decides to open communications with Raven. Over the radio, Superman offers to trade the Kryptonite for the monument. Raven tells him only if he brings the Kryptonite alone. Superman agrees to his terms.
They then rendezvous in the stratosphere. Superman enters the Raven's spacecraft and the craft lands on the floating island. Superman exits the ship and tells Raven he has an interesting piece of real estate. Superman hands over the Kryptonite, but he also pours out the mushroom spores on the island, behind his back so it escapes Raven's suspicious eye. The Kryptonite is then removed from the lead-lined case and Superman immediately feels its' effects. Raven checks his Kryptonite detector to make sure that Superman isn't faking, but he realizes that it is real Kryptonite. The kids and Wonder Dog check out the scene, seeing Superman helplessly losing his strength because of the Kryptonite. Superman didn't know they were there, but Raven told them he didn't kidnap them, that they arrived accidentally with the Washington Monument. He tells them he will return them to the ground after the trial. Wendy asks him what trial is that, and Superman says it's the trial of Superman v. Raven, and that's why he thought he'd need the prison.
At the trial, Superman takes his place in the witness box, and Wendy and Marvin act as his defense. And the jury is made up of robots, that Superman says were "all handmade by little elves in the Black Forest." He then says: "Bravo, Raven." Raven then tells Superman that he shall be the prosecutor and the judge. Superman asks him what he's being charged with anyway. He tells him he's charged with the highest crime, that of being the prime mover in the event that lead to the imprisonment of the Raven. He then states that the prosecution demands that he face eternal imprisonment. Wendy then objects, and Raven asks on what grounds, and Marvin says that the jury isn't alive. But the judge disagrees. He overrules the objection. Superman then uses his X-ray vision to see that the spores that he planted are now producing mushrooms, growing at a marvelous rate. Raven tells the jury that the defendant Superman should be found guilty, he then rests the prosecution. It then becomes the defenses turn to defend Superman. But they can't find anything to defend, since he hadn't done a thing wrong. Wendy tells Raven it's him that needs a defense. He tells them he's not on trial. But they say maybe he should be. They tell him he's a great scientist, but there's something more important then science and that's people. He asks the counselors if they are finished. They then state that the defense rests. It then becomes the turn for the jury to render its' verdict. And then the jury found him guilty. Superman isn't surprised. The court is adjourned, and Raven tells the kids and Wonder Dog it's time for them to go, and Number 7 will take them home. They tell him they aren't leaving without Superman but he insists they leave, and that he'll join them later.
The kids then leave in the Raven's spacecraft as the Raven and Superman wave good-bye. As Raven tells Superman that he's going to occupy the same cell in the prison that he once did, Superman notices that the island is losing altitude, it is falling, because of the miraculous growth of the mushrooms. He tells Raven, and he checks in instruments and sees that the island is falling fast. He tells Superman he'll make a deal with him. "A deal? With a convicted criminal?" Superman says. He tells Superman that they are going to crash. Superman tells him it's such a pity. Raven then begs Superman to save him. Superman then tells him to toss the Kryptonite off the island if he wants to live. He then tosses the stone and it crashes back at the Martingale's place. He begs and pleads with Superman once again. But Superman is still somewhat weak from the Kryptonite, but he manages to regain his strength in time, and he takes flight and catches the falling island, setting it gently on the ground. He then takes Raven back to his prison cell.
Back in Washington, at the Monument, Marvin says: "Gee, we're sure lucky everything turned out so well." Wendy tells him that it's a good thing the Superfriends didn't punish them for taking things into their own hands. But Marvin told her that was quite a talk Batman gave them. Marvin asks Wendy if she remembers the ride they had in the Washington Monument, and she tells him she likes it better the way it is now, and that she's had enough excitement for one day. Wonder Dog then lies down on the ground and rests.
Continuity in Other Media
References:chicken farm, summer, spacecraft, Gravity Field, viewing screen, crane driver, toes, Wheeler Junction, Carverville, Clearview, Grover's Corner, party, speckled hen, egg, rocking chair, Kerosene lamp, Raven's robots, Martingale family, filing cabinet, invalid, Lady Justice, Kryptonian crystals, Feather duster, United States of America, Taxi driver, United States Senate, Golly, National Strategy Council member, National Strategy Council Member, NSC member, NSC Member, N.S.C. Member and saw-fish.
The Ultra Beam
The Mysterious Moles
|Season 1: SuperFriends (1973)|