It seems Apache Chief Week was just too ginormous to fit into a standard workweek! We’ve got one figure left before we get to the big man himself, a late addition to the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends cartoon and one DC character that I was sure wouldn’t get a figure, El Dorado.
I’m not really sure what’s up with El Dorado. Samurai, Apache Chief, & Black Vulcan were created for the show (And Rima adapted for the show) in 1977 around the same time that more characters (Green Lantern, the Hawks, etc.) were brought in from the DCU to fill out the roster. And for the most part, the show roster stayed the same until Firestorm and Cyborg were added in the mid-80s. But in the middle, there exists this one character that debuts and sticks around for a handful of episodes: El Dorado.
We never find out much from El Dorado during his appearances on the show. We know that he’s Mexican, likely a descendant of the Aztecs. Like Black Vulcan, the cardback biography had to make a bit up:
Dressed in a costume that evokes the Aztec kings of long ago, El Dorado uses his mystical powers to aid the Super friends in their worldwide quest for justice. Some speculate he is the descendant of Aztec sorcerers, empowered by their ancient magic and his people’s warrior-spirit. El Dorado has never revealed the source of his power, but his knowledge of ancient ruins in Mexico suggests a connection to the Aztec civilization.
It’s still not much to go on, which is really a shame. I hate to see these characters get such a bad reputation as being “diversity characters” or that they’re taking up the space of proper DC characters because I think the truth is just that they’re largely unexplored. We don’t know if they’re cool. I mean, if you take a person that doesn’t know anything about the DCU and show them a Super Friends episode – they’re not going to know who’s “real” or “not real”. The portrayals of our favorite DC heroes are just as ambiguous, sometimes ill-defined, and they don’t really do a whole lot in the show – but we know them. I often wonder if characters like El Dorado or Black Vulcan would be more widely received if we just knew more about them.
El Dorado may suffer even more because he doesn’t have defined powers like the other show-created characters. Apache Chief gets big, Black Vulcan throws lightning, etc.. El Dorado can kinda do… whatever he needs to do. He was strong enough to fight Kalibak, he could cast illusions (that were sometimes tangible), levitate (fly?), possessed some form of telepathy, and he could teleport himself and others.
Teleporting is my favorite power because he wasn’t very good at it. If he and Superman left the Hall of Justice together, El Dorado would arrive in Metropolis at the same time as a flying Superman. If he and Batman left the Hall of Justice together, then El Dorado would arrive in Gotham at the same time as a driving Batman. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me as a kid. I used to joke (as I did above) that his power was to teleport in the same it normally takes to get somewhere. When I got older, and less trusting, I determined that he likely just went home. If he knew how long it took Wonder Women to get to Metropolis, then he could go home, have a beer, catch his favorites shows on his DVR, and then still beat Wonder Woman there. That’s what I really learned to appreciate El Dorado. That’s my kinda super power. Continue to Page 2…