Within this author's previous article, 'The Super Friends: Heroes For a Younger Audience', the idea was mentioned that perhaps the four 'ethnic' heroes that Hanna-Barbera contributed to the Super Friends needed to be rebooted by DC for the modern audience. However, for the sake of not getting off track from that article's message, elaboration on this idea was delayed until later. For those of you curious as to what that idea was, though, you're in luck: it's later.
So, as the previous article mentions, some time into its production, the Super Friends show introduced a quartet of heroes whose creation aimed solely at the diversification of the Super Friends from appearing to be entirely composed of Caucasians. However, in the midst of creating these token characters, little consideration was given to their backgrounds, let alone their appearances or their powers. With some help from modern-day DC artists (and perhaps the suggestions of one particular writer), that could all change.
Let's have a look at each, starting in alphabetical order with Apache Chief.
Apache Chief's original story is based solely on how he obtained his powers. He got some magic power from a medicine man, which would amplify his courage, and as his courage grew, so would his physical body.
Though, as everybody knows, Superman is stronger than Apache Chief without any size-shifting powers. So, here's a bit of a concept rework that this author has taken into some consideration.
Tye Longshadow (yes, keep the Young Justice name, it's awesome) comes from a long family line of powerful Native American shamans, who originate from a union between a powerful nature spirit and a tribal chief's daughter. Though, at first, he himself is no practitioner of the Native ways. His journey starts with the death of his grandfather, when he is willed a necklace with a small pouch of dust attached, which he is told to wear at all times.
It turns out to be a powerful artifact with magic that may only be used in the defense of truth, justice, righteousness and peace. In turn, it grants Tye an elemental connection to the forces of nature. Not only can he manipulate the traditional four elements and plant and animal life, but he can channel the elements in abstract ways as well, such as becoming as swift as the wind, as sturdy as the earth or as mighty (large) as a mountain.
Black Vulcan, unfortunately, requires a total scrub, in this author's opinion.
Not only is he a purposeful Hanna-Barbera rip-off of Black Lightning (complete with the same powers and a BARELY different outfit), but his hero name doesn't even indicate rightly what powers he has; 'vulcan' implies either 'volcanic' (ie fire or lava-based powers) or 'vulcanization' (ie elastic powers).
So in his case, two options remain, instead of a backstory (because Black Vulcan, plainly put, has to go). One option is to replace his powers and backstory with those of the hero Black Lightning (who has electrical powers). And the other option (as Young Justice chose to do) is to replace his powers and backstory with those of the hero Static (who has both electrical AND magnetic powers).
El Dorado, on the other hand, has much potential that should be explored.
Eduardo Dorado Jr. (again, the Young Justice name is fine) is an ordinary fourth-generation descendant of Mexican immigrants. He only speaks Spanish at home, and his family is very well integrated into American culture.
Though, some of his relatives believe that being so Americanized is not good for him and his cousins. So a trip is arranged to visit their ancestral land Mexico, including an Aztec ruin, where magic and religious worship were said to have been held. Naturally, the myths attract Eduardo's attention and curiosity.
Incidentally, the visit takes place on a date held sacred to ancient Aztecs, when magic would be at the height of its power. Unaware of this, Eduardo hikes up one of the pyramids, and reaches the top just as magic reaches its peak, and the barrier is weakened between the natural and supernatural realms. In fact, the place he stands is right on the border between worlds.
And coming into contact with that supernatural nexus alters his body and mind forever. Not only is he capable of perceiving supernatural energies (bestowing him with vast powers of extrasensory perception), but he can also harness some of those supernatural energies, as force blasts (from the hands and/or eyes), teleportation and illusion casting (mirages which can only be seen by the intended target, and can affect them as though they were really happening).
And as a bonus, let's not forget our Egyptian (really British) Super Friend, Golden Pharaoh. Unfortunately, he was so unpopular and obscure that he never even made a debut on the Super Friends show (only a couple spin-off Super Powers comics and toys), but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve a second chance.
Anyhow, Ashley Halberstam (See? British...) is an archaeologist, with a particular love for and fascination with the ancient myths of Egypt. One day, actually on the way to another dig site, a sandstorm arises and he gets separated from his caravan, stumbling onto a new undiscovered pyramid in the middle of nowhere.
As the site has yet been un-excavated, Halberstam finds himself at the top of the pyramid. Fascinated by its unusual golden glow, he touches the peak, and the sand immediately rushes up from around the pyramid. In less than five minutes' time, the sand is cleared away, revealing a perfectly preserved Egyptian pyramid, ready for his exploration. A few stones even slide away so he can enter.
When he enters, the pyramid seems to be leading him, as every trap door is stayed and every secret passage gives way. He soon finds himself in the treasure room of the pharaoh, whose sarcophagus has a piece of papyrus on it which reads: "He who finds this, if he be worthy, shall create from his mind like Ptah, move hearts like Hathor, guard lives like Anubis, shine brightly like Ra, command obedience like Amun, return from all harm like Osiris and have vigor and youth like Horus. For Egypt's glory, he shall be the Golden PHARAOH".
Rima the Jungle Girl, strangely, is sort of a reboot already, since she first came from stories in the early 1900's. Though, not much was made of her, in the way of a proper superhero. So, technically, that doesn't make this suggested new backstory a reboot, but rather a reboot of a reboot.
When Rima was young, her father left, and her mother died shortly after, leaving her uncle to become her caretaker (similar to her actual origins). Though, on the plane back to his home in Venezuela, a storm arose, and their flight stopped short, crashing into the neighboring jungle. Her uncle was killed, leaving her all alone.
Or so she thought. When the plane crashed, it knocked her unconscious, but when she awoke, she found herself surrounded by tribal people native to the jungle. They explained that they had seen jungle animals emerge in an organized line from the place she slept, and tracked the animals back to her. And if that were not astonishing enough, she understood their language perfectly.
As it turns out, a bump she received on the head during the crash has affected a part of her brain, activating a latent metagene. This gifts her with great powers of empathy toward all living creatures. She can sense emotions, understand and communicate nearly every language, and command animals. She has a keen animal instinct which, combined with her human mind, makes her a master in not only tracking, but hunting/trapping, survival, acrobatics and unarmed combat. She can even form empathic bonds, to temporarily borrow others' skills and abilities.
Then there's the story of Samurai.
Toshio Eto (keeping his name from the original Super Friends) is a history professor in Japan. In his spare time, he is also an traveler and explorer of ancient Japanese shrines, though his adventures tend to be more on the academic side than the Indiana-Jones-ish side.
That is, until one fateful day, while on a trip into the country with his niece Asami Koizumi. Along their journey, the pair stumbles upon one large temple which seems to have been abandoned. They travel into the basement and discover a single altar in the center of the room, with a broken sword on it.
The sword sits on a sutra. When Toshio picks up the sword and reads the sutra, something amazing happens. The sutra disappears, and another piece of metal goes flying through the air; the missing piece of the blade reunites with the sword, and the words on the sutra appear on the blade. Even more amazing, an ominous wind arises, and soon before them stands a wind spirit.
Naturally, the wind spirit's arrival is frightening, but the creature intends them no harm. For saying the words which allowed the wind spirit to return to the mortal realm, it offers Toshio access to any and all knowledge and power that he has, no questions asks...but only if he takes the sword with him, which would allow the wind spirit to also leave the grounds of the shrine.
Of course, other members of the Super Friends exist (ie Marvin and Wendy, Cyclotron from the Super Powers spin-off, etc), but for the sake of not going too far off the beaten track, let's stick with the role of the more 'ethnic' Super Friends. To that end, it is the belief of this writer that some serious changes must be done in order to keep the 'ethnic' Super Friends from falling back into the appalling and insulting territory of mediocre token stereotypes.
Their names should be changed into some which are less racially implicit (ex: DC's New 52 created a new character based off of Apache Chief, but instead called him Manitou Raven, which was racially significant, but not stereotypical).
Their costumes should do less to portray their races outright (ex: Aquaman is Half-Atlantean, but his suit, while it has scales on it, is not colored blue, and does not have fins gills and shells everywhere).
Their backgrounds should be explored more, just as any of the more generally mainstream characters, to make them more multidimensional. This would include them exploring new creative uses of their powers, or refraining from certain power uses which don't suit their personalities.
And, for goodnes' sake, please get them from under the banner of 'Super Friends'; leave that title for their OLDEN days, before these worthy heroes were reborn into far more exciting and interesting characters.
In all seriousness, just think. With a good movie/TV director and script writer to show them the proper love and respect, a movie or TV series based on this superhero group could easily be as popular as a movie about the Teen Titans, Young Justice, The Flashpoint Paradox or Justice League: War.