A quick note: While most of these shows, with the exception of Clone Wars and some of my honorable mentions (listed below the top 12), are by no means cannon from their original source material they are very well done and entertaining. They each have a unique cool factor that keeps me coming back to re-watch them over and over. I am fortunate enough to be married to a lovely woman who, not only allows me to watch them all over and over, she also enjoys them almost as much as I do 🙂
So sit back and delve into my list of MY Top Twelve Animated Hero Shows. I encourage you to comment or even post your own list! I really want to hear what you have to say 😀
Wolverine and the X-Men (2009)
Why it’s cool: This version of the X-Men, for me, is the penultimate combination of 50 years of the mutant team. Over the years the X-Men have had many faces. Wolverine and the X-men seems to have handled all of them very well and combined them into one continuity. Was I 100% satisfied with all of the character treatments? No, ofcourse not. As with any other show based on some of my most beloved characters, I take each episode with a grain of multiversal salt. I give in a little and receive some great stories that stand on their own in return.
Young Justice/Young Justice Invasion (2011)
Why it’s cool: Besides Robin being Dick Grayson and then becoming Nightwing in the second season? I could go on and on as to why this show is awesome and will always be so. Aqualad is one of those out of the box characters who is far cooler than the original that they also had on the show. There were more than enough “homage” moments to the DC universe of the past to make and geek fan-boy extremely happy. Did I mention that Dick becomes Nightwing in the second season?
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (2001)
Why it’s cool: Although the beginning episodes rarely reflected much from the pages of the Justice League, it had its own weight to pull and pull it did… very well. I really like the dynamic between John and Shayera, and the simple fact that they used those two characters at all. It is far too easy, with all due respect to Jon Jones, to “whitewash” these kinds of shows and kudos to the producers for not doing so.
Batman the Brave and the Bold (2008)
Why it’s cool: Two words… SILVER AGE. The camp and craziness of the Silver Age did far better than I ever thought it could in today’s more cynical and jaded world of gritty crime fighters. The adventures of Batman on this show were so out there, so ludicrous, that at first glance it seemed like a dumbed down version of the DC universe for younger children. That was so not the case with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This show had enough inside jokes, adult humor (nothing dirty) and so many classic memories from comic books long gone that you couldn’t wait for the next episode from week to week.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2011)
Why it’s cool: Like Wolverine and the X-Men, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had that “all eras rolled into one” feel to it. As far as I am concerned this was the perfect method for blending classic stories from the team’s legendary past in the comics with new content that didn’t alienate the fan-base. It was also a great show for newer viewers to become, somewhat, educated on decades of the Avengers without having to pick up a comic.
Batman the Animated Series (1992)
Why it’s cool: Batman. The animated show that was actually taken seriously. It won awards and allowed kids and parents to watch it together. The kids wouldn’t get board and the parent would have to cringe at some annoying garbage being video fed to their kids. This show has to be considered the Golden Age of “Superhero” animated tv series. Some of the episodes seem a little dated now and even “flat” be they are still some of the best stories you can find in any animated series.
Why it’s cool: While there are a huge number of simplistic plot tools and things done for the expediency of the story, this show has a great pace and has the essence of Peter’s plight as Spider-Man. This is the first show that actually makes you NOT want to be Spider-Man. For that alone I think it deserves to be in my top 12.
Green Lantern the Animated Series (2012)
Why it’s cool: The first few episodes were pretty devoid of any texture and the story did’t move along that well, yet we stuck with it. Our patients with the show paid off. We were treated to some great stories and fun adventures. I can’t think of a better way to bring the Green Lantern to the small screen. Heck it was better than the effort they brought to the big screen
The Fantastic Four (1967)
Why it’s cool: Wait. What? What is this doing in my top 12? It was an early Superhero offering from Marvel and Hanna-Barbera. The character designs and animation were simplistic compared to our current standards, yet it was still cool. You can see the Jack Kirby influence all throughout the show and while they didn’t follow the story lines accurately it still has a wonderful quality to it. To me, it still feels raw and sometimes that rawness hits the Superhero Cartoon spot.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
Why it’s cool: Here is another show that loosely follows the comics from the very beginning. Back in 1984 I picked up the first issue of TMNT and I have not been disappointed ever since then. The show has that same feel and reminds me of those early days when I was first getting to know the team.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Why it’s cool: Jedis, Clones, Sith… oh my. The Clone Wars kept my Star Wars jones incheck. I’ve watched the series and re-watched it. This may be wishful thinking, or hoping, but I am looking forward to the last season of this show to be released in some form or another before the new Star Wars: Rebels comes out.
Beware the Batman (2013)
Why it’s cool: It is different. This isn’t your typical Batman show and I like that. So far they’ve had some great stories and interesting, lesser seen, villains for Bruce to combat. Like The Batman, Bruce is younger and has a bit more to learn about being the Dark Knight of Gotham City. Alfred is a retired British secret agent and brings in Katana whose first appearance was way back in a “Batman and the Outsiders” preview in DC’s “Brave and the Bold” #200 (early 80’s). I’ll be catching this each week.
In conclusion: So there you have it. My list of the top 12 Animated Superhero Series. Some of them didn’t make it past the first or second season. I think the fact that some of them required you to remember past episodes. How awful is that? If the plot is too thick, the story too rich or the characters are too deep then it is inevitable that your favorite show will be canceled, good ratings or not. Perhaps there can be a balance between marketability of merchandising and quality stories?
I fear that one day we will be getting animated blasts. No story or discernible plot to follow. Who needs them. Just hyper-violence, a new design every episode to base a new toy off of and the closest thing to a moral of the story will be “Me good guy, you bad guy, *insert hero name here* kill you!”
I have my shows though and I’ll continue to watch and enjoy them with my wife. Nuff Said.
- Spectacular Spider-Man
- The Batman
- Batman Beyond
- Superman the Animated series
- G.I. Joe Renegades
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
- Darkwing Duck
- Duck Dodgers in the 24½ Century
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures
- Legion of Super Heroes