“Legends of the #Superheroes”: An Odyssey Better Left Unfinished

Legends of the Superheroes - TV Guide ad 1   The best thing that happened on TV when I was nine. It was January, 1979, and there were two hour long shows. One aired per week on NBC. I was able to see the first and was SUPER excited to watch the second part. Well, because I don’t remember the details, I lost my TV privileges, and wasn’t able to watch the second part. My life was over! There wasn’t this widespread device called a VCR, at least not in my life. Once something was on TV as a “Special Event” that was it, game over if you missed it. It sucked to be me. Who knows, I could have become s much more than what I am today! DAMNITALL!

   Fast forward to, roughly, 2004-ish, my internet was still dial-up, due to where I was living, and I had just discovered that both parts of this were being offered as something called a “torrent”. I had no clue what that was so I dug deeper and discovered that I couldn’t access it. Enter my best friend, since we were 12, I asked him to download the episodes and he agreed to. He was interested too so it was a win – win. Right? Well… no. He told me to not expect too much out of the show. Did I listen? Hell no! My inner nine year old was already to, FINALLY, complete the journey that he had set out on a quarter of a century earlier.

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Gallery: Superheroes Done Right

   So there I was, again, searching through random image on Google when I came up with the idea to do a post about the WORST attempts at live action Superhero shows ever. Well, I found several lists along with images and the world has enough negative posts about everything.

   I decided to post a few images of, what I feel to be, the best executions of  superhero(ish) characters to make it to the small screen. I won’t list (Green) Arrow, the Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or the bad-assness of Dare Devil, since they all go without saying that they are some of the best shows to date based on comic book material. So without further ado I bring you, in no particular order, my favorite heroes that can be found on television.

Kotobukiya DC Comics Green Lantern Classic ArtFX+ Statue

   Kotobukiya is releasing ArtFX+ statue versions of the Kenner Super Powers line. I have to say that this version of Green Lantern is my favorite. They’ve really outdone themselves with this piece. I had the original figure and just recently replaced him, sans the Power Battery. I wasn’t going to share it until I had the battery but I had to show a comparison between the Kenner version and the Kotobukiya one. It is obvious that the sculpt was inspired by the original, yet updated enough to give it its own identity. With the huge push to capitalize on nostalgia by offering larger scale exact reproductions of vintage toys, the attempt to keep the flavor of the original without being confined to it makes these ArtFX+ pieces unique. This piece is incredible and I hope they do Hawkman.

   I would love to compare these two in person but I’ll have to wait until I can get my hands on one.

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#JLA – Year One vs. the Founding #Avengers

#JLA - Year One vs. the Founding #Avengers

   This afternoon I imaged surfed into this fight. My only issue is Hal Jordan’s (Green Lantern) costume isn’t correct for the era. Minor detail… or is it a major nerd geek-tail? Either way this awesomely epic image is epic and was done in 2001 but I cannot seem to make out the artist’s name.

Excelsior!

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Paul Dini: Superhero cartoon execs don’t want largely female audiences

   Frak-Tards. So we loose solid programs because female viewers all have “cooties”? Hey Mr. Executive Bigshot… it is the 21st century. The days of “No Girls Allowed” have gone the way of the Dodo just like you should. I’ll take your job and make smarter programing for everybody. Oh and I would think way outside the Toy Box while I do it.

Beware the Cartoon Network, Batman.

   I wrote my obligatory rant about CN yanking BTB from its line-up (just like Young Justice & Green Lantern last October, 2012) on Rob’s iO9 entry but now I am bring it to my own blog. I read in the other ranting comments that Cartoon Network is more concerned with a demographic that is far bellow the 18 year old range. I am not sure why that would be true. It would seem far more logical that they would want to produce something that the whole family would enjoy. Besides some of the characters and situations are not really that fit for younger viewers. My own observations have been that if a program is solid and ties together with one sub-plot or another, in other words you have to have some sort of recall beyond that of a fruit fly, then that show is far to complicated and must be canceled.

   So what is the motivation for Cartoon Network to continually alienate their viewers? I don’t have a clue. I’d wager that this is a mystery the Dark Detective, himself, couldn’t solve.

My Top Twelve Animated Superhero Series

   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)

Wolverine and the X-Men

   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)

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   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)

Justice League Justice League Unlimited

   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)

Batman-Animated-Title-2

   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.

Spider-Man (1996)

spiderman_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)

Green-Lantern-The-Animated-Series-Season-2-Episode-3-Steam-Lantern

   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)

Star-Wars-The-Clone-Wars-cast

   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.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Spectacular Spider-Man
  2. The Batman
  3. Batman Beyond
  4. Superman the Animated series
  5. G.I. Joe Renegades
  6. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
  7. Darkwing Duck
  8. Duck Dodgers in the 24½ Century
  9. Iron Man: Armored Adventures
  10. Legion of Super Heroes

Beware the Batman! Indeed.

Beware the Batman (2013) | DC Comics.

BTB

   Don’t mind me, I just going to sit here and eat my own words. I had a few derogatory things to say about “Beware the Batman” over the last, well ever since I saw the pic of Alfred brandishing guns. I was also a little bat-hurt that my Silver Age Fan Fest, Bat-Man the Brave & the Bold, was canceled and that added to my suspicion of the coming change that would be Beware the Batman. Don’t get me started on Young Justice, Green Lantern or even Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes since I still and a huge Dark Side RAGE on over their being yanked, unceremoniously. Oh yes, I digress.

Where was I? Still eating my words, of course.

Beware the Batman is, simply put, an awesome new take on the Dark Knight in his earlier days as a crime fighter. It began strong and ended stronger. The new character designs, which in small stills seem odd and out of place, flow well with the fast action pace.

Alfred is a retired operative from British Military Intelligence and is a wonderful, fresh take on the character. While Bruce is just getting to know the Batman. He is a little brash and cocky but he seems to be learning a lesson, bruised bodies and egos are great teachers. We’ve only had a glimpse of Katana. Why are they using Katana? No clue but time will tell and if this first episode is any indicator… it will be a heck of a tale. With a new Rogues Gallery, who can we expect to drop in unannounced and will we get to see any of the old heavy hitter villains?

Bottom Bat-Line, I dig the new take. It has everything that makes Batman, Batman, yet it is so different that it adds to the mythos of the Bat. I’ll be making an effort to catch this show each week, same Beware the Bat-time, Same Beware the Bat-channel.

Catch Beware the Batman on Cartoon Network at 10 am in your area (check local listings for exact times). dccomics.com/tags/beware-the-batman