Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Seven Great Superhero Cartoons

I've read a few comic books, but my interest in superheroes was primarily cultivated while watching cartoons as a kid. Here's a look at seven great superhero cartoons that have influenced I, Crimsonstreak.

Batman: The Animated Series: This is probably the crown jewel of them all. Batman: TAS combines great animation and writing to create what I consider the definitive version of the Caped Crusader. The Art Deco styling is gorgeous, Kevin Conroy is pitch-perfect as the Dark Knight, Mark Hamill rocks it as the Joker, and everything just "works" in this fantastic interpretation.

Justice League/Justice League Unlimited: This series opened the door for a flood of terrific animated tales featuring the DC Comics universe. Justice League is a fantastic show with a well-rounded voice cast, solid writing, and its own signature look. Once the "main" stories were told, we were treated with Justice League: Unlimited, which gave us the adventures of some of DC's lesser known heroes and heroines like Booster Gold, the Question, and Dr. Fate.

The Tick: I will never, ever pass up an opportunity to declare my love for the Mighty Blue Avenger. The Tick ran for three seasons on Fox in nineties, and remains one of my all-time favorites. Featuring the goofy nigh-invulernable Tick and his unfortunate sidekick Arthur, the show admirably lampooned the superhero genre. Populated with off-kilter characters like Die Fledermaus, Sewer Urchin, American Maid, Dinosaur Neil, and Thrakkorzog, this one always coaxes a smile.

Darkwing Duck: Often forgotten, this kid-friendly Disney cartoon from the early nineties featured a brooding Batman-like hero named Darkwing Duck, an amalgamation of Batman, the Shadow, and various pulp heroes. A melodramatic hero, he often appeared out of nowhere announcing to villains, "I am the terror that flaps in the night." The show was a spinoff of DuckTales and featured Launchpad McQuack as the sidekick. Villains included Darkwing doppelganger Negaduck, Megavolt, and Quackerjack.

Young Justice: This is the newest entry on this list. Young Justice features several younger heroes in the DC Universe with powers similar to established champions of justice. Kid Flash, for example, is a super-speedster like the Flash. Miss Martian has abilities mirroring those of Martian Manhunter (her uncle). Connor Kent is a clone of Superman. The roster also includes Robin (Dick Grayson version), a revamped Aqualad, archer Artemis, and magician Zatanna.

Batman: Brave and the Bold: This series gave us a goofy version of Batman who hung around with the DC B-list and fought against a variety of different villains. I loved this show when it was on (it aired its final episode last November). Brave and the Bold was sheer lunacy, and you didn't know what to expect from week to week. The show had an endearing charm and a sharp sense of humor punctuated by frequent guest hero Aquaman--who is the closest thing I've seen to the Tick in years. I really do wish this one were still on the air.

X-Men: The nineties Fox animated series was a sort of CliffsNotes for some of the most important storylines in the X-Men universe, including the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. The main lineup featured Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, and Professor X. Others like Colossus, Cable, and Nightcrawler also appeared in episodes, making this series a great introduction to the X-Men in general.