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E's Ongoing Superhero Cartoon Thread
Topic Started: Aug 17 2006, 10:11 AM (18,497 Views)
Erick Von Erich
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I'm Big E and I tell it like it is
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Here's the deal: I have ALOT of crappy superhero cartoons on tape or DVD. Everything from the Flesicher Superman episodes up to the last episode of Justice League Unlmited. Whenever I get bored, I pop one in.

I was thinking about putting this thread in "TV/Movies", but these are all strictly DC and Marvel cartoons and wouldn't exist if not for their comic connection. Plus, I have an annoying habit of comparing cartoon adaptations to their comic book counterparts.

There's no rhyme or reason to my schedule or selection, but I average at least one cartoon a week. So here's what I've watched so far this week:

The Atom- "Invasion of the Beetle-Men"
I've been transferring all of my "rare hero" episodes from the 1968 Superman/Aquaman/Batman shows to DVD, lately. An evil group of alien Beetle-Men (who all look like Abe Vigoda) are intent on taking over the Earth and causing havoc! They're all tiny fuckers, which means the Atom is the only guy whocan fight 'em. Everyone else COULD just step on the Beetle-Men, but it's Logic in Comics! Atom enters their ship and presses lots of buttons! That seemed to be Atom's gimmick: he'd shrink into a control panel and stomp on buttons.

Batman: The Animated Series- "Night of the Ninja"
From 1992 and part of the BATMAN:TAS Vol.2 DVD set. A disgraced ninja who helped train Bruce Wayne has come to Gotham to seek revenge. The ninja has a fancy "hot rod auto show" tattoo on his back!

Interesting, because Batman doesn't get into cosutme during the show's Main Event-- it's all Bruce Wayne. Cute TV News Lady Summer Gleeson is present for the big duel, but gets a carpet dumped over her, so she can't see what's going on. This apparently makes her DEAF as well. Bruce becomes "Batman" out of costume, but the ninja escapes. He'll be back in another episode.

Spider-Man- "Revenge of Dr. Magneto"
IN COLOR! From the "67 Collection" DVD set. The liner notes list this as "Revenge of Magneto", so I was thinking it was the X-men's nemesis. Nope, some old whacko scientist who looks like Evil Albert Einstein. He has a magnetic gun which can do anything. He claims he's able to "magentize wood..the air..anything!". It's basically a telekinetic gun. Maggie's pissed because the "Science Hall of Fame" has snubbed him again.

Spidey's webbing works like Green Lantern's ring in this episode. Example: Magneto drops a statue from the top of the Empire State Building. Spidey is standing on the ground and shoots up a stream of webbing which stops and holds up the statue. Later, Spidey uses his webbing to create train tracks, outside of Yankee Stadium. The webbed train tracks are able to support an entire train. Spidey defeats Dr. Magneto with some "anti-magnetic webbing". Pure dumbness... but the episode gains some points for the appearances of the Empire State Building and Yankee Stadium.

Note: the villain's name is pronounced "Mag-NET-oh", whereas the Evil Mutant is usually "Mag-NEAT-oh".

Spider-Man- "The Sinister Prime Minister"
More from the '67 DVD set. An imposter takes the place of the Prime Minister of... Rutlia (think that was the country's name). JJJ has some goofy scenes in this, but it's another case where Spidey is easily taken out by simple obstacles. Example: he passes out when the "Prime Minister" zaps him with gas from his cane. Then we're supposed to be scared because the PM has Spidey cornered in a room, with his twirly cane spinner thing!! Oh no..how will Spidey get out of THAT predicament?!!
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Erick Von Erich
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Batman: TAS- "Cat Scratch Fever"
From 1992. Continuity starts to surface, as there are alot of references to Catwoman and Batman's last encounter. Plus, Roland Daggett, the evil business owner who created Clayface, returns. I believe one of Daggett's underlings, a guy named Milo returns later on... then re-returns in about 12 years in "Justice League Unlimited".

Not a great story, though-- Batman runs from a Mad Dog! I was hoping this dog would turn out to be Ace, but no luck. Also, I really REALLY hate the cartoon's design for Selina Kyle. Having a blonde Catwoman doesn't work for me (I'm guessing this was a Michelle Pfeiffer tie-in). Also doesn't help that her character design is the ugliest of all the DC Animated chics. Weird, angled ski slopes on her head and hair.

Hawkman - "The 23rd Dimension"
Another "rare hero" episode from 1968. Two of the GAYEST looking aliens ever-- little orange guys with curly thingies, wacky eyes and pointy noses-- invade Earth and send Hawkman to the 23rd Dimension. Hawkman escapes a lightning cage by "basic physics"-- a lightning rod sucks away all the lightning. Okay.

Hawkman was pretty formidable back then. He had his spaceship, his hawk sidekick Skreel, and a cool GLOVE. The glove shot lasers, repulors beams and even had an "electro-claw".
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Erick Von Erich
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Batman: TAS - "Heart of Steel"
Still in 1992 and the first season. This is a boring, drawn out two-episode plot involving a super computer and its plans to replace key people in Gotham City. The computer has a red pulsating "mouth", identical to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The computer creates a hotsy totsy android/human assistant named "Randa". Randa's a fox and her character design would have been a good fit for Selina Kyle (see above).

There's no real reason for this story to be a TWO-PARTER...except for the fact that it introduces Barbara Gordon. Babs doesn't become Batgirl, but she is actively involved in saving Jim Gordon and other hostages from the super computer. She'll come back next season as Batgirl. The super computer's creator, Dr. Karl Fossum (who I swear was voiced by Farnum from "Deadwood", aka Larry from "Newhart"), also makes a few cameo appearances in the future.
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The Swigg Lebowski
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I loved the heart of steel episodes. Though they weren't edge of your seat by any means
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Erick Von Erich
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Spider-Man - "Night of the Villains"
IN COLOR! More '67 stuff and more instances where Spider-Man's TV translation suffers. Really awful episode. This time out, Spidey stops a jewelry robbery on a freighter, only to meet Blackbeard the Pirate. When Spidey sees Blackbeard, he reacts as if it's a familiar face every school-kid should know-- like Abe Lincoln or Benjamin Franklin.

Blackbeard is part of a robotic wax gang, controlled by Parafino-- an evil wax museum guy Spidey fought awhile back. Also in the gang are replicants of Jesse James and "The Executioner of Paris". More Scooby Doo hi-jinks. At the end, Spidey dumps off a webbed-up Parafino on Jonah Jameson's desk. Like JJJ was the chief of police or something. That happened alot, as JJJ seemed to have close connections with the cops throughout the series.
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Erick Von Erich
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Superman (1996)- "The Main Man- Parts 1 &2"
First big crossover of the Superman animated series, as Lobo guest stars. Lobo's good in little doses, and there's alot of absurd humor in these episodes. Lobo is hired by an alien called "The Preserver" to catch the last Kryptonian. The Preserver double-crosses Lobo, as he was also out to catch the last Czarnian (Lobo). There's also a subpplot involving Lobo collecting the bounty on a weird looking alien (he has a second face in his eye).

The first episode is basically a big slug-fest between Superman and Lobo. Lobo gets some funny one-liners, but there's some additional humor. One example: Lobo is first seen at an alien bar called "The Steaming Heap". At the conclusion, Superman takes all of the suvivors and gives them a home in his Fortress of Solitude (including the last Dodo and... what appeared to be STARRO the Conqueror!). How being held in the Fortress of Solitude is any different from being held in the Preserver's zoo is left up to discussion (plus, how will Superman feed these animals?)

Fun trivia: Lobo is voiced by Brad Garrett. Probably best known as the brother guy from "Everybody Loves Raymond", he has a long history of doing animation work. Including the voice of HULK HOGAN in "Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling".

Also, when Lobo is held in his preservation cell, he has a KIZZ poster. Funny and contemporary (The KISS Reunion was in full swing at that point).

I'm not sure if the Starro cameo was ever expanded upon. If not, there's a good plot for a future Justice League DVD release.

Lobo's initial antics can make these episodes seem a little bit too cartoony. But it's an entertaining show.
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Erick Von Erich
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Batman: TAS- "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich"
Introduction episode for the Riddler. In what was becoming a recurring theme, Riddler's an average joe whose shoddy treatment at the office leads to his crime career (see also: the cartoon's versions of Mad Hatter and Clock King). Riddler gets scammed out of the royalties for a "Riddle of the Minotaur" video game. So he gets ticked off and becomes the Riddler.

The first half is pretty decent, but the second half sucks. Riddler takes over a "Riddle of the Minotaur" themepark exhibit and runs Batman and Robin through his death traps. Batman and Robin drop their utlity belts, so Batman relies heavily on his never before seen "back of the palm" mini-computer. The rest of the plot relies heavily on the Minotaur video game (a game which sorta' resembles 1981's Hunt the Wumpus!).

In probably the script's biggest flaw, the Riddler's riddles aren't too clever and require alot of explanation. They don't make you say: "aw...I shoulda' got that". Weak episode. Watch the first half, then turn it off.
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Mad Dog
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Yeah, Riddler was never that great in TAS. My favorite episode of that whole run was the one where all the villains are playing poker and telling stories about how they almost killed Batman.
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Erick Von Erich
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Batman: TAS- "Joker's Wild"
A scheming businessman opens a Joker-themed casino in Gotham. That's the fun thing about a fictional city, you can have any type of district in it. Casino district, Russian district, Cuban district, mountain that overlooks the city, you get the idea.

A fairly fun episode, as most of Joker's are. There's an appearance by the "Original Joker-Mobile", on display in the casino. We see that it has a Bigfoot gas pedal-- another of the little touches that made Joker's antics so fun. There's also a nifty scene where Bruce Wayne needles Joker at a blackjack table. One of the better episodes on the second Batman DVD set.

Batman: TAS- "Tyger Tyger"
Another Catwoman yarn and another stinker. A mad scientist abducts Selina to his remote island fortress and changes her into a cat-person. A plot more suited for an 80's episode of GI Joe or TMNT. To be more specific, it's like one of the globe-spanning Batman stories from the 70's "Brave & the Bold'. Batman fights a mutated cat-guy and it's tough to take him serious. His name is "Tygris", which sounds feminine..plus he looks more like a wolf-man than a cat-man. Predictable story, all around.
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Erick Von Erich
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Spider-Man: "Secret Wars, Pts. 1-3"
From the less than stellar 90's FOX series. A liberal translation of the '84 mini-series, with some notable differences. The Beyonder challenges Madame Web to a "good vs. evil" contest. Red Skull, Alistair Smythe, Dr. Octopus, the Lizard and Dr. Doom are sent to an alien world where they're allowed one full year to take it over. Each cuts out a separate kingdom for himself, with the exception of the Lizard who does lizardy things. Spidey then gets to select his own team to go in and combat the villains.

The team consists of Spidey, Iron Man, Captain America, Storm and the Fantastic Four. The Lizard does a face turn and ends up siding with the good guys. In the second episode, the Black Cat is added to the team. There's also a buncha' nameless "rebel aliens" who are fighting the supervillains' respective kingdoms, mostly off-screen.

The pacing is all over the place and everything feels rushed. For instance, the second episode opens with a scene in Transylvania featuring Morbius and Blade. It made me think: "wha? is this the correct episode?". It's like the creators are trying too hard to squeeze in as much crap as possible. There's a direct borrow from the comic series, though, as the heroes have an entire mountain range dropped on them. One of THE coolest scenes ever done in Marvel comics...but it's nowhere near as intense in Marvel cartoons. Also some of the comics' elements of Ben Grimm's transformation and Doom's conflict with the Beyonder are sandwiched in.

At the end, Spidey is zapped through the galaxy for whatever reason. Bad pacing ruined this series, but a bigger flaw was Spidey's character. He's always been a funny, light-hearted, quick-witted guy. Even in his 3 previous cartoon adaptations. But the FOX series portrayed him as an angst-filled, ultra-serious guy. Probably why I never caught on to this version.
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Mad Dog
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If you get Boomerang they've started showing the old Superfriends cartoons. They just started the Super Powers Team version.
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Erick Von Erich
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Bummer. Boomerang is one of the few channels I don't get. They'd rather give me stuff like "Asian Life TV" or "BYU TV" (Yes, an entire channel devoted to BYU). Comcast has a few Boomerang cartoons through OnDemand, but it's just Huckleberry Hound and stuff.

I have all of the 1985 "Super Powers: Galactic Guardians" shows taped (the ones with Cyborg and improved animation). For years Cartoon Network only had three episodes of the 1984 version (the first Super Powers season that introduced Firestorm and had looser animation). Do they have more now? I remember one with Brainiac, one with a Puppetmaster rip-off and another alien plot where Robin meets a princess. That's all they ever showed.

I know the 70's episodes by heart (they were re-run constantly when I was a wee lad), but the 1980-1984 episodes are hard to find. Like the stuff with El Dorado or the Legion of Doom sequel. I taped some episodes from the 90's "Super/Batman Adventures" syndication package, but I'd be willing to drop some bones for a DVD season set of the early 80's stuff.
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Mad Dog
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They only showed the first one that introduces Cyborg. Though before that they were playing the earlier stuff with Firestorm, El Dorado, etc. I hated the token minority characters in that show. But looking at the episode list there were only 10 episodes of the 1984 season.

But it was definately my favorite after Challenge of the Super-Friends. They did away with a lot of the corny garbage.
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Erick Von Erich
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WildCATS - "Dark Blade Falling"
How's this for coincedence? This week we're talking about the new WildCATS being delayed, and here I found this episode on Comcast's OnDemand service. It's available under the "Kids" section in the "Vortex" channel. Also important to note that I do NOT have this recorded.

Intro episode for the WildCATS TV show that ran on Saturday mornings for CBS in 1994. The opening theme and intro sequence is enough to turn you off. It screams "WildCATS! WildCATS!" then goes into a lame rap saying "we're heroes, not zeroes". It also includes the "Jim Lee's.." as part of the logo. Yeah, I sure don't remember seeing "Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's.." above the Spider-Man logo. There's a reason they have credits on TV shows, Jimbo. Rumor is that the only reason Jim Lee pushed to get this series produced was so he could get a toyline.

Okay, I've never been a fan on any level of WildCATS, but this is just wretched. The CATs are part of an alien race that crash-landed on Earth a Long Time Ago. So already the characters are removed from being relateable. Its like if the Justice League was full of Supermen...and they all had no secret ID. There's a Bad-Ass Computer Programmer with a Black Belt and a Mullet who is recruited by the CATs. He "fulfills his destiny" by becoming Warblade. If becoming a WildCAT is part of an ancient "destiny"--complete with the costume-- then I don't get why they all look so different, or why one guy would wear a trenchcoat and use GUNS. I couldn't find anything appealing, creative, or interesting about either the heroes or the villains. But they looked nifty for the time--and I suppose that was the point of IMAGE.

Animation's a little jumbly at times, but the character designs are okay. Dialogue is terrible. Maul, the Blue/Green Giant Guy grows to about 100 feet and shouts: "I'm large and in charge!". Since it's the intro episode, every character makes sure to use the other's NAME when talking to them.
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Mad Dog
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Actually it aired on USA Network. They were trying to do a superhero lineup but couldn't afford Marvel or DC so went to Image. I believe it was in a block with the Savage Dragon which managed to suck less.
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