I, like you, watch a lot of superhero cartoons. And I, like you, feel a little let down when one ends with seemingly no effort being put into keeping it around. “Why would we air a commercial for this? No one is watching it.” And so they die and fade away into the annals of superhero animation history, and the heads of the animation studios that produced them proclaim “Look, we’re sorry about what happened with your beloved show. But we hope you enjoy SUPERMAN AND JIMMY, a flash animated sketch comedy about Clark Kent trying to keep his identity secret AND maintain a pop music career. The first of 300 episodes begins airing in nine minutes.”
Even though I can’t bring any of these shows back, I can eulogize them. So let’s gather around their graves and lament the fact that all good things burn so brightly before being cancelled in favor of something that will sell more Batman-themed Lego sets.
Beware The Batman
The great hall of Batman animation will always be presided over by Batman: The Animated Series. That show doesn’t just eclipse other Batman cartoons, but all of superhero animation, and the entire adventure cartoon genre. If you don’t know what a “bat man” is, and you have just enough time to watch eighty-five episodes of something before you return to your noiseless, Batman-less cavern, you watch Batman: The Animated Series.
But Beware The Batman, which showed up in 2013 and was immediately forgotten about by everyone, including the channel that aired it, deserves a look. Any Batman villain that’s above the B List is nowhere to be found. Instead, Batman is forced to contend with guys like Professor Pyg and Anarchy and Deathstroke on a weekly basis. And if superhero cartoons have let you down due to the fact that it’s hard to let super people punch other super people as hard as they can for fear that American households will soon be overrun by Sibling vs Sibling fight clubs, Beware The Batman is amazingly refreshing.
Wolverine and The X-Men
“So, we’re gonna make a new X-Men cartoon.”
“Oh, cool. What’s it going to be about?”
“Well, most of the X-Men are gone.”
“What? So, like, it’s about a small team? That would be nice. It would allow for more character momen…”
“No, most of the team are presumed dead. Or missing.”
“So, it’s about the team getting back together? That’s a cool story arc, I guess.”
“Yeah, and half of the show takes place in the future?”
“Wait, no, what?”
“Yeah! And Professor X is the main hero, and organizes a sweet future X-Men team as well!”
“Hold on. Before we can begin, I have a lot of question-“
“It comes out later this year! BYYEEEEE.”
Marvel Anime: Blade
The four Marvel anime series were a mixed bag. Iron Man was okay, X-Men was a show that happened, and if you’re ever playing the world’s worst scavenger hunt and you see that “WOLVERINE ANIME” is on the list, well, Marvel has you covered. But Blade, while not perfect, is still a pretty entertaining series. It definitely has the appeal of Blade locked down: badass dude that doesn’t talk much, but that’s mostly because he’s too busy slicing things apart to chat. And when you’re making a series about Blade, that’s 75% of the battle.
The Spectacular Spider-Man
I’ve written about The Spectacular Spider-Man before, and at this point, I sound like that friend that goes to the bar and talks about missing Lisa. Except that friend is 32, bro, and the last time he saw Lisa was the day after prom. What I’m saying is that, if I could send a drunk Facebook message to The Spectacular Spider-Man, telling it how sorry I am about how things went down and how I wish I could’ve been a better man for it, I would.
The Spectacular Spider-Man is the best encapsulation of the Spider-Man story that’s ever been put into the world. Better than anything we’ve seen in comics or movies as well. It’s Spider-Man distilled to its purest elements, and I honestly think it’s probably the best superhero cartoon ever made. And at twenty-six episodes, you can reasonably finish it in a weekend. And then you’ll be like me, which is the goal of this whole article.