Ten Deep 2.06.14: Top 10 Animated Comic Book Shows
Posted by Mike Gorman on 02.06.2014
From X-Men: The Animated Series and Todd McFarlane's Spawn to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Justice League Unlimited and more, 411's Mike Gorman counts down the top 10 animated comic book TV shows!
" Top Ten Comic Book Based Animated Series"
It seems like every day announcements are made about comic book stories and characters being adapted as live action movies and TV series. This week I wanted to reflect on the place that these comic book stories got their initial push and that is the world of animated television. The ten series below are the ten best of the dozens that have existed for many years. We begin with a personal favorite.
10. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
While there have been many Spider-Man TV series over the years (and there is another on this list!) this is the one that represents the magic that used to be Saturday morning cartoons. This show featured a college age Peter Parker and his best friends, Iceman of the X-Men comics and the newly created Firestar. They fought classic Spidey villains and they also interacted with Iceman & Firestar's old team, the X-Men. Firestar was so popular she was eventually brought to life in the comic books, including currently appearing in a new X-Men book.
9. Todd McFarlane's Spawn
HBO's Todd McFarlane's Spawn was a truly fantastic adaptation of the dark comic book series. Spawn excelled in transferring the tone of the book and the artistic style to the small screen. It was sadly short lived but packed a big punch into its run.
8. Batman: The Brave And The Bold
Batman: The Brave And The Bold is one of the newer Batman related series out there but it brought with it a tonal shift from many of the recent outings. The series felt closer to the fun of the 60s live action series incorporating humor and a very eclectic run of co-stars. The heroes that joined Batman in this show were not exactly the heavy hitter stars you might expect but they brought a smile to the face of the die hard fans and introduced a younger audience to some of the DC universes more interesting ilk.
7. Spider-Man (1967-1970)
This is possibly the most well known of the Spider-Man series and is the original. It was a run of the mill, closely authentic adaptation of the comic book series but had one thing going for it that no series since has had. That is, the most awesome animated theme song of all time. You can sing along with it in the clip below. I dare you not to!
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
While there have been several adaptations of this comic series on the small and big screens, when one says Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this is the series that first comes to mind. It is the show brought a relatively dark, violent comic book into the pop culture mainstream in a big way. TMNT went from an adult property to a beloved children's series very quickly. And while this show did target the younger audience it did so in an intelligent and entertaining fashion. This series set the bar for all adaptations to follow.
5. Justice League Unlimited
Justice League Unlimited was the next step in the evolution of the original Justice League series. Its forefather introduced us to the main members of the League and set up the universe of the show. In Justice League Unlimited we got to meet the extended family of the League, and I truly mean the EXTENDED family. This series paired the original league members up with dozens of other superheroes from the DC universe and it did it in a way that stayed true to a main story and series continuity. This show felt like a true comic book come to life.
4. The Tick
It is funny that series that was created to mock the traditional comic book heroes would end up as a successful animated comic book series, but that joke was on us when we got to see The Tick. The brilliance of the series was that it existed within the confines of a traditional animated series but pushed the envelope further than any other when it came to creating its wacky characters and over the top storylines.
3. Young Justice
Of all of the series on this list, I can hands down say that Young Justice is the one that was taken from us too soon. Young Justice was an adaptation of the Teen Titans and Justice League set firmly within the very layered continuity of the DC Universe. There was nothing dumbed down on this show as it truly targeted a comic book audience. The stories felt more intricate and detailed than a usual animated series. They felt like true comic book adventures. The other unique aspect to this show was that they let the younger heroes it focused on grow up to become older heroes. That is something that doesn't even happen often in the comic books. As a fan, this is a show that is truly deeply missed.
2. X-Men: The Animated Series
If I had to pick an animated series that represented the comic books of the 90s, hands down I would turn to X-Men: The Animated Series. Why? Well in the 90s comics were known for big flashy stories, over the top gimmick covers, and deep thick continuity. X-Men: The Animated Series brought all of those things to life in a variety of ways. The show could have pared down the characters and their adventures to a less developed, cleaner version to attract a wider audience, but it didn't. Instead they dove right into the complicated stories that peppered the X-Men books at the time tackling time travel, Apocalypse, and a pretty well done telling of the Dark Phoenix Saga. This show truly was an animated encyclopedia of the X-Men and their world.
1. Batman: The Animated Series
Before I even really got into the brainstorming for this list I knew hands down, what series would sit in the number one spot. Partially because I knew I'd be killed for eliminating it, and mostly because it truly is the best animated series based on a comic series, Batman: The Animated Series is your number one this week. The show created a vast, dark universe for Batman and his allies. Perhaps the most important achievement of this series is not that it was based on a comic book series, but that on its own it served to affect the series it was based on. Batman: The Animated Series ended up setting the tone for the Batman comic books in many ways when the series hit its height, not to mention the characters and stories that jumped from the show to the comics. It has set the bar for all animated series to follow.
One of the things you may have noticed from this list was the preponderance of DC comic properties. This is because DC has done a fantastic job putting a focus on the quality of their animated properties including some pretty awesome animated films. This week we get the new Justice League: War which brings the DC animated universe into the New 52 universe of the comic books. I leave you this week with the trailer for this new venture...
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