Fantastic Four (1994–1996)
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The voice actors were pretty good (Chuck McCann, voice of the Thing/Ben Grimm, also voiced one of the Beagle Boys on Disney's Duck Tails and was the voice of the soldier Leatherneck on "GI Joe") and they did what they could with the occasionally bad dialogue they had during the first year. But like I said, the 2nd year was a big improvement. It's a shame it got canceled, but what do you expect when it aired AHEAD of X-Men and Spider-Man on Saturday mornings instead of along with them?
This show aired as part of the "Marvel Action Hour" which aired at 7:00 AM on Saturday mornings between 1994-1996 in conjunction with an Iron Man cartoon. Iron Man similarly had a bad first season and a superior second. Both sets of stars later made guest spots on "Spider-Man".
The first season had bad animation, bad character designs, unbelievably stupid dialogue, bad stories, and a general disregard for the source material. As an example they had both the Thing and the Human Torch rapping (!) And not even in the same episode!!!
All of this I attribute to one Ron Friedman, who treated this show as though he had lost a bet. Numerous examples of his incompetence abound in this series and both the show and fans of the Fantastic Four comic suffered for it.
The second season was a godsend. The animation, while still similar to 1st season, had improved, mostly in the character designs, and the stories and dialogue had improved a thousandfold. I attribute the success of this season to Tom Tataranowicz (taking over for the mercifully s#it-canned Friedman). The producers (I assume Tataranowicz was behind this) made the smart move of adapting scripts directly from the old comics and, in some cases, even improving upon them! It was a real pleasure seeing Jack Kirby's vision finally done justice.
It's such a shame that the big stories (the Galactus trilogy, for instance) had already been butchered by Friedman and friends. It's also a shame that the later success of the show couldn't help it into a third season. But, hey, at least we got cool FF toys out of the deal!
"Lame" could not even begin to describe the first season of the 90s Fantastic Four animated series. First you had the low quality animation courtesy of a Taiwanese Animation studio. Weird poses, a mediocre frame rate; a few fluid shots here and there could not make up for the generally dismal quality. It looked like something 15 years behind the times. Art-wise, the designs lacked detail, the colors used were bright and cheery and characters continually went "off model" ending up looking silly.
On the bright side, the voice cast to an impeccable job of becoming their characters. Particularly noteworthy is Chuck McCann whose pitch perfect Brooklyn accent captures the spirit of the ever lovin blue eyed Thing, Ben Grimm. For comic books fans, The stories within the series were faithful recreations of the classic 60s fantastic four comic tales by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. However the execution of those great stories was nothing short of terrible. Silly dialog and Random humor was added particularly in the form of the FF4's new landlady who was continually trying to evict them. That coupled with unforgettable (for all the wrong reasons) moments like a rapping Ben Grimm, The great Galactus hungrily licking his lips and Stan Lee himself pausing the show to break the fourth wall, all of it adds to the utter silliness of the first season.
Season 2 in 1995 to 1996 saw a vast improvement in the overall quality. The most obvious change was in the animation. A higher level of detail, darker colors and more consistent artwork complemented the smooth animation work courtesy of a new Production studio. The writing also takes a darker turn, adapting stories from the 1980s Fantastic 4 comic book run. Gone is the humor, replaced now by more mature narratives and actual human drama. Aside from the various foes the FF4 must face, their greatest conflict comes within themselves and among each other. Reed's inner guilt, Ben's ongoing quest for acceptance, Sue's feelings of inadequacy, even Johnny's broken heart, all of them very real themes that people can relate to. There were episodes that did get a little angsty but no more angsty than those Japanese anime saturating the internet nowadays.
Owing to the vast differences in quality in the respective seasons, the rating above reflects the averaged rating between the two.
Season 1 = 2/10
Season 2 = 8/10
Average = 5/10
Casual viewers should just sit through season two but long time fans of the comic books could check out both seasons and see their favorite stories faithfully translated into animation.
The animation is superb and the stories great. In this series the Fantastic Four only dealt with heavyweights such as Galactus (the guy who eats planets for breakfast,lunch and supper), the dangerous Dr. Doom and the devastating Super Skrull.
The theme tune was good as well. This, along with Iron Man, was one of the better mid-90's Marvel cartoons.