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The best 60's Marvel cartoon.
The 1960's Incredible Hulk cartoon is in my opinion the best of its kind. It very cleverly recreates the mood and feel of Stan Lee/Jack Kirby's early and later Hulk stories from firstly The Incredible Hulk and later Tales to Astonish. For the first time also, the animation employed by the Grantray-Lawrence company suits the subject it is based on. This Hulk series, like the 1970'S/80'S Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno is supposed to be moody, paranoid, even creepy at times and the animation suits this allowing for action and adventure too. The only problem i have is with the Hulks voice, which doesn't have the rage or sadness that the character needs. He just sounds a little annoyed most of the time. However the series has enough delights and a cool and memorable theme song to boot, and is a classic of its kind.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Oh come on guys this is a great little film.
The only way to describe this Roger Corman produced flick, is to compare it to an episode of Power Rangers or VR Troopers, on a $1million budget. It is fast paced and fun, over the top and cheesy, and its short comings are there for everyone to see.
In all honesty the cast make the most of what they are given. Alex Hyde White has just the right dryness for the part of Reed Richards, and Rebbeca Staab is quite fitting as Sue Storm. The other characters are less well represented with Dr Doom being the worst offender, over acting as he does through the heavily cheap body armour. The realisation of The Thing and The Human Torch is quite good. The Things full body costume is similar to those used in the Turtles movies, and the Torch is brought to life via some slick animation. Oley Sassone actually gets the best out of the action scenes and coaxes a good atmosphere.
This is a movie worth seeing. It manages to capture a little of the heart of Marvel comics in ways that Captain America(1991) and The Punisher(1989) weren't able to. It is a petty that more money couldn't have been made available because as a representation of the F4 it isn't bad at all. Don't get me wrong, its no Superman The Movie, and this years Fantastic Four movie will rock. But the film is no Plan 9 or Gigli either, and is worth seeing at least once.
ENTER THE WEB!
Spider-Woman was a fantastic animated series from Marvel at a time when cartoons had begin to dumb down. What you get from Spider-Woman is still quite juvenile, but it manages to capture enough of the Marvel/Stan Lee spirit to make it a hit. The characterisations of Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman and co are good enough to make this an interesting Cartoon, and it has the added plus that it doesn't talk down to the viewer.
It was very interesting for Marvel to choose to make an Animated series about Spider-Woman in the first place. The character had only appeared briefly in the pages of Marvel Comics and then she was cast as a villain. The comics writers had to create a whole new character to accomodate the series, and with a fresh origin etc. The character of Spider-Man is all but jettisoned from the proccedings albeit as a guest star in the pilot episode Pyramids Terror. This series was exciting, funny and is well worth a look for Marvel afficianadoes.
Fantastic Four (1994)
This is a good cartoon adap of the F4 and manages quite easily at times to capture the flavour of the classic F4 tales from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. By the time of the second season at least, it had matured into a fine Superhero animated series, that while not being able to evoke the magic of the original run of comics, or even the 1967 Hannah Barbera cartoon, is a good representation of the Fantastic Four. The only problem i have really is that the style of humour is too screwball to swallow. The producers clearly set out to make this series a comedy, and this shows in the representations of the characters, which are very cheesy to say the least. But aswell as that the humour misses the mark almost all of the time in the first series because it is trying to be too clever. The irony of this is that the original comics were cleverly funny. Still, by the time of the scond season the problems had been ironed out. The storylines had become stronger, and the representations of Mr Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Human Torch and the ever lovin' blue eyed Thing, had become simply fantastic. This is a good series, every episode is packed with action, good animation, a good theme tune and capable villains each week, from Dr.Doom, The Kree Skrulls, Galactus and the anti hero Sub-Mariner. It can hold it's head up as being a good representation of the F4, and at the very least is far superior to the the 1979 Animated series, and even the underrated 1994 movie.
Fantastic 4 (1967)
This is probably the best adapted version of Stan Lee/Jack Kirby's Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine, and a really solid representation of Mr Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch and the ever lovin, blue eyed Thing. It is the only Animated series that manages almost perfectly to capture the energy and excitement that could be found in the Fantastic Four comics from 1961-1969. The F4 Themselves are well presented by their characterisations in this series, and as with most Hannah Barbera cartoons, the show doesn't talk down to the kids. There is alot of good natured bickering between Reed Richards, and trying to upstage him Ben Grimm, and he in turn being wound up mercelessly by Johnny Storm, all under the watchful glare of a bemused Sue Richards. Where the 1979 F4 series went wrong was that it underestimated its audience as being totally juvenile in a way the comics never did. The 1994 animated series managed to get it wrong too because instead of taking its cue from the smash hit X Men animated series and treating the characters with respect, it totally sent, and camped them up. The less said about the 1994 movie the better!
As a kid i loved this swinging 60's version of the Fantastic Four, and i still do. It has all the right ingredients, action, humour, good plots and a kick ass theme tune. On the downside however the animated at times is a little ropey and never manages to match up to the genius and majesty of Jack Kirby's art. Still, the Hannah Barbera F4 Series will be a great nostalgia trip for afficionadoes and is well worth a look.
The Fantastic Four (1978)
It has to be said this Fantastic Four cartoon was quite poor in most respects, and i dont even mean because Herbie the Robot was in it in the place of The Torch.
As a kid in the UK i was weaned on AMERICAN, Fantastic Four comics, not the British black and white reprints like some kids, and the 1967 Hannah Barbera Fantastic Four cartoon, wich i think is a classic. I was around the age of 15 when we got the 1978 on Television in the UK, and still a big comic book fan, and along with the Spider-Man live action TV Series, found this series a big disapointment. It was one thing replacing the Torch in the team. It had happened in the comics on numerous occasions (with Medussa and Lazerfirst for example), but the route the 1978 Animated series producers took to introduce Herbie the Robot, was uninspired depressing and plain embarassing if you were caught watching the series as a 15 year old. Why not introduce an already established Marvel character into the team, such as Iceman or Ant Man or just about any other character. Just thinking about the cute little Herbie is sending my blood pressure up. As well as that the storylines for this series was weak and the dialogue given to the characters was feeble. The characterisation of the F4, or is it F3 Themselves was completely out of tune with the comics and previous animated series. Sue was represented as an old hagg, moaning all the time, Reed a completely boring leader with none of the humour ascociated with his character apparent, and Ben, well actually Ben didn't come off to badly, his character getting the best lines and most of the action. It is fair to say that the animation itself was appalingly lame right down to the way the characters appeared. Ben for instance looked exactly like Homer Simpson making this monster in fact cuter than Herbie. There was also moments of crass recycling and stock animation apparent.
About the only thing that rescues this series is the classic theme tune. Still, avoid this one, hunt down episodes of the 1967 series instead.
The Green Hornet (1966)
Solid Superhero TV Series
The best thing about The Green Hornet TV Series is that it is really a show for Adults that will entertain children too. The tone of the series and the storylines where so far ahead of their time and gritty back in 1966 and 1967 and as a consequence of this The Green Hornet was often (and unfavourably) cast in the shadow of the far less superior, campy Batman TV Show. The episodes often dealt with the Mafia, Chinese Triads, Drug Abuse et al, but all done in a glossy exciting way remeniscent of the Marvel comics being churned out by Stan Lee and co at the same time. The most remarkable thing is the onscreen chemistry between Van William's Green Hornet/Britt Reid and megastar in waiting Bruce Lee's Kato. Firstly Van Williams as The Green Hornet and his millionaire alter ego Britt Reid, the publisher of the Daily Centenal is as good as the best actors to play Superheroes. He is certainly as good as George Reeves was as Superman, and alot more believable than Adam West's Batman. Williams plays the role with an air of Sean Connery-esque suave, cool and confidence making for a memorable Green Hornet. Bruce Lee is simply a revelation as Kato, possesing an confidence and arrogance in the role really lifting the character of Kato off the comic book page. Together Williams and Lee work excellent. You get the impression that these guys really are the best of buddies and would die for one another. All this is met by fantastic production values culminating in the most impressive representations of superhero movie vehicles, the sublime Black Beauty. There is also the memorable opening credits set to the whirling theme tune by Billy May.
On the downside it might just be possible that the series takes itself too seriously. But there is enough here to enjoy. Five minutes of Bruce Lee in action as Kato is worth an admission fee, trust me. The writers, and producer William Dozier came up with a great representation of the Fran Striker and George W Trendle characters : an exciting, action packed series, with the odd blimp not withstanding was far too under-rated and undervalued. Kevin Smith and Jake Gyllenhall, the future of The Green Hornet is now in your hands. Do your best guys.