A few weeks back I gave a brief glance at the new TV season and ran down everything scheduled to tape on my DVR. Today and tomorrow we will examine the new shows that I am contractually obligated to watch as a card-carrying comic book geek.
Way back in 2010 Marvel/Disney launched a new cartoon called “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” It was far superior to the only previous Avengers cartoon, 1999’s “Avengers: United They Stand (the less said about A:UTS the better).”
The animation was blocky and stiff but EMH was beloved by comic fans because the stories were well done and the characters were well developed and the show dug deep into the 50-year history of The Avengers. Last year Marvel/Disney canceled EMH in order to replace it with “Avengers Assemble.”
AA would feature the movie Avengers and new recruit The Falcon, brought in for Affirmative Action reasons apparently. The episodes would be self-contained instead of having storylines that sprawled out over a whole season. It would be more light-hearted and geared toward a young audience.
Oh, how the nerds howled. A great show killed to make way for a more kid-friendly version. How dare Disney? The nerds had a right to be worried. Marvel /Disney had recently given us “Ultimate Spider-Man,” one of the worst Spider-Man cartoons in the long history of Spider-Man cartoons. Ultimate Spidey tries so hard to be funny and fails so often. I gave up on it after a few episodes. It’s clearly geared for young kids and that’s fine. I don’t watch “Teen Titans GO!” either.
Turns out “Avengers Assemble” isn’t all that bad. The humor for the most part is pretty lame, but it’s not as over-powering as it is on “Ultimate Spider-Man.” The animation is better than it was on EMH. I actually like the stand-alone episode format over having to remember what’s going on from week to week (especially since ‘toons often take long breaks between new episodes).
And I’ll forgive many sins for any show that has Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor.
Beware the Batman
“Beware the Batman” is, by my count, the seventh Batman cartoon series (not counting his appearance in group shows like “Super Friends” or “Justice League”) since the dawn of television. The current one is the first to rely solely on computer generated animation.
I’m not crazy about CGI Batman. It looks too much like they’ve animated plastic action figures. Plus, while CGI works fine with fantastic, sci-fi concepts that are bright and colorful like “Green Lantern” or “Star Wars,” it’s less successful in the dark, down-to-earth world of Batman. Most of the time I can’t make out what’s going on because the animation is so dark.
If you’re wondering how DC can get away with seven different Batman cartoons over the years, the reason is that every cartoon approaches the character differently. In this version Alfred is more mentor/badass than butler. Robin has been replaced by a sword-wielding ninja named Katana. The show avoids the traditional Bat-villains for new and more obscure characters like Anarky, Magpie, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad.
I’m not yet feeling the love for “Beware the Batman.” All Batman ‘toons face inevitable comparisons to the gold-standard –“Batman: The Animated Series” — and “Beware” isn’t nearly as good. It’s not nearly as much fun as the previous Batman series, “Batman: The Brave and The Bold.” The new villains are weak compared to the classics. I like Katana and NuAlfred. Maybe it will get better.
Coming Up: HULK and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.; Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)