Here’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for July. Full solicitations are available here.
Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #2, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
Batman ’66 #13, on sale July 23, $3 (digital-first)
Adventures of Superman #15, on sale July 30, $4 (digital-first)
DC Comics Presents: Batman Adventures #1, on sale July 30, $8
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2 (of 6), on sale July 2, $3
Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, on sale Aug. 27, $20
Astro City: Victory (HC), on sale Sept. 17, $25
There’s a lot to be interested in this month from DC, as the comics section above shows. A lot, that is, assuming one sticks with the digital-first/non-New 52 titles.
“Adventures of Superman” will continue in print form for a short while yet, collecting the last few digital installments of the now-cancelled title.
“Scooby-Doo Team-Up” looks like it’s going to have the gang meet the rest of the DC Universe after all. I suppose that (and the previously-advertised Teen Titans meeting) answers my question of whether or not super-powered superheroes exist in Scooby’s world. Anyway, this issue sees Scooby, Shaggy and company team up with Wonder Woman! Daphne and Velma get singled out in particular in the solicitation (“Amazon training?”).
The most anticipated trade paperback in some time comes in August (not July), as we finally get that long-delayed “Showcase Presents” volume of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew! The oversized Showcase volume will reprint the entire original series, as well as the three-issue “Oz-Wonderland War” miniseries. The late 2000s miniseries has already been collected in a trade paperback, which means the entirety of the Zoo Crew’s print run will finally be available in trade paperback form, even if mostly in black-and-white.
Valentine’s Day is this week, so I thought I’d look at one of comics’ biggest romances, which of course would be the romance of Superman and Lois Lane. In light of that, and since comics love to pretend they’re showing major character events “for the very first time!” in various reboots, I thought I’d take a look at the comics’ major depictions of Lois and Clark’s “first meetings.”
“Action Comics” #1, June 1938
“Action Comics” #1, published in 1938, doesn’t show any elaborate first meeting of Clark and Lois, though it is the first-ever appearance of both characters. Instead, we see Lois has been on the paper’s staff for some time before Clark joined the staff. Clark and Lois’ first lines to each other: “W-what do you say to a, er, date tonight, Lois?” “I suppose I’ll give you a break…for a change.” “Action” #1 (and the much-later retelling/elaboration in 1986′s “Secret Origins” #1) shows Lois had been avoiding Clark, however; after an incident with mobsters at a night club requiring Clark to keep up his milquetoast persona, Lois storms out, telling Clark: “You asked me earlier in the evening why I avoid you. I’ll tell you why now: because you’re a spineless, unbearable coward!”
Of course, the relationship between the two greatly improved over time… with 1978′s “Action Comics” #484 revealing the tale of how Lois and Clark of Earth-2 were married sometime in the early-to-mid 1950s.
“Adventure Comics” #128, May 1948
While there’s no exact switchover issue from Earth-2 to Earth-1 for Superman’s comics, there is, chronologically, a first appearance for the Lois Lane of Earth-1—which also conveniently happens to be the Earth-1 first meeting of Lois and Clark: “Adventure Comics” #128, published in 1948. Yes, their first meeting was shown as teenagers, during Superboy’s era. (If curious, the first appearance of the adult Earth-1 Lois seems to be the present-day section of “Superboy” #1 in 1949, though the comics’ setting doesn’t fully switch to Earth-1 until the mid-50s.)
The plot: Teenaged Clark wins a contest to work as a cub reporter for the “Daily Planet” for a week, and goes to Metropolis. At the paper, Clark meets the other winner of the contest: a teenaged Lois Lane. (Their first thoughts about each other, expressed in thought balloons: “Golly! She’s so pretty!” “Golly! He’s so unexciting!”) Lois, learning Clark is from the same town as Superboy (Smallville wouldn’t be named until 1949′s “Superboy” #2), asks Clark various questions about the Boy of Steel, while Clark wishes Lois were more interested in his civilian alter-ego. The paper’s editor (not Perry White here—presumably, he’s still a reporter or lower-level editor at this point in their lives) decides to award whichever teen brings the best story the honor of front-page publication, with a byline. Lois also makes a side bet with Clark (an ice cream sundae) over who’ll bring in the winning story.
As the story goes, Lois ends up beating Clark to filing several stories, as Clark’s forced to go into action as Superboy each time. Eventually, Lois also uncovers a group of crooks’ scheme, which Superboy rescues her from… but the resulting story wins Lois the front page byline, and her ice cream sundae bet with Clark. As the week ends, Lois and Clark both head back to their respective hometowns, with Clark wondering if he’d ever see Lois again.
“Action Comics” #500, October 1979
Of course, Lois and Superboy do meet again several times between this point and adulthood, but Lois doesn’t meet Clark again until they’re both adults, with Lois already employed at the “Planet.” (“Who’s Who” states Lois did work for the “Planet” during college summer vacations, establishing her at the paper well before Clark showed up.) Their first meeting as coworkers at the “Planet” has had two major versions: the first shown in “Superman” #133 in 1959 (“How Perry White Hired Clark Kent”). The second version was an updated and summarized version of “Superman” #133′s story for “Action Comics” #500 in 1979 (a retelling of Superman’s life story). It’s the second version that sees Clark proves to a skeptical Perry his journalism merit by writing a story about Superman defeating the Anti-Superman Gang with a fake kryptonite ruse—said story that Lois had been working on cracking for a week. Lois’ response to Clark scooping her: “I don’t know how you did that, ‘Mister’ Kent—but unless you want your life to be miserable around here…don’t ever do that to me again!”
Lois and Clark’s relationship improves, of course, with the two even dating briefly in the 70s. Various stories flashing-forward into the future, particularly 1980′s “Superman Family” #200, shows Clark does eventually marry Lois (presumably winning her over as Mr. Kent, not as Mr. Superman). The final (non-canonical) pre-Crisis story, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” shows a different sort of wedding between the two, of course.
Man of Steel #1, 1986
With the post-Crisis reboot of Superman in Byrne’s “Man of Steel” comes yet another take on the first meeting of Superman and Clark. Here, Clark is once more shown getting hired at the “Daily Planet” by writing about his alter-ego, in this case, getting the first-ever “interview” with the Man of Steel. However, Lois and Clark had met in issue #1 of the “Man of Steel” miniseries, when an uncostumed Clark used his powers to rescue the endangered experimental “space-plane” (that Lois was on) from crashing. Lois’ first words to Clark (just before he flies off): “hold it right there, buster!”
Later (in “Man of Steel” #2), Lois does meet the “proper” Clark Kent, after the latter was hired by Perry. Clark had turned in the first-ever “interview” with Superman…which Lois had spent the entire issue working to get. Unlike other first meetings, we don’t see Lois’ obviously-angry reaction to her new coworker’s scoop.
Eventually, Lois and Clark started to date each other, with the two marrying in 1996′s “Superman: The Wedding Album.”
Several later storylines would show some revisions to “Man of Steel”‘s versions of events, particularly “Birthright” in 2003-2004 and “Superman: Secret Origin” in 2009-2010.
The New 52
“Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, January 2012
Unlike the other continuities above, I couldn’t find a clear “Lois meets Clark for the first time” meeting for the New 52, which somehow doesn’t surprise me. From what I can tell, the first interaction between Lois and Clark is in “Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, where Lois meets Clark and Jimmy at a diner. In this issue, Lois is meeting Clark under orders from the “Planet” to try to get Clark to come work there instead of at his then-current reporting job with the “Daily Star.” However, an earlier adventure has left Clark badly bruised. Lois’ first line to Clark in the New 52, upon seeing Clark? “Kent, you look like something a pig couldn’t hold down.” Clark’s response? “Duly charmed.”
Unlike other versions, Clark and Lois are just friends, with the two not dating or showing romantic interest in each other. Superman’s shown dating Wonder Woman (for ill-conceivedreasons), while Lois has someone else as her boyfriend.
That about sums up the major comic first meetings. Of course, there’s various other “first meetings” from other media, including the movies, TV shows, etc.
The Fab Four have appeared in or been referenced in various cartoons and comic books. Like the multitude of “(example) in cartoons” post before this one, I’ll list a few examples (of many) of the Beatles’ cartoon references…
The Simpsons has referenced the Beatles pretty often. Among other instances, the “Be-Sharps” episode’s a thorough parody of the Fab Four, while Marge was said to have been a big Beatles fan during her teen years. (I suppose it could still apply even with the show’s timeline sliding in newer episodes making Marge too young to have been alive in the 60s.) The living members of the group have even done guest voices.
I’ve written previously about this 60s Total Television produced series about a two-beagle rock band.
During the Silver Age, the Beatles were referenced in some DC stories:
“Batman” #222 from 1970 has the Dynamic Duo investigate the rumor of the death of one of the members of a Beatles-like rock group (similar to the “Paul is dead” rumors).
Thanks to sliding timelines, Clark Kent also enjoyed the Beatles during his teen years in several 80s Superboy stories.
The Beatles got referenced in the Marvel Universe as well. Most famously, the Fab Four attended the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in 1965′s “Fantastic Four” Annual #1. I’d assume with sliding timelines, it’s the “living former Beatles members” nowadays that attended.
A few latter episodes of the show’s run parodied the Beatles, through the lens of the show’s middle-aged writers. Several British Invasion-style rock groups were shown visiting Bedrock, including the “Way-Outs.” The second episode featuring hillbillies the Hatrocks, “The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes,” has the hayseeds note they “can’t stand ‘Bug music’!” (by a group called the “Four Insects”) while overstaying their welcome at the Flintstones’ house. Cue Fred and the gang dressing up in Beatle wigs and rigging a radio/telephone to play “Bug music.” This manages to drive the hicks back to “Arkanstone” (prehistoric Arkansas). Said “Bug music” is mostly heard as an off-key repetition of “yeah, yeah, yeah,” a la the Beatles song “She Loves You.”
This episode also managed to include another 60s entertainment trend, monster sitcom characters, via the Flintstones’ neighbors the Gruesomes appearing. A parody of Ed Sullivan himself would appear in another episode as “Ed Sulleystone.”
The 90s Warner Bros. series referenced the Beatles on occasion:
The “Tiny Toons” episode “Fields of Honey” had a flashback to Ed Sullivan’s show, where he dismisses Bosko (the “Talk-Ink Kid” of early Looney Tunes fame) when he sees Honey’s not with him. Ed notes “now all I’ve got are those mop-topped Liverpudlians.”
“Animaniacs” had an episode (“A Hard Day’s Warners”) parody the Beatles’ similar-titled movie.
“Pinky and the Brain” saw the episode “All You Need is Narf” parody the Beatles’ latter years and eventual breakup. Pretty hilarious, though slightly odd the mice saw (an ersatz) Walter Cronkite’s newscast while in India… per Wikipedia, India had TV by the mid-to-late 60s, but gather newscasts wouldn’t have been from the US (maybe from the BBC, if imported at all?).
The comic strip FoxTrot shows Andy nostalgically looking over some Beatles vinyl albums from her younger years—at least back when said “younger years” would’ve been during the 60s… yes, sliding timelines once more. This cued a “what are records?” comment from Jason, with Andy suddenly feeling less-young.
Word came last week that the “Man of Steel” sequel, which was supposed to be released in July 2015 (when it’d have gone mano a mano against the “Despicable Me” spinoff movie “Minions”), has been pushed back to May 6, 2016. On that date, it’ll directly face a still-unnamed Marvel movie.
I can see some reasons for pushing it back to 2016: a mid-2015 release for a big-budget superhero film still hammering out its script (or film’s official name) seems a stretch. There’s also the film being a mess at this point—a ton of announced characters (Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman), debate over who the villain(s) will be, what the film’s plot will even be about, etc. Plus, the heavy competition in 2015—besides the “Minions” movie, there’s also “Avengers 2″ and “Ant-Man” to contend with, plus the reboot of “The Terminator.”
The main flaw of a 2016 date is that it’ll be a three-year stretch between DC superhero films. Meanwhile, Marvel will be releasing “Avengers 2,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and a few other films, including “Ant-Man.” Marvel pretty much dominates the modern superhero box office scene at this point, with DC’s theatrical efforts currently riding on a single film (hence hauling in their favorite crutch, Batman, for the sequel). There’s also that it’s a sequel to, well, “Man of Steel,” in all its depressing, joyless tone. “Man of Steel” did well at the box office, but reaction to it by fans and the general public was decidedly mixed; it’s not (and never will be) a widely beloved film like the Reeve Superman movies. Hence Warner Bros.’ pulling-out-all-the-stops effort with the sequel. On top of all that, DC/Time-Warner also want a “Justice League” film (to cash in on “The Avengers” popularity), which at this point will probably be lucky to see a theatrical release before the end of the decade. Assuming superhero films are still a craze by that point, of course. And again, there’s no indication what the “unnamed” Marvel film will be, assuming Marvel doesn’t blink and change its release date.
Overall, I guess Time-Warner will need all the luck it can get. At least they have television, where they have a stronger presence than Marvel (“Arrow,” the upcoming “Flash” show, the multitude of Batman cartoons, etc.), though the recent news of Marvel producing shows for Netflix (plus a few for-regular-TV series) might change that…
The Complete Peanuts: 1991-1992 (vol. 21), on sale Apr. 5, $30
Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, vol. 2: 1961-1963, on sale Apr. 8, $50
On the heels of the Powerpuff Girls getting a comic comes an IDW-published book for “Dexter’s Laboratory,” albeit a miniseries rather than an ongoing.
The “Complete Peanuts” volumes are fully into the 90s by now, the final decade of “Peanuts” strips to collect. Meanwhile, Superman’s well into its newspaper strip‘s “Silver Age,” though since it ran until 1966, I assume there’ll just be one more volume left?
Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, vol. 2, $50
Pearls Falls Fast: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury, on sale March 18, $19
This month sees the first of a four-issue “Rocky and Bullwinkle” miniseries. The reason for the first Bullwinkle comic since the 80s (as the solicitation copy notes)? There’ll be a “Rocky and Bullwinkle” short released with the upcoming “Peabody and Sherman” movie. This series is being written by Mark Evanier, who also writes Boom Studios’ “Garfield” comic, and more famously, the long-running comic book “Groo the Wanderer.”
Here’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for March 2014. Full solicitations are available here.
Adventures of Superman #11, on sale March 26, $4 (digital first)
Batman ’66 #9, on sale March 19, $4 (digital first)
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #3, on sale March 5, $3 (digital first)
Batman: Li’l Gotham #12, on sale March 12, $3 (digital first) (final issue)
Astro City #10, on sale March 12, $4
Adventures of Superman, vol. 1, on sale April 16, $15
Sad news comes with this month seeing the final issue of “Li’l Gotham.” I enjoyed this digital comic’s run, and its creative use of the various holidays, including obscure or minor ones.
Meanwhile, “Scooby-Doo Team-Up” gives us the Scooby gang meeting… Bat-Mite, of all Batman characters. Guess we’re getting the full round of Silver Age Bat-characters in this title, a la “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” I assume this (and possible future issues) will answer the question on whether superpowered superheroes exist in Scooby’s world. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what Velma makes of Bat-Mite.
The 1990s X-Men series that aired on Fox was a lot of people’s first non-comics exposure to the popular mutant superheroes. The series used a lot of plot elements and characters from the comics. The series has been released to DVD.
I didn’t watch much of the short-lived 1990 CBS series when it first aired, but did see it in reruns on cable. The series featured Barry Allen as the Fastest Man Alive. The reason (and what killed it, besides its then-expensive special effects) was airing opposite mega-hit series “The Simpsons” and still-somewhat-popular “The Cosby Show.” The series is now available on DVD.
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Another popular Superman take, this series aired in the mid-90s on ABC, and was more focused on being a romantic comedy/adventure series (with superhero elements) than its action-oriented animated counterpart that also aired during this time (“Superman: The Animated Series”). Admit I preferred the cartoon over this series; additionally, “Lois & Clark” often aired opposite other shows I was watching, particularly “The Simpsons.” The series also ran out of steam toward the end of its run; Delta Burke starring as “The Wedding Destroyer” wasn’t a high point, nor was faking viewers out on its initial Lois-Clark wedding, which annoyed viewers and hurt the show’s popularity. Still, the show has a loyal following among many, and its theme song is quite memorable. (And no, I don’t know why they had Clark slick back his hair as Superman, but wear a spitcurl as Clark…)
The entire series is available on DVD.
The popular early 90s Disney series with the “terror that flapped in the night,” parodying various Batman (or 40s mystery-men) tropes. We even got the obligatory “World’s Finest” team-up with Duckburg’s “Superman,” Gizmoduck (from “DuckTales”). Part of the show’s run has been released to DVD.
Spider-Man (1994 TV series)
I enjoyed watching this Spidey series on Fox in the 90s. The theme song’s memorable (and very 90s). The theme even has one of the show’s tropes, seeing Spidey’s webline somehow get cut in half by the villains while he’s in mid-swing.
This one’s also available on DVD.
Another show I watched while in college oh-so-many years ago, as weird as it was…and short-lived. Kids WB’s execs in the 90s ultimately proved they wanted “Pokemon,” not this or other series of similar appeal, such as “Animaniacs.” Like “Animaniacs,” the opening theme for “Freakazoid” is fun. (“He’s here to save the nation, so stay tuned to this station…if not, we’ll be unemployed” indeed…)
The entire series is at least available on DVD.
Superman: The Animated Series
The fun 1990s Superman animated series featured Dana Delaney as Lois and Tim Daly as Superman. The show also brought various elements from the comics to TV, including Gilbert Gottfried voicing Mr. Mxyzptlk (Mxy in this series was in his Golden Age/Earth-2 purple tuxedo version). Various DC heroes also guest-starred, including the Flash (Wally West, in a “Superman/Flash” race of course) and Aquaman. The opening theme music is nice, even though for some reason the opening on-screen action is just clips from various episodes.
The New Batman/Superman Adventures
A rare example of a post-80s anthology series, this show (running from 1997-2000 on Kids WB) was just combined episodes of “Superman: The Animated Series” and “The New Batman Adventures,” the latter a followup to “Batman: The Animated Series,” but animated in a style more similar to Superman’s show. TNBSA featured its own opening title sequence that’s nicely done.
As far as I know, this opening’s never been included on any home video releases; DVDs give the Batman episodes for this series the “Batman: The Animated Series” opening.
Airing on Kids WB from 1999 to 2001, “Batman Beyond” (or “Batman of the Future” as it was called in some countries) featured the adventures of a teenaged protege of the elderly, now-retired Bruce Wayne of 40 years in the future. The opening, however, might possibly scream “the 90s” more than any other opening listed here. Not sure if teens will be getting down to the techno beat (as one part of the opening shows) come circa-2040… that’d be their parents’ (or even grandparents’) music!
Moving on down the list, here’s my favorite superhero TV show/movie openings for the 1980s. By this point, the rise of first-run syndication meant a way around networks’ strict bans on violence, plus deregulation of children’s TV standards led to a wave of half-hour toy ad-like shows (“He-Man,” “Transformers,” “My Little Pony,” etc.).
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Spidey had gone through a few previous TV shows (both live-action and animated) in the late 70s and early 80s, but this one’s probably the most fondly remembered. At least it is by my sister and I, and other people as well; I’ve seen people at C2E2 dressed up as Firestar, and even the villain Video Man.
The entire series was released to DVD in the United Kingdom, but no sign of a North American release anytime soon.
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
The revival of Mighty Mouse helped kick off the start of the more modern style of TV animation writing. My favorite episodes: the return of the Mighty Heroes; the Saturday morning cartoon parody episode (“The Jetstones,” heh); and “Elway and the Tree Weasels” (Alvin and the Chipmunks parodies).
The entire series has been released to DVD as a box set.
Superman gained a new stand-alone series in the late 80s, which partially reflected the then-just-revised post-Crisis Byrne version (no Superboy, Krypto, or such on this series), though some older elements still remained (he had his powers since arriving on Earth, for instance). Still, the opening channeled the Christopher Reeve Superman movies’ theme music, as well as Gary Owens (of Space Ghost fame) doing part of the 50s TV show’s opening narration (“faster than a speeding bullet…”)
The entire series was released as a DVD set in 2009.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
One of my favorite openings of this decade is the Ninja Turtles’ theme song. Latter spinoffs’ versions aren’t as catchy, plus the 2000s series’ excessive use of “shell” as an euphemism for “hell” turns up in its theme song—”it’s a shell of a town”? Um, no.
The original 1987 series has been released to DVD by this point, as has various latter spinoffs.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
I had my doubts about including “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” the 80s Filmation series that was a half-hour toy ad, but liked by my childhood self all the same. While I’d consider it “sword and sorcery lite meets sci-fi” rather than a straightforward superhero series, others on Twitter claimed that its use of a few superhero elements should make it count: namely, He-Man having a secret identity as mild-mannered Prince Adam, plus the Captain Marvel-like transformation sequence into He-Man. So for others’ sake, I’ll throw He-Man in. I’ll note He-Man did meet Superman in an early 80s story, where the Man of Steel crosses over from Earth-1 into Eternia’s dimension.
The entire series has been released to DVD.
Batman (1989 movie)
The classic 1989 Michael Keaton film that marked the first widespread media appearance of the modern, darker Batman. For awhile, the opening music seemed to become strongly associated with Batman, at least until “Batman: The Animated Series” and its classic opening came along.
As a companion to my previous “top 10 superhero TV show or movie openings” post, I thought I’d list my various runners-up. Since there’s a lot to choose from, especially for the 60s and 90s, I’m breaking this up into separate posts. Since there isn’t much from the 40s or 50s I could think of to use, I’m starting with the 60s. However, Golden Age radio fans might note the opening for “The Adventures of Superman” radio show.
Total Television’s most successful show, Underdog ran for nine seasons on NBC and CBS Saturday mornings, though the latter half of that run was reruns. A childhood favorite of mine, Underdog had a pretty good theme song (one that was covered for a 90s Saturday morning theme song cover CD by the Butthole Surfers, also worth listening). The show also had a few alternate openings other than the one below (one with a giant, another with villainous mobster Riff Raff).
Underdog’s alter-ego was a shoeshine boy named, well, “Shoeshine Boy.” Appearing in most episodes was his love interest, TV reporter Sweet Polly Purebred (a fellow beagle). While the name of Underdog’s home city wasn’t reveled, Polly’s TV station was named “TTV,” sometimes with the call sign “WTTV”—which would make it Indianapolis (per the real-life TV station there).
The entire series has been released to DVD as a complete box set, as well as several compilation DVDs.
Aquaman starred in his own half-hour TV show in the late 1960s. Animated by Filmation, the show featured the Sea King engaged against various undersea threats, ranging from a version of Starro (similar to the one on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”) to lava men. Aquaman’s theme song is also classic; “SpongeBob SquarePants”‘s first episode to feature Aquaman parody Mermaid Man has a parody of Aquaman’s opening titles (down to the look of the logo).
The entire series was released to DVD a few years ago.
The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Aquaman’s solo show initially appeared as part of the 1967-68 season’s anthology series “The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure,” where he co-starred with the Man of Steel. Yes, Aquaman detractors, Aquaman was considered that big a deal in the 60s; interest in the oceans was quite prominent back then (the then-fairly-recent invention of modern Scuba gear, Jacques Cousteau, various sea-based TV shows, etc.), plus people actually enjoyed the outdoors more…thus a sea-based superhero would’ve had great appeal. (The Sea King’s Marvel counterpart, Namor the Sub-Mariner, also had his own cartoon.) While I can’t say much for the opening animation, the theme song’s pretty catchy. The show also marks the animation debuts of many of the DC heroes, including the Atom, Green Lantern, the Teen Titans, and Hawkman.
Comic fans, of course, will note the oddity of excluding Wonder Woman and Batman (Bruce’s animation debut came next year in his own series) from the “super-super-heroes” of the Justice League of America, despite that Wonder Girl appears as part of the Teen Titans (something Donna didn’t get in the 2000s “Teen Titans” series, though she appeared in its spinoff comic). I’d also note that despite being in the JLA’s opening, Aquaman never appeared in their segments—the JLA in this series consisted of: Superman; Green Lantern; the Flash; Hawkman; and the Atom.
The entire series’ non-Superman/Aquaman segments have been released to DVD. I wouldn’t mind seeing a new version of “Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure,” as both heroes could use the attention, plus we could use a DC cartoon that’s not Batman-related.
The space-based Hanna-Barbera series “Space Ghost and Dino Boy” debuted in 1966. Space Ghost was part of the explosion of superheroes on TV during the mid-to-late 60s, and had a classic theme song of his own, plus was revived a few times—once in the early 80s as part of the “Space Stars” series, and again for Cartoon Network’s classic talk show “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.” He’s even teamed up with Batman (on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”)!
The entire original series has been released to DVD.
The Marvel superheroes first came to TV in the mid-60s. While Spidey’s own show is the most well-remembered of the bunch, several other Marvel heroes appeared in the syndicated TV show “The Marvel Super-Heroes,” debuting in 1966. The heroes included: Thor; Iron Man; the Hulk; the Sub-Mariner; and Captain America. The series was notoriously cheaply animated, taking panels from the original comics and animating them. Still, this is the first animated appearances for these characters.
The most remembered theme song from the series was Captain America’s; fans still make references to Cap throwing his “mighty shield” on occasion.
Parts of the series have been released to video (mostly as extras on DVDs, or overseas in PAL format), but there’s no complete set yet for North Americans/NTSC format.
Super Chicken appeared as a backup segment on the Jay Ward series “George of the Jungle.” Super Chicken was in reality Henry Cabot Henhouse III, a millionaire in the model of Bruce Wayne. When duty called, he’d swing into action by downing his special “super sauce,” transforming into Super Chicken. Accompanying Henry on his adventures was his sidekick/servant Fred, a dopey but loyal lion.
The entire series is available on the “George of the Jungle” DVD set.
The Mighty Heroes
Debuting in 1966, during the last season of the long-running anthology series “Mighty Mouse Playhouse,” the Mighty Heroes were a team of bumbling superheroes: Strong Man (a super-strong guy with a Southern accent; an auto mechanic in his civilian ID); Cuckoo Man (the least effective member of the team, living up to his name; a clock shop owner in his alter-ego); Tornado Man (Red Tornado-like wind powers; a meteorologist in his everyday life); Rope Man (his entire body’s made of rope; a sailor in his alter-ego); and Diaper Man (a talking toddler with some strength/invulnerability powers, whose “costume” is just a diaper, his bottle, and his blanket as a cape; his alter ego’s, well, a toddler). All five of the Heroes could fly (Cuckoo Man rather clumsily).
The 80s series “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse” revealed they had subsequently retired during the intervening 20 years, opening the accounting firm of “Man, Man, Man, Man, and Man,” with the entire team now well into middle age (and Diaper Man now an adult). While this appearance is on DVD (on the “New Adventures of Mighty Mouse” set), their original shorts aren’t on video.
Atom Ant debuted in 1965 as part of “The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show,” later broken up into two separate programs. Atom was a super-powered four-limbed ant, possessing the standard Superman-like powers (flight, super-speed, invulnerability, and super-strength). His headquarters was in an anthill outside of the unnamed city he protected. Atom’s battle cry was “up and at ‘em, Atom Ant!”
Atom’s backup segments on his own half-hour of the show (and stand-alone half-hour series) were the Hillbilly Bears (what the title says) and Precious Pupp (a sweet elderly lady and her mischievous dog, a prototype for Hanna-Barbera’s more famous sneaky dog, Muttley).
Atom Ant’s show has yet to be released to DVD, though the “Saturday Morning Cartoons” DVD compilations released a few episodes.
Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles
Debuting on CBS in 1966 and running two seasons, “Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles” featured two segments: Frankenstein Jr. (a giant robot commanded by a genius boy scientist, similar to the Japanese anime “Gigantor”), and the Impossibles. The Impossibles were a team of superheroes who also performed as a popular rock group of the same name. The heroes’ names were: Fluid Man (the ability to turn into liquid); Coil Man (the ability to extend his limbs in a spring-like manner); and Multi-Man (the ability to create multiple copies of himself).
The Impossibles’ enemies included the Bubbler, a villain whose shtick was using bubble-based weaponry. The Bubbler, from what one can tell of his physical appearance, might be one of the earliest non-stereotyped African-American animated characters to appear on US television (his race isn’t commented on during the episode; he’s just another bad guy to the Impossibles). Similar to another villain created around the same time, Black Manta, the Bubbler’s hideout was ocean-based (underwater, particularly), and he made use of sea creatures to help fight the Impossibles.
Hanna-Barbera later recycled the Impossibles’ powers/costumes for another group of African-American animation stars, the Harlem Globetrotters, in the late 70s series “Super Globetrotters.”
The entire series is available as a DVD box set via the Warner Archive.