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The Top Seven Superhero Cartoons of All Time

Written by Christian Hoffer on Friday, November 11 2011 and posted in Features

The Outhousers voted and picked out the top superhero cartoons of all time!  Which ones made the cut?  Click and find out!

Since the new Green Lantern animated series is debuting this evening (at 7 PM on the Cartoon Network), we thought it would be best to take a look back at the finest superhero cartoons over the last fifty years.

We asked our vibrant forum community to pick out their favorite superhero cartoons of all time. Over fifty different cartoons were named by our forum, who then narrowed it down to these seven:

5. (tie) X-Men: The Animated Series

xmenanimated"X-Men The Animated Series gets on the list because it got my friends and I interested in the X-Men and that got me (not my friends) into the comic buying business as a young adult. The show doesn't hold up as well as some of the other cartoons but I'll always have a soft spot for the show." – SuperginraiX

"Not only did it start the trend of marvel cartoons on Fox, but it did a good job of adapting various stories from the comics into the show. Plus its what got me into reading comics." – e_galston

X-Men: The Animated Series is the longest running Marvel series and was many of the newest generation of comic book readers' first exposure to Marvel's many mutants. Largely faithful to the source material and featuring a wide cast of X-characters, the show covered every aspect of the X-Universe, from the school at Westchester to Madripoor to Genosha.

5. (tie) G.I. Joe: Real American Hero

gijoe"The stories told in these episodes, while simplistic in some aspects, perfectly embodied the essence of comics at the time. In "There's No Place Like Springfield," a two parter, Shipwreck falls overboard during a sea battle only to wake up from a coma years in the future to a world where G.I. Joe has defeated Cobra. Things are not what they seem though, as the whole suburban town he is living in is a construct of Cobra, just days after Shipwreck was lost at sea, and his aged ex-comrades are artificial constructs called Synthoids that melt away into gray goo when they fail to extract a secret formula from Shipwreck in a psychadelic car wash / brainwashing chamber. In another two-parter, "Worlds Without End," some Joes find their way into an alternate dimension where many of the Joes are dead, but a rogue branch of Cobra led by the Baronness has split off to fight against Cobra's domination. At the end of the episode, a few of the Joes decide to stay behind and help the rebellion instead of returning to their world. These and many other episodes could easily have fit into an issue of Avengers or Chris Claremont's X-Men, and I personally still remember them as being relative complex and mature stories for their time." – Jude Terror

Made in 1985, this show was spurred on by the popularity of a commercial for the G.I. Joe series being released by Marvel at the time. The series ran for ninety-five episodes over two seasons and pushed the G.I Joes into a ridiculous level of popularity that still lingers today.

5. (tie) The Tick

tick-graphicThe Tick was a parody comic book series that mocked many of the motifs and tropes in the genre. Originally created as a mascot for a New England comic book store, the series eventually made its way to Saturday morning cartoons through the Fox Kids television block. Children and adults alike were delighted by the Tick's lampooning actions and the show ran for three years alongside other mainstream superheroes such as the X-Men and Spider-Man. The show eventually found its way to cable, where it became a cult hit on Comedy Central and was reimagined as a live-action television show in 2001, starring Patrick Warburton.

3. (tie) Superman: The Animated Series

supermananimated"The trinity of Burnett/Dini/Timm struck gold again with this show based on the most powerful member of the Justice League. This series also introduced us to Lex Luthor (voiced by the powerful Clancy Brown) and Lois Lane (voiced by Dana Delany). The show also crossed over into the Batman universe with World's Finest, Knight Time and The Demon Reborn. It also introduced us to: Lobo, The Legion, Supergirl, Toyman, Parasite, Brainiac and Darkseid (voiced by the great Michael Ironside)." -GOSD

The first of three "Timm-verse" DC series to appear on this list, this Superman animated series focused on a timeless version of Superman and his supporting cast. Many aspects of the show have found its way into the comic book, from villains Live Wire to Brainiac's (possible) involvement with the destruction of Krypton. The show also gave fans one of the best depictions of Darkseid ever to grace any entertainment media.

3. (tie) Spectacular Spider-Man

spectacular-spiderman-animated-1"This series was amazing and spectacular for reasons similar to the Max Fleischer's Superman - it captured the essence and spirit of the characters and concepts. It transcended what appeared to be over simplified designs to a wonderful adaption with stories and dialogue that gelled with the art style to give us THE Spider-Man adaption. It was even better, I say, then the movies. Plus, like Justice League Unlimited, it gave us a little something new to enjoy along the way." – Cat Scratch

As mentioned above, this series is the finest adaptation of Spider-Man to date. Using a teenaged Spider-Man, the series gave just as much emphasis to Peter Parker's life as it did Spider-Man's high-flying antics. It also used liberal amounts of foreshadowing to hint at upcoming plotlines. Many of the show's villains appeared in minor roles before turning into their evil counterpart. The show was tragically cancelled after two years, supposedly to make room for the new Ultimate Spider-Man series

2) Justice League/Justice League Unlimited

jlu"I chose this series as it ultimately covered so much of the DCU and did it well while giving something a little different. I also loved it as it showed how the League should be handled, as it had been originally but later forgotten by DC Comics. Also, the small talk between the characters stepped it up from being just a remake of a Saturday morning cartoon that could have called "The Super Friends"." – Cat-Scratch

The Justice League cartoon was the culmination of almost a decade's worth of cartoons helmed by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and was the first television appearance for many of DC's superheroes. Although the series originally focused on a modified version of the "Big Seven" lineup, the series eventually expanded to include almost all of DC's superheroes, with heroes such as Booster Gold, Hawk and Dove and the Question all being given significant camera time.   The show really soared under the pen of the late Dwayne McDuffie, who wrote many of the show's finest episodes.

1)   Batman: The Animated Series

batmananimated"Sometimes called "The one that started it all", this series has been voted the #1 greatest cartoon series of all time more times than I can count. It featured a more serious, darker and complex interpretion of the "World's Greatest Detective." Batman (voiced by the brilliant Kevin Conroy):TAS introduced us to the greatest cast of villians in comics history. Scarecrow, Scarface, Two-Face, Penguin, Riddler, Ra's Al Ghul, Bane, Mr. Freeze and the Joker (voiced by the multi-talented Mark Hamill). Some of my favorites are: The Demon's Quest, Riddler's Reform, Over the Edge, the fantastic Old Wounds and the incredible Mad Love. This show spawned the legendary trinity of Burnett/Timm/Dini." - GOSD

What hasn't been said about Batman: The Animated Series? The show popularized a timeless Batman that defines the character more than four movies, a television show or even many of the comics. The show provided the definitive voices to both the Batman and the Joker in Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. The show started the DC animated universe that spawned multiple spin-offs, including Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, the Zeta Project and Justice League.   Many consider Batman: The Animated Series to be the finest cartoon of all time and has had as much of an impact on Batman as over eighty years of comics.

So which shows do you feel should have made the cut?  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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