Troy and Sakie join us this week to talk about comic book cartoons in the wake of some huge announcements in the Marvel animated universe!
VS.! is a new column on The Outhouse that takes one trending topic, two comic book fans, and six statements about that topic, throws them all together, and finds out how everyone really feels!
The rules are simple. Your host, intrepid reporter Jude Terror, will make six statements about the topic of the day. Each participant will answer whether they believe the statement to be true or false, and explain why. The first participant will speak first on the first three statements, last for the last three.
At the end, we will tally up the number of times the participants agreed with each other. Then we will take it to the forums, where everyone will get a chance to chime in.
Well hello there! This is VS.!, and I'm your lovable live-action host, Jude Terror!
With the cancellation of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes confirmed this week, comic book cartoons have been on everyone's minds and tongues (gross!), and when a topic is hot, you know VS.! will be there to exploit it for unique hits!
Joining us this week are Troy and Sakie, two respected members of our community here at The Outhouse. These two have a lot in common aside from membership at one of the most exclusive clubs on the internet, as you'll see below. Troy has been with us for years under various handles (most recently Tee-Roy'd), and can most commonly be found in The Outhouse's long-running wrestling thread, where he shamefully supports John Cena. Sakie is a wrasslin' fan as well, and also an Outhouse Drafter like Troy, and, though he only joined us here about a year ago, he first became acquainted with our band of online misfits back in the Oldrama days.
But I didn't bring these two together so I could tell you about their posting histories. I brought them here to talk about Marvel and DC cartoons, so let's get down to business. I will make a statement, and our guests will tell us whether they think that statement is true or false, and why. Troy, being the elder statesman, will start off answering first, but midway through we'll switch and Sakie will go first. At the end, we'll see how many times our guests agree, and then you can all join in on the forum.
1. Without encouragement from parents who are fans of comics, superhero cartoons appeal to children.
Troy: Absolutely true! Young kids especially like things that are bright, colorful, fast, and flashy and those are all things that you can get in a comic book / superhero related cartoon. I know I heavily influence my own son because he of course is going to like whatever his dad likes. Most kids his age are like that. On the flip side though, I know other couples who have never read a comic book in their life and their children love comicbook / superhero cartoons. My own parents couldn't have cared less about comics or superheroes, and I have been watching cartoons about them for as long as I can remember.
Like I said, these types of cartoons are generally comprised of all the things that instantly appeal to children of young ages, especially if there are toys that go along with the shows they are watching. That, however is a whole other discussion, where children's programming at some points have become nothing but 30 minute commercials for a toy line. We'll leave that one alone for now.
Sakie: If its bright, flashy, and loud, more than likely it is going to draw the attention of a child. Like Troy, when I was a kid, my parents really were not interested in superheroes, comic books, and cartoons but they knew that they were important to me. They would often record cartoons onto VHS tapes for me if they knew that I wanted to watch them and couldn't for some reason, but it wasn't like they were actively encouraging me to delve deeper into the world of superheroes. I am willing to bet that the same can be said about a lot of the people who post on this board and / or visit your LCS on a regular basis.
There is something timeless about these characters, and it transcends the difference in our generations. Sure, we may have trouble getting kids to actually read comics books, but that has less to do with the genre itself than other factors. The fact is, kids want to see the cartoons and the movies almost as much as the adults who love these superheroes too.
2. It was a bad decision to cancel Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and Marvel animation and fans will suffer for it.
Troy: Two part question gets a two part answer: True and False. First, yes I think it was a bad decision to cancel Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes, because it is one of if not the best cartoons featuring Marvel characters to date. Period. Second, no I don't think we are going to suffer for its loss no matter how much it sucks that it's gone. The show will still be around on dvd and other places to watch it whenever we want to. Yeah, it will suck that there are no new episodes, but it's not like we can't watch the old ones anytime we choose. Also it's not like the show is being cancelled to not be replaced by another show.
Now we don't know how good or bad the new show may be, but with the success of the Avengers movie franchise, this new show will most likely not be the only new animated venture that Marvel undertakes in the next 5+ years. As long as the movie side keeps bringing in the bucks, I expect to get much more from the animated and television sides of Marvel. In a perfect world, A:EMH would continue for 10 more seasons, but, realistically, that isn't gonna happen, so, instead of being all upset about its cancellation, I am just going to remain hopeful and optimistic that there will be another show that's just as good to watch in the future, and, if there's not, I'll just pop the old one in the dvd player and enjoy it instead.
Verdict: True and False
Sakie: Realistically speaking, there are only so many times that you can "pop the old one in the dvd player and enjoy it" before that becomes boring. Yes, I think that canceling Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes was a mistake. The show was doing great. Characters who have never been seen off of the printed page of a comic book are having their chance to shine, and they are being exposed to fans who never would have known about them before.
Imagine how upset people would have been if Warner Bros. suddenly announced that they were canceling Justice League Unlimited back in 2006 to replace it with "Justice!" featuring the core 7 members of the league...and Cyborg. No, I am not trying to compare Cyborg to Falcon. I'm only pointing out how disappointing it would be to go from an unlimited roster down to 8. With Avengers: EMH, we have a great show that we enjoy and which could continue for multiple seasons, but, instead, we are being given an unknown. As Troy pointed out, we don't know if Avengers Assemble will be good or not, but we do know that Avengers Assemble will not have Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Ant Man, or the Wasp on the roster, and that bums me out. I enjoyed seeing other characters that were not commonly thought of as The Avengers shine.
Will this change cause Marvel or the fans to suffer? I doubt that Marvel will care one way or the other about the lack of team members, but I would bet that there are other fans out there who are going to be disappointed that some of the other Avengers didn't make the cut. That being said, I severely doubt that disappointment alone will be enough to drop ratings low enough to hurt Marvel. Although, if the show isn't very good, they probably won't get much support from burned fans either.
Bad secision to cancel Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes? True
Will it hurt Marvel or the fans? Probably not.
Verdict: True and False
3. Successful superhero cartoons will create a new generation of comic book fans.
Troy: This is the hardest of the questions to answer definitively for me. I would love to say it is absolutely true, but I am afraid I sadly have to say it is false.
I worked in a comic book shop for the better part of 4-5 years, and, over those 4-5 years, I saw fewer and fewer young kids who were new readers coming into the store. Most of the kids that were coming in were coming in to get cards for the various games that they played. Even when Marvel movies started coming out and being the successes that they are, there was little-to-no change in new readers of any age coming in to start buying comics. We mostly saw customers that were already reading comics just add the books about the characters they just saw in the movies to their pull lists.
I know my own son loves to read comic books, but, like I said, he is very heavily influenced by my own likes and dislikes. Right now, with the massive popularity of the Avengers world-wide, it is "cool" to be geeky and nerdy and love superheroes and all the things related to them, but who knows how long this "geek fad" is going to last? One bad movie could kill all the interest that the general public, including kids, have in the comic book / superhero industry.
Also, I think the price point for comic books is a very important factor when looking at what deters young kids and their parents from becoming new comic book fans. Most parents don't want to drop $3.99 on a comic book, and most kids would rather have a toy or video game instead of a book. So yeah, while I think comic book cartoons are a good way to introduce the medium to a younger audience, I don't believe it always ends up translating into creating a new generation of comic book fans.
Sakie: Like Troy, I also used to work in a comic book shop for about 4-5 years. If it was comic book related, I was in charge of it and I loved it. However, like Troy, I noticed that my regular customers were not children. Out of all of my subscribers, maybe 3 of them were kids. The success of cartoons didn't effect that and the success of the movies didn't either. Kids just have other things to spend their money on and occupy their time.
Plus, consider the fact that when we were children, most of us could go down the street to the neighborhood grocery or drug store to finds racks of comics. Today, most kids are lucky if they even have a shop that sells comics in the next town down the road, and why would their parents take them to those stores when one comic book costs the same amount of money as a gallon of the gasoline that it will take to get them there? It just isn't as easy to buy comics as it once was.
I don't really have a good answer for how the industry can start attracting kids as new readers, but, unfortunately, a few good cartoons just isn't it.
4. DC does animation better than Marvel.
Sakie: I don't think that there is any question that both DC and Marvel are capable of producing some high quality, entertaining animation. However, in September of 1992, DC changed the landscape of superhero cartoons and our expectations of them with a little known show called Batman: The Animated Series. The series proved to be so popular that concepts and ideas from the show began to sneak their way into the comics books, such as Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya, Poison Ivy's green skin pigment, and even Mr. Freeze's origin revolving around his desperate attempts to cure his beloved wife Nora.
However, DC didn't stop there. They expanded their shared animated universe by adding Superman: The Animated Series (1996), Batman Beyond (1999), Static Shock (2000), Justice League (2000), and Justice League Unlimited (2004). These shows showcased characters who had never been seen before off of the printed pages of a comic book, and they spawned movies to further their appeal. To this day, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is still considered to be one of the best Batman (not just animated) movies of ALL time, and Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill continue to reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker respectively in DC's video game universe. Sure, Marvel has attempted crossovers before but even their shared movie universe has never attempted anything of this scale.
Presently, DC and Marvel still try to outdo each other. Each company produces its own block of television. Young Justice and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes are arguably some of their finest offerings to date. Both shows have been praised for their innovative stories, the wide usage of well known and obscure characters, and their ability to connect with people of all age,s but I will ask you this; what is easier to market to the general public? A show featuring well known characters such as Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor or a show featuring a group of sidekicks such as Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash?
The verdict? No question. True.
Troy: This is a really easy one for me, and the answer is a definitive true. Marvel and DC have both put out some amazing animated series and movies to date, but DC has put out more superior work, where they take the edge in both quantity and quality. DC spanned the better part of a decade, from the beginning of Batman: The Animated Series to the end of Justice League Unlimited, with shows like Superman: The Animated Series and, yes, even Batman Beyond being tied directly in with this huge animated universe. At time's DC animated universe has been leaps and bounds better than anything they have published in their comic book line.
Marvel has just been getting its feet wet when it comes to putting out quality animated series and movies. Avenger: Earths Mightiest Heroes is their best to date, but shows like Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, over the past couple of years, have been very well received as well. Even some of their straight-to-dvd movies have done fairly well, but still don't really look all that great when compared to some of the ones DC has put out.
Marvel is the clear cut winner when it comes to live action comic book properties, but DC is easily the favorite when it comes to the animated properties.
5. Corporate backing from Warner Bros. and Disney hinders the creativity behind superhero cartoons.
Sakie: Lets be honest for a moment. If it wasn't for some form of corporate backing, a majority of the animated series that we have enjoyed probably wouldn't exist. If the creative teams behind Young Justice or Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes have suffered because of backing from Warner or Disney, then I haven't seen it so far. These shows are absolutely fantastic. Some animated series are great and others are duds, but, at the end of the day, this has more to do with the creative team behind the show than it does with the people who are writing the checks.
Troy: False. At least, I haven't see it yet. Young Justice and Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes are two of the best shows either company have ever produced, and I am gonna say their success has more to do with the backing of their respective parent companies than vice versa.
6. Superhero cartoons need to be targeted at both adults and children to be successful.
Sakie: This one is pretty simple. A superhero cartoon does not need to be marketed towards both adults and children to be successful. Look at Marvel's Super Hero Squad, for example. Despite being marketed towards children specifically, it was a success, lasting for 52 episodes which spanned 2 seasons and spawned a series of action figures and video games.
Now, that being said, I think that both Marvel and DC have come to realize that children are not the only ones who watch their animated programming. Shows such as Young Justice and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes are shows that can easily be marketed towards both children and adults. They feature likable characters, in exciting worlds, with complex stories.
However, the question is about whether or not superhero cartoons NEED to be targeted at BOTH adults and children to successful. While I don't think that you will find anybody out there who will argue that it wouldn't hurt, I don't think that it is something that is necessary.
Troy: False. They don't need to be, but it's better for everyone, I think, when they are. I think Disney knows this best from working with Pixar for so long. All of their movies, while primarily aimed at a younger audience, definitely have just the right mix of material in there for adults to make them happy as well.
I think that most everything that DC and Marvel have done so far with their animated projects are like that as well. Yeah, Super Hero Squad and Batman: The Brave and the Bold were really silly at some points, but there was enough there to keep them from being just outright stupid kids' shows.
Kids are also a lot smarter than a lot of people want to give them credit for, and dumbing down these shows for kids isn't always a good thing. I know my own son gets turned off by some of the overdone silliness that there can be sometimes. So no, they don't have to be aimed at both kids and adults, but I think they are better when they are.
Final Score: 6/6
An unprecedented level of consensus. Are we sure these two are even different people?! Tune in next week for more VS.!, and let us know what you think of the topics in the comments section below or in our forums!
Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror