Here it is just as promised the second half of the Top 10 Cartoons of the 1990s. But before I get started I would like to thank all of you who took the time to read my first article and extend a special thanks to all of you who left favorable responses. I really do appreciate it. Now without further ado let up proceed to the countdown.
Having spent several decades as one of the most popular Marvel comic book series, it is surprising that our favorite team of mutants,
5. THE X-MEN
had to wait until the 1990s to get their own cartoon series, but at least when the finally got one it was done right!!! Like its comic book predecessor this program chronicled the adventures of uber psychic Professor Charles Xavier
and his super-powered team of mutant pupils. Although the teams membership was somewhat downsized from the comic book roster, many of the most popular fan favorites like Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Beast
were present along with some lesser knowns such as Gambit, Morph and a brand new character known as Jubilee.
Disappointingly, however, X-Men originals Ice Man and Angel were relegated to cameo appearances and in this version were not true members of the team. Other fan favorites such as Colossus and Nightcrawler were given similar treatment.
Despite this one flaw, however, the show never failed to deliver because many of the most popular comic book story lines were preserved in this venue most notably the Teams epic struggle with Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants.
Despite their political differences which unavoidably led to conflict, the struggle was superimposed over a long standing friendship and mutual respect between Magneto and Professor Xavier, thus adding complexity to the story taking it beyond the dyad of clear cut good vs. clear cut evil. Other comic carry over storylines included the rise of Apocalypse, as well as the teams struggles with Lady Deathstrike and Xaviers wayward step brother Juggernaut
and even an excellent if abridged version of the popular Phoenix Saga.
In retrospect I would have to say that the most refreshing touch was the masterful handling of the rivalry between Cyclops and Wolverine which, unlike the movie trilogy, was presented in a way that allowed us to feel sympathetic toward both characters. X-Men was the first Superhero cartoon to abandon the campy tone and actually metaphorically take on relevant social issues, a pioneering accomplishment that would lead to many others of its kind.
The next show in the count down also featured superheroes but presented a very different take on the subject. The sworn protector of a metropolitan area know only as The City
4. THE TICK
crashes in at number four on the countdown.
This show featured a big blue lummox who was all heart and no brains as he bumbled his way into thwarting the best laid plans of super villains such a Chairface Chippendale, El Seed and the irrepressible Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight (yah baby, evil is good!); and always had a darned good time doing it.
As this good natured oaf bounded along the rooftops patrolling The City, always at his side was his faithful sidekick, Arthur, who while not being much of a physical specimen, often filled in where Tick was lacking the brains department.
Whenever Tick and Arthur were in need of a little extra help thet needed only stop by The Cafe where they could find an array of incompetent and mostly unpowered but all too willing superheroes that answered the question, What if those nerds who worship superheroes actually tried to become them? Most notable were the cowardly Di Fledermaus, the pungent fish out of water, Sewer Urchin and the always off the mark Human Bullet (Fire me Boy!!!!). In addition the duo was frequently joined by American Maid (a parody of Wonder Woman) who amazingly was the only superhero in The City who had the full package of brains and physical prowess, but was sometime distracted by arguments with her apparent ex Di Fledermaus.
Whether he be hanging ten for justice of going sane in a crazy world the Tick has stood the test of time as one of the most memorable heroes of the 1990s. So I guess there's nothing left to say but SPOOOOOONNNNNNNN!!!!!! (Cmon you didnt actually think I was going to get through the blurb without saying it did you?).
Although Warner Bros. has produced a wide variety of cartoons over the years in 1993 they decided to return to their roots of zany humor and slapstick comedy with the true heirs to the original Loony Toons,
Much like Loony Toons, Animaniacs offered an array of fresh new characters who through their own unique style carried on many of the traditions of Bugs, Daffy and the gang. Much like Bugs Bunny, Yakko Warner had a talent for tormenting his would be adversaries by making them the butt of various puns and site gags.
Of course no one toon could fill the shoes of The Bunny on his own so Yakko brought his chowhound brother, Wakko and ultra cute sister Dot, each of whom was equally adept at mischief making, along for the fun.
While the sibs antics were often focused on Warner Bros CEO Thaddeus Plots and Studio P-sychiatrist Otto Scratchensniff,
they also turned their attentions to mythical figures from the Grim Reaper to Satan himself,
as well as many recognizable historical figures. In the latter case, however, they ultimately ended up lending a helping hand with such acts as helping Beethoven write his 5th Symphony, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel and Abraham Lincoln to write his Gettysburg Address. Animanics also offered several other cartoon shorts staring equally endearing characters including Buttons the dog who much like Sylvester the cat and Wile E. Coyote spend his life in perilous pursuit, though his intentions toward Mindy were much more noble. Also included were Chicken Boo, and giant Chicken who just wanted to fit in, three wise guy pigeons and an aging classic cartoon diva Slappy Squirrel. The show even offered a touch of culture with the show tune singing Rita and Runt.
There is of course one more character that this blurb just would not be complete without mentioning so here goes, HELLLLLOOOOOO NURSE!!!!
After years of staring in campy storylines present in live action and cartoon venues alike, finally in Warner Bros.
2. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
The Dark Knight could be experienced on the small screen as the dark, brooding hero that he was always meant to be. Many other familiar characters from the Batman mythos were masterfully brought to life in this series including popular enemies such as Penguin, Riddler, Two Face, Catwoman, Bane and of course everybodys favorite clown Prince of Crime The Joker.
Also present was a revamped version of Robin
who unlike his previous sycophantic TV incarnations acted independently and even expressed his grievances with the Dark Knight.
Despite the occasional butting of heads, however, the close father/son relationship that existed between these two kindred spirits was more than evident in the storylines. This program also ventured into areas of the Batman saga what had not previously been explored in the TV venues as later in the series (after it was renamed -The New Adventures of Batman and Robin- Dick Greyson left Batman's side and took on his second alter ego as Nightwing. Also for the first time in this series a hero other than Dick Greyson took on the mantel of Batman's sidekick as DCs Robin #3, Tim Drake was introduced into the series.
And as if all this was not enough as an extra little treat the show introduced us to the girl who has become perhaps the most beloved on again off again villainess of the Batman mythos, Harley Quinn. Catwoman and Poison Ivy eat you hearts out here comes Harley.
Now are you ready to find out the number one pick for the best cartoon of the 90s. If so then too bad because as it turns out there was a tie for second place. So what cartoon is it that could possibly stand toe to toe with Batman? Well I would say this group of crime fighters is certainly worthy as they have much in common with the Dark Knight. For example like Batman they are also dark, Gothic individuals who serve as self appointed protectors of the city and do the majority of their work after sundown. However, unlike Batman who spends his days as a mover and shaker posing as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, these heroes spend their days silent and still as stone, mainly because that exactly what the
are. Perhaps the most unique animated show of the 1990s this program departed from the traditional hero and presented a group of beasts from medieval times. As it is the nature of Gargoyles to be protectors a clan of Gargoyles had agreed to protect the castle of a Scottish Lord and all who dwelled within. However, in the year 994 the Gargoyles are betrayed by the humans they swore to protect and put into a stone sleep which ultimately leads to the demise of all but six of their number. 1000 years later the Gargoyles wake in the year 1994 where the show focuses on these six heroic Gargoyles as they attempt to find their place in the modern world and re-evaluate their relationship with humanity. After exploring the modern world a bit the Clan leader Goliath along with his mentor, Hudson,
Three adolescent warriors, Brooklyn, Broadway and Lexington
and the clans pet Gargoyle-Beast, Bronx
begins to regain his trust in human beings and little by little befriends more and more of them and even forms a quasi-romantic relationship with police detective Alisa Maza However, a seventh member of clan, Demona, has also survived into the 20th and she has other ideas as she decides that humans are untrustworthy and that the entire race should suffer for the crimes of the few of betrayed her clan.
Of course no article on the Gargoyles would be complete without giving mention to one of the most intriguing cartoon villains of them all, David Xanatos
this frequent foe and occasional ally to the Gargoyles is obsessed with immortality. While he is unscrupulous in methods of attaining this goal he also shows a great deal of honor and respect for his enemies. He is responsible for reviving the Clan and generally supports their right to exist so long as they don't interfere with his plans. Unfortunately Xanatos is not above harming others to get what he wants and this of course gets the attention of the protective Gargoyles, thus he often find himself at odds with them.
This show contained many relevant morals mostly pertaining to tolerance and even embracement of those who are different from ourselves, as was illustrated by the various relationships that form between human and Gargoyle.
The show also presents a strong messege against prejudice which is illustrated through the Gargoyles decision that despite the betrayal by a few, humanity is on a whole is still worth embracing and protecting and teaches us that a few bad apples do not necessarily spoil the bushel These morals are counterbalanced by Demonas position thus elucidating the folly that comes with refusal to abide by these ideals.
And now, drum roll please, it is time for the #1 Cartoon of the 1990s and the award goes to the ol Wall Crawler himself,
1. SPIDERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Much like Batman, Spiderman had finally escaped from the campy presentations so prevalent in the 1960s through1980s and could finally be experienced on the small screen as he was always intended. In part the show focused on the Adventures of Spiderman in his ongoing crusade to take down Wilson Fisk the nefarious King Pin of Crime.
Along the way he also encountered many other popular rouges including, Doc Ock, Scorpion, Mysterio, The Lizard, Shocker and Goblins of all sorts be they Green or Hob.
Moreover, making their cartoon debut were two of Spidermans more recent nemesis the sensational symbiots Venom and Carnage.
Lucky for Spidey, however, he very rarely had to do it alone. Throughout the series he was frequently aided by some well known Marvel heroes such as Captain America, Dare Devil, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, and even a cross over with the X-Men. In addition some for Marvels lesser known heroes including, Dr. Strange, Blade, Black Cat and the Punisher also showed up to lend a hand. Taken all together this became so much more that a show a bout Spiderman as it evolved into a microcosm of the entire Marvel Universe. In addition to Spidys crime fighting adventures the show also focused on Peter Parkers as he struggled with everyday problems such as caring for his aging Aunt May
studying for his exams, looking out for his socially inept best friend, Harry
dealing with his ever grumpy and cynical boss J. Jonah Jameson
and romancing his future wife Mary Jane Watson. So it you are a fan of the Web Slinger then with this cartoon you had better face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.
Thank You for tuning in to the exciting conclusion of The Top 10 1990s cartoons. Before we sign off lets have a recap;
10. Goof Troop
8. Bobbys World
7. Pinky and The Brain
6. Darkwing Duck
5. The X-Men
4. The Tick
2. Tie: Batman TAS/Gargoyles
1. Spiderman TAS
Perhaps your favorite was not here. Perhaps there are some that belong on this list that I over looked. But despite this I hope the point was clear that animated programming did not die after the 1980s but continued well into the 1990s. It is even present today if you take the time to look for it but thats another article all together.