Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Justice League: Secret Origins I

Justice League: Secret Origins I 
[Season 1 – Episode 1]

Humans have finally set foot on Mars, and what starts as a scientific mission, soon becomes one of the worst menaces Earth has ever faced, when the explorers accidentally unleash a great evil hidden deep within the red planet.

Cut to two years later in Metropolis, where Batman follows the trail of a group of scientists. The situation quickly gets out of control when the individuals start displaying inhuman abilities, and not even with the help of Superman, can the Dark Knight prevent the mysterious beings from making their escape.

     

While this is happening, public opinion is divided regarding Superman's offer to help more aggressively with peace efforts, and even fellow heroes like Flash believe the Man of Steel can't save everyone.

Things escalate when Superman finds Batman unconscious after being attacked by the same beings they fought before, and Metropolis becomes ground zero for an alien onslaught. To make everything worse, Superman is subject to painful mental attacks by an unknown party.

     

Far away, on a remote island, Queen Hippolyta and her daughter Diana argue about the coming darkness that threatens the world. While the Princess feels they should do something to help humanity, the Queen decides that no action shall be taken, and that the gods will keep their home island safe.

The World's Finest duo tracks the source of the attacks on Superman's mind: it's an alien form that has been held captive in a high-security facility; this was not an attack, but a psychic cry for help. The alien's name is J'onn J'onzz, a shape-shifter who is trying to prevent a global-scale invasion of Earth by beings from another world.

     

Superman and Batman free J'onn from his prison, but when they leave the facility to alert everyone, they are surrounded by the military, in actuality, an army of aliens posing as humans. The invasion has begun!

To be continued…

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Show: Captain America (1966)

“Captain America” was part of the Canadian-American produced animated television show “The Marvel Super Heroes” that originally ran from September to December of 1966. Cap’s cartoons aired on Mondays as a 30-minute program with three segments of seven minutes each, and told the adventures of Steve Rogers during World War II and also during "modern" times after he was awaken from his decades-long slumber under the ice.

Captain America Title Card

Grantray-Lawrence Animation was the studio that produced the 39 segments in 13 episodes.  Using images taken from the actual comic books via Xerography, the artists later gave the cels a limited animation treatment, such as movement of lips, eyes, and extremities.

“Captain America” featured not only the star-spangled hero, but also his sidekick Bucky, and later on, several members of the Mighty Avengers. The super-villain line-up included among others Baron Zemo, the Adaptoid, the Melter, and of course, Red Skull.

Captain America and Bucky celebrate their first victory as a team

This low-budget production is oftentimes subject to criticism, and even made fun of, especially when compared to today’s animation and modern storytelling style. Despite this, none of the shows ever since have been able to capture the essence of the comic books they were based on in such a pure manner.

Of the five "Marvel Super Heroes" shows, my favorite is definitely "Captain America," not only because it was the most charged with emotion, drama, and action, but also because it frequently featured the Avengers, and had the catchiest theme song ever... a topic that deserves its own blog entry.

Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty

Friday, July 26, 2013

Super Cartoons: Introduction

Saturday mornings, the best part of the week. Even before I discovered the comic books that would eventually become my obsession, the earliest memory I have of superheroes is that of Saturday morning cartoons. It was 1980, but even today there are two sounds that are still vivid in my mind from those innocent times: the starry scene transition accompanied by "Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice," and the morphing "Wonder Twin powers: activate!" fist bump effect. That's right, SuperFriends was my first exposure to characters and stories I would cherish for the rest of my life.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice...

A couple of years later, I would be introduced to Spider Man and his Amazing Friends, which opened a whole new universe for me; the Marvel heroes were the competition to DC's SuperFriends, but I quickly found them just as fun and charming. As time passed, re-runs of older shows from the 70's and even the late 60's expanded my fascination for superheroes, until inevitably I came across comic books, and the rest is history.

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends

Then came the 90's, and with them the birth of the DC Animated Universe and the explosion of Marvel TV shows that X-Men ignited and has not stopped since. These newer shows were less campy than their predecessors, and characterization became a huge ingredient of the productions, just like it happened in comic books.


Superheroes not only protect those in need, save the helpless, and fight the evildoers; they transport us to worlds beyond reality, and immerse us in adventures that deep inside we all wish we could be a part of. This blog is a homage to the hundreds and hundreds of tales the art of animation has given us over the decades starring the characters of DC and Marvel. Amazing, fantastic, legendary, world's greatest or mightiest; whatever we want to call them, Superheroes rule!