Waking up on Saturday morning, finding the most sugary cereal in the cupboard and building a blanket-y nest in front of the TV. As a child in the 90’s that was the life. Flipping through channel by channel of fishing programs, cooking shows, Saved by the Bell reruns/knock-offs, and pre-k programming, to land on the favourite networks. On a good day you’d catch new episodes of Tiny Toons, or Animaniacs. For me, and the heavy comic book influences of my childhood, priority always went to superhero cartoons. Here are my top 10 favourites, in order of “I can’t miss this” or, what I would have watched if they were all on at the same time:
10. Superman: The Animated Series
A late player to my childhood regular programming. Superman came out in 1996, and featured the same iconic animation that has defined DC cartoons throughout the years. The pinnacle of this show was the Batman/Superman hour, which would include one or two episodes from each iconic animated series.
9. Captain Planet
“We’re the Planeteers, you can be one too. ‘Cause saving our planet is the thing to do. Looting and polluting is not the way. Hear what Captain Planet has to say… The power is yours!” Sometimes I think back and wonder if this show was for real. Oh yes, it happened, green mullet and everything.
8. Silver Surfer
Norrin Radd was always kind of enigmatic for me as a kid. Easily one of the coolest characters from comics, with the least amount of storylines or mainstream titles. There was also a giant Silver Surfer mural on the side of my local comic store.
Whenever I had an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the hero in action, you can be certain I was invested.
7. Fantastic Four
Along with the elusive Silver Surfer cartoon, there was also this unappreciated classic. Finding these shows on TV was a rarity, and I remember it being a wonderful little treat to catch an episode. For some reason the terrible theme song to this show has stuck with me throughout the years and often gets stuck in my head. Unfortunately, this show, along with every other attempt to bring the FF to life, ended with failure.
6. Darkwing Duck
“Let’s get dangerous!” Like a fine wine Darkwing Duck just got better and better with age. One of my fondest cartoon memories was when DW assembled a team of allies to take on a collection of his impressive rogue gallery. For a show that was meant as lighthearted and silly, it sure got serious. Seriously dangerous!
5. The Tick
Again, the longer this show aired, the bigger the supporting cast got, the better the show was. Satire has never been the same since this show was cancelled. The humour was what made this show great, but the surprisingly well-written storylines brought us back for more every week.
Nostalgic! This was my Spider-Man cartoon, and there have been many great ones, including the vintage Spidey that has spawned many memorable memes. However, this series never shied away from taking on any of the big Spider-Man storyline, and even attempted the Secret Wars. Which blew my mind as a child. Aside from every Spider-villain, this show had all the cameos from Iron Man, Daredevil, The X-Men, right on to Stan Lee himself!
This animated version of the X-Men has become one of the most iconic styles and line-ups in mutant history. Defining the X-Men for a generation by including relatively new comers like Jubilee and Gambit. Impressive that for a show with such a long run, with big storylines to small, there was not one bad episode of this wonderful cartoon.
2. Batman: The Animated Series
What can now only be described as a masterpiece, Batman: The Animated Series is probably the only cartoon on this list that is still watchable as an adult. Mark Hamill’s Joker is one of the greatest memories I have of cartoons, as well as the rest of Batman’s ultimate villain collection. This series was not afraid to try new things separate from it’s comic origins, giving us fresh stories and new villains like Harley Quinn, Lock-Up and Condiment King.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I vividly remember the day my brother called me to check out this new show, from that day forward the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my thing. 10 seasons of glorious ninjas in a half shell. From the toys, the movies, the cereal, the comics, this cartoon helped define my childhood. The lighthearted, pizza loving beginnings, to the much darker toned finish, there wasn’t an episode that I would miss, or wouldn’t watch over and over again. I was always jealous of Zach, who was the honorary fifth turtle, I felt like I was a much bigger super-fan.
Thanks booknerds, for the trip down memory lane.