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The 20 Best Superhero Animated Series, Part III

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True to form these days, as we are celebrating the greatest superhero cartoons, the hammer falls and the last two shows on the list that are still airing have been cancelled. Those are of course Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and an as yet unrevealed show on this list. It's a running theme with good shows, and even more so with great animated series given the sheer amount of series competing for airtime. Luckily, many of the series on this list have gone on for quite a few seasons in their respective runs, which bodes well as we make it to the top 10! READ: THE 20 BEST SUPERHERO ANIMATED SERIES, PART I READ: THE 20 BEST SUPERHERO ANIMATED SERIES, PART II I could keep talking about how much I love cartoons, and comics, and any mixture of the two, but I think we've established that fact by now. So let's just get to it! Oh, and fair warning, this pat of the list is a little Batman heavy. Because Batman is awesome.

True to form these days, as we are celebrating the greatest superhero cartoons, the hammer falls and the last two shows on the list that are still airing have been cancelled. Those are of course Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and an as yet unrevealed show on this list. It’s a running theme with good shows, and even more so with great animated series given the sheer amount of series competing for airtime. Luckily, many of the series on this list have gone on for quite a few seasons in their respective runs, which bodes well as we make it to the top 10!

READ: THE 20 BEST SUPERHERO ANIMATED SERIES, PART I
READ: THE 20 BEST SUPERHERO ANIMATED SERIES, PART II

I could keep talking about how much I love cartoons, and comics, and any mixture of the two, but I think we’ve established that fact by now. So let’s just get to it! Oh, and fair warning, this pat of the list is a little Batman heavy. Because Batman is awesome.

10) The Batman

The Dark Knight is a character who has had the good fortune to feature in a number of series, whether it was as the title character or part of a group. The Batman was the first series to premiere after one of the most well known portrayals of Batman (we’ll talk about that later) had finally moved off the air. At first glance it was a little hard to accept, with a new voice for Batman, new animation style, and new character designs. The new redone designs for the villains is what I think initially turned a few die hard fans of the series away, which is unfortunate. Set in the early days of Batman’s career, it stepped completely out of its predecessors shadow (I said we’ll talk about that later already, didn’t I?) and brought some new and interesting stories to the Batman mythology, while weaving a new history for the Dark Knight. Throughout the first couple of seasons the show developed a rich cast of supporting characters, and in the last few seasons it took on the task of introducing Batman’s extended family with the well handled additions of Batgirl and Robin. The series respected the source material without being afraid of experimenting with it, which led to some great stories and a great overall watch.

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The voice cast of the series was pretty important considering the amazing cast of the previously UN-mentioned series ( which I swear we will talk about later), and had a lot to live up too. As it was purposefully moving away from that era of Batman and into the next, the voice cast was changed considerably, and was very well done. Rino Ramona brought a new voice to the Dark Knight, and Kevin Michael Richardson does a great job of bringing this version of the Joker to life.  There was a nice array of big names attached as well, with Clancy Brown, Gina Gershon, Ron Perlman, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Englund and even Adam West all lending their voices.

09) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Chances are if you are a part of my generation, this show means a great deal to your childhood. I’m not talking about the newer version that came out after the millennium,  although that was still a decent series. This spot is totally dedicated to the late ’80s – early ’90s series that brought the Turtles into the mainstream, and created a fan following that retains a true love for the series to this day. While some of the animation and voice acting doesn’t quite live up to the memories when watched again, the pure nostalgia factor of the show is enough to make any grown man cry. Or just this grown man, I am a bit of a softie. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was just a ton of fun, and that opening theme song was spectacular. It should also be commended for taking a dark and incredibly different comic and turning it into a kid friendly romp that is far more remembered than the source material. Some might say that isn’t a great thing to be acknowledged for, but when it comes to TMNT I think most fans are thankful, Dude.

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The voice cast will always be remembered fondly, but after hearing it again at an older age it kind of blows your mind. For starters, the Shredder was voiced by James Avery AKA Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Yeah, I know. Mind blown. Some other cartoon heavy weights include Townsend Coleman, Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, and Barry Gordon. I know, you’re still thinking about Uncle Phil as the Shredder. That’s okay, you’re not alone.

08) Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Another Batman series that takes a unique stand and produces a great cartoon that is anything but what we were used too. Based off of the Silver Age version of the characters, the show teamed up Batman with another DC character for generally hilarious and original stories that were a half hour of awesome every week. Batman definitely took center stage, but the series also offered a place for some lesser known characters to take a little of the spotlight, like Plastic Man, Wildcat, Blue Beetle and the incredibly hilarious Aquaman, who was probably the funniest and most recurring character of the series. Setting the show in the Silver Age (for the most part) was a brilliant decision that opened up the series to a whole new fanbase while keeping long time fans happy.

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First and foremost, we have to talk about Diedrich Bader as Batman. Yes, Oz from The Drew Carey Show, who delivered an impressive and memorable Batman with just the right amount of humor to pull it off without being campy or unbelievable. It also featured a rotating cast of voices that included John Dimaggio, James Arnold Taylor, Will Friedle, Kevin Michael Richardson, and a ton of DC staples.

07) X-Men: TAS

This was the first of the ’90s era of Marvel cartoons, and was easily the best. And that’s just because of the theme song, which will get stuck in your head the minute you hear it again. Arguably one of the most faithful adaptation of the comics, X-Men: The Animated Series took its cue from the Jim Lee era that included flashy new ’90s costumes and a core team that appealed to a pretty wide audience. The cartoon featured a huge cast of characters, and some slick animation that pushed the limits of the technology at the time, producing some colorful and epic battle scenes, with a wide range of mutant powers and stories ripped straight from the original issues. Probably most well known for its telling of the Dark Phoenix saga, it continues through 5 seasons of increasing awesomeness, before losing it right at the end of the series as the animation underwent a minor change to modernize the series, before it was cancelled outright. This series holds up even to this day, and is an enjoyable watch for any fan of comics, or cartoons.

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X-Men: TAS relied more on working voice actors as opposed to any big names from Hollywood, but the voices remain locked in a nostalgic bubble, and I guarantee any fan of the show will turn their head at the voice of Cal Dodd as Wolverine saying the name “Jean”. Another memorable voice is Cedric Smith as Professor Xavier, or even George Buza as the Beast.

06) Justice League Unlimited

Building off the popularity of the DC Animated Universe up until this point, Bruce Timm and fellow creators brought us Justice League, which grouped the biggest names of the DC Universe on one team and built a solid base for the expansion of the series, known as Justice League Unlimited. While the original cast from JL still featured into nearly every episode, the expanded League brought a lot of second stringers up to bat, including a near starring role for one of my favorite DC characters, Green Arrow. Eventually the series resolved itself to tying up pretty much every left over story in the DC Animated Universe, and effectively connected the various series the revolved around the DCAU. JLU was also the last series to be a part of the DCAU’s continuity, as new series like The Batman began production, creating a new continuity for those series. The sheer number of characters, and the way the series dealt with the problems associated with such a gathering of heroes made for some great television.

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Some of the voice cast included longtime DCAU contributors like Kevin Conroy as Batman, George Newbern as Superman, Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern, Michael Rosenbaum as the Flash, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Carl Lumbly as the Martian Manhunter, and Maria Canals-Barrera as Hawkwoman. Mark Hamill of course did a number of voices, including the Joker (we will talk more about him later… I’ve said that a lot, haven’t I?), and the various characters included in the episodes were full of big name cameos and DCAU alumni.

That does it for the first half of the Top 10! A lot of great television, and a few series that are guaranteed to take you back to your childhood. Those were the epic fun times known as Saturday Morning that every kid remembers fondly. Hopefully this list is taking you back to that time, or at least giving you some ideas of what to watch next, just in case you may have missed out on these.

Next week we will finish off the list with the top 5 greatest superhero animated series, and I think you can probably guess a few of the series locking those spots down. Until next week!

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