Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Superhero Memories

I've never really considered myself much of a Superhero fan. When I was little my cartoon and comic book tastes gravitated always towards the funny animals. I'd take Yogi Bear over Superman any day of the week. With the recent explosion of Superhero movies coming out of Hollywood, I had still kept some distance from most of the fare offered. I had seen some of the older Batman movies, and Superman Returns and even the first Spider-Man film, but I still didn't really pay much attention to the genre. Then came the 1-2 punch of Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Thor only a year later to be completely blown out of the water by how awesome The Avengers was. With Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel this Summer, I found myself way more into the comic book movies than I ever was before. It got me thinking about the handful of Superhero stuff that I did like as a child...the few things that made an impression on me. And with the release of the new Thor movie this past weekend (It was awesome!) I thought it would be a good time to unveil this list of my Top 10 Childhood Superhero Memories...

Spider-Man (1967-1970)

 This was the first Spider-Man cartoon which I wasn't alive for the first time it came around but I remember catching it early in the morning and, for the first time, being drawn in by the storytelling instead of the slapstick and laughter. This is the show that gave us the classic "Spider-Man" theme song too! Growing up, the only time I saw this show was if I was able to wake up early enough on a Saturday morning. In Baltimore, Channel 2 ran reruns of Spidey at 6:30am, an hour and a half before the network cartoons started. It was always a treat if I could sneak out into the living room and watch Spider-Man sling his webs through New York with the TV sound turned down real low so I didn't wake my parents up.

Spidey Super Stories (1974-1977)
Spider-Man would also pop up on segments in The Electric Company, a show designed for graduates of Sesame Street. This show was awesome because it was presented like a comic book with the different scenes taking place inside panels of a comic book. The real-life comic book motif was played out more by having Spider-Man only speaking in word bubbles above his head. This Spidey was a web-slinger of very few words but the other people in the stories could read the bubbles above Spider-Man's head. In these stories, Spidey didn't fight Doc Oc or the Green Goblin, but instead dastardly villains like the Spider who sat down beside Ms. Muffet. There was also a print version of these stories in The Electric Company Magazine which I'm sure I read every issue at least 100 times!
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1983)
I LOVED this show and never missed it on Saturday Mornings. Spider-Man joins forces with Firestar and Iceman to stop various Marvel Super Villains. Spider-Man would do his thing while cracking jokes and tossing off one-lines, while Firestar shot fire everywhere and Iceman would surf around on a path of ice he shot out of his hands. Apparently, Iceman is also a member of the X-Men, which I didn't even know the X-Men was a thing until those movies started coming out in 2000. I don't know if Iceman makes an appearance in any of the X-Men movies past or future...but if he does I would watch the crap out of that movie! I loves me some Iceman!
Superman: The Movie (1978)
Superman II (1980)
Back before HBO or VHS, if a Superman movie was on TV - you dropped what you were doing and watched it. You just did because it was Superman and we showed respect to our elders that way back then. I think these are still really the gold standard in Super Hero movies, funny and exciting and easily accessible to children. Later, when we had HBO, I easily caught these two movies a million times each. They are still great films and fun to watch. (I've still never seen Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and I hear I'm not missing much.)
Fantastic Four (1967/1978)
I don't remember much about this show except that I loved it and thought the drawings were really cool. There were actually two versions of this show; a 1967 series from Hanna-Barbera and a 1978 version from DePatie-Freleng. I'm not sure which ones I saw, possibly both, but whenever I could catch it I was on board! This show is so ingrained into my memory that I was excited when the recent movies came out.

Batman (1966-1968)
 As with most people my age, this version of Batman was THE version of Batman and so much so that when the Michael Keaton movie came out in 1989 I was just like, "What is this crap? That wasn't funny at all!" Besides the cool costumes, crazy villains and bright colors...I loved how they put the action words on the screen during a fight scene. That was the best!
SuperFriends (1973-1986)
My #1 TV nerd memory of this show was that it was the first time a cartoon that I knew from Saturday mornings came to strip syndication after school. So, it was a nice change of pace from all the old Popeye and Casper cartoons we had for our viewing pleasure in the afternoons. Not pictured above, but the Wonder Twins would make the best Super Hero movie out of them all!
Wonder Woman (1975-1979)
Simply put: Wonder Woman's invisible jet remains the single most coolest prop ever built in the history of television.
Hostess Comic Book Ads (1977-1982)
My only exposure to (then) second-string Superheroes like Captain America, Flash, Green Lantern and Iron Man were in one page ads that ran in all the comic books...including the talking animal comics that I read. In each of these comics, a noted Superhero would use tasty Hostess Apple Pies, Twinkies or Cupcakes to overpower a super villain. Who needs all the gold in the world when you can have a bit of golden & delicious Hostess Cupcake? Even an 8 year old me knew this was a ridiculous concept...and I ate up every page of it!

Spider-Man for Atari 2600 (1982)
As with any Atari game that I owned, I played it one hundred million times in my youth. As it turns out, this one was the very first video game based on a Marvel Comics property. In it, you would sling webs and try to get your three pixels that represented Spider-Man up to the top of a skyscraper to defeat Green Goblin.  Did I say I played it a hundred million times, now that I'm looking at the picture I'm sure it was closer to 30 zillion billion times. What a great game!
Now's the part where I ask you to share some of your Super Hero memories in the comments section......

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