EDITORIAL: Six Underrated Comic Book Animated Television Shows

Since the 50s, there have been an extremely huge amount of animated T.V shows focusing on our favorite heroes and villains. In the following piece, I list six from the past decade that I think aren't appreciated as much as they should be. Check out my list after the jump.

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By Alex Lynch - 8/11/2012


Over the past few generations, cartoons have most likely been the core of our childhood. Since you’re visiting this site, the chances that you watched a Marvel or DC cartoon as a child are incredibly high. However, there are always a few cartoons that never get enough attention as they deserve or are overlooked because of their tone or style. In this editorial, I list six of those cartoons that need more praise.

Ultimate Spider-Man



I’ll be starting off this list with an incredibly controversial choice. Ever since it’s debut, Ultimate Spider-Man has seen quite the amount of hate for it’s childish nature. However, does Ultimate Spider-Man really deserve getting tomatoes thrown at it? Nope. Not only does the show feature incredible animation, but it continues to improve over time. The action sequences are great and breathtaking. The show continues to impress not only with it’s main voice cast, but it also features some all-star guest actors such as Kevin Michael Richardson, Steve Blum, Dee Bradley Baker and more. To summarize, Ultimate Spider-Man is an incredible production. However, it seems like it’s sole purpose is to serve as a promotional tool to introduce children to the expansive Marvel Universe.

Legion Of Super Heroes



This particular program took a risk, and succeeded at almost every level. Legion of Super Heroes was an incredible journey of a young Clark Kent being modeled into the Superman he will eventually be seen as. The show featured a huge amount of action and emotion. Surprisingly, the show wasn’t always Superman centric as quite a few stories focused on The Legion itself and their struggles. Hopefully this show’s accomplishment paves the way for many other obscure superhero team-up shows.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures



As soon as this program was announced, it stirred quite the amount of controversy by making Tony Stark only sixteen years old. At the time, it seemed that almost all of Tony’s mythology would be wiped away, and we wouldn’t see his proper origin or famous storylines adapted into the show. Looking back, we were definitely wrong. If you decide to completely ignore the series because Tony Stark is a teenager, then you are throwing limitless amounts of great storytelling and character development out the window. Almost every character had an interesting and deep back-story, while the two-season long story of Gene Khan's destiny to become The Mandarin was simply incredible and satisfyingly wrapped. Even though it is now over, the show had all of Iron Man’s classic villains and allies. The show featured the best SHIELD presence yet, complete with Hawkeye and Black Widow.

You can catch re-runs of Iron Man: Armored Adventures on the upcoming Vortexx programming block on The CW.

Static Shock



This series actually has a strong fanbase, however it is never mentioned when we think about the DC Animated Universe. Static Shock was a great show and dealt with many different things that the average teenager may go through. It dealt with racism, prejudice, and firearm responsibility to name only a few real-world problems. However, the morals that each episode entailed didn’t take away from the action. The fact that this wasn’t Phil LaMarr’s only character in the DC Animated Universe allowed for occasional Green Lantern cameos! Static Shock had quite the amount of life lessons while still giving us an amazing superhero story.

Spider-Man: The New Animated Series



Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was a CG cartoon that was created after Sam Raimi’s first installment of his Spider-Man trilogy. The show was (at the time) set in the same continuity of the first Spider-Man movie. The show aired on MTV, going for a more mature direction and audience. While the show’s characters were almost never faithful to their comic counterparts, they were still unique and developed. For example, Electro was a college friend of Peter’s who gained his powers from an unknown substance making contact with lightning. His appearance was incredibly different from his original one as well. The animation was also top notch for it’s time, while the voice cast (headlined by Neil Patrick Harris as Spider-Man) never failed to impress either. Offering a fresh and exciting take on the Spider-Man mythos, The New Animated series deserves as much praise as Spectacular Spider-Man.

You can watch Spider-Man: The New Animated Series in it's entirety legally and for free on Crackle.

The Zeta Project



This show wasn’t really well known, as it was spun-off from an episode of Batman Beyond. The show focuses around a shape shifting robot named Zeta, who is programmed to kill criminals. However, Zeta starts to develop emotion and deviates from his programming and proceeds to go on the run from the government. The series was filled with fulfilling emotional moments that kept the suspense going. One of which is when Zeta finally finds his creator, but a tragic accident prevents Zeta from finding out more details about his creation. Terry McGinnis also guest starred in an episode of The Zeta Project! If you’re a fan of Robocop, I would recommend this as the stories feel similar in many aspects.






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Jolt17 - 8/11/2012, 8:38 PM
I've never seen Ultimate Spider-Man, but judging from the trailers, clips, et cetera, I can't believe comeone can possibly like it. :P

I agree with Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, though. After Spider-Man: The Animated Series and before Spectacular Spider-Man, and with all the hype surrounding Raimi's movies back then, it was so refreshing to have a show like that. Yeah, I enjoyed it a lot. The animation was such a joy to see back then. I hate its made-up villains (those twins, in particular), but the rest I think were great. And, Neil Patrick Harris.

I think Iron Man: Armored Adventures is pretty unique. No, I haven't seen ALL of its episodes - only a few here and there - but, I think the animation and designs are nice. The concept...well, like Sherlock, if you can provide an interesting take by moving away from the "normal" interpretation, yet still keeping the core of the characters...why not? (Then again, as I've said before, I haven't seen the show as a whole, so I can't speak much.)

Legion of Super Heroes was pretty interesting. However, while a unique move, the show lost me a bit after the real Superboy/man (I've forgotten what Clark's identity is in that show) went, and Superman X appeared as a replacement.

My personal pick for an underrated comic book animated TV show is Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. I don't know how I'll feel toward it now, but I surely enjoyed it a lot as a kid. Plus, the design was pretty interesting, and the guest stars were great.

Nice write-up.
dellamorte1872 - 8/11/2012, 9:01 PM
i second you @JOLT that was a phenomenal show as well as the old school early INCREDIBLE HULK very under-rated or even THAT year's IRON MAN 'toon as well!
superotherside - 8/11/2012, 9:09 PM
Great write up bro. I really liked Iron Man Armored Adventures.
Jolt17 - 8/11/2012, 9:37 PM
Wait, a typo there...of course, it's "someone," not "comeone."

dellamorte1872: Are you referring to the 90's animated series? If so...well, all of 'em are pure Marvel classics, IMO! Yeah, with all their cheesinesses, and all.

BattlinMurdock: I thought the concept was awful, but now that I've given a shot for Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century, I think I'll try to see him in the 22nd century, too. I've only heard good things about it.
Jolt17 - 8/11/2012, 9:40 PM
And, yes. You just can't go wrong with Neil Patrick Harris...except for The Smurfs. (He's still good in it, though.)
Sortis - 8/11/2012, 9:53 PM
These aren't underrated they really do suck...
Nick56 - 8/11/2012, 10:00 PM
I liked Spider-Man: The New Animated Series and Static Shock but the rest (especially Ultimate Spider-Man) suck
redsoxdude - 8/11/2012, 10:18 PM
I just finished Armored Adventures on Netflix. I enjoyed it a lot more than i thought i would...especially with a teenaged Rhody, Pepper, and Stark.
Great write up man
TrueRedBlue - 8/11/2012, 10:19 PM
I love Ultimate Spider-Man, but they really have no idea what they're doing storytelling-wise...
Knightstalker - 8/11/2012, 10:23 PM
I really enjoyed Static Shock. I never understood why it didn't geet the love it deserved. Still waiting for a live action version.
TayDee - 8/11/2012, 10:27 PM
The iron man show is terrible, there's no arguing that
OtakuPapi - 8/11/2012, 10:27 PM
I dont understand the hate for Ultimate Spider-Man.Its Not Spectacular at all.But Ultimate is hilarious and full of fun.
95 - 8/11/2012, 10:28 PM
I think Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes is underrated (as another commenter mentioned).
AmazingFantasy - 8/11/2012, 10:28 PM
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series IS THE SHIT. Best Spider-Man Animated Series ever.

Garfield even looks like the Peter on here...



S-MNAS Kicks ass.

redsoxdude - 8/11/2012, 10:28 PM
AlexLynch- If there is I havent seen it.
AmazingFantasy - 8/11/2012, 10:30 PM
Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes is also great as @95 stated.

CaptainAmerica31 - 8/11/2012, 10:35 PM
Holy shit I remember the zeta project as a kid! That show was amazing!
95 - 8/11/2012, 10:36 PM
Of your list I chose Static Shock.
redsoxdude - 8/11/2012, 10:40 PM
Froggy if it makes you feel better i found GL on animeflavor.com so i am watching it right now haha. It'll help me get through the next 6 hours of work :P
CharlesLord - 8/11/2012, 10:47 PM
Cant get on board with Ultimate Spiderman. I watched like 6 episodes of it and I didnt like it at all
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 8/11/2012, 11:01 PM
Legion of Superheros and the Zeta Project were my favorite Saturday morning cartoons (on this list)
JULEZ13 - 8/11/2012, 11:02 PM
OMGeeeee!!! The Zeta Project! I used to watch that on Saturday mornings! I don't think the show lasted very long...

I also watched Spiderman: The New Animated Series and Static Shock.

I think Static Shock was the longest running show out of all of these. I never really got that into it but I caught a few shows on TV from time to time, normally cuz my nephew already had it on.
kooldeath - 8/11/2012, 11:03 PM
The Magician animated series was way under rated. Also The Silver Surfer cartoon is really underrated . I loved that cartoon and only got to see like 3 episodes before FOX pulled the plug. The also had a Ghost Rider cartoon out didn't they ??.
JULEZ13 - 8/11/2012, 11:04 PM
@ BattlinMurdock: I DID!! That show was THE bomb!!!

It introduced me to who Sherlock Holmes was as a kid! Without that show I probably wouldn't have known of him til much later!
kooldeath - 8/11/2012, 11:06 PM
And what about Wolverine and the X-men. That was great and wasn't kept around at all. I didn't know the Iron man got cancelled ? when did that happen
marvel72 - 8/11/2012, 11:06 PM
spider-man the animated series & legion of superheroes.
Talontd - 8/11/2012, 11:09 PM


Static Shock wins this list.....all day, every day.
Ceejay - 8/11/2012, 11:10 PM
All those series sucked, their animation was poor, their narrative dumbed down to an immature level too low to be engaging. These are the only comic book cartoons that have mattered and did their source material any real justice in recent years with quality animation and decent stories..

Batman the Animated series (1992)
X-Men The Animated series (1992)
Superman The Animated series (1996)
The New Batman Adventures (1997)
Batman Beyond (1999)
Justice League (2001)
Justice League Unlimited (2004)
The Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010)
Young Justice (2011)

Everything else is kiddie shit!
TheRationalOne - 8/11/2012, 11:14 PM
Ultimate Spider-Man is a great show. Sure it's more kiddie and way different, but you guys hating it for those reasons is stupid. It's not directed toward 20 year olds and over. We just happen to be adults who like cartoons. So deal with it.

However, That Spiderman cg MTV show was one of the worst cartoons ever created. The animation sucks such huge amounts of Blob farts that I can't believe it ever made it past the cutting room floor. It was a terrible terrible show. I don't see how anyone could of thought that it wasn't. Especially to see someone say they liked the animation. I thought it was crap even back when it first aired and it was supposedly cutting edge. No...it wasn't. It was about 5 years behind anything else of that style that was worth watching. And the Iron Man show was almost as bad. Slightly better...but not too much. Pretty craptastic if you ask me.
95 - 8/11/2012, 11:19 PM
@thebatdad Why is that?
95 - 8/11/2012, 11:22 PM
Goomba, I presume?
Gearhead - 8/11/2012, 11:36 PM
Spider: The animated series 90s version will always be the best spider man show period. It was just to good not to enjoy it because it stuck to the comics more than any other shows and have awesome stories.

I hate USM but i have grown to like it if you watch it just for the comedy and not for any story.Don't see how static shock was underrated though, everyone i know loves it.
capcyclopsftw - 8/11/2012, 11:48 PM
The thing I like about ultimate Spidey is it is so damn funny!
CeltiC527 - 8/12/2012, 12:33 AM
Seriously, did everybody forget about this show???? I know it got some hate but it is still one of the best comic book shows and very underated. IMO
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rjames8s - 8/12/2012, 1:00 AM
what about the Tick?
thalidomide - 8/12/2012, 1:36 AM
BTAS for me is still the best comic book animated series ever!
Jolt17 - 8/12/2012, 2:39 AM
CeltiC527: I don't think it's underrated, because a lot of people love it. Think that's what the writer thought of, too.

Yeah, it is a great show.
Ichaos - 8/12/2012, 3:29 AM
Actually Ultimate Spiderman and that Legion cartoon were over rated when people called them crap.
Alex2814 - 8/12/2012, 3:51 AM
How about FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLDS GREATEST HEROES!
Bandrews1 - 8/12/2012, 4:23 AM
Wow I remember the Zeta Project, it was a really show and I miss it along with Static Shock.
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