Saturday, November 03, 2007
There are two types of people in the world: those who think Aquaman is great and those who think he's stupid. Therefore, everyone should buy the newly released DVD collection of the Filmation Aquaman cartoons (preferably through Big Monkey!).
People who know Aquaman is great deserve to own this collection because Aquaman has never seemed cooler than in this series. People who think Aquaman is stupid deserve to challenge their own assumptions by buying it and confronting the Glory That Is Aquaman.
For comic book characters that have really penetrated society's consciousness, there's usually one set of non-comics appearances that gets them there. For Superman, it was the Fleischer cartoons in the 1940s. For Batman, it was the '60s live action show. For Wonder Woman, it was the '70s show. For Aquaman, it was the Filmation cartoons.
I assume most of my readers have seen these cartoons at one point; perhaps I'm wrong? Here's a sample Aquaman story. If you haven't let me tell you, the Batman ones are rather dumb and the Superman ones are kind of dry.
If it's one thing Aquaman's adventures aren't, it's dry. He fights a wide variety of threats, such as monsters (lots of those in the oceans), aliens (you'd be amazed at how many threaten our oceans!), traditional villains (Black Manta and Fisherman), and ersatz villains (such as that hyper little seaqueen, "The Brain"). Some of the ersatzers are kind of clever, including one who controls sea plants, instead of animals. And hearing poor Ted Knight try to come with yet another voice variation for each one is an entertainment all its own.
The music, narration, and sounds effects are brilliant. Ted Knight could narrate the phone book and make it seem dramatic. Every time I hear the sickening thud of Aqualad getting hit in the head (which is every episode), I rewind it at least once for a second pass. Nobody takes a wallop like Aqualad.
It's pretty. Oh, sure Filmation ain't exactly Pixar, but if you adjust for that, the backgrounds are beautiful and exotic. Sure, Filmation is famous for using set animation sequences again and again in different setting. But you know what? They're darned good at it. And the Aquacave? Best headquarters ever. It's HUGE. So much tech, it makes the Batcave look like a Junior High Science Lab.
The character designs are cracking; for example, the seahorses have distinct personalities, reflected in their looks (innocent Imp and no-nonsense Storm).
Characterization is good. Aqualad is supportive, but not a goody-goody. He's not useless, but neither is he perfect (oh, so far from perfect). Tusky can be annoying, but if you just think of him as a dog instead of a walrus, he's less kill-worthy.
Aquaman is competent, but not overconfident. Aquaman is the perfect balance between Batman and Superman. He's the one Golidlocks would choose. Batman is not powerful enough; Superman is too powerful. Aquaman is just right. He varies the powers he uses (superstrength, waterballs, the aquaturbine trick, the fish). And when he does call the fish, it's only after he's tried to solve the problem himself. The fish also stay on spec, and are generally used much more realistically than in the comics.
Do yourself a favor; buy this DVD and then "head fa' home!".