Top 10: Most Popular Articles at CAC by Jerry Whitworth
Hello Nerdfect Nation, this is your intrepid co-host Jerry Whitworth back with a new article. Its been a while, I know, but there’s been an important development in my life. As many of our listeners know, I’ve worked for ComicArtCommunity.com for five years but, sadly, we’ve recently parted company. No hard feelings, they’re still a great site and resource but it was time to move on. At this time, I don’t know where I’ll end up, but for now, I thought it would be fun for a small retrospective. I’ve produced 267 articles for CAC (not including the biography I wrote for the Al Rio Tribute Art Book Volume One), which is roughly on average an article a week for my time there, and certain pieces of work stand out from the rest. Thus, I will produce two Top 10 lists: first, my most popular articles and second, my favorite. Based on the number of views and unique visits, the following are the ten most popular articles I have written for CAC. Enjoy.
In 2009, Disney had acquired Marvel for its vast media empire and placed Jeph Loeb in charge of Marvel’s television division the following year. As part of a clean slate, virtually all of the Marvel animated series were given the ax. Shows like Spectacular Spider-Man and The Super Hero Squad Show were dropped fairly soon after the shake-up while Iron Man: Armored Adventures and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes followed closely thereafter (and while Wolverine and the X-Men was dropped prior to this change at the company, its cancellation aligned with this series of endings). While Marvel was quick to put out Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Avengers Assemble, many fans voiced displeasure with the prior series getting sacrificed in the shuffle. Arguably, critics viewed Avengers: EMH as the best version of the group in animated form and Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine were quite popular animated incarnations for their franchises (even Super Hero Squad Show had a cult-like following). This all being said, the cancellation of Spectacular Spider-Man led to its showrunners Greg Weisman and Victor Cook being snatched up by Warner Animation as the former went to Young Justice and latter to Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated where both series did well for that company.
Without a doubt, San Diego Comic-Con is the most popular convention for comics and its associated media in the United States. In 2012, a preview was shown for the second half of the first season of Green Lantern: The Animated Series which aired as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block. Where the first half of that series featured Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowog deal with the emergence of various other power ring wielders like the Red Lanterns, Star Sapphires, Blue Lanterns, and an allusion to the Sinestro Corps, the second switched gears to deal with the Anti-Monitor and the Manhunters. Sadly, this season would be the show’s only season and ended after 26 episodes. DC Nation itself would not last long afterward.
When we talk about Godzilla, Ultraman, and the Power Rangers, we’re talking about tokusatsu. Featuring live action series with notable special effects, westerners like Willis H. O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen likely inspired Japanese film makers to expand upon their concepts and techniques bringing the impossible to life. In a circle that formed between the east and west, these Japanese products found their way to the United States in a reciprocal fashion. A notable example of this relationship was Toei’s Spider-Man series. A Japanese interpretation of Marvel Comics’ most recognizable character, production company Toei altered the concept where its hero transformed to don a special costume which imbued abilities as well as providing a myriad of vehicles including a giant robot that Spider-Man would pilot. This version of Spider-Man (as well as an extremely loose adaptation of Captain America in Battle Fever J) was an important step toward the development of Super Sentai which is better known in America by its local interpretation as Power Rangers.
By the very fact you are now reading this or by the frequency it emerges in this article, lists are popular among fans. Simply put, readers want to see if their favorites made lists (or, contrarily, their least favorite) and how someone else would rank them in level of importance. Lists are something to almost equally admire and loathe and it draws people’s attention. Such was the case with the ranking of members of the Avengers. While the likes of a Captain America or Iron Man undoubtedly rate high in such an estimation, lesser known characters like the Vision and Hank Pym mean a great deal to the group regardless of the lesser spotlight. So, while readers can agree to the presence of such characters in a ranked list, the position of these individuals gave birth to massive debate.
When the television channel Cartoon Network first hit airwaves, it generally focused on providing animated series owned by Warner Bros the chance to be rebroadcast on cable where old and new fans alike could find it. However, this strategy slowly changed, especially with the emergence of the so-called Cartoon Cartoons (new series created for the network). While not considered a Cartoon Cartoon, Megas XLR was an early original adventure series for the channel. Featuring slacker gamer Coop finding, restoring, and piloting a giant robot from the future, the hero teamed with best friend Jamie and the time-traveling warrior Kiva to face various evil forces including the alien Glorft. The series was a hit for Cartoon Network which accumulated a cult-like following only to be canceled due to the proliferation of new action animated shows on the channel. In 2012, Cartoon Network executive Jason DeMarco announced the network had abandoned domestic distribution rights for the series (though it continues to air in re-runs overseas due to its foreign following) leading to a movement to turn its rights back over to its creators George Krstic and Jody Schaeffer. As yet, no change has come of that movement while many other such series that enjoyed a level of popularity equal or greater than Megas in its era have since returned in new incarnations.
Noted earlier, people like lists. Also noted, Cartoon Network has a history of stumbling over its own success. These two ideas converged in a list of series canceled by the network that arguably had more steam in them to run. What’s intriguing about doing a retrospective is how these past ideas are revisited after they’re produced. For example, entries like Samurai Jack and Young Justice would later return which seems to support the argument they still had legs and audience to support them. And while something like a Justice League Unlimited has passed, elements of it refuse to die (such as its voice actors consistently returning to their character’s roles or aspects of their identity living on, at least in spirit, in works like Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, and Batman and Harley Quinn). And then there’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which was very much set in the vein of the 1966 Batman television series, which may have merely been a progenitor of Warner Bros and Twentieth Century Fox working out a deal mutually beneficial to the rights of the ’60s show (as an animated film based on the ’66 Batman has been released with a sequel forthcoming).
Anyone who knows me knows I’m fairly obsessive when it comes to Young Justice. When the series was canceled in 2013, the event was devastating for me which resulted in an article examining the show postmortem. At one time one of Cartoon Network’s highest rated series, Young Justice‘s toyline failed at retail and saw the show lose its funding. Meaning, it was critically acclaimed, had good to great ratings (when its schedule didn’t put it all over the place), and was fairly groundbreaking for DC’s animated landscape, but its purpose was to sell action figures and it failed in this endeavor. Its loss triggered a major fan backlash that would eventually lead to the series being slated to return for a third season on a new streaming service from DC Comics.
Another entry, another list. 2013 was the twentieth anniversary for the popular franchise Power Rangers. Created by blending material from Japanese Super Sentai footage with new scenes featuring English-speaking actors, Power Rangers was a cultural phenomenon with a surprising degree of staying power. Created by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban, the series would transition after years with the pair in control to being bought out by Disney. While under Disney, Power Rangers would become the second longest running television series the company produced in its storied history before selling the franchise back to Saban where it remains today. Coincidentally, around the time Power Rangers was turning twenty, Super Sentai was turning 35. Further, in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan desperately needed hope and so many of the most popular actors in Super Sentai’s history returned as part of an anniversary season of the show. Power Rangers, which is notoriously low budget during the years Saban helmed the series, was left in a quandary as to how much it wanted to adapt the season. Ultimately, it would bring back a handful of actors mainly for the final episode in order to save cost but honor the spirit of the source material.
In 2013, DC Comics announced the beginning of a digital-first comic book series featuring its marquee character in Adventures of Superman. However, a storm of controversy erupted when author Orson Scott Card was listed as its first contributor. Card, best known for his novel Ender’s Game, is a vocal critic of homosexuality and contributed to a hate group that sought to oppress the rights of LGBTQ individuals as well as criminalize their behavior. While in time DC would choose to bury the story and avoid Card in the future, at the time it raised the question if creators should be judged for their work or their beliefs and actions. The article generated a large quantity of opinions from both sides of the argument, many even contending that homosexual bigotry was not actually bigotry. And despite the passage of four years since that time, to this day opinions in the matter remain as divisive as ever.
Noted earlier, Power Rangers is a rather intriguing series, both in the show itself and the story behind it. Currently in its 24th season in Ninja Steel, the show combines teen drama (albeit watered down), morality tales, martial arts, superheroes, monsters, giant robots, time travel, space aliens, magic, and more to make an ever evolving experiment in storytelling relatively unique in television (considering that talk shows, sports-based series, and soap operas largely represent the only other television programs to match or exceed its longevity). Further, Power Rangers is broken up into eras where it originally was produced by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban before being bought by Disney who then later sold it back to Saban (additionally, during its time under Disney, another unique era emerged under the supervision of producer Bruce Kalish). In this manner, when trying to break the seasons into which were the best of its run, each era has its own diehard proponents and detractors. In other words, any ranking of these seasons would draw criticism that goes beyond the norm for crafting lists. Its likely for these reasons and the fact many of the actors and staff shared the list on social media platforms made “Top 10: Seasons of Power Rangers” the most popular article in the history of ComicArtCommunity.com.