Sunday, April 15, 2018
The New Adventures Of Superman 1966!
The New Adventures of Superman from 1966 is a pivotal cartoon series in many respects. It marked the first time Superman had returned to any kind of screen since the lapse of the classic live-action Adventures of Superman TV show starring the late great George Reeves. It also showcased for fans of the comic at the time the then-current style of the book which was defined by the rather realistic style of Curt Swan. The cartoon also was the beginning of one of the most significant animation studios in the history of television -- Filmation. Filmation was born in no small part to do Superman, fleecing their way into the contract, and then proving to all parties that they could deliver a bonafide entertainment on a regular basis.
The individual cartoons are frothy bits of fun with a real Silver Age sensibility. Lois and Jimmy and Perry are part of the picture, all coming into danger with degree regularity. But the cartoons are not slaves to this approach and do a pretty decent job changing up the villains and threats that Superman confronts. Recognizable villains like Lex Luthor and Toyman and Brainiac are on hand and variations like Prankster and Parasite are also around. There are lots of aliens, threats from space which Superman often solves by shoving them onto an asteroid or their planet of origin. Superman fights apes, a giant alligator and even a giant lobster. He confronts Lava Men, Iron Eating monsters, and Energy creatures. It's all a wonderful mishmash and evokes the flavor of the comic effectively.
Originally the show featured two Superman cartoons with a Superboy cartoon tucked in between. But as far as I know the Superboy cartoons have not been released, almost certainly owing to the legal complications regarding the character's ownership. I hope that gets cleared up as I'd love to see them again as well.
This first season was a huge success in advancing Superman for a new generation and establishing Filmation as a viable cartoon studio, and it's easy to see why watching them all over again. There would two more seasons. More on those next week.