Thundercats and other toons

Cartoon Network's new Thundercats
Thundercats, ho!

On Friday, 29 July 2011, I watched the premieres of a few new animated television shows. I especially liked the latest incarnation of Thundercats, which was among the shows previewed at San Diego Comic-Con, on the Cartoon Network.

As with G.I. Joe: Renegades, Transformers: Prime, and the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, intellectual properties from the 1980s are being revived, with more modern production values and writing. Although I’m a bit too old to have childhood nostalgia for the originals of these series, I applaud this trend, mainly because of the rare improvement in quality.

The one-hour premiere of Thundercats was faithful enough to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, but it has a lot in common with recent animation as well. Our favorite felines inhabit a more populated Third Earth than their predecessors, and their (over-)reliance on agrarian civilization and royal magic in contrast to the technology of their foes is reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

The well-designed city of Thundera, varied character archetypes, and new conflict among the Thundercats also reminded me favorably of Avatar: the Last Airbender, which will soon be getting a sequel of its own in Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra (also previewed at Comic-Con). I liked how Lion-o’s father the king isn’t infallible, not all reptile folk are evil, and even that sidekick Snarf can’t talk.

Thundercats is worth watching for fans of fantasy and related role-playing games, and I’ll definitely be adding Thundercats to my summer TV viewing schedule! We’ll see whether the Kung-Fu Panda series can keep the eastern-flavored martial arts action going and if it’s faithful to the popular Dreamworks movies, which I liked more than the Shrek franchise (the Puss in Boots spin-off does look amusing).

I wish I could say that the other cartoons were as promising as the fantasy Thundercats, Legend of Korra, or Kung-Fu Panda. It was nice to hear Heroes‘ Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia as a smarmy Tony Stark/Iron Man and a youthful Logan/Wolverine in Marvel’s first anime-style series on G4.

As I told Steve M.R., I thought both characters were a good fit for Japanese adventures, with Iron Man‘s technocratic interests and the classic storyline in which Wolverine follows lost love Mariko to Japan. However, I found myself already missing the energy of the computer-animated Iron Man: Armored Adventures and the cleaner lines of X-Men: Evolution, not to mention MTV’s Spider-Man and the fun Spectacular Spider-Man.

I’ll keep watching for a little while in the hope that the latest Iron Man and Wolverine cartoons approach the level of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (not to be confused with the kid-oriented Super Hero Squad). Marvel also has Blade, X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man (whose print equivalent has replaced Peter Parker in the tights), and Hulk and the Agents of SMASH shows in the works. The direct-to-video Thor: Tales of Asgard was apparently successful enough for a sequel: Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.

On the DC side of Comic-Con and genre TV news, I’m still looking forward to the return of Young Justice, the premiere of Bruce Timm’s Green Lantern: the Animated Series, and the next inevitable Batman series. I’ve already mentioned the Batman: Year One and Dark Knight Returns releases, and more adaptations are planned, including Justice League: Doom, Superman vs. the Elite, and Batman: the Killing Joke.

Janice and I have been enjoying the Seinfeld-inspired Looney Toons Show, and I hope to catch the dieselpunk War of the Worlds: Goliath, which features the cast of Highlander: the Series, whenever it’s released in the U.S. (thanks to Heavy Metal magazine for the previews).

Coming soon: Toys and games at Comic-Con, Cowboys & Aliens review, and more food and travel!

Monday, 31 August 2009: Work, food, and Ponyo


On Tuesday, 18 August 2009, I received a minor promotion from assistant site editor to associate site editor at TT. In addition to my existing duties at the technology journalism company, I’m helping to coordinate coverage of this week’s VMworld conference in San Francisco and taking on more Web page management responsibilities.

On the bright side, I’ve already been treated out to sushi lunches at Fuji in Needham,
Massachusetts, twice by current and future managers! I’m flattered that they’ve had such confidence in my organizational abilities after only three months, and I hope to earn their trust.

On Monday, Aug. 24, Janice and I met with former CW co-workers Michele D. and Bob R. for a pleasant dinner at the Watch City Brewery on Moody Street in Waltham, Mass. I still hope to get together with other former colleagues, including Monica S., Donna S., and Brian F.

On Saturday, Aug. 29, I met Ken G. for lunch at Rawbert’s Vegan CafĂ© before going to an exhibit on comic book history at the Wenham Museum. The big news in the world of superheroes is that Disney is buying Marvel. I don’t expect any immediate changes in the comics or movies, but the move puts more pressure on DC Comics and Warner Brothers to try to catch up.

On Sunday, Janice and I had brunch at the ’50s Diner in Dedham, Mass., and went to the Dedham Community Theater to screen Ponyo. A few months ago, I saw and liked the subtitled version of the latest Miyazaki anime, and I found the English-dubbed
to be better paced. I’d still give this PG-rated variation on The Little Mermaid an 8 out of 10, or a B+.

Although I’ve had to cancel this coming week’s games, I did catch the first-season finale of BBC America’s supernatural melodrama Being Human, which may not have the popularity of True Bloodor Twilight, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The regular autumn genre television season begins in the next few weeks, but first, I’ve got lots of work to do!