Relive 10 Forgotten Cartoon Heroes Of The '60s

Illustration for article titled Relive 10 Forgotten Cartoon Heroes Of The 60s

Last week, when I said that not all superhero cartoons were of the quality of Justice League Unlimited, the response was loud disagreement. So I looked into the matter and still kinda wonder: You want to see these guys again?


Space Ghost
Twenty-eight years before he became a talk show host, Space Ghost hit the airwaves with a wonderful design (from comic book legend Alex Toth) and... well, not much else to his credit, really. Fighting generic alien villains (Most of whom would go on to become the crew of Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast) in equally generic cartoons, Adult Swim's 1994 parody revamp may end up being the best thing that ever happened to him... It was definitely the most interesting.


Another character rescued from obscurity by Adult Swim (And, again, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law is probably the best thing that happened to the character), Birdman shares lots of other things with Space Ghost - He comes from the same time period, was also designed by Alex Toth, and had a short career, only lasting two years before cancellation. Still, at least Birdman - whose Egyptian connection would later be co-opted by his inspiration, DC's Hawkman - only had one annoying sidekick, the on-the-nose named Birdboy.

The Herculoids
A Space Ghost spin-off, The Herculoids were an alien superteam made up of a dragon, a "rock ape," a rhino with ten legs, two giant amoebas and some humans. According to the opening credits, they were all-strong, all-brave and all-heroes, but I'd rather go with "all-awkward, all-half-a-good-idea and all-canceled-in-two-years." Gleep and Gloop, we hardly knew you.

Galaxy Trio
Weirdly enough my favorite of all of these characters (There's just something about this mash-up of Legion of Super-Heroes and Fantastic Four that gets me, I can't deny it), this trilogy of uninventive characters - Vapor Man, Gravity Girl and Meteor Man who, despite his name, can grow or shrink any part of his body at will. Get all your innuendo out now, people - managed to last two years fighting crime as part of the Galactic Patrol interstellar police force. Okay, I admit it; I would totally watch a Galaxy Trio Vs. Space Ghost crime-off.

Another product of the 1967 rush of mediocre cartoons - With the exception of Space Ghost (1966), all of the above shows were produced by Hanna Barbera during the same time, which says a lot about the faith they had in that Batman fad lasting - Mightor was proof that superheroics and prehistorics shouldn't mix. When teenage caveman Tor raises his magic club in the air, he becomes the mighty Mightor, who looks very like Space Ghost, fighting... well, dinosaurs and whatever random crime happened back in caveman days. You can guess why this one didn't really have the legs to last beyond a couple of years.


Space Angel
Of all the shows deserving resurrection, Space Angel is the best. Firstly, the name - which also happens to be the nickname of its lead character, Scott McCloud (No, not the guy who wrote Understanding Comics), an astronaut who works for the Earth Bureau of Investigation's Interplanetary Space Force alongside the just-as-wonderfully-named Crystal Mace and Taurus. Fighting off threats to Earth alongside his counterparts from Mars, Venus and other local planets, Space Angel's daily five-minute adventures made up in thrills what they lacked in animation (They look like motion comics). Someone get George Clooney on the phone: We've found his Iron Man.

Super Chicken
From the same people who brought you Rocky and Bullwinkle, Chicken gave the world the world's first Bostonian chicken, and for that alone it should be considered a national treasure. Which, considering the actual quality of the show, is probably a good thing.


Roger Ramjet
For some reason, my childhood was plagued by Roger Ramjet reruns, so you'll never be able to convince me that this square-jawed dull-witted patriot is anything other than "that crappily-animated cartoon that's keeping me from new episodes of Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends." Sorry, everyone.

The Mighty Heroes
Early work by Ralph Bakshi, Heroes was the result of an improvised pitch surprisingly greenlit, and the lack of planning shows up in characters like Diaper Man (He's a supersmart baby!) and Rope Man (He's a man made out of rope!). Mighty Mouse, who shared a show with these losers, must've been ashamed.


The Impossibles
What happens when you cross Beatlemania with Batmania? You get 1966's The Impossibles, in which three rock'n'roll stars put down their guitars and take up crimefighting when the need strikes - and mysterious boss Big D calls. As a reminder of the crazy zeitgeist of the era, it's fine, but as anything else...? I'm not convinced.

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I've always felt the Mighty Heroes to be the spiritual precursor to the Tick - ridiculous parodies of superheroism who, despite good intentions, mostly managed to defeat evil while consistently getting in each others way. I loved it because of that.

It never took itself seriously and never expected its audience do so either. It's hard to consider it as FAIL when it accomplished precisely what it intended to do.