Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Look Back at 2008

2008 has come and gone, but what a great year it was for fans of superhero animation! New shows, great movies, and lots of DVDs! Let's take a look back on the past year.

  • January 8: To start the year off on a good foot, WHV releases the first volume of the All-New Super Friends Hour on DVD. This is one of my favourite versions of the show due to its variety of stories and guest stars as well as the safety tips, magic tricks, de-coders and crafts!

    Looking ahead: 2009 begins the same way with The All-New Super Friends Hour Volume Two being released on January 27th.

  • February 26: The second installment in Warner Bros. Animation's DC Universe Original Animated Movies is Justice League: New Frontier, an adaptation of the super popular graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke. Featuring the voices of David Boreanaz, Kyle MacLachlan, Lucy Lawless, Neil Patrick Harris and Jeremy Sisto, this feature length movie focuses on superhero life in the 50s, the Golden Age of comics, as they prepare for the dawning of a new age of superheroes.

    This film is well-received by fans and even receives a Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour Or More).

  • March 8: Fans say goodbye to The Batman as it ends its five year run on Kids'WB. Although the show had mixed reviews, especially from fans of Batman: TAS, most agree that this final season really improved the show with the inclusion of many of Batman's Justice League pals.

    Throughout its run, The Batman won an Annie Award for Best New Animated Television Show 2004 and two Daytime Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Achievement In Sound Editing and another for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.

  • March 8: Sony Pictures Television and Culver Animation team up with Greg Weisman, the man behind the Gargoyles animated series, to bring us Spectacular Spider-Man! The show takes Peter Parker back to his high school days and early days of being Spider-Man and delivers great stories and solid animation. The first thirteen episodes air on what is now known as CW4Kids.

    Looking ahead: The much anticipated second season of Spectacular Spider-Man will debut on January 11, 2009 on Canada's Teletoon network. The second season comes to the US in March on Disney XD.

  • April 5: Fans say goodbye to another DC Animated series this year. Legion of Super Heroes finishes up their second and final season on Kids'WB. The series was thought to have a third season but the plans fell through when Kids'WB was taken over by CW4Kids who didn't want the show in their programming block.

    Looking ahead: While no season set have been released, fans of the show are hoping that 2009 will bring a complete series box set.

  • May 6: Canadian distributor Morningstar Entertainment begins to release DVD versions of old Marvel cartoons. While the rights to shows like The Marvel Super Heroes, the 1982 Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man: the Animated Series belong to Disney, the distribution rights to previously released VHS were bought by Morningstar.

    Beginning with Spider-Man: the Mutant Agenda, Morningstar releases nine DVDs that contain only two episodes over 2009, most of which are the only DVD releases for shows like Spider-Woman, the 1981 Spider-Man series and the New Fantastic Four.

    Looking ahead: Morningstar will continue with their releases starting with Spider-Man vs. the Vulture on February 7th.

  • June 10: While not everyone's favourite show, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes gets a complete series DVD box set, which is always a welcome gift for any tv series.

  • July 8: Bridging the gap between Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Batman: Gotham Knight features six vingettes, each produced by a different Japanese animation company. Kevin Conroy returns as the voice of the Caped Crusader.

    Many love the film, many didn't like the concept or art direction. But it is a unique milestone in the history of superhero animation as it brings together two of the biggest mediums in modern television, superheroes and anime.

    Looking ahead: Next up in the line of DC Universe Original Animated Movies is Wonder Woman, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. The DVD will be released on March 3rd.

  • July 8: The Batman Season Five is released on DVD. This season is the favourite for many fans of the show and completes the DVD collection. Teen Titans Season Five is also released on DVD.

  • August 12: Warner Home Video releases an extra special 2-disc DVD: DC Super Heroes: the Filmation Adventures collects the rotating guest star segments of the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure that feature Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman, The Atom, Justice League of America and Teen Titans. The cartoons are the first animated appearance for many DC superheroes and is a very important part of superhero animation.

    Looking ahead: There are many more upcoming DVD releases from WHV, including the Fleischer's Superman films, The Zeta Project Season One, and the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show.

  • September 2: Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Entertainment release their fifth Marvel Animated Feature on DVD, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. This future tale tells the story of Tony Stark raising the children of the fallen Avengers when all of a sudden, they have to face the greatest threat to humanity - the return of Ultron!

    The film was very well received despite the uncertainty of the fans due to the PG rating and the story focusing on kid versions of the Avengers before the film was released.

    Looking ahead: To make up for this kid-friendly DVD, Marvel and Lionsgate will release Hulk Vs., two all-out brawls between the Hulk and Wolverine and Thor. It will be released on January 27th.

  • September 6: The second new animated series of 2008 for Marvel airs in Canada and proves to be a hit! Wolverine and the X-Men focuses on Wolverine as he tries to rebuild the team after a year of not speaking to each other. There is great writing, great animation, and great action!

    US and UK fans get a few feathers ruffled when Wolverine and the X-Men airs on Latin American networks in August and Canadian networks in September and word is the US and the UK won't get the series until 2009.

    Looking ahead: Canadian network YTV will continue to air new episodes starting January 3rd; Another Canadian network, Teletoon, will begin airing season one starting January 11th; Wolverine and the X-Men will finally come to the US network, Nicktoons, starting January 23rd.

  • November 4: Just in time for Christmas shopping, fans of Batman: the Animated Series were overjoyed with the release of Batman: the Complete Animated Series on DVD. This major box set includes an extra disc full of new bonus features, a full-colour booklet, and really sweet packaging!

  • November 14: Warner Bros. and DC Comics release their brand new Batman series based on the old comic book of the same name, Batman: the Brave and the Bold. The series features Batman teaming up with many different heroes and takes a much lighter tone than previous Batman cartoons. Fans had mixed opinions about the show and after four episode, there is still a variety of different opinions.

    Looking ahead: Cartoon Network will continue to air new episodes from season one starting January 2nd. Brave and the Bold will come to Canada's Teletoon on January 11th.

  • November 21: A special sneak peek at Marvel next animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, is shown on Canada's Teletoon. The series stars a young Tony Stark who has to create his armour to stop Obadiah Stane from taking over his late father's company.

    The jury isn't out yet as to whether this series will be any good. Many fans already don't like it due to the 100% CGI style and the vast departure from story and character.

    Looking ahead: The show joins Wolverine on Nicktoons in April and two Canadian networks, Teletoon and YTV, will air Iron Man in 2009.

  • December 2: To end the year, fans are treated to an extra special Christmas gift, a two-disc soundtrack to Batman: the Animated Series from La La Land Records. The soundtrack feature the scores from six episodes, plus bonus tracks and great liner notes.

    Looking ahead: La La Land Records will be releasing more volumes of Batman: the Animated Series music if the response to this one is good. So buy your copy today!

  • That is 2008 in a nutshell! It has been a great year and it looks like 2009 will be just as good, if not better! There are a few things coming up in 2009 that I didn't mention above: Black Panther is set to air sometime in 2009 on the BET network; Two new animated DVDs, Thor: Tales from Asgard and Green Lantern should be headed our way in the latter half of the year; And we should get more news on new projects like Marvel Anime, Lego Batman, Thor, and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!

    See you in 2009!

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