Marc Alan Fishman: Ultimate Spider-Man Vs. Teen Titans Go!
I freely admit a bias. DC’s animated efforts have always trumped Marvel’s. Always. Super Friends smacked Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends two ways from Sunday. And for every great episode of the 90’s X-Men or Spider-Man there were two Batman or Superman: The Animated Adventures. And sure, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Sensational Spider-Man were brilliant, but they don’t belong in the same breath as Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond.
At present moment the only animated war (and it’s a weak one at that…) that may be around is Ultimate Spider-Man against Teen Titans Go! Both are meant to skew young. But only one of them is doing it right. I’ll give you half a guess – it’s Teen Titans Go!
In the simplest of terms, Ultimate Spider-Man ultimately sucks. And that hurts to say, because my personal lord and savior Paul Dini, is a creative consultant. The show is a schizophrenic attempt at making Spider-Man for a new generation. This is after the way-better-written Sensational Spider-Man, mind you. Every single trope a cartoon can use to wave the white flag of “love me!” is plastered throughout the show. A misfit team of B and C listers meant to accompany the star? Check. Family Guy style cutaway gags every few minutes? Check. Frequent guest stars to make you forget there’s no character development? Ch-ch-check. In all the episodes I’ve sat through, the only thread that connects them all is the desperation that oozes from the pores. Here is a series that reeks of plot by committee that does anything short of shuckin’ and jivin’ in order to grab the kiddies’ attention.
On the other hand, Teen Titans Go! seems to suffer from none of this. An oddly post-modern retread of its former self, TTG takes the titular titans of 2003, and re-imagines them in kawaii form. This super deformed (more cartoony, if such a term could ever be applied to a cartoon) Titans show plays towards the micro-sized popular companion toons like Regular Show or Adventure Time. With no serious episodes to be had, TTG is a show hellbent on solely being entertaining. No secret machinations present. Where USM seeks to birth a brand new Marvel Animated Universe™, TTG seeks only to get some laughs. I should note in the wake of the cancelation of Green Lantern: the Animated Series and Young Justice I was apt to be cranky with whatever replaced them. It took literally two minutes of TTG to crack my grimace.
Normally I’m a bit more verbose, but the proof is in the pudding. As it stands, Marvel continues down a terrible path, choosing to aim at any market that will have them. DC continues to allow their creative teams to explore, experiment, and ultimately (heh) aim their cartoons with laser focus. Combine that with their continued brilliant voice casting, and smart writing? You get, more often than not, a superior product.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell