Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top 9 Favorite Non-Disney Animated Series.

The second of my "Nine Old Lists" was originally going to be my 9 favorite Disney Villains...But I decided to hold off on that, to post instead, my top 9 favorite Animated Television shows that aren't strictly Disney.  That is to say...Disney didn't make them.

This was a difficult list for me to make...And I had a pretty hard time with it.  The truth is...I just don't watch that much non-Disney.  I didn't as a kid and I do so even less now.  While the top 3 were easy for me, since I DO watch them with frequency, the remaining 6 were incredibly hard, and this list was a challenge.

It should be noted that these shows have a different place in my overall list of favorite cartoons (with Gargoyles being my all-time favorite) but these HAVE made an impact, and my top three picks are in my top 7 all-time cartoons.

So, without further ado;

#9) Pinky and the Brain.

I'm going to go ahead and lay it out on the line.  I did watch/enjoy Batman TAS, Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, and all the other Kid's WB shows as a kid...but...At heart I am a Disney guy.  And they never held any lasting impact on my like they did say...The Nostalgia Critic.  (And for the record, I've felt his Animaniacs Special and Batman TAS top 11 episodes were amazing)  But I did love Pinky and the Brain.  It was my favorite segment on Animaniacs, and I'm glad that they were popular enough to get their own show.  

The Jury's still out though, on whether Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain or Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles was the worst case of Executive Meddling animated history...

The Crossover that would never happen...But I still wish to see:

#8) Digimon

Honesty...I'm not much of an Anime guy.

Don't get me wrong...I often enjoy it--Three  Japanese Anime's even made this list.  But it's not an obsessive love that some people seem to have.  To me it's just another form of animation.  Digimon for example (especially Season 3) is just good Science Fiction.  I am glad that Japanese Anime is opening the Western World's eyes the fact that a cartoon can contain Dynamic Characters, interesting plots, and major development.  But that doesn't mean that it's superior in any way.

In fact, the term "American Anime" drives me NUTS...Especially when applied to excellent cartoons that were grown here in the good 'ol US of A.  Such as Gargoyles or Avatar: The Last Airbender.  While the latter was indeed inspired by Anime, it is as much American as any other piece of Western Animation.  We Americans are ingenious, creative, and don't limit ourselves by influence.  The term "American Anime" annoys me because it implies that for a cartoon to be good, it must come from outside the US...and...I...HATE IT!

This was my rant.  And Digimon is #8.

#7) Yu-Gi-Oh!

The Premise is--Admittedly--A stupid marketing ploy.  Teenager nerds play a card game to save the world.

Yep.  Stupid premise designed to make money.

But it didn't start out that way...And (Speaking as an amateur Egyptologist) it was, oddly, one of the most accurate depictions of Ancient Egyptian culture around.  They used actual Hieroglyphs that spelled out actual words...accurately.  The characters stated that the monsters were meant to represent parts of your soul...and there are slots for monster cards IN the game (In Egyptian Mythology the soul was composed of 5 separate parts)  Lots of little touches as well as sympathetic characters added up to a fairly enjoyable show.  (I have no love for it's two...make that three sequel series.)

#6) Chaotic

A Deconstruction of Yu-Gi-Oh!  All to short-lived at that...It had so much potential.

No, seriously.  It's a very similar premise, complete with a card-game marketing tie-in.  The difference is that the monsters are actually real.  The human characters use a device to scan the  "Monsters" and then copy them in the Dome Battles in a place called "Chaotic".  But that's only half the story.  Like I said, the creatures are REAL.  They have real thoughts/feelings/motivations.  And the four tribes that exist in the series are at war with one another.  And quite a few of them aren't all that keen on humans scanning them for their "games" in another Universe.  I feel my description isn't doing it much justice, so I'll just have to encourage you to check it out yourself.  The First season is done in horrible blocky flash animation...Which does look awful...but apparently someone realized this, and in Season two they switched to Traditional Animation (And GORGEOUS animation at that)

#5) Inuyasha

Fantastic Anime (My first Anime in fact...) Told in the style of a Fairy Tale.  But with Time Travel, Demons, Monsters, Sacred Jewels, Death, Zombies, Reincarnation, Shapeshifters, Wolves, Flying Flaming Cat things, Swords, Blood, More Death, Lecherous Monks, Demonslayers, and little girls. 

You know, for kids!  

(But most certainly NOT 4Kids!) 

#4) Class of the Titans

A Canadian Cartoon that can only be described as "Fun with Mythology"  The Descendants of the Heroes of Ancient Greek Myth are recruited and called upon to stop Cronus, God of Time and King of the Titans from overthrowing the Greek Gods and ruling the world.  It was done in a fun and playful way...but wasn't afraid to take some risks either.

Bonus points for Inuyasha fans, as Kirby Morrow (Miroku) and Kelly Sheridan (Sango) played the leads, Jay and Theresa (Descendants of Jason and Theseus respectively) And David Kaye (Sesshōmaru) was Cronus.  

#3) The Spectacular Spider-man

I know that I'm a biased fanboy here...But seriously...Nearly anything that Greg Weisman works on is GOLD.  With dynamic characters, engaging storylines (both episodic AND arc-based) and smart genre-savvy villains who tend to win more often then they lose (even when the hero THINKS that he's won)

Yes, I know, Disney owns Marvel, and Season 2 of this show aired on Disney XD, but it was created before the Buy-up, and originally aired on Kids WB/CW for kids/Whatever the heck they're calling it these days.  I believe that it counts as both Disney AND non-Disney from differing perspectives.

#2) Avatar: The Last Airbender

Oh. My. God.

I love this show SO much.  I've heard nothing but good things about it for years.  But I didn't get the opportunity to actually watch it until last week.  I tore through all three "Books" in about three days.  And I just LOVED it.  I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, THIS was something special, and I can't believe that I hadn't realized it before.  It's what prompted this blog post in the first place.

The Characters:  Dear God are these some interesting, dynamic characters who not only developed and grew as the war progressed, but never remained stagnant either.  I especially enjoyed watching Katara (who is easily one of my favorite characters, but unlike a lot of shows, it's hard for me to pick a single favorite) when we first met her, levitating a fish out of the ocean was a struggle for her.  We watch her Waterbending skills grow over the course of the first season, until she's declared a "master" by an ACTUAL master at the end of the season.  Outstripping Aang rapidly (after getting formal training)

Likewise, I liked watching Zuko's struggles within himself leading to him making the WRONG choice at the end of Book 2.  And the latter realization that he made the wrong choice.

I figured that no matter what, I wasn't going to care for whoever Aang's Earthbending teacher was, because of all the bending disciplines in the show's universe, Earthbending seemed the most...boring to me.  But the snarky and unique Toph not only proved me wrong, she rapidly became a personal favorite of mine.

And for a series who's fandom is famous for their "Shipping wars" I found that I had no preferred "ships" instead wanting each and every romance (should one occur) to develop naturally and was quite satisfied by how they turned out.

And they're not afraid to go into some pretty deep subjects too...Death, the price of war, the sanctity of life...

I could go on and on about this show, but I won't.  Watch it yourselves.

#1) Young Justice

You know how I said that just about everything that Greg Weisman works on is gold?  Yeah, this show is no exception.  It is AMAZINGLY well done.  Greg's nickname is "the Joss Whedon of Animation" and considering Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-man, and now this...It is a very apt nickname.

My brother refers to it as "Firefly-level good".  Which is extremely high praise from him.  Don't call em' sidekicks (or at least don't call Red Arrow one!) But you can call them an amazingly well done show--and we're only halfway through Season 1!!!

This is the Disney Wizard, taking a brief brake from the Mouse, signing off!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

BOOM! Deal goes Ka-Boom!

Just a sad, brief little post here.

Acknowledging the fact that Disney has dropped BOOM!'s as a partner for their comics, effectively killing the revived Disney Afternoon Comics.

No more Darkwing Duck...


No more Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers...

No more Ducktales...

No more of James Silvani's artwork...

Which I adore, can't you tell?

The only good thing about this is that BOOM! has chosen to end with the crossover to end all crossovers...

The One that should have happened back when the shows were on the air...

I am of course referring to:

Ducktales meets Darkwing Duck!!!


And isn't it about time?

Disney Wizard signing off.

Friday, March 4, 2011

#9: A Crisis on Infinite Darkwings

I am certain now.  I'm not alone on this island.  I know not whether my companion is friend or foe, but I shall know soon enough.  I intend find him, before he finds me.

Before I go though, I shall begin the first of my "Nine Old Lists".  This is a series of lists, named for Walt's Nine Old Men; his go-to guys for animation.  Not all of these lists will be animation related, but they will all be Disney Related, and since my main focus in the Wonderful World of Disney is animation, they will be mostly animation related lists.

List # 9: My top 9 favorite Alternate Darkwing Ducks in "The Crisis on Infinite Darkwings".

I mentioned in my first post how much I adored the Disney Afternoon, and how much I loved that Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck had come back in comic form.  Since that first post, a Ducktales comic has been announced that's supposed to share continuity with the Darkwing Comics.  Not sure how that will work, but since it's being written by Warren Spector of "Epic Mickey".  I have HIGH hopes for this series, and will soon start collecting it.

But that's not what this list is about.

THIS is what this list is about.  The "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings" arc of the comic series.

The arc just finished up and BOY OH BOY was it good.  I'll try not to spoil too much for you guys, but the BEST part of the 4 issue story-arc was the various "Infinite Darkwings" running around.  They had just about EVERY possible Darkwing Variation running around except the kitchen sink!

I stand corrected.  They even had the Kitchen Sink Darkwing.

Seriously, they have everything!?!

Okay...what about...Harry Potter and Indiana Jones!  Ha!  Bet they don't have that!


Iron man?  

Yeah, I'm going to quit while I'm behind.

Seriously though, this was great storyline, and an awesome plot.  Plus there was the extra fun of playing "Where's Waldo" with all the Darkwings on every page!


Seriously though, there were TONS of fun Darkwings on every page, and many of them were just plain awesome.  From Zorro Darkwing, to the Shadow Darkwing (Funny since DW is a parody of the Shadow) to Gandalf Darkwing, to the Bowling Ball Darkwing.  (I kid you not)

Even the Bowling Ball Darkwing is confused by the fact that there's a Bowling Ball Darkwing!

So...for this list, I'm going to list my top nine FAVORITE Darkwings of the Multiverse.  Get ready, because here they come!:


Navi'i Darkwing:

It's no secret to anyone who knows me, that I HATE James Cameron's Avatar.  Word of his pixelated little "epic" reached even my ears.  And my God was I bored!  Sure, it was filled with beautiful animation, and as a Disney Wizard, I couldn't help but enjoy the marvels of that animation, which would not have existed without my namesake.  But the plot was SO predictable, that once I had seen the first five minutes of the movie...I had pretty much seen the whole thing.  Seriously.  If you want to know the plot, I'll give you a hint:

And at least Pocahontas had a saving grace: the fun-loving antics of Meeko the Raccoon (seriously, my favorite character in that movie, and possibly the most developed!) and the fantastic voice work of Jim Cummings, Frank Welker, David Ogden Stires, and Mel Gibson.  Not that Zoe Saldana and whats-his-face did BAD jobs voice acting, but they certainly didn't put the same effort that was put in Pocahontas.  Which remains today one of my (but not my absolute) least favorite Disney Films.

Why do I love Nav'ii Darkwing so much then?  Because he's so...interesting looking.  I LOVED thinking about St. Pandoranard, about all the Parody-of-Avatar options he brings to the table.  And then there's the fact that he has a beak.  The love story of Avatar would have been SO much more interesting if the "Big Blue Smurfy-Cats had beaks and were just a little less...humanoid looking.  I mean...

Look at her!  She's frigging gorgeous.  Oooh...I fell in love with a cat-like Smurf, but it's okay because she's hot.  The love story was absolutely BORING.  Now if she'd been a little less human...say they'd given her a duck-like beak...then THAT could have been interesting, and would have made a boring movie more enjoyable.
 I actually consider Nav'ii Darkwing to be the one good thing that came of JC Avatar.  Hooray!


Calvin Darkwing:

 I am forever a fan of Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes.  And so (it seems) is  James Silvani, the artist behind "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings".  This 6-year old tyke with the active imagination got me through some tough times as a kid.  With his duplicator/time machine/cerebral enhance-a-tron/transmogrifier/cardboard box, his talking tiger buddy who's always a stuffed animal around other people, and his cute neighbor-who-he-clearly-doesn't-have-a-crush-on Susie Derkins.

Who couldn't resist an homage to one of the greatest comic strip characters of all time.

The best part for me?:  Calvin Darkwing's Mask is the same color as the Stupendous Man (Calvin's Superhero Alter Ego) mask.  A nice little touch there by colorist Andrew Dalhouse.


Rorschach Darkwing: 

I recently read Alan Moore's "Watchmen" for the first time and Rorschach ended up being my favorite character.  It was really fun to think about the "WatchDucks" world that Rorschach Darkwing came from.  I mentally cast Launchpad as Nite Owl, Feathers Galore as Silk Specter, Gyro Gearloose as Dr. Mouseton (Dr. Manhattan) and Scrooge McDuck as Ozymandias.  Ultimately though...Rorschach Darkwing may just be the darkest and most disturbing Darkwing Variant.  Unless his universe is like "The Saturday Morning Watchmen".

Rorschach Darkwing is dark and sad, because one of the things that I realized after I had mentally cast Launchpad and co in their various roles in the Watchducks Universe, was that there was only one place for Gosalyn.  Issue #8, the final part of the "Crisis" establishes that EVERY Darkwing has a Gosalyn that he loves, cares about, and has affected his life in a major way.  Considering Rorschach's life in the Canon Watchmen Universe, there's only one role that Gosalyn fits in Rorschach DW's life...and that's very sad, dark, and disturbing.  This made a one-shot gag/shout out character a very deep and meaningful character to me, and I immediately latched on to Rorschach Darkwing.  For better or for worse.


The Darkwing Doubloon:
After the dark seriousness that is Rorschach Darkwing, it's fun to get a nice, FUN crazy Darkwing on this list.  Darkwing Doubloon actually first appeared in a "What if/Elseworlds" style episode of the original TV series.  A privateer and "Scourge of the Seven Seas" Doubloon took on pirate variations of NegaDuck* Bushroot, Liquidator, Quackerjack, and Megavolt.

Armed with a sword and a crew consisting of Launchpad, Gosalyn, Stegmutt, and Gizmoduck (A nifty conquistador/pirate version) Darkwing Doubloon was one of the MOST fun episodes of the original series.  So it's interesting to see him here.  He has exactly one line in the comic: 
 But he appears in the background more than any other Alternate Darkwing save the ones with major speaking roles.  It's easy to imagine this Darkwing as a skilled pirate and a great leader.  Particularly since he comes swinging in at the end of issue #8 alongside another Darkwing Variant that I'll get to later.


Sherlock Holmes Darkwing:

He is the Crime, that is anything but elementary!

As a self-proclaimed Sherlock Holmes aficionado, This is another Darkwing that I just had a ball mentally casting his universe.  With Launchpad as Watson, (an interesting dynamic, since the book Watson was actually quite smart, he just paled compare to Holmes, LP on the other hand is...not so bright) Morgana MaCawber as Irene Adler, Chief Agent Grizzlykoff as Lestrade, and Taurus Bulba as Moriarty.  Fun fun fun!  I actually see his universe as a combination of the Canon Holmes, and the Great Mouse Detective.  With the events of that movie more or less taking place (Moriaty/Bulba in place of Ratigan) but on a less-mousey level.  Gosalyn is Olivia Flaversham, and Sherlock adopts her at the end of the case just as he did in canon.  These universes are FUN to think about, seriously.


My God, if any Darkwing Alternate deserves a higher place on my list it's him.  I really is.  Talk about a villain made of sheer awesomeness.  Negsy is the Negaverse version of Darkwing Duck.  He's frigging AWESOME!  In my personal opinion, he's the second or third most badass villain in the whole Disney Canon (with Demona and Maleficent beating him out, I'll make a 9 favorite villains list later, to determine his exact spot)

He's evil, he's insane, he's clever, he can scare Liquidator and Bushroot with a chainsaw (and they can't be killed by a chainsaw)  He really should be higher up on the list, and if I could somehow make him higher on the list, then I would.  The three remaining Darkwings beat him out by a hair's length.  I have justifications for their higher spots, and I hope ol' Negsy can forgive me (I know how he feels about coming in #2 to Dr. Slug)  But just in case, I'm going to be checking my home for dynamite after this blog is published.

Oh, I forgot to mention that he gave us a great cameo of Goliath, and since Gargoyles is my favorite show of all time, that definitely deserves a mention.


DarkWarrior Duck:

One night, Gosalyn Mallard disappeared from Darkwing Duck's life.  Something in him snapped that night.  He thought that she ran away because he would take her crime fighting with him (She really ended up getting dragged to the future via a time machine)  He felt he wasn't tough enough on crime, and so became the insanely murderous DarkWarrior Duck.  This guy is off-the-charts-bat-crap-crazy.  He puts jaywalkers on death row.  And he REALLY hates those guys who tear the tags off mattresses.  He's also cold, calculating, tough, and smart.  He terrifies Megavolt and Quackerjack, who are normally too INSANE to be scared of anything.

Why does he beat out NegaDuck on this list?  Simple.  He killed NegaDuck.  That takes some mad skills, as NegaDuck has proven near impossible to defeat.  Negaduck has been frozen in place and sucked into the universal void and come out unscathed.  But this guy drops an anvil on him (and a plethora of other rogues at the same time) and Negsy is toast.  Dang!  This guy was near unstoppable.  Even in the episode, he made short work of Megavolt and Quackerjack.  The ONLY thing that stopped him was the fact that even in his core, he couldn't bring himself to hurt Gosalyn (she really is the Heart of Darkwing Duck)  While she had him wrestling with his conscience, Launchpad hit DarkWarrior over the head with a frying pan.  Any other circumstance, and DarkWarrior would PWN.  This guy is the literal unstoppable force.


Quiverwing Duck:

Unstoppable force, meet Immovable object.

The Quiverwing Quack was a superhero identity that Gosalyn sometimes adopted when she wanted to go out super-heroing like her dad.  She was swift, skilled with a bow and arrow, and stole the glory from Darkwing Duck.  Naturally, he hated when she did that.  Not just for the danger...but also for the publicity that she took.  

Turns out that DW had a point.  In another universe, Quiverwing Quack and Darkwing Duck fought side by side as a dynamic duo super-hero crimefighting team.  Until one fateful night, Gosalyn had to make "The Ultimate Sacrifice".  In her honor, DW dropped the moniker Darkwing Duck, and forever became, Quiverwing Duck.

I cannot get enough of this guy!  He's friggin AWESOME.  I mean seriously.  I can't even begin to show my praise for possibly James Silvani and Ian Brill's greatest contribution to the Darkwing Duck Mythos.  Seriously, you HAVE to pick up issues #5-8 to truly GET how amazingly awesome Quiverwing is.  Why did he beat out the unstoppable DarkWarrior Duck?  In addition to dealing with his loss of Gosalyn in a MUCH healthier way, by honoring her memory instead of perverting it.  Quiverwing did what NONE of the characters in the show could do.  He took DarkWarrior down.  While facing him head-on, with no distractions.  And the fight was very one-sided.  Don't take my word for it though...see for yourself: (Spoiler Alert!)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the sheer awesomeness that is Quiverwing Duck.  This event was what cemented him in my mind as one of my favorite Darkwings and #2 on this list.  Not to mention that he rallied the other Darkwings to fight NegaPaddy, came up with the solution for defeating Paddywhack, and all around kicked MAJOR butt in all four issues, he is the Arrow that never misses its Target, he is Quiverwing Duck!

And the #1 Darkwing Duck is:

Darkwing Prime:
Darkwing Prime: 

The daring Duck of Mystery, the master of surprise.  Without him, NONE of the other uber-cool Darkwings such as NegaDuck, DarkWarrior, and Quiverwing could exist.  He is the source Darkwing.  In fact, NegaDuck's plan didn't even make sense to me until DarkWarrior called Darkwing "Darkwing Prime"  Then, suddenly everything clicked.
In Turtles Forever, the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team up with the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to stop the 2003 Shredder from destroying "Turtle Prime" (the original Mirage Comics) and erasing the turtle multiverse.  Suddenly, Negsy's plan made sense to me.  Intentionally or not, it seemed as though he was doing EXACTLY what the 2003 Shredder was doing.  Trying to destroy Darkwing Prime, and thus wiping out the Darkwings of the multiverse.  Would that have taken NegaDuck with them?...Maybe.  If the thought crossed NegaDuck's mind--like 2003 Shredder--he probably didn't care.  Or saw HIMSELF as the original, and that Prime just branched off from him.  And my interpretation seems to make sense to me.  But of course, everyone has their own opinions.  

There you have it, the first of my "Nine Old Lists".  Stay tuned for more!

Arctorius Yensid,

Disney Wizard.

A special thanks to Vaporshi of for providing me with some of the pictures needed to create this list.  Thank you so, SO much.