Friday, October 5, 2012

Countdown: Top 25 Best Comic Book Cartoon Openings!

 I needed a week off from doing news. I wanted to do something a little different during this past holiday. And I think I found it.

   Many of us are fans of comic books to the point that we are gonna die comic book fans. And as television became such a big part of comic book medium in general, studios began to pump out more and more cartoons. And Maaaaaaaaaaaannnnnn . . .  there have been a LOT of comic book cartoons. And some cartoons from the most surprising places.

  The following is my list of personal favorite Comic book Cartoon Openings. And since there are cartoon openings, there will be no sign of the live action Adam West Batman theme or Wonder Woman theme here. Yet, this will have some very interesting shows. We have several incarnations of a team and two of the most recognized heroes on the planet. These are measured by song, popularity of the show, popularity of the character, popularity of the song, arrangement and content of the opening. So sit back, relax . . . smell the nostalgia. Welcome to My . . .


by Frankie Rodriguez

25) - THE MIGHTY THOR  (1966)

    Okay. It's only 20 seconds. And you see rainbows for a nice chunk of it. You see Asgard. And it is pretty old. Yes.  Now watch it again. Seriously . . . And listen this time.

Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard where the blooming heavens roar
You'll be held in Breathless wonder, the God of Thunder, Mighty Thor 

  The fact that it shows where Thor came from, shows us some lightning and thunder was a big plus. The choir singing this song was very good at giving itself a mystical feel to their singing. They acknowledge that Thor is supposed to be this amazing character . . . from a place with a rainbow bridge. Sure, laugh it up but the song tells us we will be in breathless wonder from this God of Thunder and how close to Jack Kirby art that Thor looked . . . that was amazing. It gave people just enough to want to see and hear more of Thor.

Unfortunately, it's a very short opening and could have used a bit more meat to it. Which it is why it is on our final spot. Still . . . if you want to see more, look up episodes on Youtube and see the Mighty Thor!! (you know, cause he's dead in the comics for now)

24) WITCHBLADE (2006) - XTC by Psychic Lover 

     Top Cow's only entrant in our illustrious countdown. The opening is a nicely dark & haunting, while being sexy and violent all in one foul swoop. The images of the latest bearer of the Witchblade, Masane Amaha, is in a ravaged japan dealing with her new powers while being a single mother to her daughter, Rihoko. The opening shows us the dangers that she must face but also how the Witchblade has somewhat changes Masane, making her go through an actual internal struggle. The dark rock mixed with the hard and more upbeat chorus really helps work with the visuals and Masane's struggle. The fact that the song, XTC, is done by pop J-rock band Psychic Lover, who is known for anime & sentai openings (Yugioh GX opening, Boukenger Opening & Closing, etc.)

 As to why it's 24? Well, it only lasted a single season and it is not even about the Witchblade bearer that we  know. It's a whole new character with little connecting her to her predecessors other than the Witchblade itself. That and the show met with minimum popularity. This is done again in this countdown but in a much better way. But still, when Masane in full Witchblade gear comes at you for her XTC . . . you'd better give it to her.

23) SILVER SURFER (1996)

   Marvel Strikes again with this theme. This orchestral theme really works for Silver Surfer, giving depth to the vast space that he is part of and gives food to his master, Galactus. The art mixes computer generation well with the cell animation, just giving you the feeling that this was gonna be EPIC.

The Problem? Make that Problems. First, there are very few visuals in the 30 second opening. Seriously, we see more of Galactus and Silver Surfer than anything else in that period. And lots and lots of space. Silver Surfer should be in space yes but for the love . . . give us a little more of his rogues gallery or something. And  it being only 30 seconds hurts what could have easily been a theme for the ages.  Despite that, it does give a great epic feel and vastness of space.

22) ULTRAFORCE  (1995)

 Who are Ultraforce you say? Don't know who they are you say? Back when comics was in a big boom, Malibu comics had licensed out their characters for a cartoon. And it lasted . . . a season. One Season. Yep. Tanked. But still, this opening is incredible. The music is fast and interesting, giving this group its own feel. The characters are introduced to you, not through song but through visuals . . . which include their own names, moods and power sets explained and the art for it was amazing . ..  noting that there was definite George Perez influence, the man who original penciled Ultraforce when it first came out back in 1994, used for the art. The problem with this that one, you might not even know who they are . . . and 2, this was already done MUCH better. But you will see that later in the countdown. Still, if you want to take a look at a team from Malibu's Ultraverse, this would be it.

21) SUPER FRIENDS (1973)

     Well, I know there are gonna be some controversy with this. The first DC entry and its the Superfriends. This iconic theme . . . all the way down in 21. But you ask . . . why? oh why? It's awesome. Yes it is awesome. It is iconic since they used a variation of it for 11 years. But here is my issue with this theme; while it works great with the animation, the fact that we are being told what they do works against it, not for it like Thor. Second, while visually appealing, the music gives Epic when I see campy and laughable. Sure, it was the 70s and all but still, you got big superheroes and two kids that don't seem to know what they are doing. Where is child services? Sigh. Still, this is ICONIC and good to listen to. It was used better later on but the damage had been done.

20) BLADE (2011)

     Okay. Okay. I know I know. I can hear the "are you kidding me"s from here. But make no mistake, this show has one brilliantly epic theme behind it. The techno rock opening to the anime has a look and feel of the live action movies. It flows with the visuals well. And Blade looks a lot like his comic book counter part. It is amazing how well it looks. The downside . . . well, some of the vampires look a little more special than others, which can be confusing. And while the visuals synch up, I am still a little confused on some of them. Still, it is full of awesome and win which makes it get here. Kudos to Marvel & Madhouse for making a great theme to a character that should be getting more play in the comics . . . and yes, that is another reason why it is lower on the countdown.

19) IRON MAN (SEASON 2-1994)

   Surprise. Surprise. You were thinking I would say his latest cartoon Armored Adventures or even the new anime. WRONG! What those and the first season of this show's theme lacked, this opening makes up for in spades. The sound of "I Am" with Tony Stark, damaged heart & all, pounding on steel to make new arm to the great guitar solo in the opening, this opening showed Tony's ingenuity, his sense of duty, his intelligence and how manly and awesome Tony Stark can be. We saw Tony build an armor, put it together, displayed his various other armors, him putting it on and then fly off like it was nothing. THAT IS AWESOME!

Yet the problem was is that this show was cancelled after this season. That and the fact that we didn't get to see Rhodey at all, who is a supporting cast member of the show. Such a shame for Iron Man getting cancelled, for it and Fantastic Four's second seasons during the 90s were so much better than their first seasons. Cest la vie. But if you are a man and you like Iron Man, this is the opening for you.


 Wait. Wait. Don't kill me. Stop booing me. I know a LOT of you fans like this old theme. Some of you are like, BLASPHEMER. Allow me to explain. This song was fun, charged with energy and full of exciting adventure and action with 4 teenaged turtles who were ninjas. And they were fighting against a group called the foot and an alien brain named Krang.

The opening was catchy and addictive and they used it for YEARS. The original show lasted about a decade on tv. Yes . . .THAT LONG. My problem with the theme steams from a couple of things . . .

1 - How are they ninjas when they have multicolored scarfs . . . some that can be seen easily at night.

2 -  Why do we need them showing off their weapons while standing still.

3 - We are told more than shown that they are the worlds most fearsome fighting teens.



 I am sorry if I am getting people made but this old cartoon was a joke. Sure it was fun to watch. I know I did but seriously . . . Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has always been, according to co-creator Kevin Eastman, a love letter to Daredevil. Think about it. And does THIS look like a love letter to Daredevil or its original product? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Still, the opening is kind of infectious which is why its number 18 on the countdown.

17) WILDC.A.T.S. (1995)

  I know. You are probably laughing. Go ahead. You got it out of your system? Yeah? Good. Why does this rate higher than some of the others. Honestly, there are several reasons. The song is actually kinda of catchy for the most part. The art style is doing its best to do Jim Lee come to life. The opening has a lot of good action that makes you interested. You see the major players. You see the main characters. You get very little of the heroes thanks to the rap . . Oh the rap. *sigh*

  Okay. The rap is BAD. Just very bad. And while the animation looks okay, there are some hiccups here and there. And the song is more nonsensical than it really should be. We know they are heroes. And that is pretty much it. We hear how awesome they are and they show it but . . . eh . . . Still, the tune is catchy and will stay with you.

16) X-MEN (ANIME -2011)

   Epic. JUST EPIC! EPIC! That is what this opening is. With its orchestra, stunning visuals and great pace, we get to see the X-Men in a brand new way. Taking notes from Grant Morrison, the look of the X-Men is very much like his new X-MEN run with some changes. Plus, the little notes on the characters are appreciated. You can tell that this was gonna be a great epic like none other.

 The problem is that people who don't know X-Men are gonna be confused as to who they are fighting and why. The villains are never really revealed until you watch the show which is a double edged sword for this show. Plus, with all the epic, we got names for all the good guys . . . why not the bad guys? And Emma Frost & Armor are main characters but their names are not up on their. Overall, a great way to kick off this new anime.


    When this show first was announce, I, like many fans, were skeptical. It was definitely very different from the Bruce Timm beloved Batman Animated series which still hold roots today. This show was different. From look to feel. Yet it was a bit more frightening at times . . . at least it was with this theme. This theme definitely gave you a much darker Gotham City. More violent. And the visuals were definitely giving that off. The guitar of this song, by legendary guitarist, U2's The Edge, was soulful, horrific and dark in a way that pounded at your soul. Thus creating a darker Batman.

Unfortunately, the soul wasn't quite living up to that darker side after a while and this theme was dropped after the first season. The theme was so good that it felt as if it might not even belong with this show. And that is why it goes down but still . . . with the frightening whisper of "The Batman" at the end of the song, you will remember this theme.

14) TEEN TITANS (2003)

    Yay! Teen Titans! Go! Teen Titans! GO! This unbridled joy of the song is part of its infectiousness. You listen to it and you bob your head. You start trying to sing it. You enjoy it and the visuals of their name constantly bombarding you alongside just the stars of our show . . . and only the stars of the show and their base. The style is great and visuals are sweet while awesome.
  The problem is the song itself. We all know that it is two japanese j pop artists (Puffy Ami Yumi) doing the song in English and we got Engrish. And that wouldn't be bad but to this day . . . I still don't understand the second part of the second verse. Seriously. I HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD. Plus, the whole lack of what they are fighting is a little . . . interesting at times. And while the designs of the Titans go from awesome to what the frell, over all, this is a great . . .sweet, sugary pop theme that will make you have cavities in seconds.


   How appropriate a number for one of the most interesting and unlucky characters of the Marvel Universe. Bruce Banner has to go through so much. And This theme shows that in spades. With a great instrumental going with the visuals that start slow but pick up and add on and on till you are bombarded, much like the Hulk is. It is an incredible opening that just grabs you in and holds on to you through a ride.

Unfortunately, the bombardment is a bit much when it comes to the opening. It feels as if you are suffocating with the Hulk, even after he smashes through stuff. And while the instrumental is great and fits so well, it is the visual sensory overload that takes this theme down. That and the fact that this opening was only one for a single season till they toned it down with some She-Hulk. Otherwise, Hulk would be sitting on the top.


The Fantastic Four have have Various incarnations in cartoon form over the years. Yet, this particular season, the second season of the Fantastic Four from the 90s which had better art, better story telling and wonderful episodes that could be held up against its source material. This opening reflected so much in so little time.
   The joy that comes from this teams exploration. The EPIC villains they have with that giant sized Dr. Doom, they're differences in powers and personalities as well as them being a family that have been together for a while.
  Each of this are so well done that make this theme nearly perfect for the team. And while it is pretty great for the Fantastic Four, one of its biggest problems was that it sounded . . .dated. While I am all for using older material told today, the sound of your theme should not sound as old as your parents. That coupled with the fact that this theme was only used for this one last season . . . brings it down a bit but Marvel's First Family still has one of the greatest cartoon themes of all time in my mind.



  This is pure nostalgia for me in multiple ways. Bruce Timm involved. Dwayne McDuffie one of the writers and over looked the show, as well as one of the characters creators. This show was gonna be great as a major fan of the Milestone line of books. And How I loved Static as a character. This opening was such a great introduction to a character that, once again, went a lot farther along than most people thought. The opening gave us great uses of his powers, a bit of his life at home and him being the smart hero as it is while giving us the background of his urban home of Dakota. This opening caputured that well yet there just seemed to be something missing.
  It is not a bad theme and I love listening to it. I guess I wanted a little more from Static's theme. The theme just needed a little more . . .and I don't mean Lil Romeo. Otherwise, this theme would topped the charts with ease.


 Oh man! THIS THEME . . IS  . . AWESOME!! The guitar with the techno, making a dark yet powerful blend to the ears. The Animation showing a very different and darker future for Gotham City that needs a new Batman. Our new hero, rising out of his own tragedy to take the mantle. The original hero still there, older. The grainy animation added to the mystique of the opening. With a great beat that will not leave your head, you will listen to this over and over again.

This is taking a classic character and doing them justice with a new face. And that is why this theme does so much better than other themes similar to it . . . like Witchblade. The only real pit fall to it is that sometime you can see how overly stylized it gets in the opening, which detracts from the music. Otherwise, get ready to go Beyond with Batman Beyond.


 This series was severely underrated and under appreciated by the networks. And this opening was no different. It has a great simplicity with its lyrics that are easy to follow with a great sound. The visuals were appealing. And a great way to see his origin and his supporting characters along with the beat of the music.

What brings this opening down is the fact how I can understand how the guitar is supposed to mimic a spider in some sense but it gives the series a darker feeling than it should. Other than that, this is a great theme and recommend it to anyone. Sorry Hector for not choosing the 90s theme. This one is better.

8) SUPERMAN (1988)

I love this theme. It is so epic. Fits with Superman so well. And the announcer is saying stuff we all know about Superman with some stunning visuals going on. This is a near flawless opening. Seriously, it is EPIC and AWESOME.

The problem is that we've heard it before in all the Superman movies from the late 70s, early 80s. Seriously . . . it is the same main theme of Superman from the movies. Not that it is a bad thing. It is smart marketing. Still, they had a chance to give the cartoon its own brand here and they didn't take advantage of it. Ah well. Next time Superman. *hears knock, goes to open* Oh hey Geo! What's up? *hear a punch and me going through a window. I land on the ground and look up for a moment* I'm . . . sorry.

7)  BLACK PANTHER (2010) 

   When I first heard this theme and saw the opening, I was hooked. I wanted to know more and loved what I was seeing and hearing. The rendering of John Romita Jrs. art as animation with the music was done perfect. The visuals were all interesting and beautiful, giving way to its rich African roots. Getting an idea of both the cast, its surroundings along with the actors and actresses was very smart. The opening flows very well. The music is a great representation of Wakanda, mix traditional and ancient traditions with technology today, mixing tribal with hip hop flawlessly.

 The only reason it is not high is cause it is more recent and the fact that the show only last 6 episodes. Tis a shame. But this theme will live on in infamy and holds a special place in my heart. Now to listen to it as I dance . . .

6) SPAWN (1998)

  This cartoon broke new ground. It was almost exactly like the cartoon with its violence, sex and dark, yet rich visuals. Making full use of the ideals set in the comic, this opening was very much Spawn come to life. The style was similar to Todd McFarlene's, his creator and original artist, that it worked well yet still different that it did not hinder the animation.

  This opening was mysterious, full of dark imagery and haunting things . . . like Al Simmons burnt face. And let me tell you . . . this opening scared the crap out of me. Seriously, this opening had me scared from the world go but I loved every second of it. It is so simplistic that it lets you have just enough to draw you in.

The only real problem was that it felt too simplistic in letting me imagine and I would think about not watching it cause I was scared. There. I admit. But one listen and look at this opening and you will know why.

5)  SPIDERMAN (1966) 

   Talk about Iconic themes. You look at the opening and you see him swinging his web and going from one place to another. Spiderman! You probably know the words. Your parents know the words. Everyone you know knows the worlds. Your future wife or husband knows the words to the song. It is catchy and accurate. The opening itself allows you to see Spiderman swing around.

Which gets me to why I put it in #5. Did you remember how the opening looked like BEFORE you pressed play on here? Did you? Me neither. The song transcended the opening animation. And that is a great accomplishment but you don't remember the opening other than the song makes you wonder what was there and that is why this theme is #5.


   This theme was awesome. It started off with a great orchestra building up to a great guitar with a symphony. And bang, you are in for it. And with the pictures of any episode in between some stunning Timm designed characters of the DC Universe on there, you were just glued. The fact that parts of the opening changed every episode kept the opening fresh. And that fact that there was a variable cast of thousands.

You see all the main leagues from Justice League plus a bunch of new members. Yet, with all that, the downfall of this opening is its strength. Depending on the visuals they used, they either enhanced the opening or spoiled it for you. Sometimes, you were feeling very excited, other times . . . the opening made you blah.
Other than that, this show's opening is still among the very best that I remember fondly at our #4.


 I will be honest. This song was a surprise. When they announced the show, I expected some kind of general instrumental. Then I saw and heard the opening for this show. And my is it GLORIOUS!!! The lyrics work so well for the Avengers as the visuals show each Avenger in a place of origin while Iron Man is looking at them then they get together and when you hear "Avengers Assemble", you lose your mind in excitement as the song kicks up its chorus.

 The fact that the song can work on its on as a single on its own is nearly unheard of in the US but common practice to shows in Japan. This visuals of the group fighting then getting together get you excited with the group shot at the end. It makes it all worth it.

The only reason this didn't top the countdown is cause of how overly effect the top 2 songs are. Yet, given time, this song might over take them.

2) X- MEN (1993)

   It is a safe bet that most people, unless they are under the age of 18, know the X-Men cartoon theme from the 90s. It has been heard millions of times since then. So much so that many people think of it whenever they see something dealing with the X-Men and have not forgotten it. The instrumentals working at a great pace at first but builds and builds and builds and explodes at the end. You see the characters get introduced with names and an idea of their powers. You see some of their enemies. This show's theme and opening has been so greatly revered, it has not left most people's minds.

The only reason why it did not top the countdown is cause the #1 is THAT MUCH MORE PERFECT & MEMORABLE.



. . .


  You should have guessed it. But yes. It is none other than Bruce Timm's great creation that still holds threads today. This theme started not just the long and GLORIOUS dealings of us having Kevin Conroy as Batman & Mark Hammill as the Joker . . . it started a DYNASTY of themes. Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock, Batman Beyond could NOT have been here if it weren't for this opening. So beloved that this theme was worked into Batman Movies and used over and over and over and over again throughout the DC animated universe.

 Anyone who has seen this opening remembers it. It still plays now on the Hub and other channels. You want to see who Batman is, watch the opening. Want to know how Gotham City is like? Watch the opening. Want to know how Epic Batman is . . . WATCH THE OPENING. It gives you just enough to want more and be hooked. The theme's orchastra gives a perfect blend of music to work with Batman's actions as well as visuals. Even after nearly 20 years now . . . I have not forgotten this theme. Have you?  . . . See what I mean.

 It is so grand and epic to work with a man dressed in a bat suit and it does perfectly. Thus why it is my number 1 pick for Top 25 Comic Book Cartoon Openings of all time.

Hope you enjoyed this special as I enjoyed writing it. This is Frankie Rodriguez saying thank you, good bye and good night.

1 comment:

  1. BRILLIANT! I think I agree with you on everything...not a fan of Blade, but your comments I think were right on...the techno music was the "touch". Never did care for Aquaman that much, but hey a super Hero is a Super Hero, so what can I say. This was really a brilliantly put together blog!