If I had to guess, I’d say the 1966 cartoon The New Adventures of Superman won’t be a big hit with today’s children. Children of the 60s might have liked it, although even for back then, the animation’s pretty low-grade. Today, children have undoubtedly seen cartoons with flashier or better animation and won’t be so interested in this. On the other hand, adults who have developed an appreciation for cult classics, camp, or kitsch are sure to find some enjoyment in The New Adventures of Superman.
The plot formulas for The New Adventures of Superman are so simplistic they make Super Friends seem like The Godfather in comparison. Likewise, the lackluster animation will make The Flinstones seem like Spirited Away, but the cornball punchlines make this series priceless. For example, in the very first episode, Superman fights a monster made out of electricity that looks to be stolen from the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. When he chases the monster into outer space and catches up with it, Superman says “Uh oh, there’s that sparkling personality!” And when he fights a pteradactyl a few episodes later, he calls it “Terry.”
Every episode has dialogue laced with ridiculous puns, unlike any I’ve ever read in Superman comics (and I’ve read a lot of Superman). Those are definitely the main draw.
The cartoon’s connection to the comic is pretty sketchy. Out of the handful of episodes I watched, I didn’t see any of Superman’s usual rogue gallery (no Solomon Grundy, Brainiac, or Mr. Mxyl…etc) except for Lex Luthor, whose first appearance is so ridiculous it’s a wonder DC even allowed it. Lex schemes that the only way he’ll be able to commit crimes with impunity is if he turns himself into an 8 year old boy, claiming something like “No one will expect a child…” Instead of recognizable villains, the bad guys here all look like they’re taken directly from sci-fi b-films, running the gamut of weird humanoid aliens like Plan 9 From Outer Space to giant monsters like Godzilla or The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Oh, and one episode features a goofy wizard.
Again, unless you’re a devotee of “so-bad-it’s-good” or if you’re a child of the 60s feeling nostalgic, you shouldn’t spend your money on The New Adventures of Superman. If you are curious about it, it’s available on disc from Netflix and someone has posted the episodes on Youtube.
I’ve written a book titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories. It features 8 short stories about the stranger sides of the artistic process. If you’d like to read this, please visit my Amazon author’s page.
If you enjoyed this article about The New Adventures of Superman, you might also like my post about my love of cartoons in general.