As part of Time Warner, DC Comics has a lot of properties at its disposal to adapt. With the announcement of a reimagined “Scooby Doo” series, along with new takes on “Johnny Quest,” “The Flinstones” and a slew of others, the publisher is poised to take full advantage of the franchises at its disposal. Which begs the question: what else does the home of Superman, Batman and Ambush Bug have at its fingertips?
We’ve compiled our own list of series from the Warner Bros. archive we feel are deserving of a comeback in the comic book medium. Take a look at our selection — full of entries produced by Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network and more — and let us know your own choices in the forums.
Challenge of the Super Friends
While it’s not considered the greatest or most highbrow DC animated series to date, “Challenge of the Super Friends” still stands as many ’70s kids; introduction to the stable of characters making up the Justice League and the dastardly Legion of Doom — who are, naturally, based inside a swamp, within a headquarters that looks suspiciously like Darth Vader’s helmet.
The lightning-fast pacing of the series and balance of iconic and new DC characters — Black Vulcan and Apache Chief, we’re looking at you — make a potential comic book adaptation a prime introduction for younger readers to DC Comics, while of course serving as a nostalgia-fest for fans who grew up with the show. As “Batman ’66” proved, a comic book continuation of a campy, yet familiar, DC Comics property has the potential to blossom into a whole new entertaining beast for generations that have yet to experience the silly joy of ’70s Super Friends.
The Addams Family
Where has “The Addams Family” been? The property hasn’t graced the small or big screen in over a decade, yet interest is clearly there (as we saw last year with the viral ‘Christina Ricci as Morticia Addams‘ photo). Hanna Barbera had their hands on the property in the ’70s with their own animated series — that got a few Gold Key issues at the time — so could the macabre franchise return to form at DC Comics?
The ’70s series featured a different version of “The Addams Family” than most people are familiar with, as the show’s premise saw the clan travel in a Victorian-era RV through America. The show had a fun procedural premise, while packing the absurdist and unapologetic dark comedy of Charles Addams’ original strips. Solely for the lasting appeal of “The Addams Family,” DC should consider getting its hands on an adaptation — especially if it could maintain the fish-out-of-water, ’70s setting of the Hanna-Barbera toon.
The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley
Pee-wee’s back, so why not the ’80s other favorite man-child, Ed Grimley? Created by Martin Short for SCTV, the triangle-playing, “Wheel of Fortune”-obsessed, cow-licked creation went on to appear on SNL before landing his own Hanna-Barbera produced animated series, called “The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley” in 1988, for one season.
The show was undoubtedly pretty weird, and sure, “The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley,” isn’t the best title, but the unique brand of absurdist comedy and roster of memorable segments — including “The Amazing Gustav Brothers, Roger and Amil” and SCTV’s Joe Flaherty as “Count Floyd” — could result in a potentially amazing comedy-slanted comic book series. If DC has the rights to this series, it may be worth revisiting, considering Short’s lasting mainstream appeal and the prospect of a series (with name recognition!) that’s unlike anything else on the stands.
“Tiny Toon Adventures” was the first Warner Bros. Animation/Steven Spielberg collaboration, but most would argue “Animaniacs” did a better job at establishing a new wave of memorable WB characters. In 2016, it’s clear “Animaniacs” stands the test of time as a symbol of the brilliant, all-ages renaissance of Warner Bros. Animation in the ’90s. The series’ smart homages, carefully crafted (often meta) comedy, and overall broad showtune-y appeal, solidifies the series as an important and enduring show even 20 years later.
“Animaniacs'” ability to traverse any genre effectively with its diverse cast of lovable characters, lends itself to the versatile comic book medium. A potential series could contain multiple segments, just like episodes of the original series, that spotlight the show’s many characters in the clever parodies and punchy skits we’d grown accustom to on the show.
Pinky and the Brain
“The one is a genius, the other’s insane.” “Genius” and “insane” are probably the best words to sum up the concoction that is “Pinky and the Brain.” The Spielberg-Warners collaboration and “Animaniacs” spinoff masterfully balanced flat-out slapstick comedy with brilliant one-liners, making it a joy to watch for both kids and adults. Playing on an age-old dynamic, “Pinky and the Brain” delivered on cunning writing and absurd action, closely resembling the heyday of Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” cartoons, but in a modern, self-aware fashion.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory: “Pinky and the Brain” is iconic, yet it hasn’t seen any new content since the early ’00s. The fan base is clearly there, and it’s done well syndicating in international markets, so there’s no doubt the property is still popular. Along with revitalizing ’60s properties for modern readers, DC would do well to to bring back a more familiar property aimed at people in their 20s and 30s.
Harvey Birdman: Attorney-at-Law
Sure, you can bring back Hanna-Barbera characters with their own series, but why not have them return all at once at their raunchiest in a “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” comic? The Adult Swim show changed the animated game by revitalizing many memorable (and unmemorable, i.e. Droopy) characters in the context of a 15-minute legal comedy, wherein former superhero Harvey Birdman defended them in a court of law. Throughout the show’s run, we got to see a stoner Shaggy, mob boss Fred Flintstone, jerk-of-a-dad George Jetson, and many other classic cartoon characters reimagined in a cynical ’90s fashion.
The edgy humor and clever satire of “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” could translate well to the comic book format, since there are endless characters from the Warner Bros. Archive to skewer and reintroduce to modern audiences. And, as much as the show made fun of old cartoon characters, it brought a whole new dimension to old pals who would’ve otherwise been forgotten. In other words, Peter Potamus could benefit from a comic book appearance sometime soon.
“Thundercats, HO!” Aside from the memorable catchphrase, the ’80s “Thundercats” animated series actually pales in comparison to the 2011 remake, which elevated the property through thoughtful storytelling and modern animation. Rare is it that a remake surpasses the original, but Cartoon Network’s “Thundercats” series did precisely that, offering a sophisticated modern retelling of a property with existing name recognition.
Undoubtedly, the 2011 “Thundercats” series ended too soon, so instead of bringing the series back for the sake of it, it’d be great to see an adaptation continue from where the series left off. We’re certain this wasn’t the end of the young Lion-O’s adventures, so who better than someone like Greg Weisman, a vet of Warner Bros. Animation, to finish it off? The series’ unique blend of comedy and meaty storytelling would no doubt be suited for the “Young Justice” and “Spectacular Spider-Man” scribe, who’s already writing for comics on Marvel’s “Starbrand & Nightmask” and “Kanan” series.