Thanks for joining Universal Dork for issue #1 of our ‘toons you should sure as hell be watching. For this kick off I want to mention a ’toon that is popular with kids but I quickly overlooked. Fortunately, I am a big enough dork to watch any cartoon I can get my eyes on while working out early in the morning. Well I was blessed to have repeats of Ben 10 showing at the crack of down while sweating it up…and I found it was full of many pleasant surprises. As usual, I encourage you to follow the jump for all of the essential information and this unlikely superhero youth!
Here we go…
So, to kick this informative blog off…let’s get you up to speed on the basics of Ben 10. The show follows a 10 year old kid named Ben Tennyson who is on a summer vacation with his Grandpa Max and cousin Gwen RV’n across country. Early in the trip while camping in the woods, an alien ship is attacked in orbit around Earth. During the attack the ship jettisons the cargo being sought and it just so happens to be found by the unsuspecting Ben. When Ben approaches the alien cargo, it opens and attaches itself to his arm in the form of a funky looking watch. The watch offers Ben the ability to transform into 10 different alien beings and but has many disadvantages. First, he can’t get the watch off. Second, he’s 10 and sucks at using it…and he is very irresponsible with its power. Third, once he transforms, he only has a limited time as the alien being. But despite the short comings, his Grandpa and cousin help him try to understand the power that he has been gifted with and encourage him to use it to help people.
The show first aired in December of 2005 and wrapped up in April of 08. Ben 10 ran for four seasons on Cartoon network and only has 52 episodes. The show ends with a movie that covers the origins of the watch. You might say to yourself…why so short…did they cancel it? No, this is what I liked about it, they wanted to lay the ground work for the next series when Ben is a bit older (Ben 10: Alien Force to be covered in a later blog) and keep it fresh! So during the course of this first story, they develop a great underlying story line about the watch, its creation/purpose, and how other characters are tied to its alien origins.
Per the usual superhero stories, there are plenty of bad guys that want the watch and lots of typical episode plots. But the thing that I found really compelling about the show was how it only covers one summer of Ben. And during that time he never gets the hang of using the powers…in fact he sucks at it, but learns how to be resourceful. I also loved how each of the aliens gets a name by Ben, names that are just stupid. For example, the insect, goo shooting, flying alien is called “Stink Fly”; the Crystal beast called “Diamond Head”; and the four armed strong man called “Four Arms”… almost like a 10 year kid named them…cause he did! With great power comes great responsibility, right…well Ben Tennyson was not the best choice cause he sucks at thinking things through.
Not enough reason to check it out yet, well get this…Ben 10 was created by a team that calls themselves “Man of Action”. With the developing story line and obvious comic book overtones of the series, my curiosity got the best of me and I dug a bit on this “Man of Action”. Turns out the team is a combo of Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Steven T. Seagle, and Duncan Rouleau. Hey comic fans…heard of these guys? Yeah, they have been writing for DC, Marvel, Image, Wildstorm, Dark Horse, Vertigo, etc. for years on comics from Spiderman to Godland and JLA to Constantine. I encourage you to look up each writers’ contributions. It also appears the concept is loosely based on an earlier DC comic creation called Dial H for Hero, which is based on the same premise.
Well, no more need for me to keep jaw jacking this to death, if you like ‘toons, I recommend Ben 10 to get you started down the road to the later series. As mentioned, I plan to cover the second series, Alien Force, in further blogs…and you got to love this, it has already been announced that there is another later series planned called Ben 10: Evolution. Almost like they plan to mature the characters along with the core audience…Awesome! As usual, I would love to hear your comments and feedback on the info here, come on out, dork it up, and weigh in!