I'm a big fan of Marvel's Super Hero Squad franchise.
It started with the wicked awesome, mini, mildly deformed-style toys, branched into online comic strips (followed by an ongoing comic book series), a video game (lately followed by another), and then the TV series.
Every expression of the franchise has got its merits, but it's the TV series that's currently scratching my fanboy and professional itches.
Why? How about top-notch voice work form the likes of Tom (Spongebob) Kenny and Japanese anime and action cartoon demigod Steve (Spike Spiegal) Blum?
And while I've been wanting to do this quick write-up for a while, it was the recent episode, "Lo, How the Mighty Hath Abdicated!", written by Charlotte Fullerton, that reminded me what works for this series.
A lot of comedic animated series try to hit at two levels -- kids and adults. What surprises me is SHS successfully hits those two levels, and a third -- the Marvel fanboy.
In this particular episode, you get to see comic mayhem (a la Loki and the Enchantress), which is entertaining for kids and adults alike. Add to that subtle jokes like an Elvis-themed Asgardian wedding officiator (trust me, it works), fanboy comic mythos allusions to the complex relationship between Magneto, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver, and even a comic re-enactment of one of the more touching moments in The Wizard of Oz.
Other episodes have clever, almost dallying-with-the-line adult jokes ("Move it, asteroid clown!"), and subtle clever references to Star Wars, other pop culture tropes, and even past Marvel animated forays (the introduction of Firestar spawns a "Reptil and His Amazing Friends" moment); entertaining, above the heads of the younger audience, but engaging for adults.
And while the first season stayed largely planet-bound as the Squadies gather fractured infinity gems in opposition to Dr. Doom and his ragtag crew, season 2 has gone cosmic, possibly following the lead of the Marvel publishing line's wildly successful print series.
I highly recommend the series for fans of clever writing, solid voice acting, kid-plus-adult friendly entertainment, or pop culture and fanboy tributes. And any combination thereof.