Reboots are awesome. There you go. I’ve said it. Call blasphemy all you want, but I’m a fan of (some) adaptations, and 80s cartoons are high on my list of “Yes, please adapt.” It’s not just that modern companies are making the storylines better; they’re quite frankly making some of them make sense. Not in all cases, but in a heck of a lot of them.
I’m a child of the 80s. I grew up on these cartoons, and enjoyed their adaptations. I followed their various incarnations, too, but now is a golden age for storylines, with plenty flourishing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I’ve always been a fan of witty repartee, martial arts and turtles. Combine all three and you’ve sold me. Easily.
TMNT started as a rather dark comic book, grew into a 10-year long cartoon show in the 80s, then a 6-year run starting in 2003. Nickelodeon bought the rights in 2012, and BOOM, started everything up again.
IDW has two new comics lines, one based on the new cartoon show and one more based on the old comics (and much darker. I love it). I struck that out because they just repeated one of my least favorite storylines ever (spoiler link). No conclusion on that yet, so I’m no longer including it (take that, IDW!) Let’s also ignore anything live action, because there is absolutely no winning there.
Anyway, back to the new cartoon. What makes the new turtles unique? Their personalities are more defined.
Michelangelo, the party one, is now more funny than annoying. Donatello gets more chances to shine (he’s my fave). Leonardo, the poor always responsible lead turtle, is now a geek and gets excited about Space Heroes (a riff off Star Trek: The Animated Series). Raphael is still angry and one of the most loyal and, although he pretends to be a hard-ass, he’s one of the more sensitive.
Apart from the great character writing, they also have unique character designs, not relying solely on colors and weapons to differentiate the turtles. This cartoon is rocking the ninjas.
Okay, I haven’t read this yet, but it’s already on my subscription list at my comic book shop (called the Comic Book Shoppe. Ha.) Coming back out as a comic book from IDW (gives turtle stink eye), Jem is making its first official story reboot since the 80s.
You know the one thing that’s always bugged me (and most people) about Jem? Aside from the fact that every single episode ends with someone falling off a cliff (cliffhanger in its purest form)? It’s the fact that there was absolutely no reason for Jerrica to turn into Jem. None. It just complicated things and made an awkward and somewhat creepy love triangle with her beau, Rio.
In the comic book, they’ve already announced that there is a reason: Jerrica has terrible stage fright. Being Jem makes her confident. Okay, I’ll buy that, as far as 80s rock shows are concerned.
Plus, they’ve announced some LGBT characters, which will nicely switch things up a bit. I can’t wait to see where this title goes. (I’ll stick by IDW for this. But I’m watching you…)
My Little Pony
Bronies phenomenon aside, the new Friendship is Magic cartoon is hitting it out of the park. Ignore the weird movies with ponies turning into people. As my three-year old niece said with a frowny face when I talked to her about it: “Ponies are more fun than people.”
And there you have it. My niece is growing up to be a reclusive rancher. And good for her, I say.
The 80s cartoon, as with most 80s cartoons, was basically a giant advertisement for Hasbro, let’s be honest. The storylines and character development were shaky. They were shown as short installments, tacked on with an episode of a less popular Hasbro toy, in an effort to sell more of those. (With limited success. I still hate those Glowworms with a child-sized passion.)
The new cartoon does not feel like a giant commercial (mostly.) Anyone who thinks it does did not grow up in the 80s (our poor parents).
Anyway, the new cartoon’s winning trait, aside from playing on nostalgia by bringing some old favorites back, is the strength of its characters and themes. The main six (known as the Mane Six… I know, I know), are just edgy enough, and the laughs are plenty. Plus, as in the old cartoon, they don’t shy away from darker storylines. Ponies rock it.
(There is also an IDW title accompanying this franchise, and it’s good. Damn you, IDW. You make it hard to hate you.)
She-Ra was my favorite all time thing. Ever. In, like, ever. She was useful as both Adora and her alter ego, She-Ra. I mean, she had a freaking flying unicorn. She could talk to beasts AND her sword changed shapes at a simple request (I don’t wanna know about fan fiction written about that. Thank you.)
Simply put: she was the best.
So, how could they improve on her? DC has picked up the comics again, with Dan Abnett taking the helm as the writer. I had my worries, I won’t lie. Will She-Ra just be a sidekick for He-Man? Will she have her own agency? Will she still wear cool boots and have hair that rocks her tiara?
She’s a difficult character, in a way, because she was raised by the enemy. So, in the new DC series, when she fell on Eternia to destroy her (unbeknownst to her) home planet and family, I didn’t know who to cheer for.
Then she chose to become She-Ra to save her brother (after, you know, she killed him). She’s not happy about the lifelong manipulation and we’re getting glimpses that she’s tired of being dragged along as a tool. I expect good things, or I shall write Mr. Abnett a pointed letter. A very pointed letter.
This series is going to up my therapy bills. (But not as much as TMNT. Damn you, IDW. I’m keeping an eye on you…)
I don’t even know how I was going to finish this. I still have too much IDW anger. Wait! I know!
We should stop fighting against reboots and begin embracing some. We’ll have some spectacular misses (any franchise Michael Bay touches, as if we weren’t already still traumatized from the death of Optimus Prime in the cartoon movie**), and some spectacular hits. Really, when we look at some of the old stock animation cartoons without a nostalgia lens, it’s sometimes not hard to imagine how they could be improved upon.
*Ducks flying 80s toys*
**I know the new comic book Transformers series is supposed to be awesome, but I haven’t read it. Please feel free to tell me what I’m missing!
Marie Bilodeau is an award-winning science-fiction and fantasy author, as well as a professional performing storyteller. Check out her writings and find out what the heck a storyteller is at www.mariebilodeau.com.