Make it So: Earth Hanna-Barbera by Jerry Whitworth
When DC Comics reintroduced its multiverse concept, fans were largely let down by what resulted. There were mostly forgotten about advents like Captain Atom: Armageddon, Countdown to Final Crisis, The Search for Ray Palmer storyline, Countdown: Arena, and Grant Morrison’s Multiversity which, save for Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, has yet to ever surface. The Young Justice television series takes place on one of the 52 Earths in DC Comics’ multiverse but have thus far remained on their own Earth and the rebooted DC Universe has generally only touched upon two Earths (a reboot that has all but deflated in its renewed interest). In essence, it was an opportunity that was wasted. Further, it appears little if anything will be done with it. As the idea was mostly dropped, several Earths were never even identified. With this in mind, consider what if one of these Earths is made home to the world of Hanna-Barbera? One of the infuriating aspects of DC Comics is its wasted potential. Comic books have become the bedrock of many successful franchises and have long acted as a promotional device for non-comic book originating material. So, it should be a no-brainer that Warner Brothers would promote their rich catalog of animation through its comic book line. As the Looney Tunes may not fit well in the DC Universe, Hanna-Barbera alternatively could fit quite nicely. This is especially accurate considering this is not exactly all that innovative an idea.
In 1973, Hanna-Barbera would premier the first in a series of adaptations of the Justice League of America in the Super Friends franchise. Three years following the premier of Super Friends, DC Comics would begin publishing a series of adaptations based on the program. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell would painstakingly try to tie the series to the Earth-One continuity of the time (so far as references made of/in Teen Titans, Superman Family, The Brave and the Bold, and DC Comics Presents), also tying Wendy Harris and Marvin White who were original to the cartoon to Earth-One characters Gotham City detective Harvey Harris and the original Diana Prince, respectively. However, inconsistencies would leave fans to identify the adventures of the Super Friends as being on Earth-1A. Though, Hanna-Barbera would premier their Super Friends version of Batman and Robin a year before the series first aired as part of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Later, as part of the television series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Mystery, Inc. would again cross paths with the Dark Knight (in this same series, Batman would also team with iconic Hanna-Barbera superhero Space Ghost). Scooby-Doo and his supporting cast were no stranger to crossing over with various Hanna-Barbera characters, including team-ups with the superheroic Daring Duo Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder (an obvious pastiche to Batman and Robin) and in the series Laff-A-Lympics which included Blue Falcon and other heroic characters Captain Caveman and Hong Kong Phooey (later, in Hanna-Barbera Presents, a new version of the series would premier in the “Superstar Olympics” and incorporate other heroes like Atom Ant, Quick Draw McGraw/El Kabong, and Touché Turtle). The latest Scooby-Doo series in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated would go on to update characters like Blue Falcon, Captain Caveman, Jabberjaw, and Jonny Quest.
While some action-adventure aspects of Hanna-Barbera have been mentioned, it only scratches the surface of what the studio produced. As stated, Space Ghost was an iconic character (some may say Hanna-Barbera’s Superman, though his story may have been more in line with Green Lantern) who was even provided a mini-series by DC Comics some years ago. Space Ghost would crossover with various action heroes from the animation studio in the final two episodes of his original series when he battled an assemblage of his greatest foes in the Council of Doom teaming with the Herculoids, Shazzan, Mightor, and Moby Dick (these characters, along with Birdman, Galaxy Trio, Dino Boy, Frankenstein Jr, and the Impossibles would be packaged together for the program Hanna–Barbera’s World of Super Adventure). Space Ghost would return in the series Space Stars along with heroes like Teen Force and Astro (of the Jetsons fame) and the Space Mutts, at times teaming with these characters notably against Teen Force’s nemesis Uglor. There are even more Hanna-Barbera action heroes including the Arabian Knights, Samson and Goliath, Pirates of Dark Water, Galtar and the Golden Lance, SWAT Kats, Justice Friends, and the Powerpuff Girls. Several of these properties would see print in the pages of DC Comics’ series Cartoon Network Presents. Ruby-Spears would become a sister company to Hanna-Barbera and would be merged alongside it into Warner Bros opening the door to characters like Fangface, Mighty Man, Thundarr the Barbarian, and the Centurions as viable options. Warner also owns the rights to Captain Planet, Freakazoid!, and Road Rovers.
The advent of Cartoon Network, a television station owned and operated by Warner Bros, would generate another avenue for the company to produce new content. New action series like Samurai Jack, Ben 10, Secret Saturdays, and Sym-Bionic Titan would be produced by Warner for the channel. Many of these programs would be featured in a comic book produced by DC Comics for the series Cartoon Network Action Pack. Man of Action, who created Ben 10, would see their creation M. Rex turned into an animated series for Cartoon Network called Generator Rex which would crossover with Ben 10 in one episode. Rex would also be featured in DC’s Cartoon Network Action Pack. As DC Comics has and is already printing so much of the Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros catalog, it’s almost silly it hasn’t evolved into incorporating these elements together. Perhaps there is concern of taking a product intended for children and incorporating mature themes, but these apprehensions went out the window with DC Comics’ Space Ghost limited series. While shows like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and the Brak Show saw limited renewed interest in the old Hanna-Barbera product, today they largely languish in obscurity waiting to be dusted off and given new life again.
As an aside, a team-up between the Zoo Crew, Just’a Lotta Animals, Looney Tunes, and Hanna-Barbera funny animals would be awesome.
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