Adapting comic book stories and characters isn’t new to the entertainment industry. Before the MCU, there were plenty of other Marvel shows and movies that helped introduce these larger-than-life heroes to the world. And it was no different for so many DC, Image, and Dark Horse Comics properties that fans have come to know and love.

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But while shows like Flash and Loki may hold a place in the hearts of many fans, there are still many adaptations that have been forgotten over the years, many of which have made great use of the animation medium.

ten Wild CATS: Secret Action Teams

The WildCats title card for the animated adaptation of the Image Comic Book series.  The team stands together by name ready for battle.

WildC.ATS was a team created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi for Image Comics in 1992 before being acquired by DC Comics. The series was known for characters as sharp as Spartan and Grifter and dealt with a violent war between two opposing alien races.

The WildC.ATS the animated show largely followed the same plot as the comics, but still had a few tweaks to make the series a bit more kid-friendly. For example, the heroine known as Zealot couldn’t behead people like she did in the comics; instead, she gently rendered them unconscious. The series ran for thirteen episodes on CBS from 1994 to 1995 and is almost forgotten by comic book fans today.

9 Spider woman

Spider-Woman flying through the air from her animated series, Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman is a Marvel comic book hero who was first created in Spotlight on wonders # 32 in 1977. Although Jessica Drew was the first character to bear the name Spider-Woman, several others have since used that code name.

The Spider woman animated series first broadcast in 1979 on ABC and starred Joan Van Ark as the main character. Although the series is different from its source material, it still managed to air sixteen episodes before being canceled in January 1980. A major departure from the comics is the origin of its powers. In the series, Drew gains his abilities after receiving an injection of Spider Serum # 34, instead of a procedure his father performed to cure his radiation poisoning.

8 The Maxx

The Maxx standing with its only claw in its title card from the MTV animated series.

The Maxx was a 1993 Image Comics series created by Sam Kieth. The series follows Maxx in both the real world and an alternate universe known as the Outback as he battles Mr. Gone to protect social worker Julie.

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The animated series premiered on MTV in 1995 and lasted only thirteen episodes, typically running around thirteen minutes. The show followed the script from the comic book and incorporated various styles of animation, making it a similar cable TV star to another popular MTV animated series, Eon stream.

7 Spider-Man Unlimited

Presenting a new version of the famous wall-crawler, Spider-Man Unlimited was a short-lived animated series that first aired in 1999. The show followed Peter Parker as he traveled to a world called Counter-Earth where he battles the High Evolutionary as well as Venom and Carnage.

Before the series was cut short, it offered fans alternate looks at some characters like Green Goblin and Kraven the Hunter. A comic book series based on the series has also been released under the title Spider-Man Unlimited which followed much of the original plot of the series, with Peter even wearing the same costume that is generally considered to be one of the worst Spider-Man costumes of all time.

6 The mask: animated series

The Mask standing in his yellow suit with his characteristic smile.

Based on both the 1994 film starring comedic actor Jim Carrey in one of his best roles and the Dark Horse comic book which he loosely adapted, The mask: animated series Stanley Ipkiss’ story continued. The hapless bank teller finds a mystical mask that transforms him into a mischievous green-headed character. The live-action movie and the animated series both deviated from the violent and darker original comics.

The series was one of the few animated adaptations that lasted more than a season. The series managed to produce three seasons with a total of fifty-five episodes before ending in 1997.

5 Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer on his board in space surrounded by stars and asteroids as he is chased by enemies.

Based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name, Silver Surfer followed the cosmic hero as he searched for his home after leaving his master Galactus, who is considered one of the coolest villains of the Fantastic Four. The show was Marvel’s attempt to capitalize on the moderate success of the The Fantastic Four animated series, which ran from 1994 to 1996 and featured the character in several episodes.

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Unfortunately, Silver Surfer only lasted one season with a total of thirteen episodes airing in 1998. The adaptation was known to combine styles of animation and feature classic Marvel characters like Thanos, Uatu the Watcher, and Adam Warlock. The series can now be found in its entirety on Disney +.

4 Robot Big Guy and Rusty the Boy

Big Guy standing in the city on the cover of the commercial paperback version of the series.

This 1995 Dark Horse comic was created by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow and only included two issues. The story surrounded an attack on Tokyo by a giant reptile creature and the new experimental robot, Rusty.

Both numbers were adapted into an animated series in 1999, which lasted two seasons with a total of twenty-six episodes. Similar to the comics, the show followed an advanced new robot, Rusty, as he is trained by the previous combat robot model, Big Guy, to fight a multitude of threats.

3 Battle pope

The Pope of the Battle Pope sitting at the bar drinking, surrounded by the many demons now on Earth.

Created by Tony Moore and Robert Kirkman of The walking dead Fame, Battle pope was a 2000 independent comic that followed a sinful Pope who was left on Earth during the Rapture. He was then commissioned by God to help mankind survive the demons who escaped hell, granting him intense power and delivering his son Jesus H. Christ to help him. The series was then reprinted via Image Comics in 2005, which generated enough interest for Spike TV to develop and broadcast an eight-part animated web series based on the comic book in 2008. Unfortunately, Battle pope failed to attract viewers, and Kirkman moved on to develop his successful adaptation of his seminal zombie series.

2 Plastic Man’s comedic adventure show

Plastic Man on the cover of the Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show DVD release.

Plastic Man was a DC Comics hero created by Jack Cole and first appeared in Police comics # 1 in 1941. Plastic Man is able to stretch his body to incredible lengths, as well as change his shape and size. Although he was never a comic book star, the jovial hero was popular enough to appear in Action comics and Justice League of America in the 1970s and got his own animated show around this time.

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Plastic Man’s Comedy Adventure Show operated from 1979 to 1981 with an initial battery life of two hours before being reduced to an hour and a half. The twenty-nine episode series featured stories with Plastic Man and D-List characters such as Mighty Man and Fangface. After his show was canceled, Plastic Man was going to star in many other DC animated properties like Unlimited Justice League and Teen Titans Go! At the movie theater in 2018.

1 The incredible screw-on head

Screw head seated among a variety of treasures with a demon by his side.

Although this is only a one-shot comic, The incredible screw-on head has become a fan favorite since its debut in 2002. Posted by Dark Horse Comics, Screw head was written and drawn by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. The story concerns a robotic agent of Abraham Lincoln who investigates a stolen parchment that could lead to an ancient gem.

There has been only one twenty-two minute pilot episode starring Paul Giamatti, Patton Oswalt and Molly Shannon and written by Bryan Fuller of Annibal Fame. While the Sci-Fi Channel pilot failed to turn into a full series, the one-episode show can still be seen in all of its bizarre glory on various streaming services.

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