Friday, August 10, 2007

Ben 10

There’s a show that’s been around for a couple of years that I have recently discovered and really enjoy. It’s called Ben 10 and it’s on Cartoon Network.

Ben 10 is about 10-year old Ben Tennyson, a normal kid who discovers an amazing machine called the Omnitrix, a wristwatch-shaped device that can turn him into any of 10 superpowered aliens when the need arises. The
theme song says it all:

“It started when an alien device did what it did
And stuck itself upon his wrist with secrets that it hid

Now he’s got super powers, he’s no ordinary kid

He’s Ben 10.

So if you see him you might be in for a big surprise,
He’ll turn into an alien before your very eyes
He’s slimy, freaky, fast and strong,
he’s every shape and size

He’s Ben 10.

Armed with powers, he’s on the case
Fighting off evil from Earth or space
He’ll never stop till he makes them pay
‘Cause he’s the baddest kid to ever save the day
Ben 10.
I just love theme songs that describe the premise of the show. That’s not done enough these days.

Accompanied by his cousin Gwen and their grandfather Max, a former plumber (but not the kind you might expect) who travels in a motor home, Ben finds trouble and sometimes trouble finds him.
This series had to have been inspired by one of my favorite comic book concepts, Dial H for Hero. In Dial H for Hero, Robby Reed discovers a dial with the letters H-E-R-O and when the letters are dialed in that order, he is transformed into a different superhero, and those heroes in later stories were devised and contributed by readers.

Ben 10’s characters were designed by a guy whose artwork I have followed for a while.
Dave “Cornelius” Johnson had previously designed vehicles and characters for Justice League, and his work here is most definitely inspired by Jack Kirby. Even the logo has “Kirby crackle,” a shorthand way of illustrating intense energy, as seen here on the cover of Fantastic Four #72.

When you think about this show as having appeal to kids, the merchandising nearly took care of itself. The more forms Ben can take, the more action figures there are to sell. Kids can even buy their own full-sized Omnitrix. This is truly brilliant work. Even Gwen gets in on the superhero action in an episode so it isn’t just a boy’s show.

Since today is August 10th, there’s a Ben 10 marathon on Cartoon Network and tonight at 7 PM Eastern, there is a Ben 10 movie, “The Secret of the Omnitrix.”


Martin said...

Jim, we're Ben 10 fans in our house too (my son had me tape the movie last night halfway through when he went over to a friend's house). When were at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2006, we even went to the Ben 10 panel - the young blonde woman who voices "Ben" named Tara is cute (she also does the voice of "Raven" on Teen Titans and more).

Jeff McClain said...

I haven't heard of this show, but I'm going to check it out. I still love powerpuff girls, and the Sara here does too, now that she's a grown up 4. Jason is now over 3 months old, and weighs about 13 lbs (he was barely 6 lbs. when he was born). He's way ahead of the curve even though he was premature, and is unbelievably strong. He's going to be a large man when he grows up. James now wears the same size shoes I do. Yeah, he's eight.