Remember Zandor, Tara and Dorno? How about Jonny, Dr. Benton, “Race” Bannon and Hadji? Families have been one of the larger aspects of many superhero cartoon series from the time the genre first aired on television. Even now, in modern television programs like Secret Saturdays or The X’s, family dynamics play a pretty big role in superhero shows, whether they’re conquering evil forces or causing a little chaos amongst themselves. Here, for your nostalgic pleasure, are my picks for Top 5 Superhero Families of Animation.
The Bennetts (Bionic Six)
When your family is lying comatose on the brink of death, what’s a scientist to do? Laugh in the face of the Gods and turn them in to your own bionic soldiers – of course! Blast you Nature, here’s Science for you!
After the bionic-limbed Jack Bennett becomes the lone survivor of an avalanche that buries the rest of his family, his fallen family members are revived and brought back to life by means of bionic implants in their body that enable them to become a superhero team (with codenames) called the Bionic Six! There’s Helen Bennett, aka Mother-1, Eric Bennett, aka Sport-1, Meg Bennett, aka Rock-1, J.D. Bennett, aka IQ, as Jack and Helen’s adopted African-American son, and of course, Bunjiro Bennett, aka Karate-1, Jack and Helen’s Japanese foster son. Mainly sticking to their strengths, they fight against the evil Dr. Scarab and his creations.
I ask you, who among us wouldn’t want to be a bionic superhero? Personally, I’d love to be the adopted Hispanic Son, Badass-1. The Brady’s can suck it.
The Thundercats (Thundercats)
Here I speak of both the 1985 and 2011 version of The Thundercats. In the 1985 series, the Thundercats were a group of survivors from their distant planet, put together on a new world where they had to join forces and form a familial unit to train and raise their young king Lion-O, turning him into the leader of the Thundercats that he would one day become. When the boy Lion-O becomes a man but with a childlike persona, the group adjusts, and the Thundercats buckle down and become a wonderful and welcoming family with all breeds of ‘Cats including Lynx-O, Bengali, and Pumyra. I’m surprised there was never a Timmy the Tabby, or Sammy Siamese introduced.
2011’s Thundercats took a more regal and royal angle with Lion-O as the young warrior who’s trying to uphold the mantle of his royal father, often competing with his older and more experienced brother Tygra who should be the rightful heir to the throne. I also love Panthro as the much older and wiser war veteran, while Cheetara is the rogue warrior. Inevitably, they all realize their purpose in battling Mumm-Ra and venture together to bring him down. I’m assuming if the show had been renewed another season we’d have seen much more family interplay.
The Silverhawks (Silverhawks)
The Silverhawks are an intergalactic police unit who learn to be a family over the course of the series, and even subject their youngest recruit, The Copper Kid, to learning about space and the galaxy. Who wouldn’t want to be a Silverhawk? You can fly through the galaxy, you have a boss space ship that patrols the stars, you garner you own shimmering suit of various metallic substances, and you get to own your own attack hawk for dangerous missions. The original Silverhawks were cool enough as they fought the dreaded Mon*Star and his minions until the series end.
As a sidenote, I’ve always wanted to see a Silverhawks and Thundercats crossover, as the Silverhawks always seemed equal in flair and appeal. Plus, hawks eat cats for breakfast.
The Lights (Megaman)
In the tradition of Pinocchio, when you can’t have a family why not simply build yourself one? Dr. Light is a man of incredible genius who basically invented himself a family. Aside from a slew of assorted functional robots that would sadly go on to become tools for the evil Dr. Wily, and a former robot who turned on his creator and went rogue (Proto Man), Light learned from his mistakes and created more robots. One was a female named Roll, and another was a male robot named Rockman, hence Rock and Roll. Of course, in America Rockman is better known as Megaman. Dr. Light has gone on to train his pair of robotic siblings to battle Proto Man, Wily, and their robotic minions for many years. They’re a surefire team that can battle against even the meanest cybernetic foes.
The Quest Family (Jonny Quest)
This testosterone laced familial unit proves you don’t necessarily need a mom if you have a cool dad like Benton who uses his intellect to solve problems or a cool mentor like Race Bannon who protects Jonny and Hadji with his innate abilities of survival and self-defense. Also Hadji Singh is the ultimate best friend and support unit, while Bandit is the loyal bulldog you can always count on. What 7-year old boy wouldn’t want to be part of this band of adventurers?