Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Hanna-Barbera Superhero Universe

Art by Carlos Mota
I've played superhero rpg campaigns set in the Marvel and DC Universes and even considered one set in the Atlas-Seaboard Universe (that never happened, unfortunately). Recently, though I've given consideration (probably not seriously, though, but as a thought experiment) to a campaign set in the universe of Hanna-Barbera's superhero cartoons.

One notable thing about Hanna-Barbera's supers characters is that when you leave aside the licensed properties (Super Friends, The Fantastic Four) and the completely comedic ones (The Impossibles, Atom Ant), very few of the characters follow traditional superhero conventions. Few are set on modern day Earth or have a stable base of operations and supporting cast. The only one that does (Birdman) is a bit unsual because he's more of a superhuman agent of a governmental organization.

Despite this different in focus and presentation, I think many of them could be adapted to a more traditional superhero mold. Call it "Ultimate Hanna-Barbera," if you will.  Let's run the list:

Art by Alex Ross
Space Ghost: A very superhero-y and well realized character as-is. Perhaps like the Legion of Super-Heroes he is a futuristic character in the same universe. A future Phantom/Batman in the same way Captain Future is kind of a futuristic Doc Savage. The other option would be to make him sort of Green Lantern-like. A space cop assigned to protect earth. Or some combination of the two?

Young Samson: (Also known as Samson & Goliath) A teen with a Captain Marvel schtick who wanders around Route 66 or Incredible Hulk style, getting into adventures, works pretty well as-is. As suppose, it would be better to have him settled down and become more of a Peter Parker.

Shazzan: The cartoon has two kids transport to an Arabian Nights fantasy-land after finding their genie, but they could have just as easily stayed in the modern day. Two teens sharing a genie to fight evil would be an interesting concept.

Mightor: A Stone Age Thor, essentially. There isn't any reason a worthy successor couldn't find the magic club and become Mightor in the modern day. Of course, the character is a bit on the silly side and would probably work best for a Silver Age vibe rather than a Modern Age one.

Herculoids: In a comic book universe, the Herculoids could be sort of Ka-Zar type characters where their Savage Land is a world in another dimension, or they could be treated like a primitive Forever People and have them arrive on Earth to be super-powered fish-out-of-water.

Art by MarioPons
The Galaxy Trio: These teen heroes are probably better candidates for Forever People stand-ins. You can transport them to the modern day and have them be alien heroes stranded on Earth for some reason.


  1. Hanna Barbare, fun stuff indeed. Hope you had a fun weekend. Happy 2015.

  2. Barbera, I keep flipping the letters about. Too many waffles this weekend. Fried my brain.

  3. You forgot the most prolific, and adaptable, heroes of all Hanna Barbara: Blue Falcon and Dynomut. Though as silly as Mightor, and created later, its definitely a Batman clone.

  4. Re: The Herculiods -- check out these sweet 1st edition write ups:

  5. Didn't the Galaxy Trio (love me some Kid Comet) cross over with Space Ghost? I'd just make them and SG "guardians of the galaxy".

  6. Great post! I actually really liked DCs Space ghost revamp and would have liked to see more done in that theme. There were also several comics published with these characters back in the 60s that were sort of cool too but are lost to the world because who would ever reprint them.

  7. @Whisk - It happens. Heh.
    @David- Nah, I didn't forget Blue Falcon, but I think Dyno-mutt would need a different name to get a somewhat series makeover.
    @Mark - I think they did. I know Mightor, Space Ghost and Dino-boy crossed over.
    @Jim - Thanks. Yeah, Gold Key did Space Ghost, I know.
    @Stu - In the Watchmen-esque future, uh present, that's what Space Ghost winds up doing. Yeah, Sid & Marty Kroft had a few, as did Filmation.

  8. One of my dream "get around to it someday" projects is converting Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, and their villains into RPG form.

    (And I'd do 'em multi-system, with HERO and FASERIP and a few others.)

  9. Great stuff. I always loved Hanna Barbera stuff and think this would be fun to play around with.

  10. This is great stuff. If nothing else it could make for a great alternate in a multiverse setting.

  11. It's worth pointing out that Blue Falcon has a Grim and Gritty reboot in the recent Mystery Incorporated Scooby Doo series. Although Dyno-mutt is basically unchanged (and still voiced by Frank Welker) chunks of BFs dialog is actually lifted from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

    And yes, I'm pretty sure Space Ghost crossed over with the Galaxy Trio. Even if hey didn't, they certainly both crossed over with the Herculoids.

  12. I always play in the Atlas-Seaboard universe even when I don't. Marvel and DC are too lame for consideration.