The Mighty Heroes

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The Mighty Heroes was an animated television series created by Ralph Bakshi for the Terrytoons company. The original show debuted on CBS, on October 29, 1966, and ran for 1 season for 21 episodes.[1]

The series is set in Good Haven, a city that is continually beset by various supervillains. When trouble occurs, the city launches a massive fireworks display to summon a quintet of high-flying superheroes into action.

History[edit]

The team members are clumsy accident-prone bunglers who often find themselves in silly situations. A typical occurrence has them hopelessly tangled together offering each other stock apologies, often while falling en masse into an even worse situation. In combat, they are even worse, continually getting into each other's way until they are all captured by the villain (who almost always has enormous V-shaped teeth). However, having escaped the villain's death trap in the cliffhanger, the team always manages to regroup and fight with proper coordination to win the day. In an episode of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, also produced by Bakshi, the Mighty Heroes retired and became accountants with a firm called "Man, Man, Man, Man & Man."

The series came about when the Terrytoons staff were pitching series proposals to the animation company's parent corporation, the CBS television network, only to have them all rejected. When the CBS representatives asked if there were any other proposals, Bakshi, at the time a former "boy wonder" animator who had been recently promoted to director and invited to the meeting, spoke up and improvised the proposed The Mighty Heroes on the spot.

The cartoons originally appeared as a segment of the long-running Mighty Mouse Playhouse during the 1966-67 season, which was renamed "Mighty Mouse and The Mighty Heroes" in recognition of the new segment. Some weeks during the network run, two complete "Mighty Heroes" segments would open and close the show with a classic Mighty Mouse cartoon in-between. In other weeks, one Mighty Heroes episode would be split in two to open and close the show, with two Mighty Mouse cartoons broadcast in-between.

The character voices were provided by Herschel Bernardi, who provided those of Strong Man, Diaper Man, and Tornado Man, and Lionel G. Wilson, who provided those of Cuckoo Man and Rope Man. Bernardi was also the original provider of the "Ho Ho Ho" voice of the Jolly Green Giant and of StarKist's Charlie the Tuna voice in commercials. Wilson was also the voice of the title character in another famous Terrytoons series, Tom Terrific. Only 20 episodes were produced; the series came to an end when Bakshi left Terrytoons in 1967.

Reruns of The Mighty Heroes were eventually syndicated by Viacom (now CBS Television Distribution) in the 1970s as part of the Mighty Mouse package. There have also been licensed VHS releases of some episodes and bootleg DVD releases of the entire series, but there has never been an authorized DVD release of the show. Episodes of The Mighty Heroes also appeared in movie theatres for a time, with an episode shown to audiences, preceding the main attraction.

Their last appearance in animated form was as guest stars in the episode "Heroes and Zeroes" of the late 1980s series Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, produced by Bakshi, in which they had all retired and were running the accounting firm of Man, Man, Man, Man and Man. Even Diaper Man had grown up, evidenced by his wearing a moustache.[2]

The individual Mighty Heroes[edit]

  • Strong Man is the "Superman" of the group, who has incredible strength—if not invulnerability. He speaks with a friendly southern farm-boy type accent, somewhat similar to Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle voice, and holds a civilian job as a mechanic. His favorite fighting move is his "Jet-propelled blow" where he flies into a villain fist-first.
  • Rope Man is a sailor who works at the Docks. A very erudite fellow with a light British accent, Rope Man's body is a seemingly unending length of rope. He can use his hands like lassos, and can even weave himself into a net. The drawbacks to his powers are that he often gets tangled up or knotted, not rarely around his own teammates. He also tends to talk too much.
  • Tornado Man is a TV weatherman who can spin himself into a tornado. He often sucks the villains into his vortex then shoots them out towards the nearest solid wall. He speaks in a wheezy voice.
  • Cuckoo Man is a bird shop owner whose powers are simply bird-based. Unlike the other heroes, who can fly with no effort, Cuckoo Man has to flap his arms almost constantly in order to keep aloft. Cuckoo Man changes into his costume by jumping up through the bottom of his store's cuckoo clock and popping out through the little door. He may be the least effectual of the heroes, but he is not useless. While the other heroes' flying is accompanied by a "jet" sound effect similar to Mighty Mouse's, Cuckoo Man's is represented by a chugging jalopy engine sound much like Jack Benny's Maxwell automobile.
  • Diaper Man, whose primary alias is pronounced by the announcer as "...and Di-ah-per Man," is a red-headed, diapered, yet fully articulate baby as well as the leader/brains of the group, who sounds a lot like Popeye the Sailor. His main weapon is his bottle, which by holding on to the rubber nipple, he can swing (or shoot like a slingshot) around forcefully. The bottle can also shoot high pressure streams of baby formula. In emergencies, Diaper Man (and often Strong Man) will drink some formula from the bottle when extra strength is needed.

Episodes[edit]

Almost all of the 21 episodes were named after the enemies the Mighty Heroes encountered in each.

  1. The Plastic Blaster
  2. The Frog
  3. The Junker
  4. The Shrinker
  5. The Ghost Monster
  6. The Stretcher
  7. The Monsterizer
  8. The Drifter
  9. The Shocker
  10. The Enlarger
  11. The Toy Man
  12. The Dusters
  13. The Big Freeze
  14. The Timekeeper
  15. The Scarecrow
  16. The Time Eraser
  17. The Return Of The Monsterizer
  18. The Paper Monster
  19. The Raven
  20. The Bigger Digger
  21. The Proton Pulsator

"The Proton Pulsator" is an "Astronut" cartoon from Terrytoons, mistakenly added to the "Mighty Heroes" entry in "The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons" by Jeff Lenburg. The text in the wikipedia entry confirms this. It refers to 20 shorts, not 21.

External links[edit]

References[edit]