The latest and greatest animated television show currently on air, at least according to my three-year-old son Emmanuel, is unequivocally, Cartoon Network’s “Ben 10.”
The show, which initially premiered in December of 2005 as part of a sneak peek for Cartoon Network’s Saturday morning lineup, was created by Man of Action (a group consisting of Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle), and produced by Cartoon Network Studios.
The second episode was also shown as a special on Cartoon Network’s Fridays on January 13, 2006, on which the first and second episodes were shown back-to-back.
The show, which is now a bonafide hit, airs daily on the Cartoon Network and revolves around Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen, and his grandfather Max.
At the start of their summer camping trip, Ben is nearly hit by an alien pod. When he examines it, he finds a mysterious, watch-like device, called the Omnitrix, stored inside. The device attaches to his wrist and gives him the ability to transform into different alien heroes, each with their own unique powers (similar to DC’s Dial H for Hero comic).
Although Ben realizes that he has a responsibility to help others with these new abilities at his disposal, he’s isn’t above a little superpowered mischief now and then. However, unfortunately for Ben, an evil alien warlord named Vilgax also wants the Omnitrix, and will stop at nothing to acquire it.
Now, I have to say that I have watched the show several times and can honestly admit that my son and I are sitting down at this exact moment watching Ben 10, while I simultaneously write this article. Ben 10’s originality is a definite plus and the majority of the storylines are excellent. I think the Cartoon Network may have scored a knocukout with this show, but we shall see. At any rate, here are the main vcharacters of the Cartoon Network’s Ben 10.
Ben is a typical 10-year-old boy. He plays video games, rides his bike, and sometimes gets into some mischief. During a camping trip with his grandfather Max and his cousin Gwen, he finds the Omnitrix, an alien device that gives him the ability to turn into various aliens. Unable to remove it, he uses its powers to become a superhero. He finds the job trickier than he imagined, especially with the evil alien warlord Vilgax pursuing him relentlessly to retrieve the Omnitrix. However, no matter what bizarre form Ben takes, inside he’s still the same mischievous, yet good-hearted 10-year-old boy.
Ben’s 10-year-old cousin, Gwen (the two share the same birthday), is the voice of reason that often, unsuccessfully, tries to keep him from trouble whenever Ben is ready to dive headfirst into a bad situation. Ben usually wants to ignore her and thinks that (from his point of view) she has no idea when to stop nagging him.
Gwen is always trying to plan ahead and calculate the consequences of their (mostly Ben’s) actions, because she is convinced that Ben never thinks before he acts. She uses her laptop to research any strange people and/or creatures they might come across, and continually tries to help Ben figure out how the Omnitrix works (much to her own dismay).
Although, most of the time, she holds Ben in contempt and insults him with dry wit and sarcasm, resulting in the two of them bickering a lot, she has some respect for him deep down but she dislikes showing it.
Max Tennyson, or Grandpa Max as his grandchildren call him, is Ben’s and Gwen’s grandfather. With a keen sense for adventure and a strange taste in food, Max always ends up taking the kids (and their taste buds) on interesting trips. As soon as school lets out, Ben looks forward to going on a traditional summer road trip with Max. Much to Ben’s dismay, Ben discovers that his cousin Gwen is joining them as well.
Max, who was in the army (among other things, it seems) and has been through his share of scrapes, takes his grandson gaining superpowers in stride, and supports Ben in any way he can.
Vilgax is a vicious, intergalactic conqueror from a currently unknown alien species and unspecified planet who will stop at nothing to obtain the Omnitrix and use it to build an army capable of conquering every planet in the galaxy.
After being severely injured after a final attack from the ship that was transporting the Omnitrix, he was confined to a regeneration tank, ordering his robotic minions and cosmic bounty hunters to track down the Omnitrix, not realizing that Ben outsmarted and outfought his minions.
However, while his body was being repaired, he was also being cybernetically enhanced. When he was finally able to leave the regeneration tank, he had been enhanced to the point that none of the Omnitrix’s aliens could so much as scratch him.
Vilgax’s ship was destroyed with him still aboard, but because he survived every attack from the Omnitrix’s aliens his demise is in question. His ability to survive the destruction of his previous ship from a nuclear missile, at which point he had not been enhanced, casts further doubt on his demise.
The Omnitrix is a watch-like alien device. When the button on the side is pressed, the face pops up and shows a silhouette of an alien. The face can then be twisted to select different aliens. By settling on a specific alien and pushing the face back down, the Omnitrix transforms the bearer into the alien they selected. However, the Omnitrix occasionally malfunctions, and transforms the bearer into an alien that wasn’t the one selected, or a previously unknown one in rare circumstances.
I’ve found Ben 10 to be a very appealing cartoon. I think the art, dialogue and characters were all created – and exist – with a singlar similarity – excellence. The storyline is fairly original and should stand the test of time at the very least, for a few seasons. Whether or not that turns into anything more or not, well, only time can will tell. However, I do know that I thoroughly enjoy Ben 10 – and I’m sure you will too.