Long before superhero and comic book culture took over mainstream pop culture, The Venture Bros. was immersed in brilliant parodies of superheroes, comic books, and general pop culture of the 60s and 70s. The Venture Bros. was one of Adult Swim’s first big hits and it managed to last through the many changes that have influenced both adult animation and television storytelling in general.
The animated series is a masterpiece in long-form storytelling and character development as the overblown world surrounding the dysfunctional Venture family continues to expand. Fans fell in love with the animated comedy for many different reasons, but its the absurd spins on classic superheroes and the wicked lead some of The Venture Bros. most satisfying times.
ten Captain Sunshine explores the tough questions no one wants to ask
One of the most popular superhero relationships to poke fun at is the link between Batman and Robin. The Venture Bros. usually lives up to its comic book parodies, but Captain Sunshine is one of the most effective examples.
Granted, the unstable hero contains traits of both Batman and Superman, but having Kevin Conroy voice the codependent characters is an intentional nod to the Dark Knight. The big joke with the characters is the many different Wonderboys Captain Sunshine has gone through over the years, which is a vulnerability the monarch even uses to defeat him.
9 Professor Impossible carries the weight of powers and a family
Professor Impossible is The Venture Bros. riff on Mr. Fantastic from Marvel’s Fantastic Four team. All of the powers that come with the Fantastic Four are presented with gruesome Cronenberg-esque realism. Many do not survive, and Professor Impossible is slowly shifting to the side of wickedness. Professor Impossible experiences one of the most substantial and heartbreaking character developments throughout The Venture Bros.
Professor Impossible is a cautionary tale about the dark side of superpowers and the pressure of always being in the spotlight. His material hits hard and it doesn’t hurt that Stephen Colbert, and then later Bill Hader, does a great job as a deranged, malleable genius.
8 Jefferson Twilight is on a very separate revenge mission
Vampires have become an increasingly common force in pop culture, even in the comic worlds of Marvel and DC, so naturally there must be individuals who can handle these bloodsucking threats. Jefferson Twilight, one of the Triad Order of Dr. Orpheus, is an intensified and exploitative pamphlet of vampire hunters like Blade.
The only difference is that Jefferson Twilight only has problems with “blaculas” – black vampires – because of the terrible acts they inflicted on his mother. Jefferson Twilight starts out as a self-aware stereotype, but it becomes so much more.
7 Brown Widow pushes a fun superhero into heartbreaking places
One of the most exciting elements of The Venture Bros. is that it doesn’t engage in a level of stasis like most anime series. Changes are constant within the series and a big change occurs when the Venture family moves to New York. This move brings with it several new local superheroes.
Brown Widow is an anatomically accurate version of Spiderman by Peter Parker, which is both rude and awesome. Nathan Fillion also voices Brown Widow and is clearly having fun in this irresponsible parody of Spider-Man, which makes this character even more entertaining.
6 Warriana reinvents Amazon expectations
The Venture Bros.’ moving to New York brings them into contact with the Crusaders Action League, the series’ equivalent to DC’s Justice League. Each member of the group – Stars and Garters, Fallen Archer, Night Dick and Warriana – is entertaining, but it’s the last of the lot that offers the most substance.
the Wonder Woman Parody comes with a Truth Lasso, which extracts fascinating information from Brock Samson, who later finds himself in a relationship with Warriana. The Amazon superhero is able to surpass most female superhero stereotypes.
5 Mister Monday pokes fun at the hyper-specific nature of superpowers
A lot of A-list superheroes and villains are truly accomplished or terrifying, but The Venture Bros. knows how to have fun with the quirky nature that drives many C-list villains, like The Batman Calendar Man.
Calendar Man can be effective in the right hands, but it’s otherwise a wacky concept. Mr Monday in The Venture Bros. is a perpetually ineffective version of one of DC’s most eccentric thieves who is specifically consumed with one day of the week. There can be a narrow cartoonish nature to some heroes and villains. Mister Monday is an effective representation of this.
4 The Red Death features both a beauty and a beast
Red Death looks like a gruesome Clive Barker creation that displays the most jarring aspects of Marvel antagonist Red Skull, but there’s a very well-tuned soul within that raw exterior. Red Death is such a veteran supervillain that he’s lost the fire that once drove him and is now content to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
There’s a surprising amount of sage advice dispensed by Red Death, which beautifully reflects the many layers that make up The Venture Bros. in its entirety. He’s proof that bad guys can stand up for something without always having to prove it to the detriment of their livelihood.
3 The radical left mocks the double-sidedness of politics
Visually, Radical Left by The Venture Bros. is clearly inspired by Villain Batman, Two-Face, but it embellishes the deceitful politician angle even more. Radical Left is one of the main council members of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, but the bold ideas he offers are outweighed by the peaceful and bland ideologies his other half, Right Wing, preaches.
The internal struggle that radicals left and right face is both entertaining and oddly prescient. He became one of the best supporting villains in The Venture Bros.
2 Dr. Septapus is a silly subversion on a classic villain
There’s an abundance of villains in The Venture Bros. that some do not get their due and are largely left to the public imagination. There’s such a brilliant mind at play in The Venture Bros. and silly puns often inspire characters. One of the monarch’s allies while stuck in prison is Dr Septapus, a character who is meant to poke fun at Spider-Man’s Dr. Octopus.
Since the character is mostly in prison, he is not shown to live up to his powers and Phantom Limb tracks him down shortly after his release, but the name and potential behind this character is too strong to ignore.
1 Phantom Limb is a mad spirit with malevolent motives
The monarch fulfills the role of evergreen nemesis in The Venture Brothers, Still, Phantom Limb constantly proves himself to be a more formidable threat, even if he’s often not specifically confronted by the Venture family. Phantom Limb’s missing appendix hook is in keeping with the series’ dark sense of humor, but it possesses dangerous powers and becomes more unstable with each defeat.
It’s like Phantom Limb was meant to mirror the megalomaniac evil geniuses from comic books, like Doctor Doom and Magneto. Phantom Limb definitely packs the same ego and sense of entitlement as those high profile villains, but is pushed in an even more twisted direction.
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