This morning, I woke up early enough to catch the sneak peek of Cartoon Network’s latest attempt to reinvigorate the Ben 10 franchise, subtitled Omniverse—and, frankly, I’m not impressed.
Which is nothing new, to be completely honest: the only thing I enjoyed in Man of Action’s original series was Tara Strong’s flawless voice performance, and the Glen Murakami-helmed sequels only got progressively worse, with thoroughly intolerable characters and a rigid status quo that prevented them from learning or growing. As soon as I laid eyes on the shiny new art style, I knew Omniverse would be more of the same: unlike the streamlined designs in Murakami’s shows (which looked pretty but animated poorly—too stiff and “floaty”), Omniverse’s characters (drawn by Derrick Wyatt, whose work I usually love) are almost too expressive and emotive. Our shape-shifting teen hero’s wide eyes and goofy grin make him look like a hyperactive grade schooler—which, unfortunately, perfectly conveys his level of emotional maturity and sense of responsibility. By the end of this first episode, Ben Tennyson—veteran crime fighter and savior of the space-time continuum—has spent more time searching for snacks than hunting down fugitive aliens, and seems no closer to recognizing his flaws than he was at age ten.
I remember having such high hopes for Ben 10. I’ve learned my lesson: whenever Omniverse hits the airwaves, I’ll probably tune out.