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STUDIO: Turner Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 280 minutes
• Commentary by co-creator Duncan Rouleau and others on "Secrets"
• Ben 10 drawing lesson
• Sneak peek of what’s to come
• Collector poster
It’s what Ultraman would be if he were a space bug, or a space diamond guy, or a space four-armed wrestler, or a space barbecue guy, or a space fish, or a…
Ben, Gwen, Grandpa Max.
Ripjaws, XLR8, Four Arms, Heatblast, Grey Matter, Wildmutt, Stinkfly, Diamond Head, Ghost Freak, Upgrade, Vilgax.
Ben Tennyson is your average kid who dreams of being a hero. Unfortunately, as he discovers after being wedgied to a tree by some bullies, he doesn’t quite have the chops. However, that all changes when he embarks on a summer vacation with his grandfather and obnoxious cousin, Gwen, and discovers an alien bracelet called the Omnitrix that crash lands on earth. The Omnitrix affixes itself to Ben’s wrist and imbues him with the power to assume the form of any one of ten different aliens, each with their own super powers. Examples include Heatblast, who is a walking volcano with fire powers, or Four Arms, a giant and powerful quad-appendaged alien, or Wildmutt, a space dog who uses echo location to see. Traveling the country with Grandpa and Gwen, Ben bumbles his way through his superhero fantasy, all the while an evil alien named Vilgax plots to get the Omnitrix for himself.
Truth to tell, I’d never even heard of this toon before it showed up in my mailbox, but I was surprised by how easy it slid past the ole brain and how much I could get into it. Despite the obvious influences of several shows before it, the concept of Ben 10 and its subsequent writing are unexpectedly good. Basically, the way that the whole shebang works is that the Omnitrix is stuck permanently to Ben’s wrist, and he can dial up any of the 10 aliens and slam the interface down to change instantly into that alien. Sometimes it gives him what he wants, sometimes not. And then there’s a time limit that he can be whichever alien and then the watch’s power is drained for an unspecified amount of time before it can be used again.
There are thirteen episodes in this first season, and Ben and his family go up against a wide variety of nemeses, including Dr Animo, a jaundiced looking maniac who likes to use a genetic ray to grow mutant toads and parrots, and reanimate dinosaurs (Washington B.C.); and the legendary sea creature in The Krakken. In Permanent Retirement, he finds out that the inhabitants of an elderly community aren’t quite human, and squishy; and in Tourist Trap, an escaped electrical menace named Megawatt is making life miserable for the inhabitants of a weird little tourist hamlet. Hunted features bounty hunters hired by Vilgax to acquire the Omnitrix and Kevin 11 has a kid who can absorb any of the 10 aliens’ powers. Vilgax again gets some hired muscle to go after the watch in the form of a mutated biker chick thief in The Alliance, and Last Laugh goes all Something Wicked when a killer clown steals people’s happiness.
Of course there are several shows to which this overall concept harkens back to. The whole power watch concept goes the way of Battle of the Planets, the changing into an alien thing is either Ultraman or the Guyver and the incredible powers being granted to a kid thing screams Captain Marvel / Billy Batson…not to mention the fact that Ben is riding around the country in an RV with an old man…. Nevertheless, the show does try to delve a little into what it’s like for a kid to be saddled with so much responsibility and other issues such as rebelling against his granfather’s authority are also touched upon. The endless banter between Ben and Gwen keeps the show moving in slower moments and the villains that Ben goes up against are varied and the show has a slightly biting humor. It has Anime influences, but you’re not saddled with three foot tall or rail thin characters with spiked hair that could impale a rhino as in many Anime shows have. Ben 10 is nowhere near Justice League per se, but it’s a pretty fun romp around America with almost a dozen alien traveling companions.
There’s not much in the way of extras, other than a commentary on the season finale, Secrets, and a couple of quickie featurettes on how to draw Ben and what to expect in the future of the show. But you do get a pull out poster of Ben and his pals. Shway.
"Hey, who’s that weird-looking alien that’s eyeing your watch so lasciviously?"
"Michael Jackson, and it’s not my watch he’s looking at…"