Starting with the Silver Surfer in the 1990's, Marvel seems to have produced a whole string of superhero cartoons that, although of very high quality, still somehow managed to get cancelled after only one season. Unfortunately this was one of them. In the case of the Silver Surfer, despite high ratings the show came to an abrupt, cliff-hanger ending when the company that made it went bust. As for why The Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes got cancelled, your guess is as good as mine. According to the Wikipedia, no official explanation has ever been given.
In any event, this, the most recent entry into the Fantastic Four animated catalogue, is actually a rather light-hearted one. But unlike the similarly light-hearted 1990's Fantastic Four cartoon that preceded it, it's also rather good.
Personally, I've always felt that superheroes are like Richard Nixon: ridiculously easy to lampoon, but far more interesting when taken seriously. Nevertheless, despite that personal prejudice, I have to admit that this was a very good cartoon. That's mainly because the light-hearted tone is for the most part pulled off with a deft, rapier wit; not the bludgeoning cudgel we find in so many of the more humorous takes on the superhero genre.
In fact, The Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes actually works perfectly well as a straight adventure series, and on that level the stories flow freely and easily. It's just that as the adventure rockets along, there's also plenty of time for a laugh or two on the way. Simply put, what we get here are great adventure stories that just happen to be told with a smile, with wit, and a healthy measure of humour. It's not an over the top spoof or self-parody.
This kind of genuinely light-hearted storytelling - humorous but without going all the way to outright parody - is something that's long been missing from the genre. I'm even tempted to conclude that that may be why this particular show got cancelled. Possessing neither the thoughtful drama of the best of the more serious material, nor the glorious absurdism of the best of the over the top parodies, it was neither fish nor fowl. In the end, it may have been done in by the simple fact that too many people just didn't know what to make of it.
Such speculation aside, I'd like to conclude by saying that in terms of both sound and vision, this was an extremely stylish series. The title music just fits the show to a T. On a visual level, two and three dimensional animation techniques are fused almost seamlessly, and are always united in a common aesthetic vision. In the two-dimensional material there is a very strong anime influence - I think it was actually drawn in Japan. By contrast, the three dimensional CGI stuff was provided by French company Moonscoop. Nevertheless, despite the gulf of continents, the fusion here is very tight, and, like I said before, extremely stylish.
In the end this was a smart, cool, well put together show. It was a lot of fun for both children and adults alike.
Why it really got cancelled we may never know.