Jun 21, 2012

[TV] The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010 Micro-Series)

I have to admit that I've given the DC Universe animated movies a lot of love on this blog. You can't really blame me - a lot of their releases have been pretty impressive depictions of different DC characters and key events in DC comic book history as well. And that's nothing to feel bad about.

On the Marvel front however, my experience with their cartoon work has been rather mixed over the years and I've given some not-so-great reviews to a few of their direct-to-video features as well. And you can't really blame me - that Doctor Strange movie was pretty BAD no matter how you look at it!

But this new series has been getting some positive reviews, which has given me cause for hope. Sure, we all know it was put together to capitalize on the buzz that led up to the Avengers movie that came out earlier this year. But that doesn't mean it isn't a good series on its own.

So I finally gave into my curiosity and invested some time into watching the micro-series to see what they had planned.

Synopsis: The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, or more specifically its micro-series, was the lead-in for the full animated series developed for television by Ciro Nieli, Joshua Fine and Christopher Yost. Yost also handles a lot of the writing for the show.

The series consists of 20 separate micro-episodes, similar to how Star Wars: Clone Wars was initially released. In this case each episode was a bit more sizable at 5 and a half minutes long, which presents just enough time to feature an individual hero or two. But the series wasn't quite meant to stand completely on its own. The goal for the show was to feature the various heroes (and villains) and more of their back story before the actual Avengers team is formed in the full show. And that does make for some interesting adventures.

The series covered a lot of more "known" Avengers like Iron Man (Eric Loomis), Ant-Man (Wally Wingert) and the Wasp (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) and relatively less known Avengers (as far as the general non comic book reading public is concerned) like Black Panther (James C. Mathis III). We get to watch them in their individual adventures as they fight various foes including a number of HYDRA agents, Klaw (Mark Hamill) and the Absorbing Man (Rick D. Wasserman).

Black Widow (left) as she appears in The Aveng...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Taking its cue for the movie continuity (and the modern Marvel comic book landscape) we also see a lot of SHIELD's involvement in superhero affairs, and thus more screen time for the likes of Nick Fury (Alex Désert) with some really bad hair and Maria Hill (Kari Wührer). And don't forget the Mandroids! One more time all together now, Mandroids.

A primary focus of the series, it seems, is to also introduce us to the various superhuman prisons used to contain various villains. Now I may be a little rusty in terms of my comic book lore but I was a bit surprised how each prison seems to be tailored for specific sub-types of villains. For example the Vault is meant for technological-based super villains while the Cube is more focused on gamma-powered villains. It's a weird path to follow, but this is coming from a guy who only really remembered the Vault as being the default prison for super villains in the Marvel universe. I'm curious to see how this will play out in the full series itself.

For the most part I enjoyed the characterization for most of the characters, save probably for the Wasp since she struck me as being young one moment and then old the next. She behaves a lot like a teenager and yet constantly brags how she handles all the business decisions for Ant-Man. Maybe this is something that gets clarified over the course of the main series but for now it just seemed a bit weird.

It's too early to comment on the villain set since we only got glimpses of a lot of them. I wasn't overly impressed with Loki (Graham McTavish) just yet but I did enjoy their interpretation of the Wrecking Crew. Also a little early to say whether or not the Enchantress (Kari Wahlgren) was suitably crafty but the appearance of Kang (Jonathan Adams) was fairly impressive (complete with time-spanning backstory!)

So yeah, this was nice to launch a new cartoon in a manner that gave viewers more of a chance to get to know all the players before jumping immediately into the action, as is the plan with the main series.

And yes, I am aware that the show has been technically cancelled after its second season in favor of yet another Avengers-themed show. We'll discuss that when the time comes around...

In the meantime, the micro-series of  The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes gets a fun 4 examples of stolen Stark Technology around the Marvel Universe out of a possible 5.

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