Jul 5, 2012

[TV] The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Season 1

Now when I decided to give the Avengers micro-series a chance, I'll admit that a big part of my interest was the hopes of seeing non-Avenger cameos in the show. It's sort of like what made the old Justice League Unlimited cartoon so much fun - how various characters from the DC Universe could show up at any moment in order to take part in the particular episode in question. This show was certainly poised to do the same thing, provided they firmly established the primary characters first.

So I got through the micro-series well enough and looked forward to seeing what the actual TV season was going to be all about. And for the most part I enjoyed things except for the glaring annoyance of including the micro-series within the show's run, but more on that later.

And while the appearance of the show at times lends credit to the notion that this is truly a cartoon that targets much younger audiences more, it is interesting to note that the series did involve a few rather complex and potentially mature story lines that still held elements of interest for older viewers like myself.

Synopsis: The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is a superhero animated series and originally aired on the Disney XD channel. The series was developed for television by Ciro Nieli, Joshua Fine, and Christopher Yost.

As depicted in the micro-series, we first discover that the various supper-villain prisons such as the Vault and the Cube have simultaneously suffered catastrophic failures leading to the release of their charges. Initially the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. and various independent heroes did their best to contain the individual break-outs but in time a few heroes decided to form a team outside the control of S.H.I.E.L.D. dedicated to recapturing the villains and keeping the Earth safe.

With an initial roster consisting of Iron Man (Eric Loomis), Ant-Man (Wally Wingert), the Wasp (Colleen O'Shaughnessey), Thor (Rick D. Wasserman) and the Hulk (Fred Tatasciore / Gabriel Mann as Bruce Banner),the team slowly grows over time to include the time-displaced Captain America (Brian Bloom), the supposed spy Hawkeye (Chris Cox) and the eventual ruler of Wakanda Black Panther (James C. Mathis III). And the team certainly has their hands full considering all the escaped the villains, the eventual formation of the Masters of Evil and even an invasion from the future by Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Adams).

Now in my prior review of the micro-series, I praised how the cartoon was a great vehicle for launching the series despite some characterization issues I had with the likes of the Wasp. But my feelings of admiration for this move diminished to some extent when I discovered that the content of the 20-episode micro series was re-used as material for episodes 3-7 of the regular season. So much for saluting them for creating "additional" material for the good of the series. Instead we just had an early preview of actual content for the season (despite the fact that these episodes take place before the two-part pilot).

I appreciated how the show put a lot of effort into bringing to life a variety of Avengers stories from various points in Marvel history. If you review the Wikipedia episode guide, you'll notice that they even try to highlight the potential sources of some of the stories. Thus we get a lot of classic adventures focused on the "original" Avengers line-up and the gradual expansion of things to include newer members (and alternative stories from more recent comics like hints of the Secret Invasion and others) made for a lot of fun. And yet some of the stories were decidedly campy given they drew a bit too much from the classic era comics. Well, you win some and you lose some.

The show also had it's distinctly corny moments meant for children or geared towards creating demand for variant action figures. Between Dr. Hank Pym's ability to shift from Ant-Man and Giant Man with the appropriate costume per size. Then we have the various Iron Man armors (which is a classic toy-centric trope) but then you get the stranger stuff like custom spacesuits that still highlight their distinct costume styles. Yes they needed spacesuits. No, Captain America's suit did not have to have a star on the chest and the A on the helmet. And Hawkeye's suit - seriously?

But on the whole, the series was a good source of light fun and a nice way to introduce newer audiences to some of the more critical Avengers stories throughout their history. The show has a lot of potential and I'm glad it made it at least to a second season. And while it has technically been "cancelled", we know the rebranding as Avengers Assemble! is more a marketing piece to tie it better to the movie - or at least that's my perspective on things.

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Season 1 is certainly a mouthful to say but not as complex to understand. Expect a wide variety of villains but a relatively limited number of cameo heroes at this point. Thus the first season gets 4 excuses to have MODOK acting rather ironically out of a possible 5.

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  1. So... Season 2? I gots them all!

  2. Oh, BTW, even Thor had a space suit!
    Sadly, there were no action figures released for the show.

  3. I love the stories featured in this TV series. My favorite part in Season 1? When Loki smashed Captain America's shield using Odin's spear :)

  4. I fell I stand a better chance of downloading them before the next time I see you...

  5. Oh gods, almost forgot about the Thor spacesuit.

    But the lack of toys surprised me - maybe because they were focused on the movie-related merchandise instead?

  6. That was an interesting moment indeed. On to Season 2 for me!