The New Avengers Cartoon Makes Me Go XD

October 20th, 2010 by | Tags: , , ,

I feel that in the never-ending war between Marvel and DC, DC has always trumped Marvel in the animation department. Pound for pound, DC has always been better when it comes to getting their shit together. Even Superfriends past the Wendy and Marvin season was watchable in a goofy sense while I can never enjoy the panel-based cartoons with zero animation that Marvel released back in the 60’s. The only DC cartoon I can ever remember as being outright awful was that Superman one from the 80’s that insisted on giving us a segment about Clark growing up and getting into wacky situations for his mother to deal with. As a child, all I could think was, “Why are they showing me this? I want to see Superman doing super things and fighting Lex Luthor!”

Maybe he was so competent that he’d save the day a little too early and they had to use that as backup filler.

Marvel’s had a lot of missteps. Australian Wolverine goes without saying. The first seasons of Iron Man and Fantastic Four in the 90’s were hard to watch, which was a shame, since the second seasons were way better. The latter went from having Thing deal with a nagging landlady to having Ghost Rider (with his sexy, sexy voice) show up unannounced in order to punk out Galactus.

They had Avengers: United They Stand, which failed on several levels. Spider-Man really wasn’t all that great once you take off the rose-colored glasses and don’t get me started on Spider-Man Unlimited. X-Men and Silver Surfer weren’t bad, but they were nothing compared to what DC was churning out with their Batman and Superman cartoons.

Marvel has been starting to get things moving with their animated movies, like with Planet Hulk and Hulk vs. Wolverine, but the many, many missteps before that can’t be discounted (I will never forgive Invincible Iron Man). Even then, DC’s been cranking out the quality on that end.

I’ve heard great things about Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, but I haven’t gotten around to watching them. I think part of it comes from lack of interest in retreading old ground. It was the same when it came with The Batman. I’m sure there’s quality in there, but I’m not up for retracing old steps. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve seen that story where Ben Grimm becomes human but has to become the Thing again because damn it, the team needs him. I’ve seen that story where a new girl joins the X-Men and meets the established team as a way to get us acquainted. I need something new. Based on something old, sure, but something new for this medium. At least Batman: The Brave and the Bold was in such a different direction that it came off as a breath of fresh air.

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes starts tonight on Disney XD and I’ve already gotten to see the pilot at New York Comic Con. I’ve also sat through the 20 micro-episodes, which are each 5-6 minutes a piece, making it longer than any of Marvel’s animated films yet. I can tell you right now that this cartoon is exactly what Marvel’s been needing for a while. This is their Justice League Unlimited.

The Avengers never did get any good animated representation. The 90’s cartoon had a lot going against it with the sentai armor sequences and the reluctance to include Captain America, Iron Man and Thor at all. The animated movies for Ultimate Avengers failed to hold much interest outside of the pointless Hulk fight in the first one.

Now they’re trying to do a real Avengers cartoon and they’re doing it right. This is exactly the show Marvel fans have been needing for years. It isn’t even fully separate from the other properties, as we get a mention of Whirlwind being a mutant and see a certain soldier calling Sergeant Fury “bub” back in World War II. I’ve compared it to Justice League Unlimited, which should be both praising and curious, as JLU had lots of background to lay its foundation. We already had multiple seasons of multiple cartoons before that show could take it to the next level. How do you do that with the Avengers right off the bat?

That’s where the micro-episodes come in. I hadn’t seen these until after watching the pilot and I’ll say that they aren’t at all necessary in watching the show, but they’re still great prologues and set things up perfectly. Through nearly two hours, they build up a world of heroes and villains of all kinds, showing us the playground we’re about to play in. We get many separate intertwining stories without so much as one major team-up, yet we see exactly why they would end up where fate pushes.

We see Captain America as the victim of an explosion that makes him a man existing out of his era. We see Iron Man as a smarmy lone superhero who refuses to rely on anyone else to fight his battles. We see Bruce Banner as a man on the run who is trying to reach an understanding with his enraged side. T’Challa has seen the injustice of his father’s death and rebels against his government. Hank Pym tries to use his abilities to reform supervillains while his girlfriend and financer Janet is bored out of her mind and wants to fight crime for the excitement. Thor grows tired of his father’s manipulations and sees more intrigue in protecting Midgard and watching over that one heroic medic woman. Hawkeye’s questions about SHIELD and loyalty lead him in a less-than-desirable direction.

Plus the different prisons are set up. The Vault is used for tech-based villains. The Big House for those physically altered who need to be rehabilitated. The Cube for those affected by gamma radiation. And then there is the secretive Raft, which houses the bigger threats. Sure, a bunch of villains are already in prison by the time the micro-episodes start and more join them as the stories progress, but where’s the fun in keeping them cooped up? That’s where the show itself comes in.

Now that everything’s been established, the show’s genesis takes the form of the Breakout arc in New Avengers with two major differences. One, this is for the original five Avengers to band together. Two, it isn’t merely one supervillain prison that’s going haywire with bad guys escaping.

The cartoons do not skip on the action. In fact, if you watch all the micro-episodes in one go, you could argue that there’s too much action. Hell, the second part of the pilot is 90% fighting and it’s awesome.

The voice acting is choice stuff and I think what really makes this cartoon work is that it’s going to really revitalize certain characters for new audiences. It’s rare when this happens, but it’s really cool when an animated series can add life into a preexisting superhero or villain. Wolverine, Juggernaut, Booster Gold, the Question, John Stewart, Deadpool and especially Apocalypse. I mean, Apocalypse kind of sucks in the comics, but guys like me have built in defenses against that because we have memories of John Colicos saying, “I am the rocks of the eternal shore… Crash into me AND BE BROKEN!” Just typing that makes me want to read some old X-Force.

So which Marvel characters come out of Avengers smelling like roses?

The Wasp and Loki each get their chance to truly shine for once. Wasp shows personality and a head-strong attitude, but not enough for me to be annoyed by her. It’s like she doesn’t realize that she’s the weakest member of the team, or perhaps she does and just doesn’t care. She’ll see Thor get taken down and fly headfirst on her own without questioning it. Loki’s story in the micro-episodes starts off as portraying him as fairly generic, but it’s the aftermath that shows what the Lord of Lies is all about. Too bad both characters are benched in the comic world.

I can’t say enough good things about Jeffrey Combs as the Leader. He only gets one line (sort of) and a quick wordless scene in the micro-episodes to give you an idea, but his expanded role in the pilot is phenomenal. I’ve never cared for the Leader as a character because he didn’t add anything to the table. There are more entertaining evil genius characters out there with better gimmicks. He’s got a giant head? Big deal. MODOK is a giant head.

Leader is shown to be a villain who is always in the middle of scheming. He can be ordering a pizza over the phone and he’ll deliver his words like he’s coming up with ways to use this towards his end game. Every little thing he says makes you believe he’s up to something unsavory and he probably is. With Absorbing Man and Abomination as his Bebop and Rocksteady, he looks to be a major villain in the show’s run.

Grim Reaper shows up in the micro-episodes as a tool of Hydra and he comes off as more of a Darth Maul with personality. Actually, the Darth Maul comparison works better when you consider that Von Strucker is his Palpatine. If anything, it’s more attributable to the animation and action direction, though the voice acting isn’t so bad either.

Then there is Kang the Conqueror, another villain I’ve never really cared about. I think I can let this micro-episode speak for itself.

Look at how badass he is using his time travel tech. He has a Metron quality to him.

Check it out, they have Bucky being played by the nerdy brother from Mission Hill! There’s a definite Winter Soldier story brewing there and I can’t wait.

If anything, Graviton is going to be showing up in the comics a ton more often after this show airs. Portrayed as Magneto on crack, he’s shown to be the worst of the worst when it comes to those who escape the four prisons.

All this and they haven’t even shown Doctor Doom yet. He’s definitely going to be there, as he’s alluded to several times. He’s just another thing to look forward to.

I really hope this show holds up and is a success. It certainly deserves it.

…Say, if this cartoon pans out, can we get a Diniverse crossover with JLU/Avengers?

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19 comments to “The New Avengers Cartoon Makes Me Go XD”

  1. Wolverine and the X-Men is kinda meh IMO, only saw a few episodes but nothing really exciting. Spectacular Spider-Man, however, is one of the best cartoons I’ve ever seen, though. Seriously. It’s everything Spider-Man’s world should be.

    Really excited for Avengers, though, after watching a few of the micro-episodes (though did they really have to replace Germany with HYDRA in World War II? You don’t even have to show Hitler or swastikas or anything! Just say “Germany” and use Red Skull and generic-looking soldiers. Use convenient shadows to censor if you have to! Not that there was anything stopping Justice League from using Nazis).

  2. Kang does seem badass. “NEVER tell me there’s not enough time!”

  3. Very excited about the new Avengers cartoon. Made my wife sit through a couple micro-episodes.

    I’ve enjoyed some of Marvel’s television animation. I haven’t seen much of Spectacular Spider-Man, but it looks good. X-Men Evolution was great. Much better animation than the 90s X-Men series. The Silver Surfer series is one that I would’ve loved to see continue. It was a brave experiment and had a lot of potential. Didn’t care much for the teen Iron Man cartoon that NickToons was doing.

    The only straight to DVD I’ve enjoyed was the Dr. Strange one. Haven’t seen Planet Hulk yet, though.

  4. Hurm. I recently re-watched the entire run of the 90s Spider-Man, and I thought it held up great. The music was some of the best you’ll ever hear in a Saturday morning cartoon, and it’s gleefully self aware at times, “The other networks are laughing at me! Even Fox!” And the cartoon straight up called out the Clone Saga: “This is beginning to sound like a bad comic book.” “It gets worse.” Plus, Spidey’s VA was the perfect mix of smart-ass and intelligence.

    That Ghost Rider/Galactus clip is AMAZING. “Sexy voice” indeed.

  5. You really should check out The Spectacular Spider-Man – it’s easily the best non-comics Spidey adaptation yet, y’ask me. I’m still annoyed that there won’t be any more episodes made.

  6. Another shout out for Spectacular Spider-Man – I hated the 90s Spidey cartoon and I have no idea why I was even watching Spectacular, but I’m glad I did. Great show.
    Same goes for Wolverine and the X-Men. Hated 90s X-Men, no idea why I was watching, etcetera – It goes off on tangents from the comics now and then in a way the previous X-toons didn’t, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

  7. Spectacular Spidey is the best animated interpretation of Spidey, bar none. Definitely give it a whirl.

    Wolverine and the X-Men, however, was pretty bad. One episode, the entire team gets owned in their own house and kidnapped by ninjas, and Wolverine has to go to Japan to rescue them. Not cyber-ninjas, not The Hand, no…the X-Men get owned by REGULAR RUN-OF-THE-MILL ninjas and only Wolverine can save them! The whole show is rife with similar examples of hobbling Cyclops or Storm or Nightcrawler so Wolverine can be the hero. I’m glad this show is gone (although I regret the loss of the promised Deadpool guest-spot in Season 2).

    Watched all the micro-eps and the premiere and Avengers looks promising thus far. I eagerly await more.

  8. Spectacular Spider-Man has the best Spidey tales of recent years. Such a shame it got cancelled because of the Ultimate Spider-man show. I will take Spectacular over an adaptation of USM any day.

  9. @Nawid A: Yeah, in any other context I’d be eating up all the PR about a faithful adaptation of Ultimate Spider-Man with a spoon, but I cannot get excited about it when what it’s replacing was so perfect.

  10. Thanks for the tip, I’m gonna have to check this out when I get home from work. (Thanks for remembering Mission Hill too!)

  11. Hey, now. I just recently watched Spider-man from the ’90s and it was still great. Same thing with the X-men.

    Although, after watching Spectacular Spider-man, I gotta say that is my favorite Spidery cartoon ever. USM has pretty big shoes to fill.

  12. yeah Spectacular best media adaptation of Spidey, better than the movies (ain’t saying that much)…
    As for this cartoon, I went from unimpressed to impressed by the micro-episodes back to unimpressed by the latter half of their tales:


    Black Widow’s a traitor? Again (Ultimates)? The sole international face in the Avengers (till the Maximoffs) and she’s a traitor? Lame.
    Young Panther? Who’s father was killed because of backward ass traditions instead of repelling an invasion? Lame.
    Can’t remember what else but these two storylines ticked me off. And I’m sorry, but for the life of me I couldn’t care for the Pyms.

  13. Let me think . . .

    Fantastic Four: liked the 1960s series when it was on Boomerang. Bailed after one episode of the UPN series. Actually liked the show that wound up on Cartoon Network, though Johnny was so annoying. Seriously, I wound up picking up the DVD from the library because the whole series never aired in the States. Kinda underrated IMHO.

    Iron Man: never saw the UPN series, but I did wind up seeing the hardcore credits from the second season. Armored Adventures would have been a great representation of the Marvel Universe if not for A:EMH, even with Tony and friends being teens and Pepper Potts being extremely annoying. Theme song is an ear worm as well.

    Spider-Man: Liked the Fox series. Kinda liked Unlimited, though all I can remember is the Central European-sound heroic Green Goblin. MTV series was goofy, especially in the final episodes, with Kathy Griffin as a psychic twin, Michael Dorn as Kraven the Hunter, and Stan Lee encouraging Spider-Man to kill Kraven. Spectacular? Awesome stuff . . . and I don’t get why it has to be replaced by Ultimate.

    Hulk: bailed on the second season of the UPN series. First season was great, since it was basically a Hulk team-up series, featuring the homoerotic tension between the Leader (Matt Frewer) and Gargoyle (Mark Hamil).

    Silver Surfer: vaguely remember the Fox series. Thought it was good. And that’s about it.

    X-Men: I’ll take Evolution over the other two series, since they were basically the same show.

  14. Like everyone else said, Spectacular Spier-Man earned all the praise it receives.

    Wolverine and the X-men is also good, definitely my favorite of the X-cartoons.

  15. I absolutely love Pyms new costume. To see little bubbles rising out of his belt, seeping into his costume. It’s a great effect.

  16. Spectacular Spider-Man is my favorite Spider-Man anything since the second movie. The show was able to take what I already knew and flip it in such a way that it could still surprise me with it. It’s personally my favorite superhero tv series of the past decade (and that includes JLU). It’s only flaw was that it was cut short right when it reached it’s apex. It left Greg Weisman freed up and now we’ll be getting Young Justice, which looks great, but I still wish Spectacular Spider-Man was still going.

    The approach they’re taking with Avengers seems to borrow from what TSS-M did, with it’s mix of classic meets modern.

  17. Australian Wolverine goes without saying.

    But hey, it worked in the movies!

  18. Graviton has always been Magneto on crack. His first evil act upon receiving his powers was ripping an entire city from the planet and going on a literal pussy hunt (He chose Tigra to be his bride, man!) The only thing this show’s doing is bringing him back to his roots!

  19. Dude. Watch “The Spectacular Spider-man”, please. Seriously.

    Also, I haven’t gotten to watch this show at all. Drat. The second I get some money I’m gonna buy the Season Pass on iTunes and watch it all.