Friday, November 11, 2011


Review copies provided by the studio.
Collecting the second half of the first season, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes volumes 3 and 4 are now available on DVD. The first batch of Avengers episodes was a pleasant surprise, with solid designs by the late Boyd Kirkland, smooth animation by Film Roman, and stories that modernized classic Avengers battles with only a small amount of annoying Ultimization. The series clearly improves as the episodes continue, as the character designs tighten up, the digital color palate grows more complex, and the stories develop into multi-part, Avengers-worthy epics. Plus, that irritating mall punk theme song has been chopped in half in the later episodes.

It’s hard to imagine an Avengers fan not getting a kick out of most of these episodes. The storylines draw inspiration from everything from Walt Simonson’s “Casket of Ancient Winters” Thor arc, to Kurt Busiek’s global Kang vs. the World storyline from his final Avengers days. Characters you never really expected to see, such as Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel, even make appearances. Actually, Mockingbird does more than make an appearance; she’s a lead character for a few episodes. This must be what DC fans felt like when characters like Vixen and Captain Atom showed up on Justice League Unlimited. Not that Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is quite on Justice League Unlimited’s level, but it’s the closest any Marvel series has come so far.

Whether or not you wish to own these episodes on DVD likely depends on your level of fandom, but the sets are absolutely worth a rental. The entire first season has also been available via Netflix’s instant streaming service for a while now. I’m not sure when season two is set to begin, but hopefully the wait won’t be too long. This is a show that could easily match the episode runs of the ‘90s Spider-Man and X-Men series, assuming Marvel plays its cards right.


wwk5d said...

Hmmm, I'll have to check this out. Then again, if the character design is anything like the cover art, I might not like it. The character design on the cover is a huge turn-off for me.

Matt said...

I like this series a lot. It really is the closest Marvel animation has ever gotten to the level of Bruce Timm's various shows. I felt like it lost its way for a while after the first several episodes, though. The Kang story just didn't hold my attention -- but the Asgard stuff that closed out the season was a lot of fun.

My only objection is the Hulk as a regular, full-time Avenger. He just doesn't fit. But I've never liked the Hulk on any teams, so I'm probably a little biased.

Oh, and also, the Robert Downey Jr. impression by the guy who plays Iron Man gets very old, very fast.

Some of next season's character designs have been revealed, and unfortunately, it looks like Captain America's uniform is going full Ultimates. Thor's costume is also being changed, to look like his current comic book/movie look. I believe Ms. Marvel is joiing the team, and the Vision is scheduled to appear, too.

I'd love to see this series go on for years. Source material with an ensemble, like the Avengers, is great for a cartoon, where the networks and toy companies always want new characters and stuff coming in. Although I don't think there is a toy line for this show, though I could be mistaken...

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