Okay, after weeks of complaining about the Avengers in the “Avengers Assemble” animated series fighting everyone except the traditional foes of the Avengers, they have thrown me a bone. As today’s episode indicates, it features the Super-Adaptoid. I’m psyched, and I hope you are too. Meet me after the jump for my review of the series’ sixth episode, “Super-Adaptoid!”
One-Man Avenger League
In the comics, the Super-Adaptoid is not necessarily the most original concept. He was preceded by a few years by another superpower absorbing android called Amazo over at Marvel’s main competitor, DC Comics. Amazo, who debuted in 1960, was known as the ‘one-man Justice League.’ A creation of the insidious Professor Ivo, he originally had the powers, and appropriate weapons, of the original Justice Leaguers, and continued to plague the team for decades to come. In his first animated appearance, he oddly looked an awful like the Adaptoid.
The Super-Adaptoid came along in 1966, in Tales of Suspense #82, fighting Captain America, with the adapted powers and abilities of Hawkeye, Goliath, the Wasp, and Cap. Much like Amazon with the Justice League, the android would return again and again to battle the Avengers. Notably this is the villain’s third time being animated, having appeared on “Marvel Super Heroes” shortly after his creation, and on “X-Men” in the 1990s.
The episode begins with Captain America and Iron Man sparring. Perhaps their pairing is an homage to Tales of Suspense where the two heroes were co-featured, and as noted above, the villain of the day first appeared, and perhaps not.
Cap and Iron Man verbally spar as well over technology vs. good old fashioned guts. It’s a conflict done much better before in the series’ previous incarnation, “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Here it seems almost childish.
What was that I was saying about how refreshing it was to see the Avengers fighting an Avengers foe? Scratch that. The real villain here is Justin Hammer, who here in the cartoon, is the Adaptoid’s maker. He’s a major foe of Iron Man.
It’s not even really the Hammer from the comics, it’s a adaption (see what I did there?) of the movie version. In the comics, Justin Hammer is a much older, less cooler mercenary businessman who sold Stark’s own tech to other super-villains. He’s no Sam Rockwell in other words.
Visually this animated version of the Super-Adaptoid steers more toward blank gray slate than green patchwork giant. No Goliath, so no size-changing and no classic purple costume for Hawkeye, so no distinctive mask copying. In reality, when we first see this Adaptoid, he looks more like Ultron wearing a Question mask.
For the second round, he is still blank, but manifesting whatever he needs – Falcon’s wings, Cap’s shield(s), Thor’s hammer(s), Iron Man’s repulsors and uni-beam, etc. Oh yeah, and his face is that of Hammer, a la Spider-Slayer, mocking the Avengers as they fight. I still wish we could have had the original more traditional Adaptoid design.
Speaking of the original design, it was used in animation at least once already back in a Captain America episode of the “Marvel Super Heroes” cartoon from 1966. These cartoons are regularly used as jokes, along with later animations during commercial breaks.
The Marvel Mash-Ups as they’re called take old animated footage and edit and re-voice them for supposed comedic effect. Watching this episode of “Avengers Assemble,” I think I really would rather seen the original Super-Adaptoid cartoon instead, even with its sadly limited animation.
And the mash-ups aren’t funny. Sometimes they are downright insulting, and like “The Big Bang Theory,” they walk a very dangerously thin line between laughing with us and laughing at us. And if Marvel has the rights to these 1966 cartoons, why not air them? I’d watch them!
It’s not all bad. Characterization is looking up this week. Cap and Falcon are bonding, as are Thor and Hulk. Despite my complaints above about the opening sequence, it was a good exchange between Cap and Iron Man.
There was more use of the multi-panel effect this episode, and some great shots of CGI (or is it photographic?) water. The latter was so good however, it distracted from the regular animation. I liked it though, just needed some refining.
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