The Avengers are no strangers to time travel or timeborn threats, but this time they face not only the might of the sinister Doctor Doom, but also a timeline tampered with to make Doom master of the world, and the Avengers never formed. Find out what happens, along with me, when I review this week’s episode of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” – “Planet Doom,” after the jump.
Our opening teaser has Thor returning however briefly to Asgard. There we get the obvious fat jokes that accompany Volstagg, even in this day and age. Similarly and stereotypically we get a scarily large Odin reminding viewers of Thor’s double life in Asgard and on Earth.
This reminds me immediately of one of the major differences between “Avengers Assemble” and its predecessor “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” “EMH” never felt the need to beat you over the head over-explaining simple details of the Marvel Universe. It just assumed you knew, showed you once, and then got right done to the wonderfully character driven story at hand.
Notably, like in the Thor movies, as portrayed by the brilliant Idris Elba, Heimdall is shown as African-American. I have to wonder, is he so in the comics now too, like Nick Fury? While part of me yearns for the tradition of the last fifty years, there is also a part of me that hopes this out-of-medium change, like Jimmy Olsen (from the Superman radio show) and Harley Quinn (from “Batman: The Animated Series”), becomes canon.
It is Heimdall that cuts off Odin and Thor’s tired Lee/Kirby identity Midgard argument. For just a moment, the Earth vanished. Thor hightails it back to his adopted home to find the real story this week – Earth is different. As promised in the previews, Doctor Doom rules the planet, there are no Avengers, and the Statue of Liberty is now a statue of Doom.
As with all alternate timelines, the best part is finding out how your favorite characters shook out in the new circumstances. Upon Thor’s arrival he’s met by a squadron of Doombots, and saved by the Defenders. No, not those Defenders (I wish), but someone just as familiar.
Hawkeye, in an outfit similar to his Ultimates garb, is now known as Bullseye, in a slick nod to his Dark Avengers counterpart. Falcon still goes by Snap Wilson but has his wing harness. And Spider-Man is there too, going by the name Slinger and wearing something very close to his Iron Spider gear.
Even unseen as yet, Doctor Doom is no fool. He has prepped for the return of Thor. A legend has arisen of ‘the thunderer’ who would save the world from Doom. When Thor shows up, so does the Black Widow, although she’s different too, on the wrong side of the fight, trussed up like Madam Masque and calling herself the Black Bride.
She shows up with a machine that steals Thor’s hammer. Even though he can not technically lift it, our animated “Avengers Assemble” Doom does have a fascination for Asgardian weapons. Remember the “Doomstroyer” episode?
When Doctor Doom does show his face, it’s not really his face, or rather it is, in Doom-ified Iron Man armor. Much like how this series turned the Red Skull into the Iron Skull, now Doom is Iron Doom. Have they run out of ideas? Really? I’m disappointed, and Doctor Doom is so much better than this.
I’m also disappointed that this Doom seems to have lost his true motivation, from the comics at least. This cartoon version doesn’t seem to give a crap about the Fantastic Four at all. He has a depowered Stark and Banner sciencing for him, but no Reed Richards? Really??
Timey wimey, the truth comes out that Doom has been manipulating events by traveling back in time and changing things – rescuing Stark and Banner from their origins, finding but not reviving Captain America, etc. At least time travel, but not necessarily alteration, is in Doom’s roundhouse.
I like very much that Thor isn’t a clod this episode. He’s not the brightest crayon in the bunch, but he’s also not the Hulk with a hammer as he’s been portrayed here from time to time. His speech on humanity spurs the stereotypical double agent Widow to take action.
And of course there’s also the last minute cameo by the Punisher. Am I the only one distressed by appearances by Spider-Man and the Punisher, when Avengers like the Vision, Hank Pym, the Black Panther, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have yet to show up? Gee, when do we get more Wolverine?
Veering back to whether “Avengers Assemble” is an improvement over “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” or not, I’d have to say it’s different, but definitely not better. I still think “EMH” was a vastly superior show, and possibly one of the best superhero cartoons made of late. Now, more than halfway through the run of “Assemble,” we have only had a handful of episodes that could be said to be good. Most of them have been juvenile and not respectful of continuity. Let’s hope it gets better.