I find it very refreshing (sarcasm mode on) that after a rather mediocre episode last week, we get back to basics with the “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” series. Basics of course being having the Avengers face villains not traditionally their usual foes. I can’t help wondering if I’ll have to wait for a new X-Men cartoon to see folks like Kang, Ultron, and the Masters of Evil. Anyway, meet me after the jump as the Avengers (or more specifically the Hulk and Hawkeye) fight another old X-Men villain in “Mojo World.”
In the comics, Mojo first appeared in the brilliant 1985 Longshot mini-series by Ann Nocenti and Arthur Adams. It’s there that we were also introduced to the title character (a future X-Man), Spiral (another future X-Men villain), and of course the fantastic art of Mr. Art Adams. All this X-ness, maybe for a change of change of pace, the powers-that-be might get Avengers readers instead of X-Men readers to write an Avengers episode?
Anyway, Mojo is a rather large, cybernetic, spineless, barely humanoid, yellow glob who rules his own dimension called the Mojoverse, and runs an ongoing interdimensionally broadcast gladiatorial event called Mojo World. In a twisted mix of Network and reality TV, Mojo’s minions are addicted to this ‘entertainment,’ and the monster has frequently invaded our world for new combatants and/or contestants.
Inclusions and Exclusions
Let me be clear about this. I’m being very picky about what is Avengers and what isn’t Avengers, but don’t think for a second I’m being exclusive. I love the Hulk. I love the Hulk in the Avengers, especially in the feature film and in the previous animated series “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” but even I know that in over four decades, until that movie came along, Hulk was an Avenger for less than ten, maybe five or less stories.
And again, where is the Black Widow? A two-second still shot doesn’t count as an appearance. Unlike the Hulk, here is a character who was around in the Avengers comic for years before ever being offered membership. She had appeared more in the title before being an Avenger than some folks who were members. Where is she here? How about a female member in this show?
Ben and Johnny
Without a female member, Avengers Tower is very much like a high tech frat house. It’s guys guys guys. I just have a hunch it smells like beer and sweat socks. We open on Hawkeye accusing the Hulk of eating all the pickles. In the ensuing argument one of the Hulk’s glass menagerie (first seen in “Hulk’s Day Out“) gets broken, and Hulk rampages through the Tower trying to get Hawkeye.
Sound familiar? And I don’t just mean from a fraternity house or a pre-school day care center you know personally. It seems the folks behind this show want to write anything but Avengers. This is vintage Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm from the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby days of Fantastic Four. Luckily this is when Mojo nabs them, just in time to stop the rerun.
This Mojo is less scary than usual and wearing a business suit, almost like a freakish Vince McMahon, and touting the Hulk as the main event, with the running joke that no one knows who Hawkeye is. There are some fun cameos in Mojo’s television audience, including (ironically) the Watchers, the Kree, the Impossible Man (who pulled this same stunt himself a couple episodes ago), the Skrulls, even Moloids, and a Rigellian to name a few.
And speaking of the Skrulls and the Fantastic Four, Mojo’s champion and the Hulk’s opponent is a being called Torgo. The FF ran afoul of this guy a few decades back when the Thing was involved in similar cosmic gladiatorial games, though run by the Skrull, not Mojo. This was a pleasant blast from the past.
This Mojo McMahon is only putting up the businessman front, and is still his same old slimy self from the comics underneath the illusion. As it turns out, Torgo is only fighting so Mojo won’t ‘cancel’ his home planet. Just like in the comics, Torgo is a decent character, only fighting because he has no other choice.
There are curious fashion choices in the second battle. The combatants are wearing collars that look like a cross between the ones in that terrible Wild Wild West remake and early Suicide Squad comics. And Hulk is wearing armor similar to his arena garb in Planet Hulk. Um, didn’t Marvel already animate that?
When Hulk and Hawkeye don’t cooperate with Mojo, he cancels them, sends them back, then attacks Earth. It’s a rather quick wrap-up that fairly, solidly, and briefly mimics the attack on New York in the Avengers movie. Speaking of which, it was kinda cool seeing a Chitauri as one of the arena opponents. There was even a Hulk side shove to Hawkeye instead of Thor, which was also good.
Although spotlighting only Hawkeye and Hulk, this was a better than average episode. I still would like to see more Avengers-centric stories, more Avengers villains, more Black Widow (or other female members), and less movie reruns. And enough with the muted colors! Is it the grey Hulk or the green Hulk who’s on this team? I can’t tell any more!