The synopsis for this episode reads: “The Avengers and the Cabal have a huge confrontation that leaves the team forever changed…” Forever changed, eh? In the comics that might mean a death, but in this kids cartoon perhaps we’re looking at a membership shuffling. It also doesn’t say which team. Find out for sure after the jump when I review “By the Numbers.”
I have to admit I liked the idea of the Avengers playing dodgeball or bombardment in the opening. Two things about it charmed me. First that the team was having a fun leisurely moment, and second, we get to see that Hawkeye isn’t just a marksman with a bow and arrow. He can hit any target with any projectile. Nice.
Within moments however my pleasure was trashed. This was a training exercise, and another chance for bastard Tony Stark to prove a point to Captain America about technology vs. the human factor. I hate this crap. Read a comic book, these guys used to be friends, and things were better then.
The Stark Probability Engine
Stark is testing his Stark Probability Engine, a program that predicts the odds in battle, hopefully turning the tide the next time The Cabal attacks, which is right before the opening ends. I can only think that rather than wait for The Cabal to attack, shouldn’t the Avengers have been proactive and been searching for them?
Anyway, Hyperion and Attuma attack, and in between the Falcon displaying some weird new powers and Hyperion seriously wounding the Hulk, we learn that the Red Skull is also playing a numbers and odds game. And it also seems the skirmish was a distraction to keep the Avengers ignorant of the reemergence of the Cosmic Cube, ahem, I mean the Tesseract, and for Attuma to plant a Brainiac-like spy bug on Thor.
The Same Old Story
This is just the same old story, and I’m not talking about the ongoing Cap/Stark argument of tech vs. human that we have seen numerous times already in the series, or the fact that the bad guys always seem more organized than our heroes. It’s that the writers don’t seem to know the characters at all.
Who is the Falcon? Have they completely rebooted his origins and powers? I know the flight suit now comes from Stark rather than SHIELD, but since when is Sam Wilson a scientist? And since when can he fly faster than a quinjet, or split the Hudson River like he did earlier in the episode. And when did the quinjet become the ‘Aven-jet’??
Again, even with the Stark Probability Engine guiding them, in Death Valley, these animated Avengers resort to the same old same old, taking on opponents one on one. That’s not what the Avengers is about. The Avengers is about teamwork. They live and train together, they plan ahead, they are a well practiced combat unit.
Going fanboy here for a bit, but if you were to ask me the age old who’d win scenario – Justice League vs. the Avengers, I almost always answer Avengers, even though they are outclassed by the League’ power levels. It’s because they work as a team rather than a group of solo superstars who just happen to be on a team together. Why don’t the folks doing this cartoon get that?
After the Avengers are pounded into the ground and defeated, to cover The Cabal’s escape, the Red Skull sends two missiles out, one for Las Vegas and one for Los Angeles. The heroes take them out with some dodgeball pizazz bringing the episode full circle. Sadly however, The Cabal is still free, and still have the Tesseract.
How the team is ‘forever changed’ as promised in the synopsis is beyond me. They seem to be on the same path as usual – fighting like solo heroes, not working together, and letting the bad guys win. At least the Black Widow was in this episode.
How much you want to bet the next episode doesn’t even involve The Cabal, and that the Avengers aren’t even looking for them? Yeah, that’d be about right.