I suppose you might really have to be living under a rock to not know about the Marvel Comics movies coming to theaters this summer. This weekend saw the release of Captain America The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are coming as well, but perhaps one of the most anticipated is Guardians of the Galaxy. This week on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” our heroes meet those heroes, in animated form, at least. Meet me after the jump for my review of “Guardians and Spaceknights.” All that, and Galactus too!
Continuity and Sexism
We open with the Avengers returning from a mission in Dimension Z. This is a nice nod to the Captain America comics stories of late where he spent years in a dimension of his enemy Arnim Zola’s creation. They return to find Galactus getting ready to chow down on the Earth, another in the loooong list of non-Avengers foes in this series. They know who Galactus is, have devised plans in case he comes back, and yet, no mention of the Fantastic Four or where they are?
The Avengers are once again Black Widow-less. I’m finding this boys club mentality disturbing as well as stupid on the part of the creators. I’m upset that Disney XD seems to following in Cartoon Network’s recent mentality that girls don’t watch cartoons, which is so wrongheaded that it makes my head explode, especially with Nickelodeon disproving the theory with its popular “The Legend of Korra.” But you’d think they’d want the Widow front and center, seeing how she’s a co-star in what may be Marvel’s biggest movie yet, Captain America The Winter Soldier.
Captain America has a plan for dealing with Galactus, but as usual, so does Iron Man, but of course it’s one he hasn’t let anyone else in on. I love when Cap calls this ‘pulling a Stark.’ Beautiful. Iron Man tries to talk to Galactus, his ultimate plan to convince him to chow down somewhere else. Hero and muncher promptly vanish.
The Avengers track them to the D’Bari system only to find a planet’s population fleeing their world as it’s about to be eaten by, you guessed it, Galactus. Iron Man led him to another lunch, sadly a populated one protected by the Guardians of the Galaxy. D’Bari is notable for invading Earth in Captain America’s first Silver Age appearance in Avengers #4, and for being devoured by Dark Phoenix when she first emerged.
Guardians and Heralds
The Guardians of the Galaxy are obviously here to cash in on their upcoming movie this summer. Again, beating a dead horse, why them and not Black Widow? I have to say I really don’t care for these animation designs on the characters. The ones from their “EMH” were much better, especially Groot and Rocket Raccoon, which here are downright ugly. And I again have to wonder if “EMH” is in “Assemble” continuity or not, as the Avengers and the Guardians know each other.
Speaking of continuity, the Falcon knows that fighting a herald of Galactus is no easy matter, so they’ve done it before. The non-surprise of the story is that that was Tony’s plan, to become a herald. Unlike others who have done so to protect inhabited worlds from Galactus’ hunger, Tony Stark doesn’t seem to care. It’s both sad, and in character for our modern age Iron Man. We viewers believe it without a doubt.
I’ve been chided by colleagues and friends for making critical observations about this series, because it’s blatantly made for children (ahem, or apparently just boys), but I disagree. Of the billion plus who saw Marvel’s The Avengers (what this cartoon is clearly based on), and the million plus who read Avengers comics every month, how many are children? I think it’s a small percentage.
That said, I think it’s very sad when the story does shift into six year old mode. The story at the halfway point of the episode is merely a set-up to have the Avengers mindlessly fight the Guardians, and once again, as with their recent battles with The Cabal, the Avengers do it without teamwork.
Not a Good Showing
Eventually the two teams come to their senses and start cooperating. Then based on suspicion that Iron Man might still have a plan, the Avengers stand down, giving this badly designed and animated version of the Guardians of the Galaxy the spotlight. Ick.
If this was the backdoor pilot for a Guardians animated series, I would vote no. The “EMH” version was more compelling in my opinion. Besides the ugly renditions of Groot and Rocket, these Guardians on my TV screen had none of the charm or charisma of those in the comics, and especially the ones in the movie trailer. Yeah, definitely no.
Tony’s plan was unorthodox and ultimately a good one, although unlike a typical Reed Richards plan, one that mostly likely will bring Galactus back to Earth for vengeance rather than hunger, so in the long run, not so bright. And where were the Spaceknights we were promised in the episode title? I would loved some animated Spaceknight action.
And again we had more moronic child play between Hulk and Thor. I think I’ve figured out why this bothers me so much. In “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” when this sort of relationship existed between Hulk and Hawkeye, it was reminiscent of the old Stan Lee/Jack Kirby interplay of Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. They were playing, and Hawkeye’s character was never diminished. Here, Thor is made out like Hulk. Our thunder god is no rocket scientist, but he’s not a Hulk either.
“Avengers Assemble” seems to consistently take one step forward while simultaneously taking two backward. When it gets good in one way, it gets worse in others. At least next time we may get some continuity answers – Ant-Man is coming!