When the Circus of Crime is in town, the Avengers learn a bit more about their comrade Hawkeye than they knew before, or do they? Apparently the SHIELD marksman has a dark past in the colorful world of “Crime and Circuses.” Check out my review of the newest episode of “Avengers Assemble” after the jump.
The Circus of Crime
Dating back to the Old West, Marvel Universe time, and the beginnings of the Marvel Silver Age, our time, the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime are indeed classic Marvel villains. Originally created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko to fight the Hulk, they have at one point or another faced many of the heroes of the Marvel Universe, especially the Avengers, even going so far as to try to wipe out most of them at the wedding of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne.
It should be noted that this is not their first go-round in the animation realm. Their aforementioned encounter with the Hulk made for several segments of the 1966 “Marvel Super Heroes” show, and they’ve returned to fight various heroes on their cartoons as well. This particular storyline on this episode of “Avengers Assemble” of Hawkeye with the Circus of Crime has even been visited before on the “Marvel Action Hour” and “Avengers: United They Stand.” For more info on the Avengers’ animated past, click here.
In today’s episode, perhaps indicative of the fact that circuses don’t resonate with kids as they once did, PETA and Cirque Du Soleil and all that, the Circus of Crime has been upgraded. Technology, or more accurately gimmickry has been added to their once adequate abilities. And much like the “Avengers: United We Stand” episode was used to introduce the Swordsman to that animated universe, Hawkeye’s other instructor is added to the group, Trick Shot.
Besides Hawkeye’s old frenemy, we’re introduced, animated logo splash page style to the new Circus of Crime. There’s the Human Cannonball, Bruto, the Gambonno Twins, and the Ringmaster – all but the last outfitted and over-emcumbered with ridiculous tech like 1990s Rob Liefield characters. And what’s that? No Princess Python? What exactly do the powers-that-be at this show have against female characters?
Circus of Avengers
We open the episode on Hawkeye and the Falcon answering a summons to a robbery at a Stark facility. They’re puzzled as to why they’re the only two Avengers to show up, until they find the perps. It’s the Avengers, all gussied up as circus clowns. At least Black Widow is there, that’s something I guess.
We go back to sitcom mode here, as in how can the Avengers be made ridiculous? Because as we all know, comics on TV can’t be serious, serious fails. Just look at “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Sarcasm mode off. Wouldn’t it have been a nice homage if the Hulk looked a little like Mechano from Avengers #1, and I kinda wish Iron Man was more Bozo the Iron Man and less Wizard of Oz Tin Man, but then I’m a geek for the Golden Age. Yes, and Thor in a tutu.
Trick Shot is one of Hawkeye’s mentors, the other being the Swordsman, former Avenger and Avengers enemy. For almost two decades the Swordsman was his sole mentor until Trick Shot was retconned into Hawkeye’s origin in 1987’s Solo Avengers #1. It’s notable that after the original Trick Shot died, a second Trickshot, different spelling, emerged in the person of Hawkeye’s late brother Barney… but that’s a whole different story better left for another day.
In “Avengers Assemble” Trick Shot is notably thinner, and part of the Ringmaster’s Circus of Crime, the latter not really involved in Hawkeye’s comics origins. Here, they are. Unfortunately Trick Shot really doesn’t get all that much to do. Princess Python does show up later, but she doesn’t seem to do much other than act of character. Now that’s okay, I can deal with new interpretations, but really does the Princess really deserve more screen time than our sole female Avenger, the Black Widow?
The Avengers snap out of their mind control and take in the Circus of Crime. The fight goes on and on. It never seems to end. Yes, we used to see such fights all the time in Lee/Kirby comics but for a page or so. This lasted almost seven minutes, including pauses to make Thor look dumb. I also didn’t like that the Circus of Crime was diminished by their dependence on their new tech, as opposed to their actual abilities.
I liked that Hawkeye saves the day not just by being clever but also with his skills. I hated that I had to wait a half-hour for him to trust his teammates and friends. This is a 1970s Hanna-Barbera lesson, not a 2014 Marvel animation. And the only bit of Hawkeye’s anticipated origin we see is a faded tone less than a minute flashback. That’s it? Come on! Not happy.