We all know that the Squadron Supreme is a twisted alternate dimension version of the Justice League in the Marvel Universe that has frequently crossed paths with the Avengers. So far on “Avengers Assemble” our heroes have faced off against counterparts of Superman, Batman, and the Flash. This week it’s Green Lantern’s turn. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Spectrums.”
As I’ve said, Doctor Spectrum is the Squadron Supreme’s version of Green Lantern, and like his DC Comics counterpart, there have been a number of folks who have gone under that name, all bound by the sometimes sentient weapon called the Power Prism. With its power Spectrum can manifest energy constructs, force fields and beam attacks, just like Green Lantern.
His original costume, designed by John Buscema is a wonderful homage and advancement of Gil Kane’s Silver Age Green Lantern costume design, one of the most original in comics at the time (despite what Iron Man says in this episode). Among those who have wielded (or been possessed by) the Power Prism are Kenji Obatu, Billy Roberts, the Wasp, Thor, Hank Pym’s lab assistant, and Joe Ledger – notably not Jonathan Maberry‘s terrific series protagonist of the same name.
As we stand on the edge of the Ant-Man film opening next weekend, we’re still not sure what the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of the Scott Lang character is all about, so I assume the showrunners are playing very loose with his animated counterpart. Shady past, check; Avenger, we know it’s coming, so check; using probably Pym technology… maybe – the rest is fuzzy. He’s not Hank Pym, but he is my favorite part of “Avengers Assemble.”
I thought for sure they might leave it vague as they did with Ultron’s origins earlier in the season before Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, but I was surprised as this episode opened. Here’s Ant-Man playing Iron Man in “Armor Wars” mode, taking back his(?) technology that’s now being used for evil purposes. His first target is Whirlwind, who about to rob Roxxon – that act alone makes some of us question whose side Whirlwind is really on, but that’s a tale for another time.
Whirlwind is an old school Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) foe from waaay back in the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby days. David Cannon was a mutant with cyclonic powers who first attacked Giant-Man (also Pym) and the Wasp as the Human Top, later taking on the much cooler name Whirlwind. The name was the only cool thing about him though, as he was constantly defeated by the pair.
His only true feat of successful villainy was posing as Janet Van Dyne’s chauffeur for years, keeping close to the couple and learning their secrets. Later he was a member of both the Lethal Legion and the Masters of Evil, and clashed with the Avengers on several occasions. Ironically he was never really an enemy of Scott Lang, nor did he have to depend on technology much as a mutant.
Ant-Man’s Armor Wars
Here in the Marvel Animated Universe, Whirlwind is not only tech-powered, but in the opening, gives Ant-Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye a run for their money with his Lang-invented-and-built tech-suit. But again, it’s all about rebuilding Ant-Man. I love that it’s Giant-Man who again makes the save, because, you know, Giant-Man rules.
Hawkeye and Widow agree to help Ant-Man track down the rest of the baddies from his past using his technology. When they ask how many are left, he rattles off a litany of villains – Iron Ma villains from the actual “Armor Wars” like Blizzard and Unicorn, along with old school Pym foes like Egghead and Madame X. Yeah, it’s true, this Silver Age fanboy nerdgasmed. The bad news is that his list also includes The Hood, the Purple Man (neither of whom really use technology), and… Doctor Spectrum.
Billy, Don’t Be a Hero
Worried over an impending Squadron Supreme attack, the Avengers split up, some exploring the Squadron’s crashed Citadel ship/headquarters, and Ant-Man, along with the Big Three – Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man – going directly after Doctor Spectrum, who’s alone in the desert. Ant-Man knows him as Bill (don’t call me Billy) Roberts, and he sold him a power amplifier. Spectrum doesn’t want to fight, and only Ant-Man appears to be the only voice of reason… Cap being out of character for the moment and all.
Doctor Spectrum’s power here is very simplistic on a Green Lantern level, there’s definite force manipulation, but not much in the way of shapes and structures. However, the prismatic (pun intended) rainbow effect of his energy is a stunning animated effect – simple but effective. The weird thing is, once the power amplifier is destroyed, Spectrum gets more powerful and turns evil, kicking the Avengers’ butts. Ahem, was no one listening when I mentioned the Power Prism possesses people?
For the second episode in a row, much like the combat against Hyperion last time, the battle against Doctor Spectrum is one that not only taxes the team (as well as fight against an evil Green Lantern would), but also stands as a terrific example of the type of teamwork the Avengers should always display. There are times when I’ve hated this series because of the lack of teamwork aspect, but I loved this episode.
Of course just when things start to get desperate for our heroes, Spectrum pulls a new power out if his Prism – he reaches into their minds and manifests their greatest fears. For Thor, it’s the Loki he’s failed; for Cap, it’s the Winter Soldier; and for Stark, it’s Ultron. This fear from the Big Three only feeds Spectrum and the Power Prism. I loved how they beat these fears – by taking responsibility. This show grows up in this moment.
At the Citadel, the other half of the team learns the real truth of why Doctor Spectrum was way out in the desert alone. The Power Prism isn’t a weapon, but a living parasite, and the one that destroyed ultimately the Squadron Supreme’s planet. At the command of Hyperion and Nighthawk chillingly enough. The amplifier was meant for Bill to control the Prism. Now with Bill free, the sentient Power Prism forms its own body and joins the Squadron Supreme. This can not be good.
Speaking of special effects in this episode, the CGI tentacles that attack the team investigating the Citadel are done nicely. Visually, this really is one of the more impressive entries in the series so far. And as always the water effects are well done. I really dig this episode, and while the happy ending for Billy might be a bit too easy, I think “Spectrums” has been one of my favorites.
Next: Zarda the Power Princess!