We’ve dealt with daddy issues before with the animated Avengers. Thor, for one, has had a rough relationship with Dad. While Captain America tries to remember his, Baron Zemo does something about his similar dilemma, and brings the original Zemo through time to the present. Can the Avengers contend with two Zemos? Meet me after the time jump for my thoughts on “The House of Zemo.”
Happy Birthday, Captain America
Marvel Comics recently celebrated Captain America’s 75th anniversary by turning him into a Nazi, or at the very least, a Hydra agent. As we’ll see shortly in this episode, there is very little difference. Editorial interference and disrespect for readers aside, it must be hard celebrating birthdays when everyone you know lived over six decades ago. Still, the Avengers want to surprise him but Cap just wants to forget it.
Cap is trying to remember and sketch his father’s face (again, I love that this show acknowledges Cap’s artistic background), but he can’t. He rejects attempts to get him to a party and opts for some nighttime crime fighting to clear his head. All too easily and much too coincidentally he runs into Helmut Zemo, who is having daddy issues of his own.
The Hooded Face of Evil
Missing his own father, Zemo, using technology stolen from Kang the Conquerer a few episodes back, Helmut not only has been communicating with dear old dad, but here brings him to the present with s time portal. While we have seen him before in faux flashback and know his reputation, let me assure you, the real Baron Heinrich Zemo is badass.
Now while the first time I saw the original Baron Zemo was mostly a disappointment, I soon found just how dangerous he was. Not only was the original Zemo the founder of the first Masters of Evil, the creator of both Wonder Man and Power Man (later Goliath/Atlas), but he was also a Nazi contemporary of the Red Skull. He may have been a minor member of the Legion of the Unliving, but everything else this guy did was hardcore evil.
Of Nazis and Hydras
The first thing one notices about Baron Heinrich Zemo when he emerged from the time portal is that he is serious evil. Super-villainy is not a game to him, evil is in his genes. Zemo doesn’t want to ‘stop’ or ‘defeat’ Captain America, he wants to kill him. He is a Nazi megalomaniac, and perhaps this is something lost in the context of the animated series.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. make it clear that Hydra was an offshoot of the Third Reich, albeit following traditions and beliefs much older. They allied with the Nazis because of similar goals. The Marvel Animated Universe however intimates that we fought World War II against Hydra, and there is little to no mention of the Nazis. I actually prefer the solution given in the original 1966 Marvel cartoons where Captain America (and sometimes Bucky) fought an unnamed enemy with foreign accents in ‘the war.’ Nonspecific and easy.
The House of Zemo
I quite like the dynamic between the elder and the junior Zemo. Their interaction, and the demonstration of what a terrible father Heinrich would have been (is), says so much. And the elder’s evil makes Helmut seem like a warm puppy, which alone is an insane statement. Heinrich continually puts Helmut down as they battle the Avengers, and speaking of such, the fact that the two can hold off Thor and the Hulk is remarkable in itself.
Heinrich Zemo is able to master Kang’s technology, and not only sends Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and the Falcon back through time to WWII, he is able to bring one of his own descendants from 2099 here. This cyclopean cyborg with a laser sword is more than a match for the Avengers, and Heinrich likes him a lot better than Helmut. Yeah, he’s father of the year, isn’t he?
Little Stevie Rogers
Meanwhile in the past, the Avengers break into a military base with the intent of building a time beacon so they can be found and retrieved. They run into a pre-Super soldier serum Steve Rogers. Patriotic as ever, and wielding a trash can lid, the scrawny kid accuses our heroes of being where they shouldn’t be and alerts the military police.
In-jokes abound, mostly from Hawkeye, but the four make an unlikely but successful team. There’s an interesting moment when little Stevie salutes the present day Captain America that makes me wonder if the older Cap remembers this happening. Time travel is always a headache waiting to happen. Does Cap remember capturing Zemo as little Stevie? Does Zemo remember? And what effect will Zemo’s knowledge of the future have on the timeline? And while we’re on the subject, what is Kang up to in the past?
While there were some sore spots here, for the most part, this was the best episode of Avengers: Ultron Revolution in a while, I loved it. I also really liked how Captain America convinced the junior Zemo to sorta do the right thing. This kind of redemption is one of the things I have always loved about the Golden Age Wonder Woman and wish was part of superhero comics more these days.