In the face of the new super-villain team, the U-Foes, the animated Avengers also must contend with a new government liaison, who seems to have it in for the Hulk. Trouble and terror abound in this new episode of Avengers: Ultron Revolution, meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “U-Foes.”
After the team has battled so many enemies of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, I have to say it’s a nice change of pace to see the team up against Hulk villains. Perhaps Black Widow and Hawkeye foes won’t be far behind… or how about something really novel, like an Avengers foe or two? Still I shouldn’t complain, the U-Foes have actually battled the Avengers quite a number of times in the comics – but they started with the Hulk.
The U-Foes originally were scientists motivated by power and fame to replicate the space flight experiment that transformed the Fantastic Four. They weren’t nice folks, and they got more dangerous powers. There was Vector with telekinesis, Vapor could turn gaseous, Ironclad with strength and metal skin, and X-Ray who was living energy. You can see the parallels to the Fantastic Four a la big-brained Mr. Fantastic, see-through Invisible Woman, super-strong rocky Thing, and the fiery Human Torch.
Return to Vista Verde
We open the episode with the space flight described above, four astronauts, for less than noble reasons, duplicating the cosmic storm incident that created the Fantastic Four. I kinda dug the Enterprise-like ship with a saucer section that will later be identified as a UFO. However once through the cosmic storm, their saucer is headed for a crash landing in Vista Verde.
Does that name sound familiar? Vista Verde is the closest town to where Bruce Banner first became the Hulk. A bit of a tourist trap making money off that fact, it’s also near where Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. set up their headquarters in Gamma Base. Hulk is there now, getting nostalgic, I suppose, when the ship comes down. I like this callback to a smarter Hulk after last time‘s portrayal.
Also in the opening, we have the other six Avengers at Stark Tower playing pinochle. Don’t ask me how six people can play the game, but there it is. I guess somebody behind the scenes doesn’t know all that much about pinochle. The reference is that Cap picked the game, so it’s an ‘old’ joke, but it doesn’t really work because Thor, the oldest one there, doesn’t understand the game. It’s thankfully interrupted by an intruder that bypasses Friday’s security.
The older gentleman introduces himself as Truman Marsh, their new boss. In the comics, Marsh was the less-than-cooperative warden of The Vault, here he’s a government stooge. This entrance is reminiscent of when Henry Peter Gyrich walked into the battle-damaged Avengers Mansion and tried to shut the team down, resulting in the government-sanctioned membership line-up in legendary Avengers #181. After allowing the terrigen wave to happen, the New Powers Act was signed, and now the government has control over the Avengers. Sounds like the Marvel Animated Universe is aligning with the Cinematic and Television Universes.
The Fearsome Four
Meanwhile the Hulk witnesses the origin story of this evil Fantastic Four, mirroring the beginnings of the real thing only through a crooked mirror. Vector makes the mistake of mentioning their experiment was Hydra-funded and the Hulk attacks – and is put down fairly easily. Something many folks forget is exactly how truly powerful and dangerous the U-Foes are, despite the silly name.
When the Avengers are sent to investigate a Hydra base in Arizona, under Marsh’s orders, they find not only a Hydra that is rudderless without Von Strucker‘s leadership, but being usurped by the new U-Foes. Combat ensues, and while I was happy the Avengers were working as a team (contrary to earlier seasons) I was startled to see the tight cooperation of the U-Foes as a team. The U-Foes victory, even though they retreated, is decisive.
After Marsh blames the defeat on the Hulk, possibly setting up the future episode entitled “World War Hulk,” the Avengers again encounter the U-Foes at an old S.H.I.E.L.D. base where the villains steal an old helicarrier. The continual references to S.H.I.E.L.D. as old made me wonder if the organization is defunct in this continuity, seems to still be around in Ultimate Spider-Man, am I missing something?
The fight to win back the helicarrier is tense but well done with the Avengers on top, and the U-Foes again running but eventually captured. I shivered at the threat level made by the U-Foes, destroying a town with a nuclear explosion? They’re hardcore. I have to wonder why they run when they’re so powerful. Back at Stark Tower, Marsh again blames Hulk, but this time fires him. As quickly as Hulk leaves, his replacement arrives… the Red Hulk. Not good, this does not bode well.
Pictures and Words
I liked the simple if disturbing redesign of the U-Foes from page to screen. Their visuals in the comics, created by the great Sal Buscema, are best suited for the comics page, and the animated versions, while simplistic, work well. I have to give pause to X-Ray’s skull face and especially Vector’s Cenobite flesh grooves. *shudder* It beats his cosmic tapestry costume though.
Written by Mairghread Scott, who also wrote the great “Saving Captain Rogers” episode, this was one of the better stories of the season, with good characterization, villains used to their potential, and a sense of internal continuity. Yeah, I dug this episode a lot. More please.
Next: Building the Perfect Weapon!