With the original Avengers still missing, the new team soldiers on, and their mission to protect the Earth never ends. When the Red Skull’s doomsday Sleeper robots go on a rampage, the Avengers Assemble to stop them. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Sleeper Awakens.”
The Sleeper robots are a part of the Captain America mythology in the comics. Nazi robots directed by the Red Skull, three were dispatched by Captain America during World War II, but a fourth one lay unactivated until Cap had been resurrected in the modern day. This menace, besides having devastating ray vision, could also control its own density similar to the Vision.
Over the years, the fourth Sleeper has reemerged several times to fight Captain America and the Avengers. They have even been featured in several different animated forms in television in the original ‘animated’ Captain America episodes of Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men, Spider-Man, and the much-missed Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
I loved the opening sequence of this episode because I’m old. And I’m a traditionalist. Stark Tower, Hydrobase, the Compounds, they’re all cool and stuff, but for me, who’s going on almost five decades of reading Avengers comics, nothing beats the Mansion. We’re shown the new team moving into the Mansion, thus becoming as the team from the comics were – a fighting unit that lived and trained together.
Of course, it’s a different mansion, more Wakandan and connected to the Black Panther than Tony Stark or Iron Man, which is a nice change of pace, but also explains the high technology needed for such a headquarters. We’re made aware that this is not the traditional Ant-Man and Wasp of the comics, but of the movies, and how Captain and Ms. Marvel are related. We’re still in introductory mode with this team, and it’s good.
Captain America Must Be Destroyed
The move is interrupted however by the doorbell and the arrival of Captain America. Everyone but the Vision is happy to see him, and asking where he’s been and where the rest of the original Avengers. Not the Vision. The Vision puts the beat down on Cap like he’s just read Secret Empire, stating that “Captain America must be destroyed.”
Yes, Vizh certainly has a flair for the dramatic. Why couldn’t he just say something, rather than just attacking? As his teammates take him down, he disables Cap revealing it as a robot double of the Red Skull. The Avengers are able to track the robot back to a mysterious island, presumably the headquarters of the Red Skull.
In the meantime, on the trip to the island, the Vision has succeeded in reprogramming the Red Skull robot, naming him ‘Skully.’ In a callback to the opening moving scene where Ant-Man uses his pet ants to help him move in, the Vision desired a pet as well. Now he wants to keep him. It’s silly, and made sillier by the fact that while Skully can do no evil with his new programming, he speaks like the Skull in German-accented super-villain-ese.
I’m not sure how long this comic relief will last before it gets old, but Skully is able to allow the Avengers to land safely on the island. I just hope he doesn’t turn into an Arsenal, or worse yet, an Ultron. Once inside, the Avengers find an army of Skullies, called Sleepers here, and that they have turned against and imprisoned the real Red Skull.
There are strains of Terminator here as the Red Skull’s computer creation, Skull-Net has gained sentience and turned against him, seeking world domination without him. Taking that into account, is it a matter of a chip off the old block, or just how smart can it really be? At this point, when the army attacks, it’s really just an Ultron rerun, with Avengers vs. robots.
The only thing that saves this quickly-becoming-boring sequence is the new team of Avengers with different powers and dialogue. It’s gets very Ultron when Skull-Net wants the Vision to join him, and the episode falls apart when the Red Skull takes his giant Skull bots out for a stroll. Predictable and typical. We need new villains and stories, not just new heroes.
This is not the best episode nor the best spotlight on these new Avengers who seemed so promising in the first two episodes. There seem to be some sloppy design problems in the animation of both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, 1970s Hanna-Barbera level mistakes that are just embarrassing.
Skully and his sacrifice take up far too much screen time than they should have, taking precious spotlight from folks I wanted to see like Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, and the Black Panther. Sad, to quote a certain non-model, but hopefully it will get better.