Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on May 5th, 2011
The movie to introduce Thor to the motion picture audience is set to open this Friday. Captain America isn’t too far behind that and opens up in July. Most movie goers have also seen one or both of the Iron Man and Hulk films. But all of those characters will soon be assembled into a mighty team called the Avengers. But before that mammoth movie, first we have to get the kiddies involved with a new cartoon series. Enter Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Iron Man has a problem. The name of this problem: Hydra. Hydra has apparently obtained the much desired Stark technology and is using it against the world including Iron Man and SHIELD (ran by Nick Fury). Before we know it, Tony Stark will come face to face with the Dreadnaughts and Nick Fury will have to take on the Grim Reaper. If Grim Reaper is allowed to take out Nick Fury, then he would be able to free Baron Strucker from the Vault.
Thor is fascinated with Midgard. Midgard for those who don’t know is Thor’s name for the Earth realm. He has seen remarkable valor from the humans such as Jane Foster who have no superpowers. They only possess incredible will. However, he has no time currently to play with humans, he must go back to Asgard to help his father Odin against the Frost Giants. But it isn’t only the Frost Giants he has to worry about, it is also his own devilish brother, Loki.
The Incredible Hulk has lived inside the fragile tissue of Bruce Banner. At times, it looks like he can control it and others he is the world’s most dangerous enemy. In the desert, he catches up with the Crusher Creel to try to help him with his exposure to gamma radiation. But Creel doesn’t want any help, he is the Absorbing Man and wants to pulverize Hulk into tiny bits. However, Hulk doesn’t only have to worry about Crusher Creel, he also has to worry about General Ross and the Hulkbusters.
Let’s step back a moment, to the 1940’s. The Second World War is alive and Captain America along with his sidekick Bucky are fighting the good fight against Red Skull. When things go wrong and all hope is lost, Cap and Bucky find themselves on a Hydra Rocket that is set to explode. Bucky kicks Cap off the rocket in order to save him but perishes in the aftermath. Meanwhile Captain America crashes into the ocean and freezes beyond the ice to never be seen again.
Flash back to present day, there is a breach with the four super villain prisons: There is the Vault (technological based superhumans), Cube (for those afflicted with gamma radiation), Big House (for those larger than life, they are shrank down for easier storage) and the Raft (which is used for super villains who have gone off their rocker). Nick Fury tries to maintain order but his efforts are futile. However, there might just be some help around the corner.
This help would come in the form of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Thor, Hulk and Iron Man, who are joined by Ant Man and his girlfriend, the Wasp. In a set of circumstances, these heroes come together to form the super hero group known as the Avengers. Their mission? To take down the seventy four dangerous criminals who escaped from the four prisons. Hopefully they will find a little bit of help on the way as they try to combat these dangerous menaces.
Wow (you will hear that word a lot for the rest of the review). The show’s first five episodes drop you into individual stories for Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Ant Man/Wasp. Then once they hit the sixth episode, they are going after the main storyline, the formation of the Avengers. But the way they do it is so amazing and really sets you inside the Marvel Universe. There are so many characters to absorb and the storyline is so deep, anyone with a passing knowledge of these heroes will feel involved immediately.
My favorite thing about any show though is their use of secondary characters. My favorite Avenger to this day will probably always be Hawkeye. He certainly has a large supporting role and I am glad to say his personality is intact. There are other ones such as the Black Panther which get sizeable treatment and should delight any fan of these smaller known superheroes. Furthermore, one can occasionally see cameos of such notable heroes like Wolverine (check out Cap’s origin episode) and the Punisher.
It really is an amazing show it mainly has to do with the fact that they could conceivably split them up for certain episodes as well as have them act as a team for others. There are endless possibilities with this kind of show and I don’t see why they couldn’t keep turning out new episodes until well after the Avengers movie in 2013. There is that much material to work with. Heck, we could even see spinoffs. (but I guess I shouldn’t probably hold my breath for West Coast Avengers with Wonder Man and Tigra?)
The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The color is pretty good here and those familiar with recent Marvel efforts will find a very similar palette and quality to work with. However, as with most animation, you will notice your usual array of static backgrounds and characters moving among it (with a few floating effects thrown in as good measure). It is certainly above average and will please most fanatics.
The audio is presented in 5.1 English Dolby Digital Stereo. Wow. There, I said that word yet again. Volume is at a pretty decent level and uses all of the speakers quite well. Dialog is quite clear and no one unless they suffer from hearing loss should have any problems. The only problem I had with the volume is that it seemed uneven at times. One minute, it could shatter walls, the next church mice are louder. English and Spanish Subtitles are included.
- Automatic Trailers: Thor, Cars 2, and Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension
- Season 2 Sneaks: New Looks, New Heroes(Volume 1) 7:33 : Producer, Joshua Fine and Story Editor, Christopher Yost take a look inside Season Two and give us some looks at new heroes and storylines too. Note, you probably should watch all of the episodes in the first season before you take a look. Things are liable to be spoiled.
- Season 2 Sneaks: New Stories, New Threats(Volume 2) 5:59 : Producer, Joshua Fine and Story Editor, Christopher Yost are back and take at villains for Season Two and how exactly they are going to gang up on the Avengers. Some good insight, but again finish off your Season One episodes first.
We will throw in one more Wow for emphasis. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is the best animated Super Hero show since the glory days of super hero animation during the 90’s. Namely X-Men: Animated Series and Batman: Animated Series. It even beats out Batman Beyond which despite the short run was done superbly. The setup, the involvement, the story all makes for a wonderful show.
Unfortunately, as wonderful as the series is, the discs do disappoint some. This 6 or 7 episodes per disc and then sold in two different packages is not what any fan really wants. We want season sets or at a minimum, a couple of volume releases for every season. Instead, with the way it is currently going, we will have to suffer through four different purchases just to get all of season one together.
The show is clearly not going anywhere, so there could always be a re-release (preferably in Blu-ray to boot) if these sell well. I give this show my highest recommendation, I just hope they clean up the packaging some and add worthwhile extras like commentaries (think the Wolverine and X-Men set) and season appropriate featurettes. Avengers assemble!
Iron Man is Born!
Thor the Mighty
Hulk Versus the World
Meet Captain America
The Man in the Ant Hill
Breakout, Part 1
Breakout, Part 2
Some Assembly Required
Everything is Wonderful
Gamma World, Part 1
Gamma World, Part 2