THE AVENGERS dvd vol. 1 and 2

With so many Marvel superheroes making their way to the big screen, it's no surprise that an animated series has been made of a super-team that includes summer heroes Thor and Captain America. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! vol. 1 and 2 shows the online start of this series and the following full-length episodes. It'll leave you wanting more -- which is part of the problem.

Unusual for such a well-established franchise, this series began as a series of "micro-episodes" that lay the foundation for the rest of the series; these are collected in the first dvd. We see Thor (Rick Wasserman) defending Asgard from storm giants -- and his scheming stepbrother Loki (Graham McTavish). The Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) is pursued by the military -- and fights the Absorbing Man. Iron Man (Eric Loomis) battles some evil robots from the evil organization Hydra. Captain America (Brian Bloom) fights and falls in World War 2 -- where time-traveling villain Kang (Jonathan Adams) watches. And Hank Pym (Wally Wingers), alternating between Ant-Man and Giant Man, has constructed a prison for super-powered criminals at the request of S.H.I.E.L.D. When they all escape at once, Hank and his girlfriend the Wasp (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) work to contain them; and soon Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hank Pym, and the Wasp have become the Avengers, sworn to track down and recapture the escapees!
The second dvd collects the full-length episodes. The team faces not only villains -- the Enchantress, Baron Zemo, the Man-Ape and the brilliant Leader (nicely voiced by Jeffrey Combs) -- but their own personal issues. The Hulk feels like he's treated as a monster. Hank is suspicious of Iron Man's past as a designed of weapons. The team also gets new members: Captain America (brought from the 1940s to the present); Black Panther (James Mathis III), who initially needs their help; and Hawkeye (Chris Cox), an archer framed for treason.

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is a delight for older comic book readers (many stories are based on classic issues of The Avengers) and newer folks (introductions are quick, and it's no surprise that numerous characters are very close to their live-movie counterparts). The action is well done, there's a nice sense of humor through the series (notably as the Wasp and Thor try to figure out what M.O.D.O.K. is), and it's neither too cute for adults nor too violent for kids.

These two dvd sets contain, in all, thirteen episodes. Unfortunately, there are 26 episodes in the first season of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! (not to mention the micro-episodes featuring Hawkeye and the Black Panther). I suppose Marvel wanted some of this series available to coincide with the summer movies featuring these heroes, but I feel that this could have been released all in one set, not spread out over what will probably be four different dvds. I look forward to seeing the second half of this series; I just wish I could have seen it all at once.

Overall grades:
B+ (for quality)
B- (for not having the full season in one release)

Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: