The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acts of Vengeance

We are three episodes into the third season, and "Acts of Vengeance" is about two things: resolving dangling elements of the first season while laying pipe for what comes next. This episode accomplishes both masterfully, proving once again that Chris Yost and Josh Fine were a dream team for this series.

The first season climaxed with an epic battle, when Loki nearly conquered the nine realms. His favorite pawns were Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil. The Enchantress was manipulating Zemo on Loki's behalf, but Zemo never trusted her and attempted to turn her into his slave. Well, now she's pissed and she wants revenge. Hell hath no fury...

After Chemistro, Living Laser, and Arnim Zola are taken out, Zemo goes to the Avengers, offering to turn himself in if they can help him defeat the Enchantress. The Avengers agree to it, but take precautions. Frankly, they would be idiots straight out of a cartoon from the 1980's had they believed Zemo was serious about surrendering. How many times has Optimus Prime been shocked that Megatron would lie or cheat? I don't care what decade it is, trusting a group calling themselves Decepticons is just as stupid as trusting a group that calls themselves, oh I don't know... the Masters of Evil!

On that note, and while this is by no means a deal breaker for me, I was disappointed when Zemo actually started referring to his group as the Masters of Evil. When they first appeared, he referred to them simply as the Masters... and made use of it as appropriate: "today we become Masters of this world," etc. The Avengers would call them the Masters of Evil. This, I felt, was a nice way around it... and then Zemo started using the full name too. I know it's from the comics, but the Silver Age was a long time ago... there is a reason the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is now just the Brotherhood of Mutants. And, I love that in "Young Justice" the villainous organization is called The Light instead of the Legion of Doom or something like that. Names like this were fine for their time, but I prefer at least a tiny bit of nuance. I know Baron Zemo is a Nazi, but the Nazis didn't think of themselves as evil, even if they most definitely were. Even the good guys on this show are more a bit more nuanced, even if they are a love letter to Silver Age heroes... hence Hank taking Jan home and beating her senseless again. ;)

My favorite part of the episode was the interactions between Baron Zemo and Captain America, or rather the Skrull pretending to be Captain America. Zemo doesn't care that Iron Man is giving his word to protect him from Enchantress, he wants Captain America's. He knows Captain America is good and noble, and knows he will keep his word... there is so much history here, you know that Zemo used Cap's honor against him back during World War II based on these dialogue exchanges. Naturally, the Skrull pulls a double cross, which was great. Unfortunately, it led to an unfortunate missed opportunity. I would have loved it if Zemo had figured out that Captain America was an impostor based on this, actually tried to say as much to the Avengers only for his warning to fall on deaf ears. But, again, this is hardly a deal breaker.

Wonder Man was the hero of the episode, seemingly giving his life to prevent Enchantress from using the Norn Stone and destroying it. The Avengers managed to convince him that Baron Zemo was a bad person... I suppose that the name, Masters of Evil, wasn't a big enough clue ;). Will he be back? Probably. I'd prefer it if he didn't come back, but I was never a fan of the heroic Wonder Man in the comics.

Finally, we lay pipe as the Twilight sword is stolen, which spooks Odin to no end, and Enchantress finds herself in the clutches of Surtur, in a scene beautifully inspired from "Night on Bald Mountain." I cannot wait to see there this goes.

I know I had some nits with the episode, but they were hardly complaints. I give the episode an A-. It was still very good, and left me wanting to see more. Baron Zemo was always the breakout villain for me on this show, so it's always a pleasure to see him.

Now, to deal with some unfortunate news and rumors. This is spreading across the internet very fast. While I know some people don't want to think the worst, Loeb is speaking classic industry speak. It's beyond clear that "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" is over.  Jeph Loeb has been incredibly outspoken over what he thinks animated shows should be like. He wants to turn back the clock to the 1980's, and this is unfortunate. He once said DC's shows suck because they don't look like comic books. Well, duh. These are different mediums. You have to streamline art for animation, otherwise you end up with animators drawing Wolverine's body hairs over and over and over again, and nothing looks good. He's also said that he doesn't like continuity and story arcs in television animation.... these are actually things he's said. Basically, Jeph Loeb is the Anti-Weisman.

And when asked if they would get a new series, or a third season, all Loeb would say is "We have big plans for the Avengers." Now, I've been around a while, I know this biz quite well. This is industry code for "we're killing it and making a new one." I know some people are trying to remain optimistic, but this is what is going to happen. Personally, I think it's a shame. Marvel Animation had finally caught up to DC animation, and now Loeb is undoing all that. The best thing that could happen would be for Marvel to fire him, but I'm not expecting that to happen.

Aw well, this episode was good, and we still have at least eleven more great episodes to come. After that, the remaining episodes of the season were produced after Loeb took over, and Josh Fine and Chris Yost were removed from the series. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm expecting the worst.

Such a shame, because I'm really loving this show.


  1. Nine episodes?! I thought Team Fine/Yost was on production til the mid season finale (episodes 13 and 14) and they also were involved with the season finale.

    The article you linked to is from a website also known as the golden realm of rumors. If they do cancel the series, it might be more of a mercy kill. Last thing I want for this series is to be Loebitmized if a third season occurs. However, Frank Paur said the transition between both halves is almost unnoticeable.

    As for this episode, it was nice to have the final loose story strand from season 1 wrapped up. The Avengers have alot on this plate. There's the Kree-Skrull conflict which officially starts with next week's episode, return of Red Skull and Winter Soldier, Korvac, Anihulus,Kang, Surter, Ultron and Galactus. Good thing they have Ms. Marvel (who is going to be the new Captain Marvel in the comics) and later down the road, The Vision.

    Also, Jeph Loeb = George Lucas of comic book media

    1. Whoops, I miscounted. Corrected now, I did the math wrong.

      Yes, I know what is. But I also know the quotes from Loeb are accurate, and what industry speak is.

      I hope Frank is right. He's a good guy, I've met him a few times, I like him.

      As for Jeph Loeb, I always thought of him as the Michael Bay of comic book media.

    2. Rob Liefield is more like the Michael Bay of comic book stuff while Chuck Austen is the Uwe Boll of the media.

      I wish Marvel hired Warren Ellis as the head of their TV. Sure, he would be a little hands off but he would pretty make the cartoons as smart as this one. I bet he would make that lame Ultimate Spiderman cartoon more like its comic namesake which Brian Michael Bendis's magnum opus.Speaking of Bendis, he can be another alternative though he's busy with his Avengers stuff.

      Oh, well. At least, we have all those amazing Marvel film especially from Marvel Cinematic Universe.

      Oh yeah, 16 more days til a day unlike any other when Earth's mightiest assemble on the big screen.

    3. Not a Bendis fan, and I never particularly liked Ultimate Spider-Man the comic either.

    4. Loebitmized should be officially entered into Webster's.

      And while I appreciate your insight, I reeeeeeallly hope that the rumor is false because this is (aside from Spectacular Spider-Man) one of the best if not THE best comic book cartoon series out there.