The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not So Mighty After All...

Well, this is how I as a watcher feel about the rest of this season, and what Marvel Animation has turned into. Really, no other image says it better. "The Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" had a rocky start, a brilliant middle, and a very disappointing end. While none of the episodes ever got as bad as "Powerless" again, the magic was flushed down the toilet and never quite came back.

Let me just say that I really enjoyed "Assault on 42," "Ultron Unlimited," "Emperor Stark," and the two Kree episodes. They were good episodes, but Loeb's mandates were already all over the series and even these episodes felt like a shadow of what they would have been. I liked them, but that intangible quality was long gone. For me shows like "Gargoyles," like "Spectacular Spider-Man," like "Batman the Animated Series," like "Avatar: The Last Airbender" have that quality. And, from "Gamma World" to "Secret Invasion," this show had it too. Everything else felt like an outline of what the rest of the season would have been like....

When asked if would reveal his plans for the future of "The Spectacular Spider-Man," Greg Weisman has said:

"I had many specific ideas, some of which would undoubtedly have changed over the course of production. But I'm just not too inclined to reveal them. It's not that I'm trying to torture you, it's just that there's no way I can do them justice in this format. I write "X" would have happened, and that one statement will get dissected across the internet. And any idea is only as good as its execution - which you'll now never get to see. It may sound stupid here, but I might have been able (with the help of Vic Cook and all my other many collaborators) to pull it off on the series and have everyone think I'm a genius. Or not. But at least it would have had a shot. I just don't feel like opening myself up to potential second-guessing based on raw notions as opposed to executed episodes."

And, after seeing the rest of the season, I cannot blame him for this stance anymore. There were a lot of great ideas in the second half of this season, but the executed episodes themselves were not great. Take the Winter Soldier and Red Skull episodes. The potential was all over those episodes. They could have been great, they should have been great. They were not great. They weren't awful, but they didn't approach the bar this show had raised.

Chris Yost is a great writer, but even his episodes suffered here. Did anyone care when Black Panther "died." Granted he was saved by an ass pull, but even when I thought he was dying, while the episode by itself was fine, the overarching narrative was in shambles and I could not be made to care, and I'm pretty sure that I as a viewer was supposed to. I don't blame Yost, my blame is placed elsewhere.

Did anyone else think that final episode with Galactus felt tacked on? They knew they weren't getting another season, so they decided to end things with a big climatic fight against the most powerful of foes. Don't get me wrong, in a vacuum I like this episode, but as part of the larger narrative, it should have been Surtur. I can't speak as to the motives behind the scenes, and while I know Chris Yost wrote the episode, I'd be curious to know if Galactus was suggested by someone higher up. Probably, that is how television works. And considering Jeph Loeb's apathy of things like continuity and story narratives, I would not be surprised if he suggested Galactus.

Believe it or not, for a long time I was enjoying this series more than "Young Justice." Don't get me wrong, YJ has better animation, better writing, and is the superior production in every tangible way. But while YJ had my mind, it did not have my heart. For a long time, "EMH" actually did even if it was a more lowbrow show. I enjoyed it more... in the same way I enjoy watching "Kill Bill" more than I enjoy watching, let's say "Schindler's List." But, this show destroyed all that. It was ruined by corporate politics, and as a whole I cannot now, with any intellectual honesty call it a great show anymore. Watching these last several episodes felt more like a chore than anything else. "Young Justice," wear your crown of current superhero animated series and wear it proudly and securely. Your competition doped up on blow and was found passed out on the men's room floor in a puddle of his own filth.

All things considered, I consider this cancellation of this show to be akin to putting Old Yeller out of his misery. He was a great dog, but then he got rabies and needed to be put down. Would anyone want to watch a whole other season of Jeph Loeb pissing all over a once great show? I most certainly would not.


  1. ""Young Justice," wear your crown of current superhero animated series and wear it proudly and securely. Your competition doped up on blow and was found passed out on the men's room floor in a puddle of his own filth."

    Well I think it's more like a bunch a guys jumped it in the locker room, dragged it into an ally and broke both it's leg with a crowbar before the match.

    A:EMH was a great show who's shortcomings were mostly due to external factors. Which is why I'm a tad more forgiving of the later half of season two. Honestly, I expected it to be much, much worse.

    The fact that Yost and Fine managed to get so many decent eps out of the later half of season 2 despite Leob and MOA's interference is nothing short of a miracle.

    1. Now there's another apt description. But the damage was done.

  2. What a shame that this show ended up being yet another victim of loebotomy. So many great ideas in the latter part of the season were squandered and underdeveloped. While there were some great moments here and there, it was undone by numerous plot holes, rushed pacing, flat moments, repetitive ideas, WAY too much focus on Captain America and Iron Man, and the decay of Loki and Kang to 80's Saturday Morning villainy.

    I hope rumors are true that Marvel is getting the message to do better with "Avengers Assemble", but I'm not counting on it.

    1. Well, until things change, I'm done with Marvel Animation. Jeph Loeb and Joe Quesada like the path they're on, and really... at the end of the day, I'm a thirty year old guy giving a cartoon a bad review. A well earned bad review, but they don't give a shit about what I have to say nor do they have any reason to do it.

      But, we've seen over and over again that you don't need to talk down to the target audience. The best shows don't. "Legend of Korra" doesn't and that's a ratings smash.

  3. The Galactus episode felt weird in a lot of ways. Tony's talk of history remembering them had the subtlety of a steamroller. Especially considering they've met Kang, so Tony already knows history remembered them. The anti-matter BS was a quick and easy way to end the episode. Galactus didn't feel like a force of nature, he felt like a stock villain that they beat fairly easily.

    I can understand people wanting Galactus as the final villain more than Surtur, but Surtur had more narrative weight. I don't buy that they put him on hold for season 3 because you don't build something at the start of the season and not pay it off at the end.

    "Don't get me wrong, in a vacuum I like this episode, but as part of the larger narrative, it should have been Surtur."

    I think most people are looking at the Loeb episodes in a vacuum and saying they're good. But if you look at them in the wider context of the show then they don't work. The Red Skull stories completely ignore the Cosmic Cube and beg the question of what he was doing for 60-70 years. His scheme seems to have been, "I'll wait around for decades till my nemesis shows up again, become a senator to discredit the new superhero population, ??? profit."

    Gives me little hope for the future of Marvel Animation. Hulk Agents of ASS and Avengers Assemble are looking even less promising now I see the current stance is to not give a shit about continuity or consistency. I also keep hearing that in USM Spidey keeps learning the same lesson over and over again. Seven times now apparently.

    1. Since Yost and Fine have said several times that season two was the cosmic season and season three would have been the mystic season, I think I'm going to believe they were laying pipe for season three.

      They introduced the Skrulls and Kree in season one and didn't pay off on them until well into season two.

      All that being said, I just made the mistake of checking out a certain forum that you post on, and some of the comments I'm seeing have left me floored. Do these people understand Basic Storytelling 101? At all? The answer seems to be no... some people don't need well weaved narratives or organic character development as long as they get to see something really cool. Substance? Who cares about that.

      I've been saying for ages that Jeph Loeb is the Michael Bay of comics.

    2. The Skrulls and Kree were introduced in season 1 towards the end, being build-up to season 2. We got Captain Marvel and saw the Kree over halfway into the season, the Kree/Skrull war was mentioned by Kang two thirds into the season, and we saw the start of the Secret Invasion as a cliffhanger end to the season.

      I get that it'd make sense that Surtur be used in the magic season. But the way they were building it up at the beginning of the season, with a Thor subplot that fizzled out rather than ended, narratively suggested there was going to be some pay-off at the end. Maybe not fighting Surtur but freeing Enchantress since she was the extension of Surtur. Like how we had build-up to Kang in season 1 and we got pay-off in his three parter, but his story wasn't meant to end there.

      I think I'm going to stay away from the Marvel side of that site for a while. Might be for the best.

  4. Personally, i enjoyed the later half of season two and i found those episodes great, but of course this is just my opinion and i respect yours, Greg.

    Now that the series ended i can say that this show was AMAZING, i enjoyed this series from the day one, the characters are interesting, stories are brilliant, the action is awesome and the humor is fantastic. Yost and Fine are definitely great writers, who kept the show true to the spirit of the classic comics and got every character right. If anything, Yost and Fine made those characters even more interesting and awesome than in comic books and that is saying a lot. The credit also goes to voice actors, who are definitive voice actors for the characters they voiced: Brian Bloom IS Captain America, Eric Loomis IS Iron Man, Rick D. Wasserman IS Thor, all these actors truly captured the spirit of the characters they voiced, really, i can't think that any of the actors were miscast. This show truly has Marvel's DNA, unlike Ultimate Spider-Man. Jeph Loeb and Quesada should stop saying that Ultimate Spidey has Marvel's DNA, because it doesn't. Jeph Loeb doesn't deserve to be Marvel's Head Of Television and Quesada doesn't deserve to be Marvel's Chief Creative Officer, Yost and Fine deserve to hold these positions. We would have gotten more seasons of this show and Ultimate Spider-Man might have been great series, if Yost and Fine held those positions. I'm certain that they would have many great ideas for Marvel animated series and movies and would listen to fans, unlike Loeb and Quesada.

    Anyway, this show was great and i thank everyone who worked on it. It was truly fantastic and amazing series, it is comic book brought to life. Yost and Fine brought truly great series and i hope that this show will return in the future, maybe in DTV movie or in comic continuation. Future Marvel animated series have a big shoes to fill if they want to be successful.

    1. I agree with most of what you said. The voice cast was perfect, and Yost and Fine are great.

      Both this show and Spectacular Spider-Man had Marvel DNA. Not Loeb's Shit-N-A.

    2. Is it too soon to wish Yost or Fine to head of Marvel Animation?

      Well, I'll just go back to watching Toonami, thanks, Loeb and fuck you too. The only good shows on that late-night block are Deadman Wonderland and Casshern Sins.

  5. I think it was always the plan for Galactus to be the season 2 finale villain. I don't know if you've seen the synopsis that was originally posted on iTunes, but you can see it by following this link:

    The end of it reads 'But waiting for them in the outer reaches of space is a foe the likes of which they’ve never faced… and quite possibly the LAST foe they’ll ever face. Galactus, Devourer of Worlds.'

    Before it was removed and replaced with a different iTunes season 2 description, Josh Fine posted on the Marvel Animation Forum to say that it was an early summary for season 2, that things changed in the interim between when that summary was written and when many of the episodes were completed. That's pretty obvious from reading it anyway because Dr. Strange and the Sentry never appeared, so we know they were originally planned to be used but they never got around to doing it.

    I noticed you didn't mention "Yellowjacket"... which I thought was a great episode but that's just my opinion. The Hank/Janet arc really needed some continuation and that episode delivered nicely. It moved at a breakneck pace but didn't really need to be a two-parter IMO.

    "New Avengers" was quite a simple story but a nice one. It was fun to see the other heroes receiving a call to arms when the Avengers were dispatched.

    I didn't feel that the quality dropped in the likes "Code Red" and "Winter Soldier" from what it was like in season 1 but that's just my opinion.

    1. I can believe that Galactus was planned. But the way Jeph Loeb's mandates removed anything overarching cohesiveness resulted in removing the overall narrative.

      Look at season one and how that climaxed with Loki. It was a lot more organic than this.

    2. Yeah, about 11 episodes passed in between the Galactus reference in "Prisoner of War" and his attack in "Avengers Assemble!", so it definitely required more set-up.

      The thing that bothers me the most about the slightly diminished continuity towards the end is that Iron Man offering to make Cap leader in "Code Red" is never followed up on. That was terrible really. I also think the Man of Action episodes should have given Vision and Yellowjacket speaking roles, and it is too bad that Cap was the only Avenger we got to see Winter Soldier have substantial interaction with. And boo to there being no mention of the Cosmic Cube reviving Bucky.

      Continuity wasn't entirely eliminated though: Red Skull finally came back after such a long wait, the fate of the Hulk was addressed, the Kree threat was dealt with at last, we got a more satisfying end to Hank and Janet's story with him rejoining the team as Yellowjacket, Vision had his arc, Ultron and Loki came back, and the awesome cliffhanger ending of "Hail, Hydra!" with Bucky's resurrection was followed up on. The second half of the season, Chris Yost and Man of Action episodes alike, was hardly a waste of time. There was still a lot of continuity, even if there wasn't a big arc connecting it all like Loki or the Skrulls.

    3. Well, if story arcs were still vetoed, I could see the finale arguably working a bit better as a two parter.

      Have Part 1 setting up Galactus' arrvial, establishing the threat and ending with the extra heroes joining in. Part 2 would then be the action oriented half with maybe some character oriented material and closure.

      1. But then that's still probably damage control at best.

      2. And yes, I'm kind of looking at X-Men Evolution's finale as a way to approach this one, but that still had more set up for Apocalypse. So make of that what you will.

      As for why I've made these posts suddenly, I got the entire series on DVD recently, so I'm celebrating by bringing up imput that's moot.