The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

All This And Gargantua-2

If you were to ask me what I think the three objectively greatest animated series are, I would say "Gargoyles", "Batman: The Animated Series", and "The Venture Bros.". If you were to ask me what I think the greatest animated series to be in production over the last decade are, I would say "Avatar: The Last Airbender", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "The Venture Bros." And if I had to list my three personal favorite animated shows of all time, it would be "Gargoyles", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "The Venture Bros." Yes, I am serious. "The Venture Bros." is one of the greats, and is criminally underrated.

Like "South Park" before it, "The Venture Bros." was created by two guys, Jackson Publik and Doc Hammer who work out of a hole in the wall, doing most of the work themselves. They write it themselves, produce it themselves, do most of the directing, and voice acting, and work with a skeleton crew. Their commitment to not only maintaining but enhancing the quality with every new season results in a very long gap between seasons, sometimes two years or more. But I'm used to it at this point, and I am more than happy to wait longer for a quality production than to see something released that's not up to snuff.

It's been a wild ride aboard the X-1 with "Dr." Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, Brock Samson, Hank and Dean Venture, and Sgt. Hatred.The show premiered in 2003 and has "recently" concluded its fifth season with a sixth on the way. To tide us over, JackHammer have given us this hour long special that was meant to be the two-part fifth season finale before their episode order was cut short. Did it succeed? Hell and yes!

Many long running plot elements were brought to a head, a lot of the fat was trimmed, and it was glorious. "The Venture Bros." is one of those rare shows that has no bad episodes, but this special was something else. "All This And Gargantua-2" could have been sold to us as a movie and I would not have called bullshit. The scope was epic, the way JackHammer manages to balance such a gigantic cast is sheer are in and of itself... and these characters, my god... nothing and no one is wasted.

The basic premise centers around the completion of Gargantua-2 by Jonas Venture Jr. An element that's been running since early in the fourth season, after Gargantua-1 was introduced in the first season and destroyed in the second. Meanwhile, the members of the Guild of Calamitous Intent's Council of Thirteen are being murdered under mysterious circumstances, while their leader, the Sovereign (who may or may not actually be David Bowie... don't worry, this gets resolved) is preparing for war. There are other story lines running through here. Rusty's inferiority complex and jealousy of Jonas Jr., Phantom Limb's desire to advance himself and his Revenge Society, and so much more.

The writing is as sharp as a diamond saw, the animation beautiful, and so much is being juggled without it feeling forced or like too much. I wanted more. I wished the special was ninety minutes so I could spend more time with each element, but that's not a complaint so much as it's me being greedy.

While closing many doors, it opens new ones with a sixth season that will air... eventually. It's always getting better, and I can't wait to see what will happen next even though I'll have to.



  1. Brilliant series. Really enjoyed this special/season five finale.

    I do hope that we get season six a bit sooner since we saw some finished footage in the epilogue. Even if we don't, though, the wait will be worth it.

  2. Oh yeah, almost forgot about this. Nnow that I have DVR, I can catch this one more often. Beforehand, I've only seen it a rare few handful of times but I did like what I saw. Hope to catch up on it this year.

  3. I did not read this review, because I've just started watching Venture Bros, largely on your recommendation. When I catch up, I'll be back with opinions.

    1. I stress patience, then. Season one is fun, but very much one-off episodes... they don't begin developing their mythology until halfway through the season. Seasons two onward feel like a different show a lot of the time.