The Avengers seem to be assembling all over the place these days, in theaters for Joss Whedon’s blockbuster extravaganza, fighting mutants in the upcoming crossover series “Avengers vs. X-Men”, and now they return for their second season in Marvel’s animated series “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”
We get a little bit of a recap of relevant events from last season, namely Kang the Conqueror’s warning about the upcoming Skrull/Kree war and how that is somehow all Captain America’s fault, as well as the apparent infiltration of both SHIELD and the Avengers by the shape-shifting alien Skrulls. Unfortunately, this means we have to skip out on EMH’s epic theme song, one of my favorite in memory.
We open on all of the individual Avengers being reviewed on a holographic computer screen, their various powers and threat levels assessed. For example: Iron Man is a “high” threat, Captain America and Black Panther rate at “medium”, Wasp and Hakweye are “low” threats, and the Hulk is an “extreme” threat. Interestingly enough, Thor and Ant-Man are unaccounted for. The person reviewing these threats is none other than Latveria’s favorite overlord Victor Von Doom. He gives the order to “destroy them.”
Some shady characters dressed in trenchcoats and gloves approach the seeminly abandoned Avengers mansion. They knock on the door. Clint (wandering around in his Hawkeye costume) answers to see Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) standing at the door. “Time to settle this once and for all.” Johnny says darkly. To which Clint responds “is it 7 o’clock already?” Apparently the score that must be settled is an Avengers vs. Fantastic Four poker game. Hulk rounds the corner and immediately tackles him without much explanation. (Comic fans don’t really need one.) Clint sighs. “I should have gone with Iron Man.”
Speaking of, Iron Man and Wasp are making a trip over to the Baxter Building, so Jan and Sue Storm can have girl time (being the only ladies on their team) and Tony wants to check in with Reed Richards about the state of their related mission, ie. Kang’s ladyfriend Princess Ravana, who has been kept in stasis. Both Jan and Tony talk to Reed and Sue about their adventures defending Asguard, wich happened in the last episodes of the first season as kind of a neat little bridge to the here and now. Reed hilariously ignores Tony, too interested in his scientific doings and Tony thinks he should have stayed at the mansion.
Steve, T’challa, Clint, Johnny, Ben (do I call him Ben or the Thing, help me out here FF fans) and the Hulk all sit around the table, playing poker. Clint is the third one to uphold the brag that, yes, the Avengers saved the world. Steve can’t quite keep Johnny and the Thing straight (“the rocky fellow”) much to Johnny’s dismay. Another Hulk/Thing fight ensues, and everyone around them just carries on as is.
Reed tells Tony that Princess Ravana is stable for now and asks where Hank is, since apparently Tony is not science-y enough for Reed’s liking. Tony says he’s taken a leave of absence. (To me, this always indicates that they probably couldn’t get the voice actor in the studio that day.) Tony switches subjects, saying that Reed is way out of Sue’s league and is going to lose her if he keeps ignoring her. (He also implies that he’s ready and willing to fill Reed’s position. Tony’s always in it to win it.) “I can think of 14 different ways to seal you in that armor forever.” Reed threatens before the two start laughing. Sue and Jan walk around the building, Jan talking about her own problems with Hank, who keeps trying to quit the team. They don’t know they’re being watched.
Back at the mansion, two Doombots watch the Avengers from the outside. Clint does his best to end the fight between the two superpowered leviathans. (The Hulk claims that Grimm’s just mad because he’s never bested him, even though he’s the one who keeps starting it.) Doom watches from his throne in Latveria. “Now.” he says as two bombs go off, one at the mansion, one in the Baxter Building.
Tony and Reed extract themselves from the rubble. Ravana’s stasis tube is intact but the building quickly falls under attack from Doombots. Some good old fighting and house-wrecking occurs and both Sue and Jan and Tony and Reed have to fend off the robots’ merciless attacks. Its going just as well over at the Mansion. Cap has no shield, but they’re able to fend off the attack. Black Panther notes that Doom has nothing to gain by attacking them at the mansion, and that he must be desperate. Tony’s reasoning for the attack? “Because he hates you. A lot.” But Reed also agrees that Doom wouldn’t attack without a plan.
The fight at the mansion continues and when the Thing taunts Hulk, trying to make him mad, Hulk uses him as a weapon, flinging him around like a rag doll. (I consider myself an adult and I thought this was pretty hilarious.) All at once, the robots all power down. Tony and Reed and unable to contact Jan and Sue. Suddenly, the robots all connect themselves with a green lazer, which Reed says is a chain that will make them all explode. The blast radius will encompass the Baxter Building and half the city will need to be evacuated.
Jan awakens to find her and Sue trapped on in the cargo hold of some sort of plane. She is quickly incapacitated by one of Doom’s agents. When Tony attempts to rescue them, he is thwarted and thrown into the ocean. Tony looks back to see New York City encompassed by a huge aurora of light.
Tony returns to find that Reed has disarmed the robots by the Baxter Building, and that Johnny and Ben have done the same, albeit with a lot of help from the Avengers. Although everyone wants to go rescue Jan and Sue, T’Challa reaffirms their suspicions that this whole thing is a trap, and that Doom wants the Fantastic Four to come to them. And of course, if they all go into Latveria, they are invading a sovreign nation, which neither SHIELD or the US government want to deal with.
Jan and Sue have been trapped inside glass domes that shock them when they try to use their powers. Jan berates Doom, telling him that there’s no way he’ll get away with whatever he wants to do. I’m glad the show is keeping up with Jan’s awesome monologues to the supervillains about why they suck. Doom calmly brushes her off. Doom is warned that th Avengers are approaching.
The Avengers pilot the quinjet towards Latveria and try to trick Doom by retreating out of Latverian airspace once attacked. Doom quickly realizes that Iron Man is in the room, and shoots him on sight. Black Panther also attacks, and Tony realizes he can’t really avoid an international incident. “Avengers assemble!” And assemble they do, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four. A pretty epic battle ensues with all the heroes doing what they do best, fighting, firing blasters and lasers, smashing, arrow-firing. They finally all square off against Doom, but he’s able to fend off most of them with his force-field and other evil powers. Finally, they come to an impasse, and having retrieved Sue and Jan, they decide to begrudgingly end the fight, not wishing for the international incident to escalate any further.
Back at the mansion, the Avengers and Fantastic Four try to figure out what Doom was after and why he gave up so quickly. Doom watches the holographic scans of Jan and Sue, revealing that Sue has been replaced with a Skrull infiltrator.
This was a pretty good opening for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, not their most exciting, but definitely a good look at what the show has in store for this season. I can definitely predict more team-ups with heroes like the Fantastic Four, now that all of the individual Avengers have been pretty thoroughly established by the show’s first season. What I’ve always liked about EMH is the show’s dry wit, and even though the show is geared towards the sunday morning age 6-12 audience, they take most of their stories surprisingly seriously, and aren’t afraid to set up long arcs that might take an entire season to resolve. The fights feel real and dangerous, and for the most part, the team takes a pretty good beating on a regular basis, and I like that they take the opportunity to make their villains dangerous and show that even Earth’s Mightiest have weaknesses.
Personally, this episode was just okay for me, mostly because I am tragically unversed in all things Fantastic Four. I did like their constant attempts to one-up each other, like rival baseball teams. The Hulk/Thing stuff was fun, and surprisingly never one note, and I really liked whomever provided the voice for Reed Richards (imdb, you fail me as usual), he was pretty note perfect with his unimpressed deadpan. And of course, some questions: Is Captain America still a Skrull? Was this Skrull-Cap fighting with them? I guess we’ll find out.