The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Vol. 3 & 4 (Marvel
Picture: B- Sound:
B- Extras: C+ Episodes: A
Finishing up the first action-packed season of Marvel’s
finest animated effort to date, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
volumes 3 & 4 continue where volumes 1 & 2 left off. Writer-Producer
Joshua Fine and his crew go back to the well of ideas and draw forth some of
the finest stories in The Avengers long history
for these episodes. We not only get
enjoy some of the lesser villains you might never have thought to see animated
(Serpent Society immediately comes to mind), but we also get treated to major
battles with some of the Marvel Universe’s most significant heavy hitters.
Evil organizations A.I.M. and Hydra tangle, and M.O.D.O.C.
floats right into the thick of the action!
One of Marvel’s visually strangest villains, M.O.D.O.C. vies with Hydra
leader Baron Strucker for the Cosmic Cube, and Hawkeye finally finds some
closure with the woman he believes betrayed him, the Black Widow! As these stories develop the Avengers grow as
characters and learn to trust each other more and more. Captain America begins to assert himself,
casting off his man- out-of-time malaise and adapting to his new role in modern
The Masters of Evil make a comeback in a big way, and
Asgardian heavy-hitter Malekith shows up to open the Casket of Ancient Winters,
a dangerous artifact that threatens to bury the planet in perpetual
winter. Longtime comic book villain
Ultron finally goes bad, but the way it’s done in the series is so clever that
it becomes uniquely its own, not just pilfered comic continuity.
Throughout these episodes we glimpse a powerful, unseen
hand behind many of the villainous machinations. Working through his catspaw,
the Enchantress, Loki schemes to conquer all of the Nine Worlds of reality, and
yes, that includes the Earth as well!
When the Avengers find themselves scattered across the Nine Worlds, they
have to survive and reunite to free Thor and stop the cosmically powerful God
of Trickery. The story and visual
surprises come at a fast and furious pace, and viewers who know the continuity
will find plenty of winks and nods tucked into an otherwise extremely
accessible series of episodes.
The disappointing extras on these two volumes will leave
the viewer wondering about the amazing creative process that must have gone
into each of these amazing episodes. Why
not interviews with principal writer Chris Yost? Why no commentaries from producer Joshua
Fine? For example, fans would love
insight into why the creative crew picked the members of the Serpent Society
that they did for the episode they appeared in.
Instead we get a sort of lame re-play of one of the existing episodes
with “Pop-Up Video” style information blurbs.
We can only hope that when a season one complete boxed set appears, this
series is given its proper due in the extras department.
Despite that quibble, these two volumes represent required
viewing for fans of Marvel animation.
Once maligned next to DC/Warner’s amazing offerings, now Marvel has a
series that stands right up there with the best of them. The surprise ending of the last episode of
volume four has left me eager for more. Excelsior!
- Scott Pyle