Cartoon Block Reviews for 5/01/12
- Published on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 01:00
- Written by Kevin
- Hits: 1099
After taking a small break last week the Cartoon Block Reviews are back and boy what an interesting weekend for both the DC Comics and Marvel cartoons. This week we have the first appearances of the second Ant-Man, Luke Cage and Iron Fist in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Star Sapphires make their presence felt in Green Lantern, Ultimate Spider-Man has the first appearance of Taskmaster and Young Justice begins its second season with a time jump. How do all these big appearances turn out? Find out in the new Cartoon Block Reviews.
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – “To Steal an Ant-Man”
The second season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has been off to a fast start. After the first season established the core team of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Wasp, Hawkeye and Black Panther this new season has split the team-up a bit to expand on other heroes and villains that exist in this universe. Last week we saw Mrs. Marvel become a member of the team, as shown by as she replaced Thor in the title sequence, and this week Hank Pym (aka Giant Man/Ant-Man) teaming up with Iron Fist and Luke Cage to catch the person who stole his Ant-Man tech, Scott Lang.
With Wasp only making a slight appearance at the beginning of the episode “To Steal an Ant-Man” was a character spotlight episode for Hank. The writers of this show really have a great grasp of every single character that exists in this Marvel Universe that they have created and it shows here.
Hank has always been one of the more boring Avengers but this version of the character has been given plenty of layers. He is the one member of the Avengers that is a superhero reluctantly. For all intent and purposes he is a pacifist. Hank would much rather solve a problem with his mind then punching or blasting his way to the solution.
That is where Iron Fist and Luke Cage come into the mix, in their Heroes for Hire roles, as Hank hires them to get his Ant-Man tech back. From the characters look to how they interacted with one another it was great to see Iron Fist and Luke Cage in this episode. The two brought a different chemistry to the show from both how they fight and talk. The fight sequences had a much more grounded approach which made their fight with William Cross (aka Crossfire) and his gang much more entertaining.
I also have to commend this episode for taking a simple robbery plotline and giving it some heart. At the beginning of the episode you think that Scott Lang just stole the Ant-Man suit so he can go steal money and be rich. Then as we reach the middle of the episode we see the layers being peeled away as Scott reveals that William Cross has taken his kid, a sick Cassandra Lang, hostage. It gave the viewer something to root for during the final sequence as you wanted to see father and daughter be reunited and Cross to get what was coming to him.
At the end of the day, while “To Steal an Ant-Man” deviated from the three main plotlines it was no less special. With Hank continuing to be the reluctant hero, Scott Lang’s desperation to save his child and the introduction of Iron Fist and Luke Cage there was nothing not to love about this episode.
Episode Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10
Green Lantern: The Animated Series – “In Love and War”
These last two episodes of Green Lantern have been solid. After some rough episodes that kept telling boring side stories Green Lantern has got back to being focused on the overarching plot. “In Love and War” was no different as it introduces us to yet another Lantern Corps in the form of the Star Sapphires.
What works so well with this episode is the fact that while the Red Lanterns aren’t directly involved in this episode their presence is felt throughout the episode. Hal trying to recruit the Star Sapphires to his cause helps further the urgency of the Red Lantern threat as seen at the end of “Reckoning.”
At the same time, this episode does a good job expanding on the idea of the color spectrum being linked to ones emotions. Queen Aga'po bringing up the fact that the Guardians let go of all emotions further shows how detached those characters are. Aga'po also showed how dangerous it is when someone is completely engulfed by one emotion, in the case of most Star Sapphires ‘Love.’
Now, no good story involving the Star Sapphire Corps would be full without Carol’s involvement in some way and boy did she get involved. Her battle with Hal after she got completely taken over by the Star Sapphire ring was great. Though the facial reactions and talking head scenes still need a lot of work the animation shines during these action sequences. It’s a disappointing that Carol was so quick to quit being a Star Sapphire as it could have helped expand this part of the Green Lantern mythos. Hopefully she returns soon.
The other big part of this episode was the revelation that Aya based her current form on Razer’s deceased lover. I was not expecting that at all but was a nice surprise that gives a reason for why Aya has hung around Razer more than Hal and Kilowagg.
Overall, “In Love and War” was another solid episode for this young Green Lantern cartoon. As long as Green Lantern sticks to the overarching story involving the Red Lantern threat this show can become great. There is just something missing that I can’t put my finger on but it is missing something to make it special.
Episode Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Ultimate Spider-Man – “Why I Hate the Gym”
Once you get past the Zack Morris ‘Time Out’ moments and the mini-Spider-Men appearances, Ultimate Spider-Man can be an entertaining show. “Why I Hate the Gym” is the best example this young cartoon has shown of this. Sticking to character interaction between Peter Parker and his supporting cast is strong throughout this episode. The back-and-forth works and delivers some good laughs in the process.
One thing that I have been noticing about these first few episodes is how Ava Ayala has seemingly taken on MJ and Gwen’s role for this series. I am not sure if the writers are going to make her a love interest for Spider-Man but her interaction with Peter has been his main female interaction. The two characters definitely have opposing characteristics which this episode highlights as they team-up as Spider-Man and White Tiger.
The introduction of Taskmaster really helped elevated this episode as his villainous side was much different from previous villains that appeared in this show. From both a writing and animation stand point I really loved how they showed off his ability to mimic everyone’s ability. His chalkboard drawing analysis Iron Fist, Spider-Man and White Tiger’s ability was unique way to stop the action for a moment. It also helped to make Spider-Man and White Tiger improvise on the moment and fight in a different manner than we have seen from the two.
Though, at the same time, I wish I could say the fourth wall breaking is not killing Ultimate Spider-Man because it unfortunately is. Just as you are getting into the episode we get these awkward time out moments that makes me groan. If the writers begin phasing this part of the show out I will not complain. I would most likely be extremely happy.
Episode Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Young Justice: Invasion – “Happy New Year”
Before I begin this review I have say this: Thanks a lot Cartoon Network and show runners for letting us know that you were changing the show title to be Young Justice: Invasion. Since we weren’t told at all I didn’t know that I had to reset my DVR to record the first episode of the newly titled series. But thanks to my fellow Tweeps for letting me know there was a repeat so I can watch this new episode on Sunday.
With that out of the way, it looks like Young Justice: Invasion is taking the New DC 52 as an example with the second season making a five year time jump. In the process Dick Grayson has gone from being Robin to Nightwing, Zatanna and Rocket joined the Justice League and Miss Martian has found a new squeeze much to Superboy’s annoyance. In addition The Team as Tim Drake as Robin, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Bumblebee and Mal Ducan have joined.
This is a very interesting choice for Young Justice creative team to make because for one it is very weird that it has taken the Justice League five years to find out what happened during the 16 hours 6 key members were missing. Especially with a character like the Batman I would expect all the superheroes to take these missing hours as important question to solve. After all The Light, villains of each supehero, where the ones responsible for these missing hours and anything from revealing secrets to doing something else that could be awful may have happened.
Not only that but having the five year time skip diminishes the threat The Light pose. There has been such a long "safe" period that makes you wonder why a organization with so many smart and powerful villains to wait so long to execute their Phase 2 of their plans. So not only do the heroes look weak for waiting so long to find out what really happened to 6 of their major members but the villains look weak for not playing the cards they have collected with the big win they had at the end of season one.
But with that gripe out of the way I will say I do like this new status quo for The Team. It is something different with the original members seemingly taking on the mentor roles. This is made even more appropriate as it seems that the Justice League may not be able to involve themselves as much with The Team in this Invasion plotline since they are seen as enemy #1 to Rann and maybe other planets.
As a Nightwing fan it was great that he has taken over the role of leader and general from Aqualad and Batman, respectively. Seeing him step up and give out orders without hesitation while still maintaining his light hearted attitude was great. The mentor role he has also taken with Robin, with both addressing each other by their first name, makes me look forward to seeing Nightwing and Robin work together. Throw in Batgirl and you could have a winner.
The separation of The Team into various groups was also an interesting choice with potential for some cool team-ups. This is a much different approach from the last season where the Team was just learning and growing together as a team. Robin, Lagoon Boy and Blue Beetle’s team showed us how much potential this splitting up of the Team has. Each character brought something different to the table and the banter between the three was entertaining.
The one concern I do have is that it has become a routine with Young Justice episodes to leave us with more questions than answers at the end of this episode. What happened during the five years we haven’t seen? What happened to Aqualad, Kid Flash and Artemis? Are they still active? Why did Miss Martian and Superboy break-up? What are the Light planning next? Where is Red Arrow in his search for the original Roy Harper? Who hired Lobo to, as he put it, “put on a show”?
At some point the creative team behind Young Justice will have to start answering all the questions they bring up. The season one finale left us with a lot more questions than answers and this first episode is no different. “Happy New Year” was still a highly enjoyable episode but it is becoming annoying that we don’t ever get any sort of resolution 27 episodes in.
Episode Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Kevin started reading comics as a kid when he watched the first episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. After that his parents bought him a few random Spider-Man and Batman comics and he has been hooked ever since. When he is not reading or writing about comics you can find Kevin as the destroyer of worlds, champion of fighting tournaments and ace Madden player on the PS3. You can catch up with Kevin and all his thoughts at the following links: