Ant-Man. Iron Man. Wasp. Hulk. Thor. Captian America. Hawkeye. Black Widow. Nick Fury. Mockingbird. Captain Marvel. Ms. Marvel. Maria Hill. Jane Foster. Odin. Loki. Balder. Kang. Klaw. Man-Ape. Graviton. Baron Zemo. Baron Von Strucker. Bucky. MODOK. AIM. Hydra. Abomination. Doc Samson. Zzzax. Leader. Absorbing Man. Enchantress. Executioner. Crimson Dynamo. Grim Reaper. Wonder Man. Pepper Potts. Jim Rhodes. Reed Richards. Thing. Human Torch. Invisible Woman. Kree. Skrulls. Viper. Chimera. Mandrill. Whirlwind. Blizzard. Whiplash. The Wrecking Crew. Ultron. Constrictor. King Cobra. Red Ghost. Living Laser. The U-Foes. Arnim Zola. The Supreme Intelligence. Grey Gargoyle. Chemistro. Ulik. Malekith.
Did I miss anyone? Probably. But you’ll get a face full of all those characters in Season 1 of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Waiting to see who pops up next is half the fun of this wildly entertaining series.
The other half is watching classic Avengers stories coming to life on a contemporary screen, from the well-known, inevitable beats (Ultron’s betrayal, a time-conquering Kang and his Masters of Evil) down through lesser known nuggets of comic lore (Graviton, Malekith-centric episodes). The key to this series’ storytelling, though, is using current comic mythology. The prison breakout that launched New Avengers in 2005 is used to similar effects here, and there is a lot of foreshadowing to Secret Invasion, a major plot point in Season 2.
There are a lot of stand-alone episodes with tangential continuity that comes into play later on, but it won’t leave viewers scratching their heads if they missed a show. The multi-part chapters are all well-executed, and for the most part, so entertaining. With the exception of the Thor episodes, which are too offbeat to flow smoothly with the others, 22 minutes of animated TV flies by.
My personal favorites are the five episodes compiling the five-and-a-half minute microseries that premiered ahead of the proper show. Each of those episodes (“Iron Man is Born,” “Thor the Mighty,” “Hulk vs the World,” “Meet Captain America,” “The Man in the Ant Hill”) featured four of the 20 shorts, back-to-back, as a way to get characters’ backstories out of the way. They’re so well-done that I would welcome an entire series of these shorts. It’s a great way to spotlight a plethora of characters without dragging out some of the more predictable or uninteresting scenarios.
“Oh, you don’t like Ant-Man? Well, in two minutes we’re going to see the Hulk destroy another part of the country.”
This anthology set-up would work really well for the X-Men, whose cast (members/enemies/allies), over the years, might scratch 1,000. Seriously.
But enough about Marvel’s merry mutants. Sure, they were the company’s bread and butter for a long time, but Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes swoops in on a Quinjet and saves the TV day, proving there is marketability and a deep, rich history of entertainment with something not branded by an X.
BEST HEROES:1. Captain America: Completely NOT annoying as the man out of time and dutiful soldier. This was a major surprise for a character I have always found to be boring.
2. Hulk: The big brute steals the spotlight in nearly episode he’s in, and his banter with Hawkeye is hilarious.
3. Hank Pym (Giant Man/Ant Man): We’re just scratching the surface with a guy who is, essentially, a B-lister. And I think that rating is generous, but when you think about it, he is one of the most integral characters in Avengers history. Really fun to watch him battle his teammates over ideology. This is not kids’ stuff.
1. Ultron: You know its coming – it’s only a matter of time – but when it does, it still plays out greatly. Robots scare me.
2. Kang: They kinda went all Paul Dini “Heart of Ice” Mr. Freeze on us with this one, turning the time-traveling conqueror into a sympathetic – well, I think he’s sympathetic – man looking for a way to save his love, frozen in stasis.
3. Wonder Man: I know him primarily as one of the good guys, and his characterization matches that disposition in the series, so it’s kinda like watching Ultron and waiting for the heel turn, only in reverse. Another example of a well-rounded character.
I can’t say enough about how this series shoots out from the gate. Highly recommended.