The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2012] Season 2: Conclusion

The 2nd (& final) Season Delivers Super-Heroically

The first season of the show was somewhat disjointed, but showed great promise. We are happily surprised to say that the second season lived up to that promise and then some. The shows credits are expansive, so we shall suffice it to say that whoever took control this season knew what they were doing.

What happened to the Enchantress? Oh, she’s agreeing that this season was on fire.

Oh look, Agent Hill was back. And she’s still an uber-jerk. (She needs to go on a date or something…)

It is not a kids show, although they will enjoy the action. It is a serious show well-suited to adult fans of the Marvel universe. The series smartly called upon some of comic’s greatest storylines. It is of course nearly impossible to do a multi-issue comics storyline in one or two twenty minute animated episodes. But props go to their trying, and for the most part succeeding.

Is Thor free from girl trouble? “I say thee nay.”

Uh, there’s no shortage of powerful females… with attitude.

This season dug into the personal stories of the avengers. Pulled from the pages of comic books, we got to see Capt. America learn of the Winter Soldier story and face off against his arch enemy, the Red Skull. We went through Hank Pym’s draconian Yellowjacket phase. And they did a pretty good job retelling the classic Beta Ray Bill story from the pages of Walt Simonson’s Thor.

“Verily, NONE can wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir!”

“For sooth! Perhaps I was hasty…”

While the animation is just okay, the art direction is classic and well-done. The voice work is fitting and a lot of fun The soundtrack is good for such a series; listen for the awe-inspiring choral arrangements when Thor cuts loose. We still maintain that this show displays the best and truest depictions of Thor and Ironman we have seen in some time.

Uh, not that one.

Ah. that’s more like it. Yay repulsors!

Of course it wasn’t all flowers and roses. There were too many “evil twin” episodes for our tastes (oh those crafty shape-shifters). The depiction of the fantastic four was particularly bad (aside from Ben Grimm). Try not to cringe when you hear Reed Richards voice. also, the finale was fittingly against Galactus, arguably the heaviest hitter in the Marvel universe. However what could have easily been a two-parter or even an arc was crammed into one short twenty minute episode.

You can’t cram a foe of this scale… literally, into one episode. (We could barely cram him into one picture.)

They did, for the most part, keep the avengers foes on the upper and where they should be. This is, after all, a collection of Marvel’s most powerful heroes. So Kree and Skrull invasions, Doctor Doom, Kang the Conqueror, etc., are all in a day’s work. There was also excellent sub-plots with Hulk versus Red Hulk, and Ultron’s creation, the Vision.

“Red Hulk smash? …er, scheme!”

The “Emperor Stark” episode was incredibly ambitious, and our fave of the season. You sleep for a few days and wake up to this? Huh!?

They had a good grip on the characters, and few were shortchanged. Thor was depicted properly as super powerful, yet did not have to lead. Captain America was rising into the leadership role to which he is so well suited, despite being on the low-power end.

“I’m looking at YOU thunder god.”

The season was delayed. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. The show just hit its stride, and while not being cancelled, is transforming into Avengers Assemble, a new series. Was this season too good to be true? Hopefully this transition will be weathered as well as Justice League to Justice League Unlimited (although we did prefer the former).

Repulsors for everyone!

Bonus Quiz!

Who is this mysterious character?

  1. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Darkseid.
  3. One of those Michael Bey transformers… they all look the same.
  4. War Machine

Check out our Takes on All Seasons

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Check out related takes:

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

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Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1 part 1: Episodes 1-13

Power Rings for Everybody!

(Colors may vary; not available in all sectors.)

Green Lantern the Animated Series was a pleasant surprise, and for the most part surprisingly good. It only teased you briefly with a Green Lantern universe cliché before rocketing you away (literally) on a new adventure.

Cliche number one! The many, many trials of Hal Jordan…

The entire season in an emerald sentence: Outside of Guardian space, there are “frontier” Green Lanterns embroiled in a nasty war with vengeance driven Red Lanterns, although they are too far away to help until a friendly Guardian encourages Hal Jordan and Kilowog to steal an experimental ship run by a female AI who wants to be human (what else) and they arrive, marooned (conveniently) for the length of the season, where they make unlikely allies, encounter multiple shades of power ring, and teach the true meaning of love to an AI, a heartbroken Red Lantern, and the seriously messed-up Star Sapphires.

“Won’t someone teach me love?”

“…uh, except maybe you guys…” (Even an AI is smart enough to look for love advice anywhere but from the Star Sapphires.)

Aya the AI sounds a lot like this:

Placing the setting in a far-off region helps the producers with one Green Lantern problem. That being the literal army of Green Lanterns ready to jump in and aid our heroes if called upon. That was good, since life and death were on the line in many of the episodes. We give the show props for mature themes and scenarios that included the vengeful death of entire planets, self-sacrifice for family, lost love, …and the rather cruel affection of the Star Sapphires.

A sad, conflicted man–silhouetted by the girly lavender glow of Star Sapphires?

One Green Lantern cliché that they did not avoid was the plethora of power rings. We say this out of well-rounded general knowledge of that universe, not out of detailed comic book information. So the Green Lanterns with their green power rings are fighting Red Lanterns with their red power rings. We know that Hal Jordan’s arch enemy, Sinestro uses a yellow power ring. And from a source we cannot even guess, someone becomes a Blue Lantern. Yet there is still one entry to make our kaleidoscope complete.

We don’t even know where you came from.

Buy one power ring at full price, get two free! While supplies last. Green is almost out of stock.

The Star Sapphires are a dangerously superpowered order of women scorned by men. They are bitter, good-looking shrews with the power to transport over great distances using the power of their misguided notion of love. Oh, and of course they use purple power rings. Hal Jordan’s sometimes angry girlfriend is transported to them and turned into a scornful Star Sapphire. The order apparently believed that love entailed imprisoning their men forever in crystal, and tapping their life energy. Some of you may be able to relate.

She’s not your friend Aya. Look at her eyebrows. She’s evil!

The character art direction was un-apologetically stylized and fun, not lacking in any department. Human characters looked sufficiently manly or pretty, many of the humanoid aliens looked sufficiently–er, alien. And even the alien girls looked pretty. Ah, except for Kilowog’s new girlfriend (just imagine a female version of him) who also stupefyingly gets turned into a Star Sapphire.

Oh Hal, you’re such a smoothy.

Wait, she’s a Green Lantern too?

The art direction for settings, ships, camerawork and special effects was also handled well with no glaring faults. We felt like they showed us a lot in 13 episodes. Jam packed into them were numerous planets, multiple cultures, spaced stations and alien nasties. Oh, and space battles, lots of space battles.

With a stained glass window depiction like this, how bad could Atrocitus really be?

You may ask to what extent a green energy cannon manifestation can damage a ship of metal and energy shields. Issues like that highlight the sometimes amorphous nature of the Green Lantern’s power. It can make the drama harder to frame, so the show occasionally falls back on more solid plot devices like rings running out of power, or areas that block their energy.

Oh boy, lookout Hal. Even your girlfriend, Carol Ferris, becomes a Star Sapphire. (Although, the mask IS kinda cute.)

A fine climax, played out with impressive visual scale. We would recommend this season. It has action enough for younger viewers, and maturity enough for the rest.

Wait, the PLANET is a Green Lantern too? Who isn’t a Lantern this season?

“Oops. Did I do that?”

Check out our Green Lantern takes:

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Season 1 [2012]

Check out our other DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Superman vs. The Elite [2012]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Wonder Woman [2009]

Superman vs. The Elite [2012]

The “S” Goes Bad

(okay, not really, but it is the feature’s hook)

Maybe the producers over at DC are bored with depictions of their heroes and feel the need to resort to kooky one-off features. Often they choose an out of the mainstream but critically acclaimed comic run or graphic novel as inspiration. But many of us out here are just looking for a good Superman movie… We thought Supes vs the Elite was going to fall in the too edgy for its own good category. It did stumble a bit in that regard, but overall was a decent piece.

Heroes permanently taking out murderous super villains is not an unheard-of topic. It might be more believable in characters like Batman or Wolverine. Putting Superman in that conundrum was understandably against type, and moved the plot. However involving the UN, already a dysfunctional collection of thugs and despots, just seemed too close to the daily frustrations lovers of freedom already experience with the misguided body.

“Atomic Skull?” Really DC?

Super lantern jaw!

Our patented synopsis in a sentence: In a politically correct stretch, murderous supervillains doing what they do best is linked to the bad actions of rogue nations, and people cry out for permanent justice, a tenant obviously against Superman’s way, when a group of superpowered British punks start offing baddies and Superman has to (seemingly) adopt their dark ways to put a stop to their strangely unchallenged-by-the-rest-of-the-DC-universe ways.

Hmmm… Yeah, I wonder if any other hero might notice this…

The United Nations, perhaps started with good intentions, has devolved into an anti-American, anti-first world, anti-freedom body. It is a Star Wars bar scene of corruption. “A wretched hive of scum and villainy,” as Obi Wan Kenobi said. Most countries are not international law-abiding democracies. Earth is not Krypton. The plot link to the UN seemed tenuous and self-important.

See Superman get kissed by a… girl… thing.

With that said, there is a difference between rogue nations at war and murderous psychos like Atomic Skull. Would we like to see rogue nations turned into first-world democracies that raise the standard of living for all inhabitants? Yes. Do we want to imbue unaccountable entities like the UN or superheroes with the power to determine the actions of any nation? That is a dangerous can of worms. We appreciate the, “Can’t we all just get along?” message, through it was a bit forced.

“Truth, justice, and the American way. It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it,” Pa Kent reminded Supes. (He forgot to mention the virtue of pie.).

An artist’s rendering of Fortress Takes’ secret base.

The art style was a little strange, but not bad.They tried a little too hard to be hip in the opening credits. And the purposely juvenile Superman cartoon in the beginning was an over-the-top way of emphasizing the Kryptonian’s boy scout demeanor.

The voice portrayals were good, although Lois Lane and her Demi Moore-wannabe husky voice sounded more like a teenager. Still, we liked the banter and portrayal of a mature relationship between her and Supes.

Lois Lane also sings alto in her high school chorus.

So “the Elite” wanted to kill Supes, and threatened the entire world and its other Superheroes if they got in the way of their new rule. Really? Look, the new punks were pretty strong together, but did they really think they could stand up to the amassed power of the Justice League? Or Dr. Fate by himself even? Not a chance. That was one area in which believability faltered. It was a one-hero world.

This feature is worth checking out. It is a complete story, not a disjointed collection like Justice League: The New Frontier. Just go in with your expectations adjusted accordingly.

Read more Fortress Takes or Superman may just punch you in the face!

Check out our other DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Superman vs. The Elite [2012]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Wonder Woman [2009]


Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens [2012]

A Step Backwards

(…then a trip and fall.)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens is without the doubt the weakest entry in the growing library of the franchise. And when we say “weakest,” we are being generous. It was terrible. A true disappointment. Perhaps this is even more so because we have come to expect and mostly gotten better from Man of Action’s series.

Evil Way Big rages! Rages against Destroy All Aliens!

Our patented one-sentence synopsis will save you the headache of this dog: Extra annoying prepubescent Ben and Gwen experience an untold adventure (which should have remained untold) shoehorned into the first series continuity but with little regard to the characters or fun-factor in which Ben and company have a series of the most boring action scenes only to discover the boring secret behind the miserable encounters, oh, and along the way Ben learns the politically correct meaning of schoolwork (this message brought to you by the National Government School Ass.).

In an incredible twist, homework is more enjoyable than Destroy All Aliens.

Ben and Gwen were more unlikeable than ever depicted. Their banter, which we suppose was to be the family squabble type, was more of the “these two really hate each other” type. Each of their encounters made them more unsympathetic than the last.

Abuse of power. Try not to let this depiction cloud your fine memories of Ben 10. (Maybe it is all a dream, like that season of Dallas. -Look it up, true believers.)

Gwen; too powerful (and liberal with those powers) than originally depicted Ben 10, had abilities more akin to the Alien Force era. Unfitting on such an annoying child. Grandpa Max, a character we used to like a lot more, had his lines and contribution reduced to about five versions of, “Hey, cut it out you two.”

Max Tennyson: World’s toughest babysitter.

The character treated the worst was Azmuth, the long-lived, venerable, sometimes wise, scientific, and reclusive father figure of the show. Normally a great and fun character in his rare appearances. Here, he was voiced awfully. He was whiny instead of his detached cantankerousness we have come to expect. A horrid depiction topped off with the inexplicable decision to introduce HIS father… Huh? Really? Why? (There is no good answer.)

It was more like Azmuth’s son than Azmuth… What was with this outfit? Why is he smiling? Why is he wearing swim fins?

The computer generated animation was awful. Not stylized simple, just simple. Not flat colored for the cartoony look, shaded simple for rendering on the intern’s netbook they borrowed for this “feature.”

We could say something snarky here about the computer graphics… but we just do not have the heart… We will just say they could have done better.

The only bright spot was the returning alien, Tetrax. He is a fun and sympathetic character. His race forms the template of the omnitrix Diamondhead transformation. He was well voiced, though his part and lines did not make much sense. His cool iceman styled travel method was the only entertaining visual in the feature.

Actual quote by Tetrax to Gwen: “Is this what you’re like with Ben? I can see why he complains about you.”

Destroy all Aliens crams five minutes of confusing plot into one hour and nine minutes of paradoxically boring action. Pointless dream-like sequences in empty environments that were not rooted even in the reality of the feature. You know what action sequences are like when you do not care who wins? Its gets old fast.

The one bright spot, Tetrax, could not illuminate the plot. Additionally his crystal composition and shards were, uh, very un-crystal-looking.

It was just weird, too, how after comments from Gwen, we were supposed to just accept that Azmuth’s father was of a whole different race, and a non-biological one at that. Look, unless you have been forced to babysit horridly unruly kids, or have your own children that need to be punished, skip this sub-par entertainment.

For those who are fans of the franchise and have followed it from the start, this pointless feature should stay below your notice. In our opinion it adds nothing good to the Ben 10 universe. If you have a four-year-old whom you would like to experience this franchise for the first time, watch season one of Ben 10 and not this confusing, befuddling, and boring piece.

“Why are we here!?”

(PS – The Wildmutts were awful.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

Young Justice [2010] Season 1: 26 Episodes

Extremely Competent Teenagers

(with chips on their shoulders, …and angst)

If you thought a show called, “Young Justice,” would be about teenaged superheroes looking for their shot at the big leagues, you would be right. If you thought these sidekicks would be out to prove something to their mature counterparts, you would be right again. Finally, if you thought they would seek justice with sarcasm, attitude, and a good portion of angst, then you’re more on target than a batarang wrapped around one of Green Arrow’s bolts.

Lots o’ attitude and suspicion. We have not seen this many evil looks in continuous episodes since Merlin Season 3!

(Merlin BBC Season 3)

Uh, somebody misinformed Superboy. He decided to get in on the– expressions? Not too unstable looking…

Not the best looking take on the Watchtower we have seen. Those extra rocky bits do nothing for the view.

“Mount Justice?” Is that really its name? Why don’t we just mount a huge neon sign flashing, “Secret Good Guy Base.”

Season one in a sentence: Sidekicks yearning to stretch their wings but not yet ready for the Justice League are given their own minor-league superteam (with attitude) and a secret base in the middle of a remote mountain, while collecting kooky vehicles, defrosting a Superman clone, befriending an overly powerful Martian, and angering a bunch of major league villains, all the while learning the true meaning of friendship and the politically correct meaning of acceptance.

“You’re not ready for the big leagues. Now stop whining. Hmpf. Kids.”

Real heroes can mix it up even wounded. Young Justice reasonably portrayed Black Canary hanging with the A-Team.

Superhero teams are generally diverse by their nature, taking members from all over the world and sometimes other worlds. That adds fun and spice as long as it is done for the betterment of the show, and not heavy-handed, politically correct reasons. Jackson Hyde, the new black aqua lad benefited the show with a solid, if slightly wooden, character. (We appreciated his minimal angst.) You can decide for yourselves if the eleventh hour inclusion of Icon and his teenaged sidekick –with attitude, was done for diversity or not. It really came out of nowhere, with little foundation.)

We were not overwhelmed by the visual presentation of Young Justice’s Joker. By the way, nice hipster hair.

Three depictions we found particularly well done were Robin, Zatanna, and Lex Luthor. Robin, who we think in the past has been overdone as angry and resentful of Batman, this time was depicted smart, happy to be detective, and just a little too young to lead. Zatanna seemed a lot more powerful at the end than she did at the beginning, and was surprisingly handy in some of the larger climatic battles. Finally, Lex Luthor was so precisely just what you would want out of that character: Scheming, overconfident, more scheming, and well-dressed.

“If you’re trying to stop me, see my attorney.”

Pleasing art direction on heroes that you really never see.

We give props to season one for quality. There is nothing at all to complain about regarding the backgrounds and animation quality. The art direction was different and well done, depicting the characters in a new, less-bulky light. They were not as stylized and fun as Justice league, but 603% better looking than the hideous Justice League: The New Frontier. The youngsters were depicted teen slim, but so were the Justice League crew like Superman and Batman, where one might expect a little more meat. Still, all the hero characters were visually pleasing.

We enjoy Black Manta’s recent string of appearances. He has returned from C-tier villain obscurity. Alhough his voice did not make an impression like in Batman the Brave and the Bold, his look was cool.

(Batman the Brave and the Bold)

The voices were decent, but did not overwhelm despite some A-listers. It was a bit of a non-standard voice depiction. Honestly, some sounded a little “run-of-the-mill.” It was as if your friends all got together and skillfully dubbed it, –but still sounded more or less like average, normal people. Perhaps the voice director played it too subtle to match the plot.

We appreciate fairly well known actress Kelly Hu. She voiced Jade. Why so many villain roles Kelly? We remember your bad girl in The Librarian.

(The Librarian Series)

A well done depiction of “The Immortal Vandal Savage.” But how long must he live before he learns his lesson?

Finally, there was lots o’ conspiracy going on (perhaps too much for the sudden and somewhat flat payoff) .

For an “oh-so-secret” conspiratorial group, you are pretty detailed with your silhouettes…

Yes! An update of the ultra classic Hall of Doom from the Superfriends era.

  1. Is there a mole on the junior superteam?
  2. Who is this super shadowy group trying to stop our plucky teenagers?
  3. What family secret is Artemis hiding? (Counseling is in order.)
  4. Is Superboy into tattoos? (What is this? The 1990’s?)
  5. Are Martian teens REALLY ugly?
  6. How many golf balls are there on the moon?

Sure, so comely and carefree on the outside. What could she possibly be hiding underneath?

Five out of six of the preceding questions will be answered. Overall, Young Justice season one is slow to payoff, but entertaining along the way.

“It is Fated that you read more FortressTakes.”

Young Justice takes:

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Young Justice [2012] Season 2

Check out our other Batman and DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Wonder Woman [2009]


 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4: 22 Episodes

All Your Favorite Characters

(are hardly in this season)

If we may start in the movie-guy voice: “In a world– er, universe, where everything goes wrong for the good guys, and Jedi are ineffectual playthings to be outwitted, tortured, and slaughtered…”

See Anakin outwitted (not too hard in his case) by Dooku.

See Obi Wan Kenobi beat up, tortured, and enslaved. Ugh. He deserves better.

The series continued its format of filling 22 episodes with four or five multi-part arcs. It worked, allowing deeper plots and characterization than possible in one-off 20 minute episodes. This meant the choice and quality of story and writing were more important than ever. A bad writing effort could now sink three episodes at once! That’s bang for your writing buck.

Sadly, this was too often the case regarding the last couple seasons of this series. Really good visuals tied to high school writing efforts. The franchise, we must reiterate, did not do itself any favors placing the setting between Star Wars Episodes II & III. It is the darkest, most depressing era of the timeline, capped by the empire’s complete takeover in Revenge of the Sith. Anyone would be hard pressed to make a balance of episodes in that environment, much less writing interns.

Like all female TV partner interns, Ahsoka gets sent undercover in fetching outfits.

Ahsoka protects the little boy king… “I know he’s a squid, but isn’t he dreamy?”

However, the visuals continued to impress. From underwater environments to desert; daytime scenes and moody night, the visual team knew what they were doing. Considering the colossal scale of scenes thrown at them, and the number of different characters, and the tremendous amount of scene blocking, they did an entertaining job with the writing they were given.

What? Even Hutts get into the action? Nice headpiece. You playing on your X-Box or something?

The series was still seriously lacking in comeuppance. The good guys lost lives by the star destroyer loads, while the bad guys usually just lost a few machines. Bad guy leaders killed indiscriminately for episodes, only to receive no justice, or a quick end not fully satisfying the penalty for their gratuitous homicide.

Sharky here killed for three episodes with incomplete comeuppance satisfaction.

“Anti-depressants we have. Yeeass.”

What about first tier characters like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Yeah, we did not get to spend much time with them. We got episodes where C3PO somehow bumbled into being a hero spending time with boring aliens for which we cared little. Speeder loads of second tier characters interacting with whiny arc characters.

“Pay attention you must. Hardly in this season we are.”

Oh look, we got to spend three episodes with no-name characters after spending a couple with the droids as the stars… all in a row? Noble clones got their lives uselessly thrown away by a jerky, uncaring  and ultimately turncoat general. But do not worry. After thee episodes of pointless carnage lit by a 40 watt bulb, the general (and his tired plot) did get comeuppance. Well, that’s one.

(BTW, he doesn’t look evil, does he?)

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and a slaver).”

Otherwise its a whole season of traitors, slavers, criminals, and sith. The Star Wars universe is either uglier than we ever thought, or we just see the seedy underside each and every episode.

Obi-Wan finally gets a part… But he spends three episodes looking like this!?

A certain amount of action could be counted upon, often good and exciting. It was cool to see the bounty hunter Cad Bain in action again. He is a fun returning villain. His multi-episode arc was one of the better. The effects and music were quality too. However the overall feel of the season was not one that we looked forward to. We just started caring less.

The title was turned red for the supposedly super special return of the Sith…

The restoration of Darth Maul was a big deal (he was sliced in half at the end of Phantom Menace, after all). Perhaps they were getting desperate for ratings. The arc was strange, contrived, and a little unresolved. But it was interesting and the saber battles decent. Obi Wan (our favorite character in the series) and Ventress, opposites for sure, made an unusual but entirely fun team to wrap the season.

Huh? Wait a minute… Star Trek and Star Wars? When universes collide!

“Just because we teamed up, doesn’t mean we are going steady or anything.”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011-2012] Season 2. Conclusion

A Stretched Season that may Stretch Patience

And so, the world’s longest season (over a calendar year), and the “ultimate” series itself comes to a final, and in our opinion, overdue end. Not that there were not interesting and fun things this season, just that they came with too high a price tag.

Poor Gwen. All that power and smarts, and yet she remains an unhappy girl. Here she is impatient (top), crazy, and angry (what else is new).

Examples of this duality?

  • Background on Grandpa Max. Good.
  • But it was schmaltzy.

Will love conquer all for this star-crossed (uh, literally) pair?

  • Background on Azmuth. Good.
  • But it was extra schmaltzy.

“Let me tell you something Fortress Guy! Rath doesn’t like schmultz!”

  • Old (once fun) villains return. Good.
  • But tired somehow.

Oh that zany Dr. Animo. You just don’t know what kooky hijinx he’ll come up with next.

  • New transforms for Ben. Good.
  • But completely out of nowhere.

Does this whole alien race dress like Flash wannabe Quicksilver?

“I prefer to kick it old school.”

  • A resolution for the Forever Knights. Good.
  • But it was sad and lame.

“Hear me knights! For centuries we’ve waited for this moment to fight a costly and pointless battle. But it will look cool, and we get to blow a whole episode’s VFX budget.”

Season Two’s conclusion in a sentence: Ben, a character whose likeability only surpasses Julie’s, continues his careless bumble toward adulthood which regularly endangers those around him including only slightly less angry Gwen, likeable but slowly henpecked Kevin, and often the planet Earth, while also somehow corralling a parade of occasionally comical/stupid/obsessed villains, drinking a lot of sugary beverages, navigating through some real politically correct plots, and doing it all in a continually dark, underpopulated and vaguely depressing world.

Witness the sad, tragic fall of Twilight wannabe star Jennifer Nocturne. It’s definitely not for young kids.

That is not to say we dislike the show, on the whole we do not. But this incarnation (ultimate) was stretched too long without payoff. Build up has to reasonably yield resolution for enjoyment. We were past ready for the next reboot, Ben 10: Omniverse.

Do Ben and Gwen even go to school any more?

Even the mighty (hardly seen and only once used) Alien-X would have been hard pressed to pull this climax out of the pit of pointlessness.

We appreciated the veiled Christian imagery of (once) noble knights defeating a demonic dragon. In this case, an evil other-dimensional being with the name of an ancient pagan god, Diagon. Once defeated by First Knight George, he now seemed more formidable.

So Diagon is a giant unexplained, extra-dimensional, sky squid? What’s his motivation? Is he looking for a really large body of water?

George once seemed unbeatable. Cutting through dimensions, making vortices. (Like a level 20 Paladin with a +5 magic sword.) What happened?

Maybe it was Daigon’s never-ending supply of dimension-skimming, ninja-like esoterica. They got old, because we the viewers never got full satisfaction defeating them (they beat the good guys down again and again with apparently endless supply).

Whoa! Transforming from horridly unpalatable Julie to Elena* is quite the improvement. (*Okay, Elena is slightly unhinged, but is Julie really less so?)

Julie is consistent. Consistently the worst, most un-fun girlfriend EVAR.

The Ben 10: UA finale asked us to believe our lackadaisical hero Ben, whose undisciplined mind lives on sumo-slammers and slushies, somehow pulls from within the ability to defeat the power of the enemy and change the whole world with the legendary Sword of Azmuth?

Whereas old George, living for 2000 years, the brave, disciplined, once single-handed vanquisher of Diagon, missed the mark? George’s pointless demise (completely un-mourned by Ben) was beneath a character long in the making, and a group (the Forever Knights) dating back  to the start of the whole franchise in 2005.

Now where have we seen this before…

Ben and his venerable arch enemy Vilgax play out a scene lifted almost word for word from one of our favorite Masters of the Universe episodes. The temptation of Heman in “The Search.” (Since Ben 10 producers sought “inspiration,” we are gratified they picked something memorable.

You may spot Heman sporting this very expression.

See segment below from 2:00-3:15.)

Lucky Girl was back, albeit very briefly.

The extended season must have taken a toll on the writers. Some ridiculous, unfun, politically correct plots made the episode roster, often taking the form of Gwen lecturing us about evolutionary nonsense or about how people litter with plastic bottles, etc. Ugh. Save it for Captain Planet. Don’t tell us the villain this episode is a sentient pile of garbage?

I thought we told you not to tell us! UGH…

“Look, I made this from the toaster downstairs and your laptop. Pretty nifty, huh?”

Limits can paradoxically increase drama. Young Ben only had 10 aliens, and struggled with the omnitrix choosing wrongly or “timing out.” In Ultimate it seemed as though Ben had few limits. Why not always go most powerful alien or “ultimate?”

There’s no limit to the creatures you can become!

Gwen was, at times, downright fearsome. (Some might say it wasn’t her annodite powers…)

The ultramatrix was ill-defined. What were its (and Gwen’s for that matter) limits? It made for writing challenges, and susceptibility to plot holes. Imagine the challenge in writing villains for Superman (and not relying on Kryptonite every time).

Will Superman fly around the planet and reverse time?

Charmcaster was back–and could not be left a sympathetic character! She kills EVERYONE in a dark ritual this season. Oh, and she makes some ‘questionable’ relationship decisions. (However, not so bad when compared to a relationship with Julie…)

Ben 10: UA was sometimes fun, but the spark was missing. They can do better. Let’s hope they get it straightened out for Omniverse.

“I parked out front. You don’t think anyone will mind, do you?”

The new, improved Omniverse Omnitrix. (However, it still doesn’t tell time.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

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Tell the FORTRESS what you think!

(Or we will go humungasaur on your face!)