Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2011] Season 2. 26 Episodes

Armor for everybody! (except you, Hulk.)

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring "War-man" and "Pepper-star!"

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring “War-man” and “Pepper-star!”

Seriously. Check out Blizzard's homage to Iceman's classic means of travel.

Seriously. Check out Blizzard’s homage to Iceman’s classic means of travel.

After a three-year hiatus, Iron Man: Armored Adventures returned for a second season. It was not a good time to be a Stark. Neither Howard nor his son Tony had much go right, but in the end they did overcome kidnapping, financial ruin, corporate shenanigans, maniacal mutants, maniacal armor wearing morons, megalomaniacal armor wearing doctors, manic Pepper Potts in armor, and oh, an alien invasion.

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Justin Hammer's Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

Justin Hammer’s Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

The look was even better than season one. The cel shading style still closely emulated Skyland. The number of quality assets constructed for this season was large, yet the French and Indian animation houses produced fantastic visuals on a television budget.

Madame Masque's 1st season episode was strong. This season's not-so-much. This looks like a bad date...

Madame Masque’s 1st season episode was strong. This season’s not-so-much. (Alternate caption: ‘Your costume party date… is unhinged.’)

Real-iron-man-cosplay-costume

"How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?"

“How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?”

Where season two could have been better was in the writing department. Many of the individual episodes were well composed, but the overall flow, the arc of the season lacked focus. The finale involved Gene Khan’s Mandarin, but the set-up was weak. We see across multiple episodes, frustrating cameos of Gene manipulating cruelly a kidnapped Howard Stark. But there is no development of Gene since last season, except that he is less palatable.

Howard Stark says things like, "We can do great good for this world, son." Gene Khan's mom said things like, "You will complete our purpose rule the world."

Howard Stark says things like, “We can do great good for this world, son.” Gene Khan’s mom said things like, “You will complete our purpose and rule the world.”

Iron_Man_literal cosplay

So the Mandarin's ten magic-- er, 'Makluan technology' rings are actually artifacts from these goofy looking aliens?

So the Mandarin’s ten magic– er, ‘Makluan technology’ rings are actually artifacts from these wacky looking aliens?

Let’s cram season two into a sentence: Tony’s father Howard is not actually dead but kidnapped by the Mandarin and forced to help him acquire more power while Iron Man tries to carry on despite his company being stolen, and just about everybody from corporate big wigs to AIs and even nutjob students taking aim at him, though ultimately unsuccessfully thanks to his whiny friend James Rhodes, bi-polar friend Pepper Potts, and an almost completely reassembled cast of the Avengers movie.

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine... Where have we seen that before?

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine… Where have we seen that before?

Iron_Man_boy_hulk_cosplay_

Sure,, this season's sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence...

Sure, this season’s sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence…

Who dons armor this season? (The shorter list would be who doesn’t.) Yes, Pepper does, to our chagrin, corporate nutjob Justin Hammer, Howard Stark, even Tony’s grandson from the future, plus of course the entire armored rogue’s gallery of the Marvel Universe. Even non-armored characters like Magneto wore armor.

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season's goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season’s goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_castle

But the stand out depiction, and the most pleasant surprise of the season was that of Doctor Doom. It was the best depiction we have seen of him since John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run back in the day. A great voice and modulation, and his wacky mix of tech and magic. Okay, they retconned his magic to be “really advanced quantum technology.” It was the only slip up, and unnecessary.

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_victor_beat

"Kneel before doom!"

“Kneel before Doom!”

It was great to see young Iron Man, before he came into the fullness of his power, get his butt swiftly and mercilessly kicked. He was totally outclassed, which was a nice change up since he kicked butt all season long. Doom’s visual effects were different and exciting. He was not dumbed or powered down. We give props to shows when they do not emasculate the powerful veteran to make the newbie star look good (Huntik also handled this well).

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_Season_2_doctor_doom_advanced_rendering

"Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?"

“Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?”

Iron Man: AA offers a fun glimpse into lesser known Marvel universe characters. Their depictions are solid and worthy of them. We can even forgive the shameless latching-on to the phenomenally successful Avengers movie cast. Tony, in slightly unbelievable fashion, cranks out new armor types to please fans of the franchise. (Most of them, thankfully, retain the round uni-beam.) Overall, it is a finely crafted show still worth watching.

PS – This looks like the end of production for Iron Man Armored Adventures. It was a good and entertaining two-season run. We would enjoy seeing more of it.

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, "Talk to the hand."

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, “Talk to the hand.”

"This commute is really starting to stink..."

“This commute is really starting to stink…”

Check out another rock anthem theme song. It rawks:

Check out other Iron Man related takes:

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Check out some of our other Marvel takes:

Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Advertisements

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

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]

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

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3: 22 Episodes

It is hard to understand why Star Wars the Clone Wars started this season’s numbering with fifteen. Is that not a little strange? A twenty-two episode season… What happened to episodes one through fourteen? Okay, okay, this is not literally the case. However it is figuratively the case.

“Short I am, and small my part is.”

It is a tale of two seasons. One through fourteen written for undiscerning children apparently by writers whose skills were closely akin to their target audience. If they had better skills than that it is too bad they were forced into a junior high writing class box. The overall problem is still compounded by the series setting. That is right at the most depressing point in the Star Wars timeline.

These two still cannot get along. Obi Wan Kenobi and General Grievous have battled for seasons. It is one of this show’s dwindling highlights.

It is hard to explain just how badly written the first 14 episodes are. It is as though they were assignments to students in a middle school dramatic TV writing class. They tried to hit all the formulaic highs and lows, but they were more or less empty. Assignments crammed together the night before they were due. Something the interns did why the adult writers were on vacation.

How about this stereotypic goofball? It is like the show is going out of its way to create such characters.

It would not matter that much if it was only a few episodes, but it was three quarters of the season. These episodes did not prominently feature primary characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Asoka. They did not even star secondary characters like Yoda. What about tertiary characters like clone Capt. Rex? Nope. We are not sure what comes after ‘tertiary’, but those are the characters with whom most of this season is spent. Nameless clone trooper cadets, the droids, Padme, etc., or gag -worst of all, Jar Jar Binks. Ugh.

However they did manage to write in Chewbacca. You would have to have a lizard’s brain to go hand-to-hand against a wookie.

Blockade Runners go faster because they have more engines.

We would not be so harsh if we did not know that they CAN make good episodes. Fifeteen through twenty-two were mature, entertaining, and still fun for the youngsters. However these eight episodes, the only ones of worth this season, consisted of only three multipart stories. A three-part episode with super force beings. Weird but interesting.

Apparently there is a contest at Skywalker ranch regarding who can make the ugliest Jedi master.

A three-part episode where the stars have to infiltrate a prison to free a young Capt. Tarkin. While it was predictable, and dangerous if you are not one of the stars, it was well done.

Captain Tarkin versus the bad guy checklist: Crimped brows? Check. Widow’s peak hair? Check. The world’s cheekiest cheek bones? Definitely. A subtle sneer -> Bonus. See him promoted to Grand Moff below in Star Wars a New Hope.

The final two episodes were all right. In a normal season they would rate low, however in this season they were definitely top half. Asoka is stranded on the planet with Jedi younglings. It may be one of the most contrived settings ever, but considering what happened the first three quarters of the season we cannot bring ourselves to zing it much. Except to say that Asoka was all of a sudden pretty weak without her lightsaber after kicking some serious butt all season long.

Ventress: “I told you I would kill the next person who served me a beverage with Nutra Sweet.”

Should you watch season three? Not the first 14 episodes. Perhaps if you feel we have lowered your expectations sufficiently, and for some reason you have time to spare… Well we cannot stop you, but we did warn you. As for the last eight, yeah go ahead. They did not really change the series or move any of the major arcs forward. But that is one of the show’s problems. What can they really do? We know what happens to the Jedi, we know what happens to most of the knights, the Senate, the war, the clone troopers, the stars… etc.

Obi Wan is one of the few mostly likable characters: “…Am I going to have to fight my way OUT of this series?”

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

 

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2010] Season 1: 26 Episodes

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes takes some of your favorite characters and reinvents them for its own use. Also reinvented are some characters who are probably not your favorites. Come on, let’s face it, Antman and Wasp are perennial second-tier. You will also get to see S.H.I.E.L.D. as jerks and the Black Widow as cold and mean.

Agent Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also an uber jerk.

Can’t you two just… get along? (And Pymm, what is with that sack? Are you running away from home in the 1930’s?)

The show has some decent ideas but was victim of a misguided launch. We just spent time crafting a paragraph to describe the chronologically confusing hijinks involved. Forget it. Boring. We will say it simply: The first half of this season is messed up and you may not know where you stand regarding the characters, chronology and/or story arc. It served the show poorly. Fortunately the second half got stronger and the end was solid.

We are not going to do a one sentence synopsis because we would have to bend time and space to try to coalesce the fractured plots. We will say it was the beneficiary and also the victim of its own writing. Perhaps some episodes tried to be too edgy and just ended up unfun. Black Panther’s father murdered in front of numbskull tribal dorks; Antman and Wasp arguing again; oh and remember, as a team we don’t really get along…

The Enchantress is a woman scorned. Is that what turned her evil?

Apparently Thor has a crush on a mere mortal, the paramedic Jane Foster. (Maybe it is her perky hair.)

The show also had the unfortunate habit of stepping on its own endings. This is one of our larger issues. You have no time to rest in the resolution of an episode before it is interrupted with a 30 second tacked on downer. This was consistently done and a poor format choice. This was especially unhelpful considering many of the main plots already had weak endings where the bad guys did not get just comeuppance. You can only delay proper comeuppance so long.

The mighty forges of the Asgardian dwarves. (But are they eco-friendly?)

It wasn’t a happy season for Captain America. Nothing seemed to go his way. Oh, and about that indestructible one-of-a-kind shield…

The final Asgardian and Ultron arcs were strong, and did a pretty good job of making us forget how disjointed the first half of the season was. Ultron the classic and somewhat creepy ‘machines are taking over’ story also tied in to Antman’s personality issues.

Ultron: After all, how could a robot that looks this benign go bad? 

Thor is a character with great potential who needs strong foes. In fact the Avengers are the heavyweights of the Marvel universe and really require the most powerful enemies. Asgard can and did provide them.

Thor’s occasional girlfriend Cif (when he’s not eying up the mortals) and the warriors three. (…maybe it’s her attitude.)

The take on the Hulk was the most fun. There was little of the Bruce Banner persona. They pretty much played Hulk up as the ultra-strong, often misunderstood reluctant hero. It was gratifying to see what happened when an enemy made the mistake of claiming they were stronger.

Okay, the Hulk is supposed to be a little irritable, but what is everyone else’s excuse?

The artwork was good, but the quality and appeal varied from subject to subject. Iron man’s armor looked cool and was handled well though not with much variety. Regular looking men like Capt. America and Hawkeye were treated well. Better still were the large humanoids like Hulk, Thor and some baddies. The females could have been handled better in our opinion, and their appeal was underwhelming.

We in the fortress were grateful for the round unibeam.

Okay… So the ice armor had an octagonal unibeam.

While we are at it, why not make some armor out of magical Asgardian metal?

Is the first half of the season worth watching? No. Is the second half of the season worth watching? Yes. We hope season two gets it right from the start.

Loki, Loki, Loki… When will you learn. If only he would use his devious brains for good.

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

 

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2010] Season 1. 20 Episodes

Wait, there were like four seasons of Ben 10, three of Ben 10: Alien Force, and now Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Okay, what is the difference between the last two? New cast? Negative. New powers? Not really. New feel or format? Nope. New attitude? Sadly no.

Well, Ben does try to act tough in a fairly ham handed and unlikable way. How new that is we leave to your discretion.

A new emergence of the Forever Knights? No, they are still sadly underused and largely lame villains. Remember the “Ben 10” seasons? Those were the days…

What about Captain N? He was new.

So what is new? Ben is outed as a “hero”, and there is a new villain. Oh, his faux omnitrix has a ultimate setting which is designed to make beefed up versions of existing transformations in order to sell more action figures. But does that make any difference at all to the plot? No.

At least he does not look like a bad guy… well he does not have satanic horns- uh, never mind. (Is he Darth Maul’s long lost father?)

The season in a sentence: Ben, Gwen and Kevin are unhappy people who never get along well and somehow stumble into battles with bad aliens and emerge victorious despite a huge chip on Kevin’s shoulder, an always angry Gwen and chronic underachiever Ben who you will want to punch more than root for despite a ham handed attempt to make him suddenly smart at the end of the season.

Gwen Tennyson: Unhappy girl. Hey, we did look.

Uh, guys… make sure you know what your girl is REALLY like. You know. Underneath.

On the bright side some of the classic alien transformations you liked way back when make appearances. Max Tennison, original plumber hero is back and still doing well. Hmm, other highlights? There were not many. Oh, Charmcaster is back. They tried to rush a transformation of her character. But she is fun and interesting so we still welcomed the flawed effort.

Charmcaster turns nice? Maybe she should join the cast to cheer it up next season.

Max Tennyson. Still likable (more or less) after all these seasons. This season he gets treated with “space medicine”. Yup, that’s right. The ol’ tank of fluid.

The tone was just monotonous for 20 episodes. We hand it to series creator “Man of Action” for making a series strong enough to withstand the same gray, subdued and generally dissatisfying note episode after episode. The endings also stepped on many episode’s resolutions. The satisfaction you gained from (maybe) defeating a bad guy was practically ruined by an fifteen second insert at the end where something bad inevitably happened. Yuck.

Gwen does not chill out the entire season.

Kevin turns into a freakizoid to insure that an almost likable character is reduced to the likability level of Ben.

What makes Ben so unlikeable?

  • He is irresponsible.
  • He makes snap, unthinking or selfish decisions in combat.
  • He is generally, almost willfully obtuse.
  • They try to make him suddenly smart.
  • He is a shallow person whose goal in life is apparently getting a smoothie.
  • He (constantly) repeats the necessity to kill one of his teammates for three episodes without thinking much about an alternative.

But Ben does make time for Twilight wannabe star Jennifer Nocturne.

Too much spider monkey this season. We do not get it. Maybe the action figure sells.

An interesting face from the past was the strange Alien-X. Not seen since the first season of Alien Force, the overpowered alien was not even used but rather made into a plot device. The unlocking of the omnitrix in order to transform into him was cool though. Would that this uber-powerful alien could be put on some sort of cosmic timer and be unleashed once a season…

The unlocking scene was the coolest part of this season’s Alien-X cameo. (“X” must stand for “extra”, because that is how much we have seen this transformation.)

New arc villain Aggregor had potential. But he was more interesting as an intelligent villain -before he powered himself up to be a brute. It seemed somehow beneath his built up stature. Despite potential, he has so far fallen short of Vilgax.

The Rustbucket 3 was cool. Although a little much in the unrealistic size and scope department… Cars are one thing, huge spaceships (with hyperdrive) another.

The plumbers showed up enough to get kicked around. These guys are supposed to be the powerful galactic police? Sooper genius and omnitrix creator Azmuth shows up mostly to yell at Ben and criticize the “ultramatrix” which we too found underwhelming.

Azmuth, sooper-genius creator of the original omitrix thinks the “evolution” feature of the ultramatrix is dumb. We cannot say we much disagree.

If you are looking for a show with a lot of arguing, where even the heroes do not get along, this may be for you. It does have its moments of action, but none of humor, and few of satisfaction. 20 episodes of pressure are not relieved by the last 10 seconds of the season where the heroes decide to go have a smoothie.

We are okay with the homage to Ultraman. What you say? Who is Ultraman?

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