Friday, March 13, 2015

Marvel Disk Wars The Avengers - Episode 6: Hulk's Great Rampage!

A lot of the cartoons that Marvel put out over the years can be linked to very specific times in the history of the series.  The 1990s X-Men cartoon, for example, was so deeply entrenched in what was "cool" in the 90's that it looks almost quaint now.  Instead of making big heroes out of characters like Cyclops, Storm, and Jean, most of the stories revolved around time travelers who carried a lot of guns.  It's...really kind of sad, if you actually sit and think about it.

I suppose it's only natural that a show that comes out now about the Avengers would have most of the major characters from the movie in starring roles, but I wonder about the fact that they went with Janet Van Dyne (aka "The Wasp") over Black Widow.  Granted, the Wasp makes for a better visual in animation thanks to energy blasts, size powers, and flight, but considering we've only just recently had a Hawkeye cameo, I can't help but wonder if Japan just doesn't like Scarlett Johansson's character.

But enough thought, it's time to get back into the action!

When we left off last time, Iron Man and Thor have both been brought back to the series, wielded by the two brothers Akira and (wait for it, wait for it, c'mon memory, wait for it) Hikaru.  The other three kids who could presumably also bring the other Avengers back from their "electronic sleep" were released by SHIELD (without questioning, it appears, I'm starting to think it was the right idea to take Nick Fury out of power).

We're following up with the kid with the most "attitude," Chris Taylor, who has just been sought out in Boston by Spider-Man.

After the opening credits, we jump to night, where the guy in a suit from last time is in a panic, unable to find Chris any longer.  He makes a call in to someone reporting that Chris might be in danger (twenty bucks says this guy is a SHIELD agent about to have something bad happen to him).

A dark shadow falls over him (called it!) and he only has enough time to briefly scream before, well, based on how the "mysterious villain" is moving and the repeated thud sounds (and grunts by the guy) it seems he's just getting shoved against the wall over and over again.  Not the best animated scene we've had so far.

However, that one weird henchman of Loki who doesn't like to wear shirts is also back.  So that's strike two because man is that a stupid look.

The next...morning?  Okay, we need to back up here.  Spider-Man shows up to Chris and it's day time.  Then it's night and the agent can't find Chris any more.  Then it's day again and Spider-Man and Chris are at Spider-Man's apartment without apparently having talked at all about why Spider-Man is there.

Spider-Man, apparently, has been spending the whole night and morning jumping on the couch.

Chris finally confronts Spider-Man about what the wall-crawler is doing there, and Spider-Man exclaims he's there to make a delivery.   He tosses the DISKs for Hulk, Cap, and Wasp down onto the table and suggests that Chris take up the mantle of "hero" as well to help get the other DISKs before Loki can.

Chris...isn't too excited.

Remember last episode, when Spider-Man took the time to ask Hikaru if he was sure he wanted the responsibility of being in charge of freeing the heroes?  That whole "with great power" speech and everything?

Well, apparently Spider-Man's now just desperate, because he confides in Chris that he already asked the other two kids (in one case attempting to trade selfies to get Edward to take a DISK, but he's a coward, and Jessica just flat-out turns him down because she's "too busy having fun," meaning she's a bit of a cold-hearted biiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrat.  Brat.  That's what I meant.)  So instead of "with great power" now comes "oh come on, PLEASE be a hero and take on incredible power?"

Spider-Man tries to convince Chris one more time by tossing him Cap's DISK, but Chris is quick to point out that "he and the boy scout would be a terrible match."  Spider-Man starts to disagree, and that's when his spider-sense (you know, the thing that always warns him if he's in danger) COMPLETELY fails him, and he gets dropped almost instantly by a charging Abomination.  Spider-Man also drops the DISKs for Hulk and Wasp, letting Abomination scoop them up.

That's right, Birdface McBarechest is on the scene, there to attempt to capture/intimidate Chris.

I'm sorry, I just cannot take that guy seriously as a threat.  He looks like he's late to Margarita Mondays at the local taco bar.

So why are the bad guys targeting Chris?  Could it be that they aren't actually targeting him, they're instead just after Spider-Man and the DISKs?  A quick jump away to a nearby tanker ship answers that question, as it appears Loki's henchmen have already captured Edward and Jessica.  They're tossed into a room and told to "get along" as a new cellmate will be joining them shortly.

Back at Chris' apartment, the Abomination comes back up with Spider-Man's unconscious body, and the bad guys break Chris' options down to him: surrender or fight (and most certainly die).  Chris, catching a glimmer of movement out of the corner of his eye, instead chooses the "jump out the window many stories up" option.  Fortunately, Iron Man is already on the scene since they lost contact with the bodyguards (so maybe he wasn't a SHIELD agent, he was a Stark employee) and catches Chris.

However, time runs out before Iron Man can get Chris over to Akira, Hikaru, and Pepper (hooray for lousy Boston traffic!) and winds up dropping him off on a roof as he gets called back to the DISK.

Later, once everybody's back at Stark Tow- wait, what?

...never mind, we'll try to figure out how everybody met up and went back to New York later (unless it's a Boston branch- never mind).

Chris begrudgingly hooks the Cap DISK up to a wrist bracelet-thingy allowing his hologram to appear.  Fortunately, Cap is omniscient and already knows that Spider-Man and the other two kids are captured.  How?  No idea.

Everybody discusses how they have no real leads at the moment, and Iron Man tries to get the "kids" to get some sleep.  Chris uses this as an opportunity to disconnect the bracelet with Cap attached to it (thus getting rid of Cap's hologram) and promptly walks out because it's not like the fight hasn't literally already came to his doorstep.

We get some flashbacks in Chris' life (anywhere from the day before to a year earlier, he looks pretty much the same, really) as his parents confront him about what he wants to be when he grows up.  Chris has no real ideas, and apparently has been lashing out by getting into fights in the streets.

Meanwhile, the Hulk is destroying an Air Force base.

It appears to all viewers (the crazy news lady working for Loki is covering the scene from a helicopter) that the Hulk has gone insane, simply destroying everything in his path.

Oh man, this is clearly mind control of some kind.  Let's see, we haven't really seen any telepaths or other villains with mental powers yet unless MODOK is somehow doing it.  There are plenty of other people who could do it, though.  There's the aptly named Controller, Purple Man, Arnim Zola, John F Kennedy...

Or hey, look!  It's C-List Fantastic Four villain Diablo, the "master of alchemy."

We're just not doing that well with really great villains this episode.

Akira and Hikaru lament that they won't be able to get to where the Hulk is very quickly because of traffic (so they are still in Boston?) , but fortunately Pepper has an idea.  They're going to steal a blatant toy tie-in and contender for "dumbest looking plane I've seen in a long time."

Everybody's about to get on board when Thor spots Chris hanging out by the doorway.  Chris volunteers to come with them, but only because he's worried that he might be attacked again if he stays behind.  Akira decides to simply insult him with an exclamation of "But aren't you a man?!"

Cold, Akira.  Real cold.

Back at the ship, Jessica and Edward are watching the Hulk's rampage on the large flat screen television in their cell (how nice of the bad guys to install it for them), and Jessica calls Hulk "the worst" for being such a monster.  Edward, though, is quick to jump to the Hulk's defense, saying that something else must be going on.  After all, the Hulk only fights "for justice."

Jessica begrudgingly admits that Edward has some real guts for standing up for the Hulk like that, and the two start working on finding a way out of their cell.

Meanwhile, at the air force base, it just got real.

Apparently Diablo's magic isn't really so much "controlling" the Hulk as "making him see everything around him as some kind of demonic wasteland."  When Iron Man and Thor appear, the Hulk only sees them as twisted, terrible versions of themselves.

Now, seeing as the Hulk has been to other dimensions, outer space, and tossed around in time, I can't really blame him for reacting negatively.  It also doesn't help that Thor's idea of how to snap him out of it is to try what they do to people in Asgard who are drunk.

Namely, he hits Hulk in the face with his hammer.  This...doesn't please Hulk very much.

Delivering his own fist to Thor's face, Hulk is then attacked by Iron Man.  The energy blasts do nothing, and when Iron Man attempts to tell Akira to activate his "special move," he gets interrupted by the Hulk grabbing his foot and flinging him into the ground.  The two really aren't doing well against the rampaging Gamma Goliath.

Fortunately, there's one more hero standing between the Hulk and the rest of the city.

Wait, hold on.  We're not there yet.

Chris does, however, "man up" and accept the responsibility of bringing Captain America into the battle, but not before we get a few more flashbacks (everything from the early episode to the flashback from earlier in this same episode) as Chris once again wonders what what he wants to be.

This is when we get a pretty sweet moment (I'll be honest, it's really the first really great moment) where the Hologram Cap appears before Chris and promises that he'll stick by his "summoner" until the end, and they can find out together what kind of man Chris wants to be.

So now we get our epic confrontation as the REAL hero steps out in front of the Hulk, the raging beast who has managed to leave Thor and Iron Man's bodies struggling to stand up in craters.  The hero who will face pure anger given form and tell him, to paraphrase Gandalf, that he "will not pass."

Yup.  Chris.

Kid's got stones, I'll give him that much.  I'd have probably been hiding behind something when I summoned a hero.

At this point we finally get Cap summoned into battle, and I'll say that his summoning is, quite possibly, the best we've seen yet, if only because the "digital realm" he emerges from keeps erupting into flame as he breaks free from the "code."

So, Hulk vs. Cap.  Brute strength vs. combat skill.  Where an Asgardian warrior and walking armory failed, a man with only a shield must triumph.  Can he do it?  Is his plan to just stall the Hulk until Thor and Iron Man are able to regroup?

Well, I don't know, because that's where the episode ends.

I'll be honest, I'm looking forward to the next episode, but this one was pretty weak.  Some of the animation was rather sketchy, the villains really didn't impress me that much (and considering last time was "woman who throws diamonds" and "King Cobra being taken out in one hit" that says a lot).  The fight between Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man was pretty one-sided, with each hero essentially being taken out in one hit and then dealt with off-screen so we can focus on Chris.

But let's keep our fingers crossed that the next episode will do better!

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