On Saturday evening Marvel fanboys and fangirls were given the opportunity to check out a screening of the new television program The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Introduced by Jeph Loeb and Jarvis (voiced by Phil LaMarr), we were given the extra special news that we wouldn't just be watching one episode, but two.
Working as a two-parter, the Pilot episode introduced the characters as you would have expected and gave new backgrounds and origins to many of the characters. Focusing primarily around Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Hank Pym and The Wasp, the show had the original Avengers - minus Captain America, who showed up in the show's intro, but was absent from the two episodes - on an action-packed display.
For fans of the Marvel universe, you will recognize plenty of familiar names, as the episodes featured a supervillain prison breakout. Almost playing out like Brian Bendis' first storyline in New Avengers, a mysterious villain takes down the SHIELD Helicarrier and busts the worst of the worst out of containment from multiple facilities. It is then up to Marvel's heroes to put aside their differences and take down the baddies.
For those curious, I was able to collect a small list (not complete mind you) of characters that appeared in these episodes, including: the soldiers of AIM, Jimmy Woo, Maria Hill, Clay Quartermain, Mad Thinker, The Absorbing Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Wrecker, Nick Fury, Baron Zemo (Helmut, presumably), Mandrill, Griffin, Red Ghost, Purple Man, The Leader, The Abomination, Crimson Dynamo, Whiplash, Whirlwind, Constrictor, Zzzax, and the main villain: Graviton. The prison break was a great idea, giving Marvel fans plenty of characters to anticipate in battles with The Avengers.
While it may seem like an obscure choice, the choice to use Graviton as the main villain of Christopher Yost's two-part story was a good one. On one level the character exposed the need for superheroes to help alongside SHIELD and Nick Fury, while at the same time giving the heroes an opponent so tough that it took their combined might to put him down. And that was quite a process mind you. The first episode may have been most exposition for the series, but the second episode was almost all a fight between the members of the Avengers and Graviton. This knock down drag out fight between the characters was brutal, intense and large enough that it showed you just what would happen if beings with god-like powers clashed in the middle of a metropolitan city.
While the show had lots of action, and was plenty of fun, it should be mentioned that the animation takes a little getting used to. If you take a look at the poster above you will see that the characters are obviously faithful to their comic counterparts, but are still drawn quite soft, letting the parents know that amidst the gobs of violence that this is still a kids show. Also while some voices are excellent, some of them fall falt, like the Jack Black sounding Tony Stark. My last gripe was the Linkin Park styled intro theme, which was a little too metal/angsty for this editor's taste - sample lyric: "Always we will fight as one, till the battle's won." Still, the animation style is quite impressive when the action is in full motion, and the voice actors are all experienced enough that while they may sound a little off, the acting is definitely there. And as for the opening... luckily it is only 30 seconds long.
With hints of what was to come (i.e. Captain America, Black Widow, Dr. Doom, the 74 escaped prisoners, etc.), the audience was bummed that there were only two episodes, as I believe the fans would have sat through the entire first season had Loeb and Marvel been kind enough to present it. And if that isn't a recommendation to check the show out I don't know what is.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is slated to air Fall of 2010, so make sure to check back to IGN TV and IGN Comics regularly for news on this entertaining new series.