Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This and That

There are a few news stories that I want to highlight today. Normally I would give them their own article, but I don't have the time for that. I can barely find the time to watch the five minute Avengers micro-episodes!

ITEM! Superman/Batman: Apocalypse makes its home video debut today on DVD, Two-Disc Special Edition with the Green Arrow short, and Blu-ray.

And if you liked this movie, you should really check out the graphic novel on which this movie is based.

ITEM! Comics Continuum reports that the second season of The Super Hero Squad Show on Cartoon Network is Saturday, October 23 at 6:30am. I don't know about you, but I'm not getting up that early to watch the season premiere. The new season kicks off with an episode titled Another Order of Evil, Part One.

ITEM! io9 has a handful of spoilers pertaining to the remaining one and a half seasons of Batman: the Brave and the Bold. Highlights include a heroes vs villains baseball game, a "Flash Legacy" episode, Bat-Manga, "Bat-Boy and Rubin", a Scooby-Doo team-up, and the debut of Superman and Wonder Woman!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thor the Mighty

Season: Micro-Season
Episode Number: 5
Season Episode Number: 5
Production Number: M05
Airdate: October 12, 2010

Writer: Michael Ryan
Director: Vinton Heuck

Voices: Rick D. Wasserman (Thor), Kari Wahlgren (Jane Foster), Nolan North (Baldur), (Thunderball), (Wrecker), Unknown (Dispatcher), Unknown (Medical Attendant).

Plot: Thor battles the Wrecking Crew and has is first encounter with Jane Foster!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Thor takes center stage in this fifth chapter of shorts that will lead up to the main Avengers series. We have yet to see what version of Thor this one will be. Will he don the disguise of Dr. Donald Blake and live amongst mortals, or will he always be Thor with no other alter ego?

It nice to see the Wrecking Crew show up. While not at all a match for the Mighty Thor, they are an excellent vehicle to showcase what that God of Thunder could do. I really liked the Wrecker's new design for this series, however Thunderball looks as dopey as ever. You just can't get around it if you are going to stick with those colours. Piledriver and Bulldozer also appear with non-speaking roles.

While I like Thor, I'm not terribly interested in Asgard. The whole mythology thing always pulls me out of the story. I like reading Thor in Avengers, but have a really hard time with his own title. Personally, I'm hoping that this Thor will be living on Earth as Donald Blake and wooing Jane Foster.

And speaking of Jane Foster -- it is a real treat to have a show that features Thor's main squeeze! It was the 60s that last we saw her in animation. I'm sure her appearance here due to her role in the upcoming live-action feature film. At any rate, I welcome her and look forward to what she will bring to the story.

As with all of these micro-episodes, this chapter also showed off the capable storytelling, animation and direction of the show's creative team.

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Hydra Lives

Season: Micro-Season
Episode Number: 4
Season Episode Number: 4
Production Number: M04
Airdate: October 11, 2010

Writer: Brandon Auman
Director: Vinton Heuck

Voices: Eric Loomis (Iron Man), Phil LaMarr (JARVIS), Bumper Robinson (Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes), Dawn Olivieri (Pepper Potts), Alex Désert (Nick Fury), Kari Wührer (Maria Hill), Lance Henriksen (Rogue HYDRA Agent).

Plot: Iron Man continues his battle against HYDRA, but HYDRA has a new weapon - the Dreadnoughts!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Continuing from the first micro-episode, Iron Man is Born, Iron Man goes up against the Dreadnoughts, whom I didn't recognize until they mentioned the name. The Dreadnoughts have gone through many different looks over the years, so I'm not surprised that they have been given another new look for this series. These new designs make them look more like they belong to HYDRA.

Nick Fury makes his debut in this episodes, with Alex Désert reprising his Wolverine and the X-Men role. Although he doesn't do much in this episode so we will have to wait and see if this version of Nick Fury as badass as Samuel L. Jackson, or as grumpy as David Hasslehoff.

Relatively new to the Marvel Universe is Maria Hill, who also make her debut in this episode (animation debut, as well Thanks to those who let me know that Maria Hill's animation debut is Iron Man: Armored Adventures!).

This five and a half minute episode is all action. The animation is clean and fluid with well planned out shots and choreography, giving a real sense of the pain Iron Man feels through his armour. Christopher Yost has said that this show will be action packed, and from what little we've seen of the show so far, the actual series promises to be explosive!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Title Cards

I was reminded the other day when I watched the Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, how much I love really good title cards. They are sort of a lost art these days, although there are a few shows recently that have used them, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes for instance.

Here are all the title cards for the 1981 series, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Most of them are show off the villains and guest heroes in a creative way with bold colours and fancy lettering. The lettering gets a little less creative for the second and third seasons, but they still look pretty cool to me.

The Man in the Ant Hill

Season: Micro-Season
Episode Number: 3
Season Episode Number: 3
Production Number: M03
Airdate: October 11, 2010

Writer: Christopher Yost
Director: Vinton Heuck

Voices: Wally Wingert (Ant-Man), Colleen O'Shaughnessey (Wasp), Mark Hamill (Klaw), Unknown (Mercenary 1), Unknown (Mercenary 2).

Plot: Ant-Man has to prevent the Klaw from stealing a rare sample of vibranium!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Let's be honest. Ant-Man is that character that practically no one is excited to be in this show. In his heyday in the 60s, Ant-Man was the star of Tales to Astonish, his popularity leading Stan Lee to include him in the original roster of the Avengers. But these days he is a forgotten hero. Sure he's still around, but no one really cares.

So how are the creators of this show going to make him "cool"? This micro-episode is a good start! Powering up with his "Pym Particles", Ant-Man really gives these goons a scare! Like a scene out of Predator or Rambo, Ant-Man takes everyone out with a power that most people laugh at. Animation really shows off how well he handles the proportionate strength of an ant.

Plus, booby-trapping his whole lab with Pym Particles is brilliant! If this is how the writers treat Ant-Man in a 6 minute short, I can't wait to see him in the actual series!

The villain in this short is a pre-super-villain Klaw. Klaw has been an underused villain in past animated shows. Despite having appeared in a number of shows, we've only been told his origin in the 94 Fantastic Four series and the recent Black Panther series. In the hands of Christopher Yost, I'm sure Klaw will be an amazing adversary, especially for Black Panther who will be part of the core team.

Wasp makes a short cameo near the end of this short. I love her design, and I look forward to where the writers take her character.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

All-Star Superman Trailer Hits the Web

What you are watching is a grainy version of the All-Star Superman movie trailer that is coming "Winter 2011". The quality is pretty bad, but you do get a look at the designs, which do not look like Frank Quietly, the artist for the comic book on which this is based.

What are your first impressions?

The Coming of the Hulk

Season: Micro-Season
Episode Number: 2
Season Episode Number: 2
Production Number: M02
Airdate: October 11, 2010

Writer: Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt
Director: Sebastian Montes

Voices: Fred Tatasciore (Hulk), Rick D. Wasserman (Absorbing Man), Gabriel Mann (Bruce Banner), (General "Thunderbolt" Ross), Unknown (Police Officer), Unknown (Soldier), Unknown (Waitress).

Plot: General "Thunderbolt" Ross has tracked Bruce Banner to Las Vegas. But Bruce is there because he has tracked down the Absorbing Man!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Our introduction to the Hulk covers a lot of ground in only five and a half minute. It's actually more like an introduction to Bruce Banner, who has more of a character than he usually does in animation. There is still a lot of running and chasing, but Banner isn't a whiner and a coward like we saw him most recently in Wolverine and the X-Men and Hulk Vs..

Banner's quest is to help all of the gamma irradiated "creatures" that are held up in The Cube, a SHIELD holding and rehabilitation centre for super-villains.

That's where Absorbing Man comes in. In this universe, it seems that Absorbing Man has closer ties to the Hulk than to Thor. Banner tells us that "Crusher" Creel got his powers from gamma radiation, rather than a magic drink given to him by Loki. I love Absorbing Man's design and how he dwarfs Banner. I can't wait to see the special effects used to demonstrate his powers. The stylized look of this show falls between comic book and cartoon and I think it is a great blend.

This short was simple, but moved at a good pace. The entire time I was waiting for the Hulk, only to have him show up at the last second (fantastic transformation sequence, by the way). It sure was nice to hear the familiar roar of Fred Tatasciore, who has played the Hulk in a number of recent Marvel productions.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Iron Man is Born!

Season: Micro-Season
Episode Number: 1
Season Episode Number: 1
Production Number: M01
Airdate: September 22, 2010

Writer: Brandon Auman
Director: Vinton Heuck

Eric Loomis (Iron Man), Bumper Robinson (Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes), Dawn Olivieri (Pepper), Phil LaMarr (JARVIS), Unknown (Cameraman), Unknown (Newscaster).

Plot: Iron Man attempts to save the United Nations from a HYDRA attack! But can he do it on his own?

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Fans who have been waited eagerly since the announcement of this series two years ago finally have their first look at the animation, characters and voice acting. This five and a half minute episode begins Iron Man on his journey to joining the Avengers.

Based on the promo art, I wasn't too impressed with the design of Iron Man's suit, especially his helmet. But upon viewing this episode, it wasn't distracting at all, in fact, I didn't even notice it.

Tony's character draws heavily from Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal from the Iron Man movies, and he even quotes one of the lines. Rhodey, who works for SHIELD, Pepper Potts, and even JARVIS the home security system, also appear similar to their movie counterparts.

The animation is not quite Justice League quality, but it is still quite good aside from a bit of stiffness from the characters as they are chatting. I'd put it on par with maybe Ben 10. However, the big battle sequence was handled really well.

The title was a bit of a misnomer, seeing as Iron Man wasn't really born in this episode. But it does leave us on a cliffhanger, so maybe they'll back up in the next episode and get to Shellhead's origin.

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Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

  • Episode Guide
  • Theme Song

  • Produced by Marvel Animation and Film Roman, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes may be the most ambitious Marvel series to date. With dozens of heroes and villains appearing throughout the course of the show, and with high stakes and epic battles on Earth, in space, throughout time and other dimensions, the show is a big hit with fans who desperately wanted to wash the taste of Avengers: United They Stand from their mouths.

    A micro-series made up of twenty 5-minute episode debuted as a lead up to the actual first season. The micro-episodes provide back story for the characters. The first season, 24 episodes out of a contracted 52, starred the original team from the 60s, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp, as they rounded up a variety of colourful villains who all escaped from prison during a major jail break.

    The series debuted on Disney XD on October 20, 2010 in the US and on Teletoon on October 22, 2010 in Canada.

    Main Cast

    Ant-Man - Wally Wingert
    Black Panther - James C. Mathis III
    Captain America - Brian Bloom
    Hawkeye - Chris Cox
    Hulk - Fred Tatasciore
    Iron Man - Eric Loomis
    Thor - Rick D. Wasserman
    Wasp - Colleen O'Shaughnessey


    Balder - Nolan North
    Jane Foster - Kari Wahlgren
    JARVIS - Phil LaMarr
    Pepper Potts - Dawn Olivieri
    Nick Fury - Alex Désert
    Wonder Man - Phil LaMarr

    Abomination - Robin Atkin Downes
    Absorbing Man - Rick D. Wasserman
    Baron Zemo - Robin Atkin Downes
    Crimson Dynamo - Chris Cox
    Enchantress - Kari Wahlgren
    Graviton - Fred Tatasciore
    Klaw - Mark Hamill
    Leader - Jeffrey Combs
    MODOK - Wally Wingert