Monday, April 2, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes - First Impressions

For times in the year when there's no football on Sunday's, I consider that akin to going into a strip club where the girls don't wear thongs. You just can't have one without the other and still have it be awesome. I try to fill the void, but there's only so much blow I can snort. Thankfully, I'm not too brain damaged to get no pleasure out of watching cartoons. Sometimes I don't even need weed to enjoy them. It's true. I do watch cartoons and I'm damn proud of it! Marvel cartoons have always been near and dear to my heart. I still remember the golden years of the 90s when the Soviet Union fell, ecstasy was still readily available, and Marvel was pumping out awesome shit with the Spider-Man and X-men cartoon. Since then, we elected Bush twice and shit's been pretty inconsistent. There have been a few gems like Wolverine and the X-men and X-men Evolution. Other than that, DC has been kicking Marvel's ass with Justice League, The Batman, and most recently Young Justice. I've been waiting eagerly with my best weed at hand for Marvel to finally churn out some quality toons. They finally delivered last year with the premier of Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes. But that was in the same mold as the X-men cartoons in that they were limited, singular, and potentially forgettable. What made the 90s so awesome was that it was an entire fucking universe. One show just isn't enough. Avengers needed a complementary show to feel complete. That's where Ultimate Spider-Man comes in. And no, I'm not talking about that shitty comic with Miles fucking Morales. I'm talking about a real fucking cartoon with Peter fucking Parker behind the mask and Stan fucking Lee doing guest shots. That's a lot of fucking awesome and it's taken a long ass time to get here, but it's finally here and I can offer my drunken assessment!

Stan "the fucking Man" Lee. Nuff said!

Ultimate Spider-Man debuted on Sunday, April Fools Day, and it was no fucking first. It was part of Disney's new animation block. They spent many a coin purchasing Marvel. Now they're ready to start mixing and matching the same way Snooki does with various body fluids. Only with Ultimate Spider-Man, the resulting offspring isn't the potential anti-Christ. The show takes various elements of the comics and mashes them together in hopes of creating the ultimate Spider-Man experience. It's not like Spectacular, a show based more on the shitty premise that everyone has fucking huge pupils and lawyers prevent any other Marvel properties from showing up. The very first scene of Ultimate Spider-Man shows that this Spider-Man is part of a bigger Marvel Universe. After taking down Trapster (and making a big fucking mess in the process), Spidy is confronted by Nick Fury (the Sam Jackson type and not the David Hasselhoff type) and is told he's a punk renegade who doesn't know what the fuck he's doing. And you know what? He's right. This show begins with Peter having been Spider-Man for a whole year and he's still making a mess every time he takes down a bad guy. So Fury offers to train him to be the "Ultimate" Spider-Man. Doesn't that just fit as perfectly as a bag of weed in Snoop Dogg's couch cushion?

Look at the mess you made! Russian rock bands are cleaner than you!

The first two episodes are really sort of an initiation for Peter Parker. One year in and his inexperience finally catches up with him. He has to contend with villains who tracked him to where he goes to school and assholes like Norman Osborne who are intent on copyrighting his powers and making it into a private army for neo-conservatives. Can you think of anything more evil? So Nick Fury doesn't just set him up with SHIELD training and some kick-ass gadgets that include a fucking motorcycle. He also puts him on a team of other young heroes that include White Tiger, Nova, Power Man (Luke Cage), and Iron Fist. All are also teenage heroes and Fury seems to think that Peter can lead them. Because putting a kid who knows the value of responsibility in charge of teenagers who are inherently responsible makes as much sense in the Marvel universe as it does any.

It's a great premise and one that opens the door to so many possibilities. This isn't that lame ass Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends crap. This is Peter Parker being thrust into a role he hasn't been in for pretty much every other cartoon. That, and his pupils are normal sized. Sorry Spectacular Spider-Man fans, but I just can't reinforce that point enough. It isn't just him that's taking on a larger role. Other Marvel characters like Nick Fury and Agent Coulson (yes, that Agent Coulson) play a part.

Agent Coulson. So awesome he needs to be real AND animated.

Ultimate Spider-Man's debut was pretty a point. There was one aspect of the new cartoon that kept it from being the kind of cartoon that blow testicles out of scrotums. It has to do with the shitty 4th wall breaking gimmick that is done throughout the show. It's not like in past Spider-Man cartoons where Peter has all these internal monologues or narrates. This is Family Guy style 4th wall breaking that's twisted, incoherent, and is about as funny as pissing on a dumpster. It takes away from the more serious themes of the show. I get that it's a kids show, but so are all the Spider-Man cartoons and they didn't need this 4th wall breaking shit to be funny. They actually told decent jokes and memorable stories. I'm sorry, but random flashbacks to a Mexcian hat wearing Spider-Man just makes this shit too hard to take seriously. And this comes from a guy who can get stoned and laugh at C-SPAN.

Now I get what Marvel is trying to do. They want Ultimate Spider-Man to be light-hearted and funny. But this 4th wall breaking shit is just distracting. It makes for a great episode of Family Guy where plots can revolve entirely around fat men fighting giant chickens. For a show about great power and great responsibility, it really doesn't work quite as well. It's better than Spectacular, but it shoots itself in the foot for trying too hard to be funny. Ask Andy Dick how that's working out and then tell me that shit's a good idea.

This isn't even funny in Mexico.

In addition to Ultimate Spider-Man, the new season of Avengers Earth Mightiest heroes debuted. Now this is a cartoon that was already established and didn't need any 4th wall breaking bullshit to be awesome. It's a show that already set a high standard of awesome last year and now that it has some Marvel competition, it has to step up it's game. And like Paris Hilton at a dick sucking contest, it succeeds!

The second season of Avengers sets up shortly after the events of the last season. The Avengers saved the world, thwarted Loki, and earned the right to claim their dicks are bigger than everyone else's. However, the last scene ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. The Skrulls showed up and hinted at the beginnings of a Secret Invasion style infiltration. Well the first episode doesn't really get into first. It starts by exploring the larger corners of the Marvel animated universe by bringing the Fantastic Four into the mix. And for once it's not for an elaborate mission to save the world. It's for a simple game of poker.

If only they had invited Black Widow and Emma Frost to play strip poker. Maybe for Season 3?

It quickly becomes a typical super-hero mash-up when Dr. Doom decides to launch a simultaneous attack on the Avengers mansion and the Baxter Building. Why? He's fucking Dr. Doom! He doesn't need a reason. He manages to abduct Wasp and Sue Storm, forcing the Avengers and the Fantastic Four to venture to Castle Doom to rescue them. It ends up being a one-sided battle with Doom beating their asses with the kind of ease reserved for Peyton Manning when he plays the Cleveland Browns. He could have easily killed them all, but he doesn't. Why? Well remember that whole Skrull issue? Well it turns out he abducted Sue and Wasp to check and see if they were Skrulls. Was he right? For once, I'm not drunk enough to spill the details! See for yourself! The show really is that awesome.

So in the end, Avengers still maintains the high bar of awesome. Despite all the hype surrounding Ultimate Spider-Man, it still falls short because it insists on being cooky with the 4th wall breaking rather than focus on actually telling awesome stories. Even so, the two shows make for the kind of awesome Marvel animation block that we haven't seen since Clinton was getting blowjobs by cute interns. This is just what Sundays need to not be boring again until football season starts up! For that, Marvel has my gratitude and even more of my money! Thank you, Marvel! I owe all you guys a round of drinks, but I have to warn you. I know a guy who mixes a drink called the Ultimate (Liver) Nullifier. Not for the faint of heart!

Dr. Doom says your Sunday mornings belong to Marvel!

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your spiderman review.
    Now, growing up in the 90s Spiderman: TAS will always be the greatest interpretation of spidey in my mind in any media. Other than obvious nostalgia, it had more realistic artwork, a strong voice cast, and good drama.

    That being said, Spectacular had some strong points but suffered in art. In my opinion, it was nice to try to go back to TAS with self-monologs but I found it unrealistic that a 16 yr old would be so serious.

    Thats where TAS has one more strong point that beats out Spectacular or Ultimate: hes actually grown up!
    When I used to watch cartoons, I identified with the adult hero, Batman, Spiderman, the Xmen, and it didnt feel weird at all.
    For some reason, since the 2000s a large majority of cartoons feel the need to deage their cast to make it more accessible to kids, when we were fine with it before just a generation ago!
    Making all your heros pre-teens, Animated Ironman, Spectacular, Ultimate, Xmen Evolution, Young Justice, ect seems to me that it would make it less interesting to the previous generation who is phasing out of cartoons and have more reason to let go sooner.

    Anyway, the overall idea and concept of Ultimate seems strong and could last awhile, but all this 4th wall breaking may do it in, in the end. It has for me, but to each his own.
    Haha, sorry if this seems like a rant, but its just my 2 cents of animation history.