Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Brooklyn, NY, US of A
Re: Avengers cartoon - Part 5
Three episodes left to "AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES" second season and series, and the next two not only wrap up the OTHER seasonal subplot in regards to aliens, but pay homage to a 90's AVENGERS comic book story and despite having two separate titles are very much a 2 part story. As such I am going to make my life a bit easier and review "OPERATION GALACTIC STORM" and "LIVE KREE OR DIE HARD" together. That said, titling an episode of this show after a tag line for "DIE HARD 4" from 2007 makes for a very awkward verbal pun.
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
OPERATION GALACTIC STORM was an Avengers story arc from 1992 which involved the Avengers of the time (which included Sersi and the Eric Masterson Thor) getting involved in a three way space war between the Kree, the Skrulls and the Shi'ar with Rick Jones and earth hanging in the balance. It did end with the Avengers reaching a moral divide when Iron Man decided to kill the Supreme Intelligence at the end, but now I am digressing. While the Skrulls have been defeated at the end of "SECRET INVASION" and the Shi'ar are mentioned in passing, this is very much a two-parter which ties up the subplot involving the Kree from Season 1 which kicked into high gear in "WELCOME TO THE KREE EMPIRE". This arc also allows Mar-Vell (voiced by Roger Craig Smith) to redeem himself to the Avengers in general and Ms. Marvel in particular, even if he goes about it in an awkward manner. "OPERATION GALACTIC STORM" opens up with a Kree fleet attacking a SWORD ship which is near the sun, which prompts Abigail Brand (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) to summon the Avengers to help deal with this crisis. Things get even more complicated when it not only seems as if the Kree near the sun are constructing some nefarious gadget in space, but the prison ship where Ronan and the rest of the Kree apprehended in "WELCOME TO THE KREE EMPIRE" is attacked by another squad of Kree stealth soldiers. This naturally forces the team to split up a bit as they deal with the Kree's ultimate plan to destroy earth; by opening a wormhole next to the sun which would automatically destroy life on earth.
While previous episodes have assembled the entire roster of Avengers, including Vision and Yellowjacket, this is the first episode in a while which actually seemed to give everyone talking lines. The only omission is Hulk, who made himself a reserve member in "THE DEADLIEST MAN ALIVE". This is also the first episode since "YELLOWJACKET" to actually give us a look at the new and crazier Hank Pym. Poor Brand is stuck alongside him as the rest of the Avengers abandon the prison to head into space after liberating Mar-Vell to aid them, and the result is some dark comedy. While I still don't like Yellowjacket and feel it is an odd place to take Pym as the season/series comes to an end, I have to admit that some of his antics here were amusing to watch, even if for some wrong reasons. He really is a lunatic, akin to letting the Creeper be a member of the Justice League in "JLU", and it does call into question why such a loose canon like him is allowed at all.
In space, Mar-Vell and Thor establish that earth is special because that section of space allows for easy mass dimensional transport, which was a good way to keep Thor involved with the mechanics of the alien plot. After all, Thor was historically involved in massive space epics in the 60's through to the 80's. When T'Challa decides to sacrifice himself to allow the rest of the Avengers to travel into the wormhole to shut it down (an act which would leave them across the galaxy in Kree space), the show also finally gets around to explaining what Kang meant in "THE MAN WHO STOLE TOMORROW" when he blamed Captain America for a future in which the sun was destroyed, life on earth was almost over and his own future had broken down. It did seem odd that Kang had shown up in a previous episode yet instead of dealing with this then, Kang was merely playing "villain of the week". Apparently the act which Cap did which ruined the future wasn't his meddling with the Cosmic Cube in "HAIL HYDRA" (a plot detail forgotten about) nor was it being captured and replaced by a Skrull who furthered along the Skrull Invasion (the Skrull-Cap helped make a war with the Kree inevitable in "WELCOME TO THE KREE EMPIRE"). It was Cap hesitating to head into the wormhole via his unwillingness to allow T'Challa to sacrifice himself - which would had happened if Iron Man didn't bring it up. In all honesty I was expecting something a little more epic involving the Cube and Cap's accidental use of it to weaken the barriers of time, which would have also explained how Red Skull survived. But this season didn't go in that direction - whether because of the Loeb takeover or not is unknown - so instead that subplot is wrapped up in some quick dialogue. Better than nothing, I suppose.
"OPERATION GALACTIC STORM" ends in one of those classic cliffhangers with Black Panther seemingly being burnt alive by the sun (after giving a pretty good final speech) while the Avengers find themselves having saved Earth, but surrounded by fleets in the middle of Kree space.
"LIVE KREE OR DIE" (ugh, I picture Bruce Willis every time I type or read that title) picks up from there, in which you see the entire amassed Kree fleet which had been awaiting an order to invade appear utterly incapable of shooting down one Quinjet until it gets close enough to their home-world to allow it's occupants to survive the crash. Either that Quinjet was tough or the Kree are pretty terrible shots. Perhaps I always become dismayed when I see an alien race whose entire social purpose being warfare suck at it, or perhaps even I can only stretch credibility too far. At any rate, the episode winds up with the team split up and left to fend for themselves on Hala. In a few ways this episode bares parallels to "THE FALL OF ASGARD" and "A DAY UNLIKE ANY OTHER" where the Avengers have wound up banished to an alien realm after a plan to save the earth leaves a harsh side effect, where they have to fumble around and survive until Black Panther comes out of nowhere to lead the rescue. Thus, we have Cap, Mar-Vell, Ms. Marvel, and Wasp left in the middle of one of Hala's central cities while Thor, Hawkeye, and Vision are left fighting giant monsters in what is revealed as a training camp. This episode is also where we really get to meet the villain of the piece, which is the Supreme Intelligence (also called Supremor), voiced by Tony Todd, best known for "CANDYMAN", circa 1992. First Jeffery Combs as Leader, then Lance Henriksen as Grim Reaper, now Todd as the Supreme Intelligence; "A:EMH" has a knack for plucking actors best known for 90's horror/sci-fi movies to voice some of their villains. This is the first time we are seeing the SI in animation since the cell shaded CGI version from "FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD'S GREATEST HEROES" from 2006, and naturally this version is closer to the comics and voiced a lot better. While he is really just a massive floating head in a jar with tentacles for hair, he does at least come off as menacing to a degree.
Perhaps the most harrowing sequence is when Mar-Vell attempts another of his "sell out his Earthling friends in an attempt to save their lives" ploys which backfires the same as his last one did. His attempt to convince the SI to spare his captives merely results in the SI feeling they should be sent to the science lab for dissection to figure out why humans seem so readily able to mutate when Kree evolution has remained stagnant. This naturally leads to a bit where we see Carol, Jan, and Cap in a lab being tormented by creepy looking Kree scientists. The bit with Carol did remind me of the bit in the 80's X-Men comics when Brood experimentation turned her into Binary, and I was surprised that bit didn't happen here considering what geeks Josh Fine and Chris Yost are. Cap has unfortunate experience with enduring alien torture via "PRISONERS OF WAR" but when he sees Wasp about to be picked apart, all bets are off. Another character who got a very memorable sequence is Thor, who decides to literally test the entire combined might of the Kree War Machine and ultimately "finds it lacking". While it did seem easy and one could argue that was part of the Loeb agenda to amp up the characters from the Avengers film, I certainly don't mind some "awesome power moments" for Thor, especially now that Hulk is out of the show. Hey, a thunder god summoning his mojo against an armada makes for a very cool visual, even if it does seem that a few of Rick Wasserman's "Thor howls" were recorded and played a few times by now.
Unlike in the OPERATION GALACTIC STORM comic, there seems to be no moral debate over whether the SI is alive and whether it is wrong to "kill" it. The show establishes it as a strange alien machine that really can't be permanently destroyed. The Vision also gets a bit to do here, attempting to interface with and "reboot" the SI. I wonder if this show had continued for a third season without Loeb influence whether that bit would have developed into an homage from the time in the comics when Vision was influenced by the Titan computer ISAAC into changing his costume and becoming more cold. At any rate, a final action sequence where everyone attempts to blast a floating head is difficult to make exciting no matter how strong the storyboards are, but it still is fine. I did wonder if it would have been aided had the SI downloaded himself into one of the "Supremor" bodies he has for combat, although that may have seemed even more like a Saturday Morning Cartoon. Mar-Vell finally is willing to stand against the Kree and the SI directly instead of through half-measures and winds up taking command of the Kree. A part of me does wonder if Carol forgave Mar-Vell a bit too quickly, although in fairness he did regret his actions from "WELCOME TO THE KREE EMPIRE" and sought to atone in "ASSAULT ON 42" and then here. It was good to see him without his helmet on and while the Kree designs were inspired more by ULTIMATE than the traditional comics - in order to make them look "less human" which I don't mind - he does have silver hair here too. Mar-Vell was never a character I cared for in the comics, and he's hardly been my favorite guest character here. Which did come close to being a dilemma considering how major a role he's had in 4 episodes this season. This episode at least ends his subplot as well as puts the Kree to bed, albeit in a far more simplistic manner than the Skrulls. Plus, unlike with the Skrulls, there were no negative reactions; the Avengers zap stuff, win the day, everyone goes home happy. It is closer to a "JLU" episode finale than "SECRET INVASION" was, which could be a negative for some folks. Me? I was sufficiently entertained.
In conclusion, these two episodes wrap up the Kree subplot, which emerged around the same time as the Skrull subplot but wound up being resolved with less air time and more explosions. There were a lot of good character moments and I did like seeing the Supreme Intelligence adapted properly, and while it was a blast it didn't match the suspense or execution of the Skrull arc.
Only one episode left after this, and it's a doozy.