Finally, America has seen the full first season of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes on their television screens, and lo, the gods are pleased.
Disney XD had aired the first 19 episodes, culminating in a fantastic three-part epic featuring Kang the Conqueror back in January, but then they held the rest of Season 1's adventures away from us. Not Australia, for some reason, who got to see the last seven episodes a month before we did and handily put them up on the internet (hence the fuzziness of the cover image above, sadly). Finally, on May 15, to coincide with the release of Thor in theaters, the Mouse gave us the rest of the series to date, and just this morning, the three-part finale was bundled together as a 90-minute barnburner that will have to hold us contented until October or so, when Season 2 is said to begin.
The first part gave us the Avengers separating to deal with the Masters of Evil, who are pulling shenanigans with the Asgardian Norn stones, while the second part had the heroes scattered throughout the Nine Realms which Loki had been scheming to conquer, having usurped the Odinforce during the Odinsleep and had Odinpowered the Odinson into Odinchains and Odinprisonment. Here, in Part the Third, the Avengers finally manage to reassemble on the Bifrost Bridge along with Sif and the Warriors Three, in order to bring the pain to Loki himself. Of course, the God of Mischief isn't about to make it easy on them. Frost Giants and trolls were one thing, Hoarfen the super-duper giant ice wolf is quite another. Be sure to listen closely to Hoarfen, as I'm pretty sure they snuck a Godzilla style "skree-OOOONK" roar in there somewhere.
It gets so bad for the Avengers that Captain America even finds his shield shattered by Loki's power. It takes Tony Stark in an uru-based armor forged deep within a dwarf kingdom to turn the tide in favor of the heroes, driving Loki towards madness and threatening Ragnarok – but the OdinOdin won't let that Odinhappen.
As usual, it's well-crafted and fun storytelling with cool combat action and moments for everybody in the large cast to shine. This show is on par with the legendary Justice League animated series in terms of plotting, character development and really making you feel the widely-varied fight scenes packed full of straight-up kick-ass moments. The only complaint is that the animation doesn't always seem fluid. It gets choppy during panoramic views and occasional small moments that make it seem like they occasionally either run out of time or budget to fix things. Thankfully, that never seems to happen when it counts, when fluidity is integral. It's just noticeable enough to be a mild annoyance.
Of course, like most episodes this season, the quick "final-page twist" style of tag sets up the stage for what we can expect in Season 2 – namely, Secret Invasion. Not only is Steve Rogers now shieldless and brooding, having skated out of Hela's realm by betting his soul on the outcome of the battle, but he's the first one captured and replaced by a Skrull infiltrator – and he doesn't even know that his brief contact with the Cosmic Cube has apparently messed with the timestream enough to bring Bucky Barnes back to life – the event that Kang had tried to isolate as the beginning of time itself unraveling in his distant future.
Also, as mentioned in my review of the DVD releases of Volumes 1 & 2 of Avengers; Earth's Mightiest Heroes, their previews of Season 2 indicated that it's going to be centered mostly on extraterrestrial threats like the Skrulls and the Kree (and even appearances from the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Fantastic Four, to boot), as well as some costume makeovers for guys like Cap, Thor, Nick Fury and even Black Panther. Also, we'll get Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird and the Vision, along with more Ultron, more Kang and yes, the inimitable Dr. Doom.
Is there any hope for a full Season 1 package, and can we cross our fingers and pray for the Blu-ray treatment? Well, given the exploitative and sub-par nature of the Vol. 1 & 2 standard DVD releases that only contained only half of the first season, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. The show itself is fantastic, but come on, Disney. You know what we want. Why ya gotta gouge us?
Anyway, Avenger's: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has ended its first season on a high note, and Season 2 can't get here fast enough. Finally, Marvel's figured out how to make a really damn great animated series. It's about time.