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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Avengers – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Volumes 1 and 2: Heroes Assemble/Captain America Reborn! DVD Review

Serving as a warm-up and placeholder for the upcoming Avengers movie, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes airs on the Disney XD channel and has now been released on DVD. This action-packed superhero series features Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther, Nick Fury, and The Hulk. There’s also appearances from the Fantastic Four and some of the other heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. These two volumes offer a continuing storyline and true to character portrayals. While the animation could be better, this new series is the best animated show Marvel has released to date.



Film (4 out of 5 stars)

This is a great show but I need to get a complaint out of the way right now because it’s fitting since my complaint is about the start of the show and it’s theme music “Fight as One” by Bad City is absolutely terrible. This attempt at being edgy or whatever they were going for leaves a bad first impression. For a show this good, it should have something epic or show defining like the opening titles to Batman: The Animated Series. The good news is that now that I have the DVDs, I can just fast forward through the opening titles. With that out of the way, I can now praise the rest of the show and it’s quality across the board.
The show stars Eric Loomis as Iron Man, Rick D. Wasserman as Thor, Brian Bloom as Captain America, Fred Tatascioreas as The Hulk, Wally Wingert as Ant Man, Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Wasp, James C. Mathis III as Black Panther, and Phil Lamarr as Jarvis. Each of these actors were well cast and some of them, especially Eric Loomis who does an excellent Robert Downey Jr. impression. While DC Comics has always done an excellent job casting voices for their shows, Marvel has always seemed to have more trouble nailing the right person for the job until now. Now you’re probably wondering, ok the voices are good but what about the scripts? I have good news there too since not only does this series have a continuing storyline (a comic staple) but they are a far cry better than any other previous entry (with the possible exception of The Spectacular Spiderman).
Here are the episodes for the two volumes:
Volume 1 Episodes:
1. Iron Man Is Born!
2. Thor The Mighty
3. Hulk Versus The World
4. Meet Captain America
5. The Man in the Ant Hill
6. Breakout: Part 1
7. Breakout: Part 2
Volume 2 Episodes:
8. Some Assembly Required
9. Living Legend
10. Everything Is Wonderful
11. Panther’s Quest
12. Gamma World: Part1
13. Gamma World: Part 2
When a bunch of super-villains escape their maximum security prisons, it’s up to Iron Man, Ant-Man, Hulk, Thor, and the Wasp to stop them by forming a new group called the Avengers that’s main purpose is fight targets that are too big to challenge alone. Combined with Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D., they will fight a variety of evildoers including Loki, MODOC, Baron Von Strucker, Abomination, Baron Zemo, Ultron, Kang, The Leader, the Grim Reaper, and more. When the villains start teaming up, the only option is to call in the Avengers to stop them. Fortunately, they are soon joined by a revitalized Captain America, as well by Black Panther and Hawkeye. The show wisely gives each character a lot of screen time and sometimes even episodes to allow the viewers to understand the history and motivations of each character. One of the best things about this show despite the action is the true to comic characterizations which adds a lot of enjoyability for those that read the comics and gives each of them a distinct personality for those that don’t. They may not always agree on what to do or how to do it but they always band together for the greater good.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This widescreen 1.78:1 presentation has been enhanced for 16×9 televisions and it looks great. While I’m sure it would look even better on Blu-ray, for a DVD this looks fantastic. There’s a nice sharpness and clarity to it that animation should have and the colors are bright and pop off the screen. The black levels are deep and contrast is also excellent. While I don’t like all of the way it’s animated, there’s no denying how good it looks and I will have to bide by time for the inevitable Blu-ray.

Audio (5 out of 5 stars)

This Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix is also very impressive for a DVD and it does a good job selling all of the action on the screen. When you have beings as powerful as these fighting each other as they destroy the city in the process, it’s always good to have a powerful mix that captures that and this one does. There’s so much action in this show that it would be a travesty if it didn’t utilize all the channels but the show does that well. Dialogue is clear and never drowned out by all of the action, and the music and effects are also well presented. If they would just get a new theme songs and title sequence it would be perfect.

Special Features (1 out of 5 stars)

Each volume has a short extra that last about five to six minutes. While the information covered is interesting, I wish they would have added a lot more extras to these sets.
Volume 1:
  • “New Looks, New Heroes” – Supervising Producer Joshua Fine and Story Editor Christopher Yost give us a glimpse of the new character design changes for several of the characters including making Nick Fury look a lot more like Samuel L. Jackson. They also talk a little about the upcoming season two story-line.
Volume 2:
  • “New Stories, New Threats” – Supervising Producer Joshua Fine and Story Editor Christopher Yost talk about the Avengers and their villains and offer some teasers about upcoming story arcs for season two.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

This is a fun show with a lot of action that is sure to appeal to boys (and some girls) of all ages. I think the show is only going to get better as it continues much like Star Wars – The Clone Wars. By wisely remaining true to the characters the show is based on and using the decades worth of past comic story-lines, this show is already on the right track and has already proved to be better than just about every previous Marvel show. This show is sure to build anticipation for the upcoming live-action movie as well as help us all wait for that day to arrive.
Order your copies today!

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