Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recap: Avengers Assemble "The Serpent of Doom"

Well, time for an Asgard episode. Maybe now we can give Thor some definitely needed character depth? Let's find out.

You know, your brother Baldr has character depth. Why can't you be more like him?
The episode opens with Thor fighting Ulik, the troll in the middle of New York as innocent bystanders quit their bystanding and flee the scene. For some reason, Ulik is wielding the Ultimate Universe version of Thor's hammer, which is really more of a battle axe. Thor wants to know why Ulik has such an awesome weapon, but Ulik prefers to smash up the street. Well, that just roasts Thor's bilgesnipe, so he unleashes all of his Thunder Godly might, getting knocked into a car for his troubles.

"Ulik smash Jeph Loeb for having Ulik be mentioned in Ultimates 3!"
Thankfully for Thor, Iron Man swoops in for the assist. He scans Ulik to find some kind of weakness, but Thor warns Iron Man about Ulik's enchantments.

Iron Man: "Call it what you want; to me, it's just science I haven't figured out yet."

I'll get to that in the Review; I have a rant prepared (to the shock of no one), and I'll try to keep it brief when it comes up.

He unibeams the troll, which doesn't do much. But the one-two of Iron Man's missiles and Thor's hammer brings the troll down. Thor fills in Iron Man on the full extent of the problems. It seems as though Ulik's possession of Asgardian weaponry was foretold in a prophecy. The same prophecy that predicts Thor's death.

Uh... You mean Ragnarök? If I remember my mythology correctly, Baldr (the Shining Son of Asgard) dies fighting a wolf, and Thor dies defeating a snake. Also, the world becomes locked in an endless winter. Only one of those details actually becomes important for this episode, so we can just assume that the human idea of the Norse Ragnarök is a flawed interpretation of the true prophecies. That way, I can cut my nitpicking short with the "creative liberties" Marvel takes with Norse mythology. For example, in the comics, it's Odin's (non-mythological) brother, Skadi, that fulfills the role of the Midgard Serpent from the myths. Reimaginings, and all that.

(Edit, 2/18/15: First of all, I meant "Cul," not "Skadi." How did I not catch that sooner? Second of all, though Cul Borson goes by the title of "the Serpent," he is a separate character from the Midgard Serpent. In fact, he apparently more closely parallels Nidhogg the Dragon in terms of themes. Either way, I think my point on reimaginings stands.)

What the heck is this and why is it the first thing that pops up when I google "Ragnarok"?
Anyway, they take Ulik away, and search the area for his axe, because Thor says the weapon could mean "the end of the world." Ah, so it is Ragnarök.

No, seriously, what is this and why is there so much of it?
You'd think Iron Man would call in some help to stave off the apocalypse, but this is the same comic company where the Fantastic Four defeated Galactus without calling in the Avengers, or the X-Men. Meanwhile, HYDRA goons find the weapon, but end up being chased away by Doctor Doom's robotic dogs. Some days, I forget how weird superhero universes can be. Then I type a sentence like "HYDRA goons find the weapon, but end up being chased away by Doctor Doom's robotic dogs," and I have to take a second from typing.
Back at the tower, Ulik has been put in a glass cell, and the Avengers ask him what the deal is. Apparently, he attacked Thor to see if "the legend" was true. Tony activates his scanners, and Captain America tells Thor that his destiny is no one's but his own. Tony's scanner finds the weapon, but it's at the Latverian embassy. Thor throws his hammer at the screen and heads off to attack Doctor Doom. The good doctor, meanwhile, is contacted by the Red Skull, who demands the weapon. Doom refutes Red Skull, disses the Cabal, and continues his work to harness the hammer's power using his technology.

Dr. Doom: "I am through hearing your pathetic sales pitch for this so-called Cabal, Skull."

He even punctuates his remarks by blowing up his own screen. Wow, when Doctor Doom declines an invitation, he goes all out. What, does he have a grudge against the Red Skull? Actually, given that Dr. Doom comes from a Gypsy background and Red Skull's a Nazi... Yeah. He probably does.

For those of you who don't know, Victor Von Doom was born to Gypsies before he overthrew the corrupt Latverian monarchy to replace it with a corrupt Latverian dictatorship, albeit one that doesn't persecute Gypsies. So Dr. Doom probably has a bit of a sore spot when it comes to dealing with people who assisted with yet another attempted genocide of his people. In fact, I would not be surprised if Dr. Doom was descended from someone who had only narrowly avoided death at the stake....

Why do I keep mentioning Esmerelda in Thor-related episodes?
Anyway, Avengers accompany Thor in the Avenjet, and they plan out the situation. But Thor and Hulk, as per their idiom, jump out of the jet and start smashing Doom Dogs. The rest of the Avengers follow suit, minus Falcon (who's going to land the jet) and Hawkeye (who sneaks under the embassy and fights some robot guards, only to get zapped by Doom himself). The Avengers fight all valiantly and stuff, but Doctor Doom emerges from the ground with the weapon fully charged.

Dr. Doom: "You dare trespass on Latverian soil?"

That's a good point, actually. Technically, this attack on the embassy can be construed as an act of war. Or at the very least an international incident. Maybe the Avengers should have tried applying political pressure. Give sanctions more time!

Anyway, they fight. Doctor Doom manages to hold his own with his Axe of Infinity +1. Iron Man informs Thor that it's more powerful now because its been modified with technology. Doom cracks open the ground, and a gigantic snake emerges. The Midgard Serpent. Now that I found a proper picture, I can 100% confirm that this is supposed to be Ragnarök.

The resemblance is uncanny
But what about the other parts of Ragnarök? The fall of Baldr (the Shining Son)! The death of Odin! Fenris! The glorious dead warriors leaving the halls of Valhalla to fight the final fight! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!

Yeah, yeah, creative liberties, and all that, but the end of the world is missing panache when all we have to worry about is a big snake. Said snake wreaks what havoc it can as the Avengers engage. Thor informs Iron Man that the Midgard Serpent will keep growing until it's big enough to eat the Earth. According to legend, Thor kills it at the cost of his life. The others assure Thor that they've fought worse, but the serpent takes out the Hulk in one hit. Yeesh. Maybe I should take back what I said about this snake.

"The sleeper has awakened!"
Doom, wielding the hammer, attempts to control the thing, but it doesn't work. Cap and Hawkeye get the civilians to safety, and Falcon goes off to find the Hulk. Thor is still adamant on dying as he attacks Doctor Doom. The two fight, as Falcon follows the holes in buildings that were made as the Hulk crashed through them.

Falcon: "Pretty easy to map Hulk's trajectory."

Ha ha ha, people probably died when Hulk made a twenty foot hole through their building. Jack@$$. Falcon finds Hulk in the park, but he's out cold. With nothing else working, he uses his wing extensions as a lever (without any sort of fulcrum, impossibly enough) to forklift Hulk into the water, which wakes him up. Back with Thor, Doctor Doom brags about using the legend to his advantage, but Thor doesn't believe him. And he's still obsessed with this whole sacrifice thing.

Thor: "The legend cannot be denied."

Thor beats up on the monster as Iron Man fights Doom. Iron Man gets knocked into a building by the serpent, which Thor continues to fight. He unleashes great vengeance and furious anger, but nothing doing. He offers to be eaten by the thing, which will apparently save Earth, and the thing tosses him up like a piece of popcorn.

Thor: "I... enter Valhalla... proudly."

But Iron Man swoops in for the save, angering Thor.

Iron Man: "I don't believe anyone's destiny is automatically chosen for them."

I guess Tony Stark's not a Calvinist, then.

Helicopters show up to deal with the growing problem, and Iron Man proposes an alternative to Thor. Meanwhile, Doom rides the serpent in a shot that would make a great album cover. Hawkeye and Cap, having returned from taking care of civilians, try to knock him down. Iron Man uses what he now knows about Asgardian energy signatures to locate the rift Ulik used to get to Earth, and Thor zaps it in order to make it bigger.

Thanks to some nice teamwork (including the arriving Hulk), the Avengers herd the serpent through the portal (after apparently destroying half of New York in the process). Both Doctor Doom and the serpent are sealed in the Asgardian underworld, and the Avengers look back on the damage. It's... pretty bad. Really bad. So bad that the only comparison I can come up with is a certain September date that Americans can be rather sensitive to, and that is all I have to say about that sensitive matter moving on. Actually, I will say that it's pretty odd to see such destruction just glossed over. I mean, that building that Hulk crashed into probably can't be repaired. But enough about that, let's go back to Avengers Tower and rub Thor's victory in Ulik's face!

Thor: "I decided my own fate. And Odin will decide yours in Asgard."

Thor and Iron Man strut off, and the episode ends. The moral of the story? Prophecies are crap.

Review time!

4 comments:

  1. Doom is descended from Esmerelda, this is headcanon now. Hey, disney does own marvel.

    On a related note, I ship Loki/Elsa.

    - That One Anon

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  2. Baldr's death brings Ragnarok, the guy who dies fighting the wolf is... uh... Ok, I don't know about norse mythology as much as I do greek. And wasn't the Skadi thing a retcon?

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    1. It's Tyr who goes up against Fenris, I remember that from a puzzle in Ultimate Alliance. As for anything else, I have trouble remembering what stuff is mythological and which stuff Marvel made up.

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  3. Acording to Wikipedia Fenris kills Odin and then is killed by Vioarr (who I've never heard of before). Tyr gave his hand to trap Fenris, tough, that much I know

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