Friday, September 6, 2013

Recap/Review: The Super Hero Squad Show, "And Lo... A Pilot Shall Come!"

There’s a concept in Hollywood known as “dualing,” or “dueling.” Basically, two production companies will make similar products and fight for popularity.

Finding Nemo vs. Shark’s Tale
Monsters Inc. vs. Shrek
The Dark Knight vs. Iron Man
Cop Out vs. The Other Guys
The Simpsons
vs. Family Guy
Angry Video Game Nerd vs. Nostalgia Critic 

Today, I’m going to look at the other half of the “Child-Friendly Super Hero Cartoon with Nods to Classic Comics for Fans” battle.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold vs. The Super Hero Squad Show.

While both shows fit that bill, B:TBATB focused on the “Nods to Classic Comics for Fans” part while today’s show, The Super Hero Squad Show focused on the “Child-Friendly” part. Let’s see how that worked out as I take a look at the first episode of The Super Hero Squad Show, “And Lo… A Pilot Shall Come!”

It'd be funny if the title actually referred to Falcon piloting the helicarrier.
We open on Super Hero City. Yes, we’re opening on the stupid, today. The Mayor of Super Hero City, voiced by Stan Lee, is at a ceremony giving a speech about he’s proud to declare a new wall open for business. Said wall is a gigantic barrier between Super Hero City and the city that Doctor Doom rules over, Villainville. I’m sorry, but what was wrong with New York? "Super Hero City?" REALLY? Marvel Comics always tried to differentiate themselves from DC by using real places, but THIS? Ugh. I’m prepared for half an hour of being talked down to.
Suddenly, a roar is heard and the wall starts to crumble, so an oddly mustache-less Tony Stark gets ready to call in his crew.

What, did he lose a bet?
Ms. Marvel gives him a sarcastic “Pleeeeeeeease,” and tells him that she’s already got a bunch of heroes on it. She takes over the podium and yells at the civilians to remain calm. The rumbling intensifies, and Iron Man goes to get his team. The Avengers? Nope. An army of empty Iron Man suits? Nuh-uh. He’s getting the “Super Hero Squad.” This show is actively insulting the intelligence of anyone above the age of nine.

A gigantic dragon bursts through the gate, but trips over the uncut ceremony ribbon. And with that, we get to the opening intro.

This is kind of weird for an intro. It quickly tells the backstory of how Doctor Doom almost took over the world with the omnipotent Infinity Sword, but it was destroyed by Iron Man. Now, Doctor Doom and his flunkies are trying to find all the pieces (called “Infinity Fractals”) while the SHS tries to find them to lock them away. Personally, not only would I much rather watch a show where Doctor Doom tried to take over the world with an omnipotent sword, but that would answer the question of HOW DID HE GET THE SWORD? Seriously, plot holes, people! This show is actively insulting the intelligence of anyone above the age of eight.

Anyway, the annoyingly catchy theme song plays, and we see the running gag for the series. In the intro, the Hulk grabs a fractal, and it transforms him into something different each time. This time, he becomes a baby.  Along with the title of the episode, each episode shows a title card with artwork referencing a classic comic cover. This episode, it’s Fantastic Four #1. I’ve gotta say, against my will, I’m actually excited for the episode, thanks to the theme. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

I wonder how quickly my enthusiasm will die.
We cut to the city streets as cars are tossed about and explode. Now things are looking up! At the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, a Red Alert goes off as the “squaddies” stop what they’re doing and meet up with Iron Man. Meanwhile, the dragon rampages as Ms. Marvel says that the “critters” could level the city, implying that there’s more than one. Aw, man, this is getting serious! 
…and then Hulk says that the monster on the TV’s little….
...because the screen’s little… 
...and my hopes are dropping.

We cut to Captain America, evacuating what he can as a three-headed dragon starts attacking. Iron Man exposits that his super computer will tell him what team members are needed for what jobs. Well, he tries.  Silver Surfer (complete with California accent in an admittedly amusing touch) translates the technobabble.

Silver Surfer:  “That is so cosmic….”

The computer tells him that they need to bring… the whole team. Iron Man, Hulk, Falcon, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, and Thor. Captain America comes in on the monitor and tells the Squad that the creatures are Mole Man’s, and exposits that every supervillain (including Mole Man) is now working for Doctor Doom since the Infinity Sword shattered. Yes, everybody team up with Doctor Doom right after his big plan fails, that’s a good strategy. They further exposit that anyone who touches an Infinity Fractal instantly gains superpowers. Boy, I hate “As you know” dialogue. Apparently, so does Iron Man, and he sets the Squad to work.

Iron Man: “It’s time to HERO UP!”

And with that, the theme song kicks in, and we see all the heroes pose individually in front of the letters SHS. Why? My guess is to keep kids distracted and fill up time. This show is actively insulting the intelligence of anyone above the age of seven. Still, it does look nice, I’ll give them that. The squaddies soar down to the ground, and Hulk sees that the monsters are huge, but calls Falcon puny.

Falcon:  “Hey! I’m five-eleven!”

No, you’re not.  Every character in this show looks like a 3’6” kid. Sorry, thanks for playing, Falcon. They try to teach Hulk that size and strength isn’t everything, and they all go off to fight.

Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom’s headquarters… you know, that name may be taken by DC, but it really fits here. Anyway, at Doom’s Castle, Doom sits on his throne and monologues in a shrill, annoying voice. He yells at Mole Man, who tries to assure Doom that the monsters will do their job. Mole Man sounds like Stitch if he had a cold, and keeps hacking up gunk and burping… and worse.

Hey, guys? GROSS =/= FUNNY!
How many times do I have to tell Marvel this?
He says he’s “depressurizing,” but it’s just gross toilet humor. Look, I’m just going to summarize this dumb scene. Doom wants to wreck the city to make finding fractals easier, and to keep the heroes occupied while Mole Man looks for fractals.
Meanwhile, the heroes keep fighting the monsters.  The fight scene’s… pretty good. I especially like the fact that they don't defeat the three-header by “braiding its necks.” Wolverine even points out that nothing can be that stupid.

You get one point, episode.
As I watch the fight, I can’t help but notice that Wolverine is an odd choice of character if they’re not going to have him use his claws. Storm, for some reason, shows up and joins the fight as Iron Man picks up some “funky heat readings deep in the Earth.” He guesses that it must be a fractal, and he flies off. He goes off to gather heroes as the fight scene continues. Sorry that I’m not commenting more on the fight scenes, but they’re just fight, fight, joke, rinse and repeat.

After commercial, we cut to Iron Man at Stark Industries. He, Falcon, and Wolverine enter a deep-Earth probe to go fight the Mole Man. As they descend, Falcon psychically commands his pet Falcon to scope out the city. It does. More fighting between squaddies and monsters ensues. Falcon sends the bird back to base, and more fighting. Falcon tells IM that there’s no sight of the fight slowing down, topside. I agree, the whole episode's dragging on with no end in sight. Below ground, the three finally emerge underground, spotting Mole man and the fractal.

Wolverine jumps into the fray against Moloid henchmen, as Iron Man puts the fractal in a specimen jar.

Truly, the battle of the ages.
Just an aside, the more Mole Man talks, the more he sounds like the lovechild of Gollum and Stitch. In fact, he looks like it too. Wolverine knocks him back, and he breaks the jar, grabbing the fractal, planning to use its power to dethrone Doom. He puts it on his staff, and gains super strength, speed, and mental command over his monsters. His legs also hideously mutate.

Kill it!  Kill it with fire!
Mole Man summons the dragon-like Fin Fang Foom to attack Iron Man, and Mole Man heads to the surface to take control of Doom’s team, but Falcon puts him down, calling him pathetic and wondering why he’d want Doom’s stuff. Mole Man’s answer: his quantum popcorn maker. Well, I guess quantum does do everything.  Even really stupid things. Mole Man also wants to rule the world.  He tells Fin Fang Foom to eat Iron Man and speeds off.

Well, the heroes escape in a disgustingly easy way, and they head back to the surface. Meanwhile, more fighting on the surface. My God, HALF OF THIS EPISODE IS FILLER! Suddenly, Mole Man appears and commands his creatures. The others… continue fighting. Mole Man squees for a while, and the entire city starts burning. But it’ll probably be fixed in no time. The underground squaddies resurface and... join the fighting. Dang it! I thought plot might actually happen.

Falcon heads back to the Helicarrier and pilots it around to the city, knocks over Fin Fang Foom into Mole Man. After more toilet humor, Mole Man drops the fractal, which Silver Surfer recaptures. IM tells the team that there’s still four more monsters in the city. STOP FIGHTING!

Actually, Thor gets a plan. He cooks a pile of meat with lightning, and they toss it down to the center of the Earth, and the monsters follow. Mole Man is taken away as the giant hole’s filled in, and the city is rebuilt.

"More than half of us did nothing to advance the plot!"
They give the contained fractal to Captain America at the Villain Prison, and a Doctor Doom hologram appears and threatens them all with his scheme to rule the world. They ignore him, and Cap tells Falcon that they’re wanted by Ms. Marvel at the helicarrier. We cut there, where Ms. Marvel chews out the team for disrespecting her authority and misusing the helicarrier. Hulk yells at her, and she shoves Iron Man. Iron Man tells her to let them do their job, and Ms. Marvel storms off. Falcon tricks Hulk into breaking Iron Man’s computer for really dumb reasons, and it falls out of the helicarrier, hitting the Abomination, who was trying to hop the fence from Villainville, and the episode ends. FINALLY. 

Final Thoughts/Review
I don't think I have to tell you that this was an unpleasant half-hour. Toilet humor, bad designs, little plot.

Despite all my rage, I will give the show this: it’s perfect for one audience.
That audience consists of little kids who love Super Heroes, but don’t know anything about the characters past their names and powers to the point where they wonder why Spider-Man isn’t in LEGO Batman 2, and find Super Hero cartoons meant for all-ages to be inaccessible.

So, basically, my little cousins. You know what? That’s fine with me.
And if you like this show for whatever reason, go right ahead.
It’s got a few good things; I always like to see the classic-Marvel references.
It’s the parts in between those bits that I don’t like.
In fact, I hate those parts.
In fact, overall, I hate this show.
Oh, well, not everything can be Batman: the Brave and the Bold.

See you next time!

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