Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Avengers Assemble "Planet Doom"

Before I begin, there's something I want to get off my chest.

I know I give Marvel's current shows a hard time. I've criticized Ultimate Spider-Man for painting Nick Fury as a dictator, I've called out Avengers Assemble on its sexist treatment of Black Widow, and I've said pretty much everything about Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

As a reviewer, I relish the comedic opportunities given to me by terrible episodes. But as a fan of these characters, I want to see good episodes.

And you know what? This was one of them. As I'm sure I've said before, I'm a sucker for two things. (Well, many things, but two in particular.)  Alternate costumes and alternate universes. You can bet I was a happy camper this episode.

This episode continues Dr. Doom's ongoing obsession with Asgard. At the very least, I've got to award points for consistency. I'll even throw some bonus points in there for not resorting to a stock title like "Doomed" or "Doomsday."

The story is quite loosely based on the "Emperor Doom" storyline, in that Doom is the Emperor of Earth. I'm actually surprised that this episode wasn't called "Emperor Doom," considering the Marvel Animated Universe's "adaptations" of Planet Hulk and Fear Itself. But at the core, this is about Thor. I consider this episode to be the big Thor do-over. Sure, we've gotten a few episodes about Thor embracing a sacrificial destiny before, and I can see how some people might call this a rehash. But to me, this episode takes the "Thor embraces his destiny" plot and finally does it right. Third time's the charm, I guess.

I also really liked how this episode addressed the themes of destiny this time around. Instead of having Thor say "I refuse to sacrifice myself" and the day is saved, there's a bit more of a "nature vs. nurture" theme. Change one little thing in someone's past, and what does that do to them in the present? Will they disappoint Thor with their weakness, as Odin said?

No. Because every single Avenger has the heart of a hero. For example, Tony Stark. Dr. Doom prevented his transformation into the armored Avenger, but that doesn't make him a villain. It just means that he never mellowed out. Sure, he's more of a jerk than the "real" Iron Man, but he's not a villain. Likewise, Bruce Banner owes Dr. Doom a lot for using a containment suit to prevent Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. from being made, but once again, that just leaves us with Bruce Banner, not a villain.

In general, I really like that the characters stay true to themselves, despite Doom changing the events that made them heroes. It certainly feels more authentic than just saying "They're evil now! Thor has to make them into good people."

Thor really becomes three dimensional in this episode. Earlier attempts to flesh him out delved into his mystic, godly, destined side. But this episode humanizes the Thunder God. He's not just characterized as a typical noble warrior; they delve into the mentality of wanting to stay on Earth with the puny humans and how that affects his relationship with Odin a bit. It's not much, but it's more than we usually get on this show.

The details in the alternate reality costumes were just perfect, from Slinger's Noir outfit to Bullseye's Ultimates 3 getup. Like I said, I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. Still, from a design standpoint, I get why Planet Doom's sky was green, but what kind of pollutants did Doctor Doom dump in there, huh?

All things considered, this was a fairly good "For want of a nail" romp. If you like that sort of thing, then this was made for you. Next time, the bad guys finally decide to get their rears in gear. See you then!

1 comment:

  1. That comment about Doom polluting the air made me think of Silent Hill's fog for some reason. Spoiler alert: Pyramid Head was a Doombot all along!

    - That One Anon