Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recap: Avengers Assemble "The Final Showdown"

Previously on Avengers Assemble, Iron Man saved the day by destroying the Red Skull's infernal machine!

And then the world was put in even greater peril when Iron Man knocked Red Skull into the Tesseract, allowing him to take control of its powers directly.

So let's take a look at the last episode of Season 1, "The Final Showdown."

Anyone else humming "The Final Countdown"?
The Avengers and Cabal are exactly where they were at the end of last episode: the flaming wreckage of the Red Skull's array. Captain America offers them a very simple deal: Don’t start none, won't be none. After all, the Avengers had been kicking their butts for an extended period last episode, and now that their boss betrayed them, they should really have no incentive to continue to get their butts kicked.

The array starts collapsing as MODOK vows revenge against his former boss.

Tony Stark: "Sounds like we all want to bring the Skull down, MODOK. Maybe that gives us a mutual goal."

But MODOK and the other former Cabal members teleport away, leaving the Avengers to their fate. Said fate being the final destruction of the array in a massive explosion.

Well, that was a short finale.
After the titles, we see that MODOK's teleportation wave also reached the Avengers and transported both teams to Avengers Tower. Of course, MODOK didn't mean to teleport the Avengers with them, they were simply close enough to the teleportation field and MODOK didn't have time to change the settings on his telelporter beforehand. Allegedly. As for why they're in Avengers Tower, it has a bunch of neat stuff that MODOK might be able to use to wrest control of the Tesseract away from the Red Skull. Allegedly. And since they've ended up in the training room, which is a wide open space, those of you who guessed that they were going to duke it out are 100% correct.

Tony tries to foster some good will, but Hawkeye and Hulk are itching for a fight as much as the entire Cabal is, so fighting is inevitable. In the struggle, Black Widow jumps on to MODOK's massive head and demands to know what's really going on.

Black Widow: "That nanosecond-processor brain of yours could easily have teleported the Cabal and left us. What's your game, MODOK?"

MODOK's game is apparently hide-and-seek, because he and Black Widow teleport away to who-knows-where. Meanwhile, Cap helps Tony limp down the halls of the tower, hoping that he's got a plan up his sleeve. Tony does. It's called "Working with the Cabal."

Captain America: "I've tried teaming up with the enemy before. It's a surefire way to deep six you and your team."

Captain America, of course, is referring to that time back in World War 2 when he teamed up with Dracula to fight HYDRA. Which succeeded. Meaning that Captain America is a liar.

They don't get to do much more debating before Tony's damaged chest reactor gets the better of him. Luckily, JARVIS is ready to operate as soon as Tony gets to sick bay. After about two seconds of screen time, Tony's back and better than ever. The only problem? He used up all of his suits in Arizona.

Captain America: "Iron or no, you're still the man."
Tony Stark: "Sure. I'll go all billionaire philanthropist on their butts."
Captain America: "Billionaire genius philanthropist."

"Uh, billionaire genius playboy philanthropist, thank you very much."
But as Cap runs off to fight the Cabal, Tony gets an idea. In no time at all, robotic arms appear to defeat Attuma and the lights turn up too bright for Dracula. As Hyperion fights the Hulk, Tony's voice comes over the PA system to brag that instead of wearing an armor, he's plugged himself into the tower control systems.
Tony Stark: "The entire tower is my armor."

More conveniently random robot arms come out of the ceiling and throw Hyperion into a metal container filled with water.

Tony Stark: "That was my moving my pinky."

And a burst of cold air emits from the vents, freezing Hyperion solid.

Tony Stark: "You don't wanna know what I did to make that."

While Tony takes care of the interior, JARVIS sets up the automated defenses on the outside of the tower to prepare for the Red Skull's inevitable return. The other Avengers stuff the Cabal into containment cells, but they note that MODOK is still MIA. Tony tells the others that he ran a full scan of the tower, and MODOK and Widow are both nowhere to be found. But right now, there's a bigger problem. The Red Skull's attacking every major continent on the planet. At once. Personally. Not only has the Red Skull apparently summoned a massive robot army, but he's found a way to be in six places at once.

And to make matters worse, it look like he possesses the Phoenix Force.
Tony Stark: "Operation: Earth's Mightiest is online."

You know, Avengers Assemble, as good as this episode is, you probably don't want to remind your audience of a better show they could be watching instead.

Tony Stark: "We've got clearance from across the globe to stop the Skull."

...what? Since when have the Avengers concerned themselves with whether or not they had "clearance" to save the day? I mean, yeah, in the comics this is sometimes the case. But let me just ask this. Who gave them clearance to invade Latveria? Or to invade Transylvania? By establishing that the Avengers need "clearance" to save the day in other countries, it just calls into question the times that this didn't come up in regards to their actions.

Anyway, Tony and his building-suit will take care of New York and Cap goes to defend Sydney, which everybody knows is the capitol of Australia, despite what the people of Canberra say. Hawkeye gets to defend Rio de Janeiro, and the Hulk gets Cairo. I was going to nitpick about how the animators put the pyramids of Giza so close to the city limits, but forced perspective makes the pyramids seem close in real-life photos of Cairo, too. And the actual depiction of Cairo is pretty accurate, to boot.

Come on, episode, give me something to rant about already!
Falcon heads off to Hong Kong, (despite the fact that either Tokyo or Beijing would be a more logical target) and over with Thor....

Thor: "Greetings from Agnafit!"
Tony Stark: "'Stockholm,' Thor. It hasn't been called 'Agnafit' since the Norse age."

This is actually correct, though I have to wonder why the Red Skull is attacking Stockholm rather than Rome or Vatican City. Each of those would deal a larger blow to the world at large, either symbolically by destroying important cultural items. Or even by destroying Paris, which has a fairly large economic presence. Basically, Red Skull's targets suck.

And let’s talk about Tony’s new “armor” for a second.

First of all, I glossed over the explanation earlier, but he says that he basically mapped out the armor’s physical control systems to the building control systems. His pinky moves robot arms, something unmentionable controls the ventilation, et cetera. So shouldn’t this mean that all the building controls are mapped to his slightest movements? Like, could an errant blink activate the fire alarm? Would an accidental burp turn off all the lights? Seems to me like a lot could go wrong; Tony only had about a minute to wire himself into the building.

Second of all, he’s defending New York with the Avengers Tower arsenal. And by that, I’m referring to the laser gun turrets popping out of the sides of the building. So… Tony has a permit for those, right? I did my best to look up whether or not these turrets are legal, but the internet is a bit scarce on information regarding weaponized buildings. Especially one armed with lasers. On the other hand, at the time of this writing, lasers are still not technically considered firearms, seeing as how laser weaponry is experimental at best and sci-fi at worst. So maybe Tony’s just exploiting a loophole.

Finally, we get to see Tony using control over the building’s systems to destroy the oncoming robot hordes. How, you ask?

Fruit Ninja. He’s swiping over icons that pop up like he was playing Fruit Ninja.

I could not possibly be making this up.
So much for directly mapping out the building’s controls to his body, huh?

After Tony gives a short speech about teamwork, the Red Skull make an announcement across the world. Long story short, he's calling himself the "Cosmic Skull" and wants the world to surrender to his rule. Thor attacks the Red Skull in Agnafit Stockholm while Tony explains to Hawkeye at the robots are essentially a "cosmic extension" of the Red Skull himself.

They fight robots all over the world for a bit, delivering the occasional blow to the Red Skull when he shows up in any location. The Avengers notice that the Skull's getting a bit unhinged. Like, more so than usual. In fact, his new plan is to simply raze the world and start civilization over.

Things start looking worse for our heroes as Red Skull blinds Hawkeye with a burst of light, rips off Falcon's wings, teleports Thor's hammer away, even breaks Captain America's shield into a triangular fragment, and floods the Hulk's mind with unstoppable rage.

Hawkeye goes blind? Welcome to every alternate Marvel Universe ever.
Skull teleports the Avengers together to New York and tosses in the Hulk for good measure to fight his own teammates.

Captain America: "This kind of thing happens way too often."

Let's see, "Ghost of a Chance," "Blood Feud," "Crime and Circuses"....

Cap radios Tony for a plan, but all he can suggest is to take down the Hulk. Somehow. And with no other option, Tony sends a message to his guests.

Tony Stark: "This is what the end of everything looks like. Nice job. But this is your chance to stop it. Help save the world. Or be destroyed with the rest of us. Your choice."

And with that, he unleashes the Cabal as the Hulk kicks the other Avengers' butts.

Captain America: "Tony, tell me you're not that stupid."
Hyperion: "Oh, he most certainly is."

The Cabal teleports away in a puff of vampire smoke as the Red Skull gets bored. He decides to just end the Avengers once and for all, but something stops him. Something that looks a lot like the Cabal. As they distract Red Skull in the air, the Avengers keep trying to subdue the Hulk. And with a little coaching from Tony, they succeed at clearing his head. With a Hulk on their side, the tide turns against the Red Skull, who teleports away like every other Final Fantasy Tactics boss.

Dammit, Wiegraf!
Luckily for the Avengers, Black Widow's radioing in after a little time interrogating MODOK at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. And she's brought not only the Tri-Carrier with her, but some information on how to modify Hawkeye's disruptor arrows to disrupt the Skull's portals.

In no time, the blind archer takes the shot, keeping Red Skull from running away again while Cap leaps up and knocks him to the ground with his broken shield.

Captain America: "What, you think that's the first triangular shield I've ever had?"

Heh. Continuity. Nice.

Once Red Skull hits the ground, the strongest superhumans in the area hold him down so the next part of the plan can begin.

"Cap! Get over here and tickle him already!"
But Dracula seems to think that the next part of the plan is to turn Red Skull into a vampire, so Cap has to put a stop to that. Unfortunately, the moment's distraction allows the Skull to unleash a burst into space, knocking them all away.

Red Skull rants and raves a bit more before his armor suddenly flies off, taking the Tesseract with it, thanks to the team-up of MODOK and Tony Stark. Tony reclaims his old armor, which loses the HYDRA paint job between shots, and suits up.

They reveal that the plan was to make the Red Skull focus so hard on destroying the Avengers that he wouldn't even notice MODOK technopathically taking control of his stolen armor. But the Red Skull still has the Tesseract and is still more than willing to use it.

My God, he's wielding the power of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South!
In a last ditch display of power, he opens a bunch of portals... including one that leads to wherever Thor's hammer ended up. Hoist by his own petard, the Red Skull gets knocked into space by a single blow of Mjolnir.

The portals close behind the Red Skull, and the Cabal and Avengers have to decide what to do next.

MODOK: "As new leader of the Cabal, I say the Avengers will be destroyed.... Another day."

And as the Cabal teleports away, the Avengers return to the tower, exhausted. Too exhausted to care that Hawkeye's sight is back. There's a whole speech from Cap about how great Tony Stark is which mostly just lists all the things he did these past couple episodes, and Tony follows it up with another line about how great the Avengers are.

I mean, yeah, I get that the Avengers just triumphed over an omnipotent Nazi, but they just keep going on and on about how great the Avengers are, and it just comes of as self-congratulatory, mutually-masturbatory back-patting. With just a dash of spelled-out morals for the kiddies.

"Dear Princess Celestia,
My friend Tony is the best friend a guy could ever have, and he's always there to help anybody.
The only trouble is, when he needs help he finds it hard to accept it.
So while friendship is about giving of ourselves to friends, it's also about accepting what our friends have to offer."
"Dear Princess Celestia,
I've learned that sometimes the solution to your problems can come from where you least expect it.
It's a good idea to stop and listen to your friends' opinions and perspectives.
Even when they don't always seem to make sense."
"Dear Princess Celestia, Friendship is a wondrous and powerful thing.
Even the worst of enemies can become friends.
You need understanding and compromise. You've got to share. You've got to care."
"Dear Princess Celestia, I am happy to report that the Red Skull has departed our fair city.
And that it was my good friend Thor who 'convinced' him to go.
This adventure has taught me to never lose faith in your friends.
They can be an amazing source of strength, and can help you overcome even your greatest fears."
"Seriously, though, Tony, did you learn a damn thing?"
"I learned that any problem can be solved with the right suit of armor."
"Good enough. Now fix my shield."
While most of the day's problems have been solved, Hawkeye's still curious as to exactly what happened between MODOK and Black Widow. In fact, where is she?

As it turns out, she's over on the Tri-Carrier with Nick Fury, preparing for the future.

Black Widow: "The Skull is in one of those dimensions, Director Fury. And so is the Tesseract. Let's hope we find him first, before someone worse does."

But it's too late. Far away from Earth in the vast regions of space, the Red Skull has presented the Tesseract to a shadowy figure.

Red Skull: "As you desired... Thanos."

Because this show hasn't ripped of the Marvel Cinematic Universe enough, right?
So. Avengers vs. the Cabal and the Cosmic Skull. A last stand. Was this finale a good as it sounded?

In short... it's problematic. In long... well, let's review.


  1. wow, a Thanos reveal. That's almost as shocking as pretty much every DC villain on Young Justice working for the Light every other episode.

    though I wonder if the writers had any plans for a Green Goblin team up during the Spider-Verse or something like that, trying to kill any alternate Avenger he could.

    1. If any such plans were as bad as what Ultimate Spider-Man's "Spider-Verse" arc actually gave us, then I'm glad that idea was abandoned.

    2. yeah, that whole arc was pretty underwhelming. I mean, the idea of traveling a multiverse is a cool fun idea, but the show held back on it too much by having only ten minutes to show only two dimensions with basically the same plot recycled over and over.

      I was excited for Donald Glover getting to play Miles Morales but the show didn't give him any good material to work with (and he sounded way too old to play the fourteen year old Miles). It rubs salt in the wound when people wanted him to play Spiderman in the reboot but it's been revealed that Sony only wants a caucasian/straight Peter Parker.

      Also, when I saw Spider-Ham, my mind immediately went to this bit from Grant Morrison's Multiversity;

    3. I never understood why we can't have BOTH Spider-Men running around. Having said that, I think the biggest obstacle to making Spider-Man bi or gay is the rabid fandom wars when it comes to Peter Parker's dating life. The MJ vs. Gwen arguments are heated enough WITHOUT throwing a dude into the mix.