Monday, November 16, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Masters of Evil"

Man, doesn't "Masters of Evil" sound like some kind of show that would be on a supervillain-themed National Geographic Channel, alongside Treehouse Masters, Tanked, and a conspicuous absence of anything marginally related to things people associate with National Geographic?

Truly, the real Masters of Evil are the ones behind National Geographic's decline. And the cancellation of the DC Nation. And the cancellation of the third Tron movie.

Actually, last last one happened because of the poor box-office performance of Tomorrowland. So I'm choosing to blame all of the above on George Clooney.

Apparently, ruining Batman wasn't enough for him.
The episode begins as these shows usually do, with an aerial shot of New York. Actually, I’ll take this opportunity to say that New York is looking much better since the whole “smoldering crater” thing in the premiere. Damage Control does good work.

Things are looking a little familiar today. Not only do we get another cameo-filled close-up of a taxi driver’s newspaper….

Secret school for mutants? Not anymore; I think Wolverine and the X-Men was already canceled by this point.
But we see that Whirlwind is going on yet another rampage. So basically, an average Tuesday. I mean, Whirlwind goes on so many rampages that one time, he hopped over to Ultimate Spider-Man just to wreck things for a bit.

The hero on the case is none other than the Wasp. And… you know, it’s been a while since I’ve had to put money into the Wasp Complaint Jar. And I hope it stays that way for a while. Because in the end, I really like Janet Van Dyne. Her upbeat personality is a rare gem among the super hero crowd, and she gets a ton of great moments in both this show and the comics. Take, for example, her one-sided banter as she chases Whirlwind. While Spider-Man would be content to make some bad puns (and probably break the fourth wall), Wasp’s attitude is more like, “Dude, really? What are you even trying to accomplish?” After all, as she points out, Whirlwind is attacking the district where everybody knows Wasp shops. Which is probably true, seeing as how fashion reporters in real life can tell you exactly what brand of t-shirt any celebrity is wearing in any photo. There was probably an article in Vogue talking about where Janet buys her clothes.

Whirlwind’s rampage stops in a construction yard. And so does Whirlwind. He says nothing. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t blink.

Wasp: “Whirlwind? …Dave?”

But it wasn’t Whirlwind. As the green mists of illusion fade, it turns out that the rampage was caused by none other than the Enchantress. And she brought friends.

"You're in the wrong part of town, lil' missy."
Wasp: “You think I’m gonna give up? Think again.”

Wasp, I may have just gushed about your character a bit, but you’re kind of dumb sometimes. And this is proven when Baron Zemo zaps her from behind.

Baron Zemo: “One down.”

After the opening credits, we cut to Black Panther and Hawkeye on the roof of the Wakandan embassy. Black Panther is out of costume and mixing something with a mortar and pestle, while Hawkeye vents about things for a bit.

Hawkeye: “Okay, so listen. You realize the Avengers are a complete disaster, right?”

Yeah, but we’re not here to talk about Avengers Assemble.

But seriously, folks....
Hawkeye rants about how all the Avengers are inept in their own special ways as T’Challa calmly listens. Or perhaps ignores him.

T’Challa: “You forgot Captain America.”

Hawkeye is unfettered.

Hawkeye: “And you! You’re a king!”

Um… no, he’s really not. He declared that Wakanda would be ruled by a council at the end of “Panther’s Quest.” Or maybe it’s like the UK, where the monarchs have nothing but a fancy title and a lot of money? Though my personal theory is that after a few weeks of upheaval, T’Challa went back to Wakanda and said, “My bad, I’ll be king. Throwing you guys into a parliamentary democracy with literally no warning was a bad idea.”

Anyway, Hawkeye wants to know why T’Challa has decided to be the anti-Doctor Doom by being a monarch who spends most of his spare time fighting bad guys. He also snacks on a bit of what T’Challa’s been grinding up, before spitting it out.

Hawkeye: “You eat that?”

As T’Challa explains, it’s the herb that gives him his powers. Not only is it meant to be crushed and rubbed on his skin, but it’s apparently poisonous to anyone who isn’t in his family line. Or perhaps T’Challa grew a sense of humor with that last part.

"Heh. I made a funny."
That night, at the mansion, Tony is busy tinkering with his armory so he can have any armor he feels like at a moment’s notice.

JARVIS: “You only have three suits, sir.”

Give it time.

JARVIS announces that Janet’s ID has been accepted at the door. But before he can explain that Janet herself isn’t there, his voice sputters and gives out. Suddenly, Crimson Dynamo happens. He nearly crushes Tony’s skull, but Baron Zemo stops him.

Baron Zemo: “Not yet.”

Why? Why not yet? You could end Iron Man here and now. If you don’t actually have a good reason to keep him alive, then I’m going to be very disappointed.

Hulk is in the sitting room watching a commercial for Kirby Kibbles dog food, which has the Enchantress in it for some reason. Huh. I guess she’s trying to break into acting. Hulk doesn’t take kindly to this and throws the couch at the screen, but quickly ends up knocked into a magic portal by the Abomination. On the other side, he finds Frost Giants.

Meanwhile, Captain America is running an obstacle course, when the lights suddenly cut out and he has to dodge the Executioner’s axe. When Simon shows up, it becomes too much for our hero. Executioner takes a swing at him from off screen, and….

Well, if Baron Zemo has any sense, this'll be the end of Cap.
Guess who has no sense.

But when Cap briefly opens his eyes, Zemo is there to taunt him.

Baron Zemo: “I told you when we last met that this wasn’t over, Captain. Now it is.”

All that’s left now is Thor and Ant-Man, who Zemo summons using Wasp’s ID card with the phrase “Avengers assemble." At that moment, Thor is walking through the park with his girlfriend, Jane Foster.

Jane: “So. Is your dad still taking his big nap? What did you call it again?”
Thor: “The Odinsleep.”

No, it’s a nap, Thor.

Thor: “No, he is woken by now.”
Jane: “And you haven’t talked to him yet.”

“Well, mine father oft becomes cranky in the morning.”
After they both watch another couple make out for a bit, Thor weaves a web of BS about how he can’t return to Asgard while the world needs him, when his ID card starts buzzing.

Thor: “This card is troubling. Iron Man’s technology is constantly making noises at me.”

Jane explains that perhaps this means that Thor is needed somewhere, which neatly explains why Thor was ignoring his card during the events of “Panther’s Quest.” Thor soon arrives inside the darkened mansion.

Thor: “Ho! Avengers!”

Seriously, Thor, you need to start treating Janet with more respect than that.

Thor is greeted by Baron Zemo, who Thor recognizes as “Captain America’s foe.” Zemo insists that Thor kneel before him, but Thor ain’t gonna kneel for no tyrant, so Zemo backs up his demand with the rest of his band of villains and makes his demand again.

"You will kneel before Zemo!"
But all Zemo did was give Thor more targets, so he starts swinging around the hammer until Enchantress’s magic makes it fall to the ground. And with the villains’ powers combined, Thor goes down. Which… I’m not so sure. I mean, Thor took a good solid beating from a powered-up Abomination while playing possum just last episode. And after having enough of that, he basically shrugged it off and helped beat everybody up. So I'm having a hard time believing how easily the God of Thunder just went down.

Hawkeye and Black Panther, meanwhile, are watching the whole thing go down from outside. Hawkeye wants to get S.H.I.EL.D. and the Hulkbusters on the case, but Panther tells him that that would just end up creating too much collateral damage. And probably get the other Avengers killed

Black Panther: “It is up to us.”

In the mansion, Zemo reiterates his promises to Simon and Crimson Dynamo. Simon gets his humanity back, Dynamo gets Stark. But only after Zemo’s plan is enacted.
Hawkeye and Panther sneak in while avoiding the Executioner while Zemo wakes Captain America up with a glass of water to the face. Cap tries to negotiate for the safe release of the other Avengers, but Zemo simply laughs and tells him that it’s the other villains who want a piece of the other Avengers.

Captain America: “Is revenge on me really that important to you?”
Baron Zemo: “Yes.”

"I'm a Nazi. Hatred and leftover anger from World War II are kind of my bread and butter."
But he also wants the world.

"That's all? I like to set my sights higher. Family motto."
Simon spots Black Panther sneaking around and goes to investigate with Crimson Dynamo, allowing Hawkeye to sneak deeper into the mansion. At the same time, Thor wakes up restrained by Enchantress’ magic, along with the other Avengers. He tries to tell her that she shouldn’t let herself be the lackey of a mere human, but she explains that she’s not. Zemo will get what he wants while she runs things from behind the scenes.

Thor: “What do you want?”
Enchantress: “You, of course.”

Can you blame her?
She tries to tempt him with promises of running away, just the two of them, together forever.

Thor: “I say thee nay.”

Zemo starts wondering exactly what she’s doing with Thor, so she returns to being his “lackey.” While Abomination starts wondering why they aren’t killing the heroes at this very second.

“Look, Zemo. I’m only saying this because I care about you.
If you don’t kill them right now, you’re only hurting yourself.”
Abomination yells at Zemo for dilly-dallying, but Zemo insists that not only is the Hulk still alive, but Ant-Man’s still out there somewhere. After Abomination laughs over Zemo’s apparent fear of Ant-Man, Zemo uses some pressure points to knock the Abomination on his big, scaly butt. And it’s at this moment when Abomination decides to speak up with important information that he should have volunteered earlier.

Abomination: “Ant-Man’s not the last Avenger. There’s two more.”

But it’s already too late, because Abomination gets a stun arrow to the head as Hawkeye comes in to be the hero while Crimson Dynamo radios to Zemo that there’s somebody sneaking around upstairs. As Hawkeye gets caught in Abomination’s bear hug, Tony Stark wakes up and yells at Hawkeye for not calling S.H.I.E.L.D. So now all the Avengers (save Ant-Man) and all the villains are in one place. And Zemo finally thinks that it might be time for heads to roll.

Black Panther: “I am an Avenger. And I will meet my end with pride.”
Hawkeye: “I’m gonna meet mine kicking and screaming.”

Zemo allows Captain America to decide which Avenger dies first.

Hawkeye: “I wanna go first. I’m tired of listening to you.”

So much for “kicking and screaming.”

Zemo taunts the heroes for thinking that they could defeat him, so Hawkeye and Black Panther start taunting back for assuming that they were trying to defeat him.

Black Panther: “We were simply allowing Ant-Man uninterrupted access to his lab.”

Apparently, they picked him up from the Wakandan embassy and snuck him in to grab a few things.

"Appears we got here just in the nick of...."
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Big damn heroes and all that.”
He gives the villains one chance to surrender, and they don’t take it. Speaking of the villains, remember what I said about being disappointed? I am.

Anyway, Ant-Man goes to town on the villains. Simon gets shot by opposing energy, dispersing him. Abomination gets kicked out of the room. And while Ant-Man could surely take on the others himself, Hawkeye and Black Panther quickly release the other Avengers by briefly knocking out Enchantress. When she comes to, Thor tells her that he won’t harm her. But he brings back somebody who will.

"Hulk brought back Frost Giant tooth as souvenir.'
Each Avengers picks a villain and gets to fighting as Simon reintegrates himself and starts fighting Ant-Man. Ant-Man’s happy to see him alive, but Simon says that he wants to stay that way, then he has to keep helping Zemo and the Enchantress. After the reassembled teams run at each other in a Superfriends homage...

Or X-Men. There were a few shows that did the running bit.
The Avengers fight their counterparts until they teleport away. The next day, the Avengers reconvene in the sitting room. For some reason, Janet has a black eye.

There’s an obvious joke here. And I’m not making it because it’s tasteless.
No, you know what? Let me set the record straight because I’m sick of all the “Hank Pym is a wifebeater” jokes, and I'm going to explain why I won't be making them, apart from the fact that joking about domestic abuse is in really bad taste.

Point 1: Hank Pym was literally insane when he hit Janet.
By that point, he had developed an alternate personality called “Yellowjacket” and claimed to have killed Hank Pym. He hit Janet once. On accident.

Though I will admit, evidence to the contrary does look bad.
According to Jim Shooter, the writer of that issue, he was gesturing grandiosely, and accidentally whacked her. The full-on WHAK was not in the issue’s script, and was added by the artist to look more dramatic. Here’s an excerpt from Shooter’s blog:

“In that story (issue 213, I think), there is a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration—making a sort of “get away from me” gesture while not looking at her.  Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross!  There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.”

Point 2: Other Marvel heroes have done the same ON PURPOSE.
Peter, in a fit of rage, straight-up hit Mary Jane with a closed fist.

And he can't even blame it on a clone; that's the real Peter Parker.
And Mr. Fantastic seems to be making a habit out of it.

Oh, look. He not only hit her, but he made his hand giant-size to do it.
Sure, she was possessed by evil, but he's a bit too casual with that slap.
And unlike Hank, Mr. Fantastic has a history of being an ass to his wife.

Well, this was the 60's. I'm sure as the times changed, Mr. Fantastic got more and more progressive.

...Maybe it just took a while? I'm sure he wasn't like this in the 90's.
Never mind. He's just a terrible human being.
And he slapped his own son, too.
What’s that? I’m taking those panels out of context, you say?

Yeah, I guess I am. Just like people do with the panel of Hank hitting Janet.

So the world can apparently forgive Mr. Fantastic and Spider-Man for hitting their wives on purpose, but Hank Pym doing it accidentally makes him a wifebeater? What he did was still wrong, but I’m just wondering why nobody can move past it in the same way that they’ve forgiven other characters for far worse. It’s because of this crap that Scott Lang was the hero of Ant-Man instead of the “controversial” Henry Pym.

Anyway, rant over.

Hawkeye: “You know, I’m not sure I want to be part of a team I have to rescue every week.”

They all make with their after-battle conversation, except for Tony, who wants to know exactly what the heck just happened with the unannounced villain team-up. Thor theorizes that it was simple revenge, but Cap’s not so sure.

Captain America: “Zemo… He seemed so certain of what he was doing.”

Indeed, when Zemo ranted to Cap earlier, he said that somebody had promised him the world….

The villains teleport back to Arnim Zola’s lair, and Zemo starts yelling at his team.

Enchantress: “Enough. It doesn’t matter. None of it does.”

She heads off to another room and contacts the man working behind the scenes.

Enchantress: “The pieces are in place.”

Ah, Loki's doing his best Thanos impression. By sitting in a chair and doing jack all.
And with the audience wondering who Enchantress was talking to (until they brightened Loki's image in the DVD release), the episode ends. So let's talk about what, unfortunately, could be considered a bit of a misstep as I review.


  1. Wow, never knew about Peter Parking hitting his wife. Though its weird that he looks like the guy from Fist of the North Star in that picture.

    1. Yeah, it happened in the Clone Saga, which a lot of people pretend never happened anyway.

  2. "It’s because of this crap that Scott Lang was the hero of Ant-Man instead of the “controversial” Henry Pym".

    Though Henry Pym got to be played by Micheal Douglas, so Hank didn't do too badly out of that deal...

    1. True, but it still leaves Hank and Janet as the only founding Avengers who will probably never officially join the team.