Monday, May 14, 2012

Who Do You Trust?

Until now, I haven't really been watching the TV show Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes live.  I actually watched all of the first season on Netflix, until I got my own copies of the DVDs (for the inevitable day when the Netflix stream isn't available anymore) and I had thought that the second season was wrapping up--given that it was supposed to start in October.

After getting excited about the show again in the wake of the excellent Avengers movie (see recent posts for more details) I decided to look up what was going on in the world of the animated show.  And to my surprise, it had been delayed; I'd actually only missed a few episodes, and could get back on track fairly quickly.  I've now seen all of the episodes so far except one--"Alone Against AIM" which I'm hoping to watch here soon; probably as soon as I get time to get it from Amazon or the iTunes store or something.  What I'd like to do, if possible, since I'm still excited about it again and probably will remain so throughout this viewing season, is review each new episode briefly here on the blog as it airs, either on Sunday evening or more likely Monday morning. 

So, it probably seems a little odd to start on episode 33--the 7th episode of the second season.  But that's where I am, so let's go.

"Who Do You Trust?" is an interesting episode because it is just a piece of a larger story--on it's own, it's arguably not very stand alone.  For some time now, stuff going on in the series has been hinting at the invasion of earth by two separate galactic superpowers--the Kree and the Skrulls.  On the Kree front, two episodes have directly been attributable to that storyline--"459" from season 1, where a Kree sentry is defeated, Captain Mar-Vell is introduced, and Carol Danvers gets her superpowers which lead to her becoming Ms. Marvel in "Welcome to the Kree Empire."  In this one, Mar-Vell returns with a Kree fleet, including Ronan the Accuser.  The Kree claim that the Earth is part of the Kree Empire already, and that the humans can either submit or die.  The Avengers show up on the scene to take exception to Ronan's arrogance, but for some reason they're a bit on the light side; we get Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Captain America only.  But wait!  We already know that Captain America has been replaced by a shape-changing skrull!  As such, he actually initiates the hostilities this time around.  Ms. Marvel shows up and is instrumental in defeating Ronan--who's imprisoned on Damocles base, Kang the Conquerer's former starship which has been appropriated by S.W.O.R.D.  Captain Ameriskrull then radios in that the skrulls need to speed up their time table since the Kree are involved.

If that sounds a bit like the famous storyline called "The Kree-Skrull War" so far, from the comic book run in the early 70s, then 1) you're a bona fide comic book nerd, and 2) you'd be right; it's been confirmed by Yost and Fine that this run is partially based on that storyline.  But hold on!  That's not all; if you look at the skrull side of the hints and previews coming up--culiminating (so far) this this episode yesterday, then you'll also notice a strong resemblance to the much more recent "Secret Invasion" storyline.  Not only do we know that Captain America has been replaced by a skrull, we also learned in "The Private War of Doctor Doom" that Victor suspected something hinky was going on.  When he kidnapped Sue Storm and Janet (the Wasp) and then let them go mysteriously, the heroes weren't sure what was going on, but we got to see via an epilogue scene that Doom was testing for skrullness--and that Sue is one too.  And, of course, there's also the epilogue scene where Mockingbird and Nick Fury see that Madam Hydra was a skrull.

So, in "Who Do You Trust?" was get to see some interesting character dynamics.  Ms. Marvel is "hazed" somewhat by the other Avengers, who leave her on her own to bring down supervillain Griffin--along with cat-calling advice.  While this is happening, Nick Fury, now sporting the shaved head and goattee of the Samuel L. Jackson version of the character, takes Tony Stark and shows him the body of Madam Hydra.  He also tells him that they managed to crack just enough of the skrulls communicator to track transmissions form the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and Avenger's mansion--meaning that both organizations are infiltrated.  (We see earlier Fury going to Maria Hill and telling her about it too.)

When Iron Man goes straight to the mansion and confronts the team--especially Hawkeye, who is the prime suspect due to the fact that Madam Hydra wanted to spare him--they argue.  Ms. Marvel wants to take Hawkeye to S.W.O.R.D. until it's cleared up.  Hulk shows that he and Hawkeye are better than average buddies within the team; he stands up for Hawkeye.  In the end, after arguing, the team effectively disbands; Iron Man claiming that he can't trust any of them.  Ms. Marvel goes back to S.W.O.R.D. and Black Panther goes back to Wakanda to prepare his country for the coming invasion.  Captain America offers to lead the remaining Avengers--Hawkeye, Wasp and Hulk--and they agree.

In the epilogue scene, Captain Ameriskrull tells his queen that all is going according to plan.  The queen steps forward, and... it's Mockingbird!  So all of this is--apparently--at the skrull's design.

For those who've read the original "Secret Invasion" you'll notice some obvious parallels, although the lack of Spiderwoman is disappointing (her run in the New Avengers up to "Secret Invasion" turned her almost overnight from a benchwarmer to a star starter.)

As I said, this episode as a stand-alone is a bit weak, but in terms of ramping up the building tension for the greater Kree-Skrull storyline, it's excellent.  It also does some interesting character moments, and is the first episode to really make Ms. Marvel feel like a genuine part of the team.  It's nice to see Nick Fury re-appear as well, although he's arguably not as on top of things as he thinks he is.

There's not a lot known about what's coming still for the series.  The next episode is called "The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill", and looks to feature Surtur as its main villain.  Probably also the return of Thor to the team proper, after spending all of this season so far on Asgard.  After that, we've only got tantalizing hints in previews and artwork stuff.  Vision to show up sometime.  Possibly the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.  The Red Hulk.  The Enchantress as a flunky of Surtur.  And, of course, continued shenanigans from the Kree and the Skrulls.  There's also an image featuring a number of characters including what appears to be Winter Soldier.  Since the cosmic cube episode hinted that maybe Bucky is alive somewhere out there after all, that seems a reasonable supposition as well.

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