May 31st, 2013, 9:09 am

Some Assembly Required with New Avengers Cartoon

Re-branding is a tough thing for fans. We saw the truly Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon canceled to make way for the less-than-Ultimate Spider-Man. Now, Man of Action, the same team as Ultimate Spider-Man as well as Ben 10 and Generator Rex is working Avengers Assemble, canceling and/or rebranding the previous fan-favorite "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" in the process. While the new "Avengers Assemble" isn't as jarring as "Ultimate Spider-Man", it does present fans with more than a few speed-bumps.

The cartoon starts off with the Avengers disbanded and a bored Tony Stark (voiced by "Heroes" alum Adrian Pascar) looking for an excuse to call up his ex-comrades. He finds Captain America being confronted by the Red Skull, but no sooner does he arrive than Cap's arch-nemesis seemingly vaporizes Captain America. Tony sets out to avenge his fallen friend, reassembling the Avengers in the process. It's hardly a spoiler to point out Captain America isn't dead, but by the time Iron Man puts this together, Red Skull has already switched bodies with him, leading to an even bigger problem.

The series gets a much-needed style bump, ditching the Silver Age stylings of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" for a much sleeker and modern look. It's not "Young Justice", but it works, with updated costumes, darker tones and an impressive-looking CGI Quinjet. Fred Tatasciore as Hulk is the only returning cast member for this new team of Avengers, which now includes Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye in addition to Black Widow and the newest member, Falcon.

Part of the appeal of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" was seeing the team grow organically as new personalities and new dynamics joined the team. The problem with "Avengers Assemble" is such personalities seem almost set in stone by comparison. Whatever caused the Avengers to disband in the first place must have been the world's most comfortable break-up because these characters have almost no trouble working together. There's a few good lines, but most stands out. Worst, rookie member the Falcon has almost no impact.

The episode itself seemed like a good idea executed poorly. The episode focuses on all the cool things Tony's armor can do, which is fitting because it perfectly sets up the cliffhanger. The problem is Iron Man's capabilities leave some gapping plot holes in its wake. If Tony Stark can track the energy signatures of Skull's teleporter, shouldn't he be able to tell Captain America was simply teleported away and not killed? And for that matter, didn't Tony think it was little odd when the revealed-to-be-alive Captain America started speaking to him in a German accent? Mistakes make the episode feel too rushed and flat-footed.

The biggest problem with the show is that it feels so tailor-made to the "Avengers" franchise while still not being true to either the pre-existing cartoon series or the movie it's attempting to promote. It's no wonder fans are a little upset, because this episode lacks the chemistry of either team. However, fans are also quick to forget that "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" wasn't perfect. The show debuted in a ton of mini-episodes which ranged from awesome to annoying, and it took a while before the characters clicked, much less sizzled and popped. While its frustrating to see "Avengers" go such a drastic re-branding less than two years after a successful iteration, the show does have a potential, and I'll certainly be watching. I just hope this show doesn't crash and burn like every Quinjet.

(That's it for this rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder soon!)

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