"Super Hero Squad" Vol 4: This DVD, This Season Finale!
With volume 4, Shout! Factory wraps up season 1 of The Super Hero Squad Show, and if the results don’t quite hit the loopy heights of the previous volume, it’s only because the show has found a comfortable, high-quality groove that mixes up standard super heroics with madcap slapstick. This also means that when surprises come, they are more potent and more hilarious than ever. You can read any of my earlier reviews to get up to speed on who’s who and what’s what, but the short version is that the good guys live in Super Hero City, the bad guys live in Villainville, and both are ostensibly fighting over “fractals,” which are fragments of the cosmically powerful Infinity Sword. Really, though, The Super Hero Squad Show isn’t big on continuity, so you can pick up all that from these episodes if this volume happens to be your entry point into the series.
“Hexed, Vexed, and Perplexed!” may not be as riotously funny as many other episodes of the show, but it is notable for a few things. The best of them is the Ritalin-kid performance by Scott Menville as Quicksilver, Marvel’s designated speedster and one of the children of longtime X-Men super villain Magneto. The other thing it’s notable for is its intimations of romance (or at least as much of one as can be expected in a show aimed at boys at the age when girls are still yucky) between Magneto’s daughter, the Scarlet Witch, and the Super Hero Squad’s Falcon. It’s well handled in its own right, and I feel a bit funny about making a big deal over the mixed race romance when the show makes a point of not making a big deal about it, but it’s still a rare enough occurrence to make it a little noteworthy. “The Ice Melt Cometh!” may perhaps be the most emblematic The Super Hero Squad Show episode on this disc, which is to say that it contains just about everything that the show does well and which sets it apart from other superhero shows. There’s a super-villain plot that’s vaguely ridiculous and never played entirely straight, but also treated just seriously enough by the on screen characters to make us believe something important is at stake. It also features a guest appearance by Shawn Ashmore, reprising his role as Iceman from the live-action movies, but unfortunately the show doesn’t really manage to do much with him other than make him a walking, talking plot device. “Wrath of the Red Skull!” is best for Mark Hamill channeling Mel Brooks doing Adolph Hitler to voice the title character, unfrozen from a block of ice by Doctor Doom to try and exterminate the Super Hero Squad once and for all.
. Besides, the best parodies are equal mixtures of affection and irreverence, and it’s that exact mixture that I think makes The Super Hero Squad Show work. The future of the show is dim, given that Marvel and Cartoon Network were practically treating it like it was cancelled barely halfway through the second season, and the brave new world of the post-Disney acquisition leaves several open questions on what will happen with season 2 on DVD. Regardless, Shout! Factory has done its usual bang-up job at TV on DVD for The Super Hero Squad Show, with the only room for improvement being bigger season sets rather than the single-disc releases.