"The Super Hero Squad Show" Season 2 Vol. 1: If It Ain't Broke...
Season 2 of The Super Hero Squad Show is an evolutionary improvement over the show’s first season rather than a revolutionary improvement. There are just enough nips, tucks, and shifts to freshen up the show, but most of it has been left alone. This is not a bad thing, since it’s just following the simple advice of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The seven episodes on The Super Hero Squad Show Season 2 Vol 1 DVD provide more genially goofy four-color silliness.
The season one finale left our heroes with Doctor Doom and his cronies in prison, while the Infinity Sword and the Silver Surfer were written off the show to save the Earth from the planet-eating Galactus. The two-part season 2 premiere, “Another Order of Evil!”, doesn’t waste much time to introduce the series’ new Big Bad, the death-obsessed Thanos, who seeks six Infinity Gems to complete his Infinity Gauntlet so he can rule the Universe. Thanos isn’t quite as much of a presence as Doctor Doom, although it is rather fun to hear veteran voice actor Jim Cummings sounding vaguely like Minsc from the Baldur’s Gate video game as a cackling bad guy. The pilot also brings back two of the show’s better supporting cast members as regulars. H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot joins the cast as the pilot/navigator of the Helicarrier, while the Scarlet Witch is the Surfer’s replacement on the Squad proper, even picking right up with the puppy love relationship she had with the Falcon in her introductory episode. The next episode of the show, “World War Witch!”, even focuses on her after a temporal anomaly flings her back to World War II, leading Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor to leap back in time to try and bring her back. Unfortunately, this is really not one of the better episodes of the show, with a number of jokes that fall flat even with the return of Mark Hamill as the Red Skull. The slack is picked up with “Villany Redux Syndrome!”, which focuses on how Doctor Doom is adjusting (or not adjusting) to life in prison, especially after Captain America moves his idiot lackeys the Abomination and M.O.D.O.K. into the same cell.
In “Support Your Local Sky-Father!”, Thor must compete with Hercules in five competitions to determine which pantheon is truly the best. One of The Super Hero Squad Show‘s best creative decisions was to play the Silver Surfer as a spaced out surfer dude, but coming up close behind was the decision to turn Thor into the team’s dumb blond. The show follows that tradition by making Hercules a complete muscle-bound meathead who exclaims “Opa!” periodically. The sharp-eyed will pick up a bit of a continuity hiccup when Odin gives Thor a new costume in this episode when he was wearing it already in a few earlier episodes. Probably the best episode on this disc is “Whom Continuity Would Destroy!”, a gloriously silly episode that is remarkable for the number of different ways that it works. Thanos and the Grandmaster grab Iron Man, the Hulk, and the Scarlet Witch to fight against the other-dimensional Squadron Supreme (Marvel’s thinly disguised jab at the Justice League). It’s a pretty funny episode on its own merits, but knowing the Justice League connection makes many of the references even more amusing, like how the Batman-analogue Nighthawk possesses a morose, deep-seated sense of angst and Wonder Woman-analogue Power Princess has an endless array of invisible gadgetry. The gag also extends to the guest stars, with Adam West as Nighthawk and Justice League‘s Susan Eisenberg as Power Princess; sadly, I suspect scheduling prevented a Superman voice actor from voicing Hyperion, since it’s apparently series regular Travis Willingham in an uncredited part. Finally, “Double Negation at the World’s End!” flings Thanos’ kleptomaniac sister Nebula into the Negative Zone along with Wolverine and H.E.R.B.I.E. and pits them against the cosmic-level threat of Annihilus. I found Annihilus’ schtick much funnier than I probably should have, as he ignores everyone’s protestations and remains convinced that everyone has showed up just to steal his Cosmic Control Rod.
The only major difference between this DVD of The Super Hero Squad Show and prior ones is that the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack has been removed, leaving only the 2.0 Dolby Digital mix on this disc. Other than that, the episodes are still sharply presented visually and aurally, with a healthy number of chapter stops within episodes. The only bonus feature is a very short video interview with Travis Willingham (voice of the Hulk) that’s in keeping with the other short bonus videos included on earlier volumes.
I know The Super Hero Squad Show isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and if you didn’t like the show before I don’t think there’s going to be anything here that will really change your mind. If you do like the show, though, then it’s nice to see the gang back together and engaging in more of their brand of slapstick.