Earlier this year, comics fans virtually rioted over Cartoon Network's bone-headed decision to cancel Young Justice & Green Lantern, rather than expand their DC Nation block. No, what helped their decision was the fact that the toys associated with the shows weren't flying off the shelves. Then again, a case can be made that GL was doomed from the start because the 2011 live-action movie, while it made a decent amount of money, wasn't a blockbuster, and the toy tie-ins weren't selling for that, either.
Toys, you see, are important to the growth of action cartoons. It's been that way for the last 30 years. From GI Joe & He-Man to today's reboots of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the continuing Ben 10 franchise at CN, kids from approximately 7-12 will buy the toys if they're digging the shows. I actually know a kid who attends Sunday School at my local church, and he's been seen wearing this oversized replica of the Omnitrix from Ben 10.
Of course, I've been digressing, trying to get to the point of this piece. Marvel Studios & DisneyXD made the same bone-headed mistakes as CN. The network cancelled the popular Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (Disney's answer, if ya will, to Young Justice) and replaced it with Avengers Assemble, a spin-off from last year's megahit blockbuster film that is meant to keep fans interested until the next "Avengers" movie, "Age of Ultron", hits theatres two years from now. The bulk of the blame is being laid at the feet of comics & TV writer Jeph Loeb (& 9 Stories), who, while being a critics' darling, hasn't always delivered a complete story that made sense in the comics. Still, because he's worked in TV on Heroes & Lost, that somehow qualifies him to earn a position of power with Marvel's TV branch?
To quote the Vancome Lady (Nicole Sullivan) from MadTV: "Oh, no, I don't think so".
What Loeb & former Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, another guy who wasn't living up to his press clippings 100% of the time as an artist and/or writer, and somehow landed a position of power, want is to dumb down their cartoons to make them a little more palatable for the young ones. Quesada, you'll recall, is the jackanapes who decided that Spider-Man wouldn't be married anymore because he ascribes to the old saw that superheroes shouldn't be married, else it increases the danger they put their loved ones in. Balderdash! What qualifies Quesada and/or Loeb to be put in charge of a cartoon show? Absolutely nothing!
Enough ranting. I actually looked at an episode of Avengers Assemble On Demand earlier today. It's not as bad as I've been told by some sources.
The lineup is the same as the movie, which means this series finds Hawkeye & Black Widow as team members, and Black Panther, Wasp, & Ant-Man are out----for the moment. Falcon is on board. If you want your Wasp fix, I think she was on the Marvel Super Hero Squad Show, reruns of which are airing on The Hub. Earth's Mightiest Heroes ain't coming back to DisneyXD or even to Disney Channel anytime soon, not as long as Quesada & Loeb have anything to say about it, so look for it on DVD. Anyway, Hawkeye looks the same as he did in the movie, although he has a blond buzzcut (actor Jeremy Renner is dark haired) and has sunglasses to replace his cowl. Not much of an exchange there. The Widow is fetching, of course, attired in the Emma Peel-inspired catsuit that everyone knows from the comics dating back to the 70's. How can you go wrong there?
There are or will be crossovers with stablemate Ultimate Spider-Man, perhaps the worst Marvel toon on the air now or of all time, depending on who you talk to, though the casting department gets points for bringing back JK Simmons from the Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" trilogy to reprise as J. Jonah Jameson. Where Marvel fails is the whole idea of dumbing down their toons, insulting the considerable intelligence of their older fans while trying to entice a new generation of future readers with toys and bad plot ideas.
The episode I saw has the Avengers battling Dracula. Fine, but the design for Drac falls closer to Francis Ford Coppola's 1990's failure, "Bram Stoker's Dracula". He has silver hair and is clean shaven. Marvel had created what I thought was the definitive comics Drac 40 years ago, and opted not to use this model? That's another strike against Quesada, Loeb, and the Man of Action stable (Ben 10, Generator Rex), which includes writers Joe Casey, Steve Seagle, & Joe Kelly, who would know better. However, actor Corey Burton makes up for this folly with a excellent performance.
Anyway, here's an ad for the preview, which aired in late May, from DisneyXD's YouTube channel: