By Veshark 53 Comments
So I was just rewatching Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes from the beginning, to wash away the memory of the new cartoon and all its mediocrity. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy this show (sad sigh), and it was a blast going through both seasons.
Out of boredom, I’ve also decided to compile my top ten favorite episodes, and post them up here if anyone actually cares enough to read. With that not-so-subtle plea for attention over, let’s start with Number 10!
“Masters of Evil”
Season 1, Episode 14
“Alright, team. I want this scum out of my house right now.”
- Iron Man
In this episode, we have the culmination of a supervillain team-up subplot that’s been seeded in the past few episodes. It’s the first time we see the entire team go up against a supervillain team as opposed to solo bad guys, and damn, it’s a total blast.
The story premise is pretty basic – Zemo and Enchantress get together a band of baddies to capture the Avengers in their home, and basically gloat about it. It’s essentially a simplified version of Under Siege. I’ve always loved supervillain team-ups, and the Masters of Evil are pretty great. We get some minor characterization such as Wonder Man’s condition and Enchantress’ crush on Thor, but the rogue who gets the most shine is Zemo. I love the moment where he kicks Abomination’s ass, and his sniveling, egomaniac attitude is pitch-perfect. Robin Atkin Downes’ is definitely one of the best villain performances in EMH.
The rest of the episode is pretty perfunctory, but this is a good example of a straightforward superhero plotline done right. Villains take down heroes. Heroes retaliate with a counter-attack. So cue witty one-liners and the classic ‘heroes on one side, villains on the other, both charge at one another dramatically’ moment. The final battle is enjoyable, if a little predictable, but still a great modern retelling of a classic Avengers plot thread.
Also, Hawkeye gets not one, but two hilarious quotes in this episode. First is when he’s being bear-hugged by Abomination and he pleads, “Please…I’m begging you…brush your teeth!” Second is when he and Black Panther are captured by the Masters, and BP heroically goes, “I am an Avenger. And I will meet my end with pride.” Followed by Hawkeye quipping, “I’m gonna meet mine with kicking and screaming.”
Damn, I love Chris Cox.
“The Private War of Doctor Doom”
Season 2, Episode 1
“This is wrong. Doctor Doom has nothing to gain by attacking us here. This reeks of desperation – something he is not known for.”
- Black Panther
I just want to say, straight-up, that Doom is a total mac in this show. Like, he’s just the flyest playa in the entire series. He’s the one who first figures out there’s a Skrull invasion, the one who gives Stark the tech to reveal Skrull impostors, and he never loses his cool. Dude is just one step ahead of everyone else, which is precisely how Doom should be.
So the basic gist of this episode is that the Avengers meet up with the FF: Tony/Wasp with Reed/Sue in the Baxter Building, and the rest of them in Avengers Mansion. But both locations get attacked by Doombots, and these successfully capture Sue and Wasp. The Avengers and remaining FF members launch a rescue mission on Latveria, and Doom kicks the crap out of all of them, before surprisingly letting his captives go. At the end, it’s revealed that Doom captured Invisible Woman to prove his theory that she was a Skrull, thus kick-starting the Secret Invasion plot for the second season.
I just love how Doom’s plan was flawless. The master of prep outsmarts both the Avengers and FF, and even when it comes down to actual fighting, Doom totally mops the floor with both teams. And when Doom lays a verbal smackdown on Wasp? This is exactly how Doom should be portrayed. Beyond that, there’s also great banter between the Avengers and FF. I enjoyed Tony and Reed’s competitive relationship, Sue and Wasp’s girl talk, and the rivalry between Thing and Hulk.
There’s also plenty of awesome action to kick off the second season. The final battle especially was just intense to watch. I love the retro giant Doombot designs. But when Doom gets into the fray, it’s just awesome to watch. He BFRs Hulk, and absolutely owns every Avenger and FF member up against him with little effort. Kickass.
On a side note, I also liked that bit in the episode’s beginning where they introduce each member of the Avengers. It’s a smooth, non-contrived way of reminding viewers of the roster at the start of the second season.
“Assault on 42”
Season 2, Episode 16
“This is our Alamo. We make our final stand right here.”
- Ms. Marvel
Part Annihilation, part Alien, and part Alamo. All-awesome.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has always had a thing for supervillain prisoners. We’ve got the Vault, the Big House, the Raft, and the Cube (One thing they all have in common? Generic-ass names), but these all get compromised at the start of the first season. So to replace them all, resident nerds Stark, Pym, and Reed Richards get together and design a new penitentiary: Prison 42. Located in the Negative Zone, in a whole dimension away, it’s intended to be a more secure location with only one way in and out – through a portal in the Baxter Building. Unfortunately, no one realized that the N-Zone was actually already occupied, and that’s where the fun begins.
The basic episode premise has Captain America, Wasp, Thor, and Ms. Marvel escort the newest prisoner – minor villain Whirlwind – into Prison 42. Once there, the prison starts experiencing power failures with the inmates complaining about noises, and before you know it, a swarm of bugs begin invading. Overall, the buildup is great; it starts off as a mystery before escalating to a full-on last stand. Eventually, the Avengers have to release some prisoners to help them fight off the attack, before they come face-to-face with the swarm’s leader – Annihilus.
The episode takes cues from a lot of sources. The idea of an alien swarm breaking in is very Xenomorph-esque, and the ‘Annihilation Wave’ is a clear reference to the Brood. The scenes with both the heroes and villains holding the line, as well as Ms. Marvel almost self-destructing the portal to prevent the swarm from reaching our universe definitely creates a sort of Alamo-type final stand. It’s not particularly fresh or unique, but it provides enough excitement for me to enjoy myself every time I watch it.
But the best part of the episode was definitely seeing the heroes interacting with the inmates, and their mutual truce to fend off the Annihilation Wave. Thor tells Executioner that Enchantress was enslaved by Surtur, and makes a deal with him to fight honorably for an early release. Blizzard freaks out and tries to run away, as does Abomination. Wasp mocks Whirlwind, calling him by his real name (Dave!). But my personal favorite is when Zemo volunteers to help, and Cap refuses him, saying, “I’d rather face a million bugs in front of me than risk one of your daggers in my back.”
To which Zemo replies, “Oh, do not tease me with such beautiful imagery, Captain.” Seriously, how great was this show?
“Prisoner of War”
Season 2, Episode 10
“Name: Steven Rogers. Rank: Captain. Serial number: 54985870. And that’s all you’re ever going to get from me.”
- Captain America
I probably have a biased preference for episodes that star Cap – and this one is no exception. Once again, we see Captain America doing what he does best, being a leader and a soldier. After having been tortured and captured in a Skrull ship for several months, Cap manages to free himself, and along with a bunch of other captives (including Viper, King Cobra, Mockingbird, Agent Quartermain, Henry Gyrich, an AIM scientist, and Invisible Woman), manage to manufacture an escape and return back to Earth. It’s basically the classic breakout scenario, but in space. With shape-shifting aliens, of course.
Cap’s suitable as the main lead for this episode, not only because the Skrulls are trying to figure out how to break him so that they can subdue the human race, but also because him being a soldier makes it apt that he’s a prisoner of war. And Cap really does shine here, never losing morale throughout his entire period of captivity, able to bring together both heroes and villains for a common cause, and making sure that no man (or woman) gets left behind. This is Cap at his worst being his best.
And the story itself is definitely a fresh and welcome departure from the usual EMH episodes. Here we have a tense escape scenario and a motley crew at edge with one another. I loved how the heroes and villains played off one another, with the heroes making sure everyone survives, and the villains (and Gyrich) trying to save their own skins. Reminded me much of the Assault on 47 episode. I especially enjoyed the Cap-Viper dynamic, and the (implied) sexual tension between them. The episode threatened to wind down a little by the time they made their escape, but luckily the writers were smart enough to throw Super-Skrull into the mix, allowing for an awesome fight and making it all the more satisfying when they actually escape.
Plus, I kinda laughed when Cap called Super-Skrull a ‘filthy Skrull’. It reminded me of WWII-era Americans referring to the Japanese as ‘filthy Japs’. History repeats itself, I guess.
Season 2, Episode 12
“As it is written.”
And here we have the stunning conclusion to the ongoing Skrull invasion plot that was the running plot of Season 2’s first half. Tony now has the tech to detect Skrulls shape-shifters, and meets with Fury, but they are betrayed by Mockingbird – who is actually Queen Veranke. Meanwhile, the real Captain America and the rest of the captured humans have returned to Earth. All this rounds off in a dramatic clash in Washington, as the Skrull Empire initiates their final plan. After so many episodes of betrayal and guesswork, it’s satisfying to finally have a straightforward battle royale to cap off this story arc.
The episode starts off by slowly building the drama, as the secreted Skrull sleeper agents all across the planet reveal themselves, and put the Queen’s plan into motion. But the episode only kicks into full-gear when the few remaining Avengers head for the nation’s capital, and are ambushed by Super-Skrulls. And what is arguably the entire season’s strongest moment happens when the Cap impostor announces to the world that Earth would be better under the Skrulls’ rule.
But just as all hope seems lost, the real Captain America and the rest of the captive humans appear to save the day. Then Iron Man arrives with the Skrull detector, followed by the timely return of Thor, thus reuniting the ‘Big Three’ of the Avengers. What follows is a truly energetic melee between the Skrulls and the humans, and after so many episodes of the team falling apart, it’s unbelievably fulfilling to see the Avengers back with a vengeance.
As Cap kicks the crap out of his impostor, he yells, “There’s more to human beings than our bodies and minds, something you’ll never understand. Our spirit!” I found myself going ‘f*ck yeah humanity, bitches!’
And when the dust finally settles, the episode ends with humanity having defeated the Skrull menace. But the show is smart enough to address that though the battle was won, ties were strained by the invasion, and the rest of the season would involve putting the fractured team back together. But this episode was the first step in the road to recovery, and Secret Invasion illustrates the perfect way to conclude a story arc.
Season 1, Episodes 12 & 13
“Accept your future, for I am your Leader. Welcome….to Gamma World!”
- The Leader
Gamma World is often cited by EMH fans to be the episode where the ball really starts rolling, and the point where the show kicks into high gear. It’s the first two-parter in the series (so I’m sorta cheating by considering it as one episode, but whatever), and looking back, it’s not hard to see why this one remains a fan-favorite till this day.
Long story short, since the breakout in the first episode, the Cube has been inhabited by various gamma-irradiated villains led by the Leader. The Leader has created an expanding gamma dome that transforms anyone caught in it into Hulk-like mutations, and the Avengers are called in to stop him. But though they manage to foil the Leader’s plan, it is then revealed in the second part that the first dome was just a ‘test run’, and that the Leader has actually already installed a final version that he plans to encompass the entire planet with, thus creating a ‘Gamma World’.
The first impression one gets of this episode is that its plot is very classic Marvel. It comes across like the kind of story they would’ve come up with back in the day of the Marvel Method. It’s just a fun, crazy, and kooky supervillain plot. And the overall tone and storyline is also very B-movie-esque, starting from the idea of the gamma dome, to everyone mutating into irradiated monsters, and even down to the Leader’s hilarious giant robot armor. It starts off as a sort of sci-fi horror type mystery tale, before accelerating into full-on superhero action by its conclusion.
The suspenseful tone of the episode’s first half, particularly, is superb. We have the Avengers called in by SHIELD to investigate the Cube, and so the Avengers go in (rocking cool radiation suits) with Doc Samson and fight various gamma-irradiated freaks. Cue some of the series’ best fight scenes. For comic fans especially, it’s great to see the team go up against a bevy of Hulk’s classic rogues, including the U-Foes, Zzzax, the Wrecking Crew, Abomination, and the Absorbing Man. One of my favorite moments in this episode is where Absorbing Man takes on the properties of Mjolnir, but is soundly beaten when Thor starts controlling him!
But the greatest aspect of this episode is undoubtedly how it includes both the Hawkeye/Black Widow and the Hulk plot thread, using the story as a smooth way of bringing Clint and Bruce back into the team roster. Gamma World could just as easily have ended with Part 1, but the writers smartly tied it into the other running subplots, using Hawkeye and the Hulk to save the Avengers, thus giving an easy reason to induct them into the team afterwards. These two especially got plenty of time to shine in the second half, and this episode marks the beginning of the Hawkeye-Hulk friendship, one of my favorites in the show.
Overall, this two-parter had a good mix of suspense and straight-up action, character development, an impressive balancing of different plots, and enough funny one-liners to keep the mood up. Gamma World was the first sign that this series had potential.
“Operation Galactic Storm/ Live Kree or Die”
Season 2, Episodes 24 & 25
“Hear me, Kree! If you truly claim to be warriors, then prove it!”
The running theme of EMH’s second season is ‘Humanity is the sh*t, and we’re going to beat up every single alien empire out there because we have the motherf*cking Avengers on our side.” With the Skrulls having been defeated mid-season; the Avengers move on to the other major alien superpower – the Kree Empire.
Culminating the Kree plot thread that’s been ongoing since Season 1, the first half begins with the Kree Empire attempting to open a wormhole in the Sun, because apparently we’re a strategic location for their military campaigns (lucky us). The Avengers (with the aid of Captain Mar-Vell) successfully stop them, but the team gets caught in the wormhole and end up trapped on Hala, the Kree homeworld. Oh, and Black Panther sacrifices himself heroically and dies. In the second part, it turns out that BP is still alive, and the team goes up the might of the Kree Empire and their leader, the Supreme Intelligence.
In all honesty, this two-parter is weaker than the epic multi-part episodes of the first season. But after the string of terrible Man-of-Action episodes before it, Operation Galactic Storm and Live Kree or Die is a major step up. There’s nothing overtly-innovative about it, but it’s a solid example of space-superheroics done well. It has all the elements needed for an entertaining EMH episode, and also ties up the ongoing Kree plotline, as well as addressing Kang’s prophecy from Season 1.
The plot obviously takes cues from Operation Galactic Storm and the Kree-Skrull War comics too. Much like Secret Invasion, we have the team going up against an alien empire, though these two episodes are on a far more operatic scale. It feels like Star Wars meets superheroes. The scene where Hawkeye has to make a super-accurate shot to stop the wormhole is suitably tense, and I admit, even Black Panther’s heroic sacrifice was actually quite noble and touching. The look on Cap’s face as he makes the pivotal choice to not rescue BP to save the Earth is heartbreaking, and I have to give props to Eric Loomis (Iron Man) for giving a really solid performance that conveyed the gravity of the situation.
And like the best of EMH’s episodes, this two-parter has no shortage of high-octane action-packed fights mixed with smartass cracks, either. In the first part, the encounter with the Sentry was just frenetic to watch. But the real action comes in the second half, when the team fights hostile Kree wildlife and the planet’s entire military. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when the Avengers are flying across Hala in a stolen craft, while being chased down by Kree forces, and then Thor calls in the lightning and absolutely decimates the alien buggers.
As far as EMH episodes go, these two episodes were a fun-filled romp through Marvel’s cosmic side, and a neat way to bring Season 2’s ‘aliens’ theme to a resounding close.
Oh, and was I the only who when Ms. Marvel said, “The Falchion’s shields are down”, heard it as “The f*cking shields are down”? Nearly died laughing at that one.
“Along Came A Spider…”
Season 2, Episode 13
“It doesn’t matter what the newspapers say, or the politicians, or the whole world. They don’t define who you are. You do. Not by your words, but by your actions. The truth will come out…but until then, I’m going to keep fighting – just like you do.”
“…Can I be your sidekick?”
- Captain America & Spider-Man
Oh man, what can I say about this episode? I absolutely love it.
First is that it stars Cap, so naturally that’s already a good reason right there. But Along Came A Spider gives what I would argue is the best portrayal of Cap in the entire series. It’s episodes like these that remind me why I like the character so much – strong in the face of adversity, patient and understanding, and most importantly: inspiring. The mini-speech that he gives to Spidey about why he doesn’t defend himself is great; Brian Bloom is the effing man.
And let’s not forget about Spidey either. Now this episode caught a little flak because Drake Bell was called in to redub Josh Keaton’s lines (which had already been recorded). And there’s no question that was a pretty sucky move on Marvel’s part, and I definitely far prefer Keaton voicing Spidey. That being said…despite my initial apprehensions, Bell actually voices a pretty decent Spidey. He comes across as trying too-hard at points, but overall, enjoyable. The comedic moments were funny, and the character’s honesty and struggle shone through.
One thing I’ve always noticed about EMH’s second season was that while the first season had a better level of quality/consistency, most of their episodes were pretty straightforward superhero plots. In contrast, the second season did experiment a little more. Along Came a Spider is a good instance of this, with Cap, Spidey, and a bunch of civilians trapped in a collapsing tunnel with the Serpent Society. Beyond the characterization, the episode’s premise itself was entertaining, and even nail-biting at some points.
Overall, this one was just chock-full of great moments. The Spidey-Cap relationship is one of my favorites in comics, both great heroes with a mutual respect of one another, and the elder statesman-teenage youth dynamic works smoothly. I also liked the little comic references, such as Spider-Man’s signal light, and the scene where he holds up the entire tunnel seems to be a clear allusion to Amazing Spider-Man #33. And the bit where the civilians stand up for Cap and start hurling rocks at the villains was great – I’m a sucker for those types of moments. Also, you can’t go wrong with the Serpent Society, a group of classic Cap baddies.
“This Hostage Earth/ The Fall of Asgard/ A Day Unlike Any Other
Season 1, Episodes 24, 25, & 26
“The mightiest heroes in the Nine Realms! Hail Avengers!”
And now we’ve arrived at the first of two epic three-parters from the series. Both three-parters are fantastic, but I have to say that Number 1 on my list trumps this one by just a little bit. Still, that’s no slight on these three episodes, as they form a truly grand storyline that concludes the first season with aplomb. Honestly, any comic fan will absolutely squeal with glee at the sheer Silver Age action in this loud finale.
The first part begins with the Masters of Evil gaining possession of the Norn Stones. Setting each stone in a different location on Earth, the Masters plan to divide and conquer the team. One Avenger is sent to a stone and ambushed by one Master of Evil each. But though the Avengers triumph and the Norn Stones are destroyed, the team ends up displaced, with every hero finding themselves stranded on one of the Nine Realms. The second part has the Avengers surviving in their separate realms, with each member being able to find his or her way to Asgard. And the last part has the entire team face off with an Odinforce Loki in a climatic final battle.
All begins and ends with Loki. The Trickster was the first Avengers villain in the original Lee-Kirby run, and as EMH always pays its dues to Avengers history, in this episode we also have it revealed that Loki was the mastermind behind most of the season’s pivotal events. He was the one who caused the breakouts in the start of the show. He orchestrated Thor leaving Asgard, and sent the Enchantress to create the Masters of Evil. All to keep Thor occupied on Earth, so that Loki could steal the Odinforce and begin his conquest of the Nine Realms. In short, Loki was the ‘big bad’ of the first season, so it’s only fitting that he’s also the Avengers’ last villain.
And Loki’s master plan does not disappoint. The first episode alone is just all kinds of awesome. I get a major kick out of seeing each Avenger fighting a Master of Evil in a different location, and the matchups are great, too. Iron Man fights Living Laser because of their history together. Captain America fights Crimson Dynamo because USA>USSR. Hulk goes up against the Executioner because they’re both powerhouses. Hawkeye scraps with Chemistro as they’re both long-range fighters, et cetera. We just get an entire episode full of dynamic action, and much credit is due to the show’s creators for being able to switch from one fight to the next, without it coming off as disorienting. I just found myself grinning ear-to-ear like an excited kid as I watched the Avengers brawl it out with their foes.
But like the best of EMH’s episodes, the second part amps up the stakes considerably, and suddenly we get the premise of ‘each Avenger in a different location’ taken to the next level, as every member is thrown into a different realm. And man, it’s as awe-inspiring to watch as the first episode. Iron Man landing in Nidavellir, fighting Ulik, and then building a suit of armor with dwarves? Hawkeye shooting arrows with a Legolas-type elf in Alfheim? Cap facing his dead comrades and Hela in Nifflheim, and Hank wrestling Frost Giants in Jotunheim? Unreal. Once again, we jump from one realm to the next as we see what each Avenger is up to, and the show’s creators really utilize Thor’s mythology to the fullest. That sound you hear while watching this episode is that of Thor fans having multiple nerdgasms.
And all of this comes to a head when the Avengers finally reunite in Asgard, where Thor has been subdued by the uber-powerful Loki. We have the team and Thor’s entire Asgardian cast go up against the forces of Loki, and one by one, each of the Big Three returns. First Cap appears just in time to lead the team against a giant ice wolf. Then Iron Man enters in his newly-forged Uru armor to take on Loki. And then finally Thor is freed, and we have the Avengers reunited once again for the mother of all battles. By the time the titanic clash is over and Loki has been defeated, it’ll be like coming down from a mind-blowing high. And when Odin and the rest of Asgard hail the Avengers, you’ll be cheering along, too.
There are just so many jaw-dropping moments in this finale, it’s almost insane. When the giant ice wolf appears? When Loki destroys Cap’s shield with the Odinforce? When Iron Man dramatically enters with his Thorbuster armor? This is how the final episode of a superhero cartoon should be – when not only Earth is threatened, but nine other dimensions too!
This Hostage Earth, The Fall of Asgard, and A Day Unlike Any Other has that perfect chemistry of heart, action, and humor. I can’t think of a better way to end EMH’s stellar first season, and this three-parter here has it all.
“The Man Who Stole Tomorrow/ Come the Conqueror/ The Kang Dynasty”
Season 1, Episodes 17, 18, & 19
- Captain America
And here we are. The big one. Numero uno. The finest episode in the (arguably) finest animated show from Marvel.
To summarize, in the climaxing of a Kang subplot that’s been running since the start of the show, Kang the Conqueror finds his future kingdom vanishing, along with his wife Ravonna. It turns out this was due to a time anomaly in our century, and Kang learns that this anomaly is Captain America. He also learns that Cap’s presence in the 21st century will eventually lead to the Earth’s destruction at the hands of the Kree, so he comes to our time to not only kill Cap, but also to conquer the Earth so he can upgrade our technology for the coming Kree war.
In response, the Avengers say ‘piss off’, so Kang’s forces attack, and the Earth becomes embroiled in a global war against an army from the future. And thus begins what is single-handedly the most cinematic storyline in Marvel animation history.
Now honestly, it was a very close-call between this Kang three-parter and the earlier Loki three-parter. They’re both superb epics and represent the high points of this awesome show. Both have the entire team going up against a seemingly unbeatable foe, up against immeasurable odds. But the reason why the Avengers’ first encounter with the Conqueror edges out their final battle with Loki is simple: These three episodes feel like an Avengers summer blockbuster.
Back in 2011, before Whedon’s Avengers came out, this three-parter right here is the closest we could get to a summer action-style Avengers story on the TV screen. The Loki finale is great, but at its core, it’s essentially a more comic-book tale with hints of the retro Silver Age Avengers era. But The Man Who Stole Tomorrow, Come the Conqueror, and the Kang Dynasty play out in exactly the way you would imagine an Avengers silver-screen feature would. We have a seemingly-undefeatable conqueror and his army. We have an international-scale invasion. And the only hope of saving the planet rests on the shoulders of our titular heroes.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes pulls off their crowning moment in these three episodes: they’ve created a summer movie in the format of a television cartoon.
And you can do no better than Kang if you want a movie of mythic proportions. The Conqueror is one of the team’s oldest and most formidable villains (see Busiek’s Kang Dynasty), and he also rocks one of the flyest Kirby designs ever. And in his moment to shine, Kang does not disappoint. The show’s creators really did do him justice by portraying him as being so far ahead of the curve that not even the combined might of the Avengers can defeat him. It’s only when Tony manages to hack into Kang’s Time Chair that the team actually hurt the villain. And even then, the Conqueror comes back for Round 2 with an invading army and strains the team to their absolute limit.
When his troops start landing all across Earth, it really does feel like Independence Day or Transformers, and the battle in New York mirrors the one in the Avengers movie. The action here is breathtakingly cinematic, and is without a doubt, one of my favorite battles in the entire series. The second episode is just one extended melee of superhuman warfare. There’s Thor summoning the lightning to blow up Kang’s ships, Wasp using the Quinjet to fire on the giant robots, and Hulk just pummeling the crap out of everything. Each hero gets his or her moment to shine, and you really feel the weight of the invasion too.
The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been in all the past episodes, and you get a genuine impression that the Avengers have never faced a threat on this scale until now. Black Panther has to leave the team because Wakanda is under attack by the invasion. Kang’s robots keep regenerating and are unbeatable. Tony totally loses his cool because he can’t find Kang’s command ship. The gravity of the situation is especially nailed home when the team is forced to use the Ultron jailers from Prison 47, and turn them into fighting machines just to even the odds. This isn’t a regular superhero fight – this is all-out war.
Eventually though, the tide turns when Hank deduces that all of Kang’s ships have a temporal anchor to our time, and that destroying that will send them back to their century. This brings Kang’s invasion of New York to a grinding halt as the Avengers defeat the incursion there, but the rest of the world is still under threat. The Avengers realize that they just don’t have the numbers to fight a global war, and that they have to strike at Kang himself to end it all. In the nick of time, Tony discovers that Kang’s command ship – Damocles – is in outer space, and so the Avengers launch a space flight to stop him. Oh, and just to edge the stakes a little higher, Damocles is also preparing to fire its giant space cannon onto the planet.
The third and final part of this epic begins with the Avengers dressed head-to-toe in awesome spacesuits as to ready themselves for their most crucial mission yet. They’re the planet’s only chance of winning this war. Cue a super-dramatic slow-motion walk to the Quinjet. What follows is the peak of the story as the Avengers take the fight to Kang. And one of the series’ best moments occurs when Thor tanks the Damocles’ cannon, allowing the Quinjet to break the atmosphere into space. Then when the Avengers finally board Kang’s command ship, they have to fight through all of his troops before finally reaching the Damocles’ time-engine.
The Avengers then have a tense final clash with Kang, and I loved how Cap drew not-so-subtle comparisons between the warlord and Hitler. But the day is seemingly saved when Iron Man finally manages to unlock the Conqueror’s time-travelling tech, and prepares to send the Damocles back to its time. Just before the momentous checkmate though, the plot throws another curveball when Wasp appears and tells the Avengers about Princess Ravonna. Kang may have been concerned for his empire, but he was also willing to go to such extreme lengths for his love, adding a layer of depth to the villain. Tony gives Kang a chance to stand down for them to work together, but when the Conqueror refuses, he’s KOed.
In the end, the Damocles is kept in our time, while Ravonna is sent to Mr. Fantastic to figure out a way to save her. Kang is thrown into Prison 47, where he warns of Captain America’s betrayal and the end of the world. The Earth has successfully repelled its first global invasion, and the Avengers have saved the day once again. It’s a hard-fought victory, and the Avengers would not meet such a high-scale threat until the Loki episodes.
This three-parter also manages to tie in with several ongoing subplots in the series. The reprogramming of the Ultron robots would eventually lead to the creation of one of the Avengers’ greatest villains in a later episode. The Skrull Captain America’s betrayal of the human race, as well as Captain America having to make the choice to abandon Black Panther in the Kree war are both referenced here. Damocles would eventually become the home station for SWORD, which would be established in Season 2 and play an important role in the Skrull and Kree conflicts.
The Man Who Stole Tomorrow, Come the Conqueror, and Kang Dynasty are one collective storyline that show the best this series has to offer. Cinematic set pieces, a heavy sense of drama and tension, but with a healthy dose of flashy action and character humor. Never again will an Avengers animated series ever hit the heights that this three-parter managed to accomplish.
Long Live EMH
Honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut: Hail Hydra, Ultron-5, The Ultron Imperative, Acts of Vengeance, Who Do You Trust
In closing, please leave your comments below, and tell me what you fellow EMH fans think. Which episodes did you agree with, which do you not? Which episodes do you feel I should have included, and which do you absolutely abhor (ten to one says a Man of Action episode)?
To cap this off, I’m just going to post the show’s adrenaline-pumping butt-smashing name-taking theme song of pure audio awesomeness for all to enjoy. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is dead. Long live Earth’s Mightiest Heroes:
Thanks for reading.