MEET CAPTAIN AMERICA

Episode #4: Meet Captain America
004a - Meet Captain America
Original Airdate: October 5th, 2010
News from the front! Witness the story of Steve Rogers, the man who would become Captain America!
004b - The Red Skull Strikes
Original Airdate: October 6th, 2010
In the heat of World War II, Captain America and Bucky mount a desperate assault against a top-secret HYDRA base in Norway. But things take a turn for the worst when they come face to face with HYDRA's own Super Soldier...the nefarious Red Skull.
004c - If This Be Doomsday
Original Airdate: October 7th, 2010
HYDRA's maniacal scheme to win World War II rages out of their control--and in the midst of the chaos, a chance for Captain America and Bucky to stop the Red Skull, once and for all!
004d - Lo, There Shall Come a Conqueror
Original Airdate: October 9th, 2010
His name is Kang the Conqueror. He is the undisputed ruler of Earth in the 40th Century AD, and he has a problem. There is a disturbance in the time stream--his entire reality is being wiped from existence, and the entire disturbance has a single source: Captain America.

*Please note this episode is comprised of four five-minute micro-episodes.

Written by Paul Giacoppo
Directed by Sebastian Montes
Review by ShadowStar
Media by Marvel Animation Age

Review:
Instead of advancing the story of the gathering of the founding members of the Avengers, the series diverts from that in this episode and we find ourselves watching a showcase for Captain America (the Ďfirst Avengerí, strictly speaking). Whether Cap will become leader of the Avengers in this show remains to be seen, but for the time being, itís good to see his origin story adapted here. The death of his close friend and ally, Bucky, was something that I feared would have to be given an overhaul for the folks at Disney to deem it acceptable for broadcast, but fortunately it made the transition from page to screen as the poignant sacrifice that itís meant to be.

One qualm that Iíve seen people raise in response to this episode is the omission of the Nazis from Captain Americaís origin story. I can understand why this incensed some people, as it obviously might feel like an inaccurate take on WWII, but for me, itís inconsequential. Hydra are clearly taking advantage of the presence of the Nazi menace so they can strike at a time when the worldís military forces have enough on their plates. You would think the Nazis would merit a mention, but one can come to the conclusion that the bulletin at the start of the episode is specifically about whatís transpiring on Hydraís end of the spectrum Ė Hydra and the Nazis donít need to be mentioned in the same breath.

Although this installment is quite different to what came before, there are still ties to the other episodes that make it feel relevant; the insight into Hydraís history and that of the villain who led them in Capís time, the Red Skull, is appreciated. Furthermore, the appearances by Kang the Conqueror and the creatures from Asgard help this feel like more than a random interlude explaining Capís origin. Kang seems like a great villain and a major threat, plus I like how he's slightly sympathetic - he may be a dictator, as evidenced by his 'Conqueror' title, but he's out to save lives in addition to his kingdom, like the life of his wife/lover, for instance. That said, this didnít stop him from being creepy when he was flitting between moments in Capís past, studying them for hints of whatever is causing the destruction of his future.

Kang showing up was unexpected and it left me curious about what Captain America could have done to alter the future. I'm sure we'll get a suitable explanation. One possibility is that Bucky somehow survived and that heís the one who causes the disruption to the timestream, but that's probably too far-fetched. I'm guessing a villain like Loki or Ultron will be involved, because it's not as if Kang's time is another reality - in Kang's time, Cap presumably was eventually thawed out just as he soon will be in this show's timeline. It will require a powerful force, like one of the aforementioned villains, to wreck a future that should come into place despite Cap returning in the 21st century.

Speaking of villains, the Red Skull was certainly done justice with his evil scheme to ferry mythological creatures over from Asgard for use in the war. He was thinking big and he could be a formidable opponent if he shows up again, which will surely be the case since he's Cap's arch-enemy. A good excuse would be needed though, like suspended animation or something. Steven Blum fit the role well, and Iíd like to hear more of him. It wasnít the only interesting casting choice Ė I believe Scott Menville (who did Robin in Teen Titans) voiced Bucky. Menville was intense as Robin, and he channelled a bit of that into Bucky, who was so determined to prove himself as Captain Americaís partner that he endangered his own life on that rocket, all in the name of being helpful. Jonathan Adams and Brian Bloom were excellent as Kang the Conqueror and Captain America as well.

The animation style is reminiscent of Wolverine and the X-Men but it suits this show better. Some of the character designs, like Kang, are looking really good and the fights are better than the ones I remember from Wolverine and the X-Men. The only things that bothered me were the poor lip-sync when Cap uttered his first line, and Kang seemingly altering history himself (because Kang caused Bucky to pause after they defeated that monster at the castle entrance, whereas Bucky didn't pause when that bit was shown earlier in the episode). It also started off a bit slow, but I still enjoyed it - the Kang stuff was the best aspect of it though. His return in the second half of the season is one that Iím eagerly anticipating.