Episode #6 - Breakout, Part One
Original Airdate - October 20th, 2010
Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and Wasp have defeated some of the most powerful, dangerous Super-Villains on the planet. And once defeated, those criminals are housed in the super-villain prisons. But now, on a day like none other, those prisons open wide, simultaneously releasing ever single villain in a breakout like the world has never seen. Our heroes’ only hope is to band together… to become the Avengers.

Episode #7 - Breakout, Part Two
Original Airdate - October 20th, 2010
The Super-Villain breakout has begun, and it’s everything our heroes can do to stay alive! But when a mysterious fourth prison is revealed housing a being whose power dwarfs anything ever seen, the Avengers must join together for the first time. Because the man called Gravitron is now free. He’s after Nick Fury… but he’ll destroy the world to get to him.

Written by Christopher Yost
Directed by Sebastian Montes (Part One), Vinton Heuck (Part Two)
Reviews by ShadowStar
Media by Marvel Animation Age

"Breakout, Part One" Review:
Ant-Man and Wasp are on board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Bruce Banner is imprisoned in the Cube. Hawkeye is locked up in the Vault. Iron Man is off foiling a little transaction between the evil scientists known as AIM and an agent of Dr. Doom. Thor is in New York, catching up with Jane Foster. And so it begins. A mass super-villain breakout occurs without warning, about a third of the way into the episode, and from there it’s all action as all of them (save Thor) find themselves caught up in the chaos.

There’s spectacle aplenty in this episode as the individual Avengers take on the likes of Crimson Dynamo, Whiplash, Whirlwind, Mandrill, Red Ghost and the Abomination. After patiently sitting through the previous episodes, who could fail to enjoy this? The Vault, the Cube and the Big House are warzones all of a sudden, and there’s a definite sense of anxiety in waiting to see how the pandemonium will bring the team together.

The threat that the heroes and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents face gives the crew behind the series the chance to show off various villains who will get their due in later episodes. There’s some foreshadowing of the Leader’s plans for the Cube now that he’s loose, and with Jeffrey Combs lending his voice to the role and playing the villain with a superb intensity, that will be an episode to watch out for.

This episode moves at a swift pace, barely giving the viewer time to mull over the mystery of who or what caused this disaster. I can guess who is responsible (clues were dropped over the course of the micro-episodes, so just think about who was still on the loose and in a position to wreak havoc on this scale), but I shall keep my theories to myself at this point in time.

The drama led to some precarious situations as Leonard Sampson was exposed to gamma radiation (wonder what’ll come of that…) and Hawkeye found himself having to fend off Iron Man in addition to the escaping villains. As engrossing as all of this was though, I felt that the quieter moments, such as Thor confiding in Jane Foster about his father and the Odinsleep, were every bit as captivating. I admired the ambition of the action scenes, but contrasting it with the laidback Thor/Jane Foster interaction in downtown New York was important for stressing how perilous it is on each of the battlegrounds, and how much more it will intensify when Thor joins the fray.

I’m just going to refrain from talking about the poor soundtrack from now on, except to praise it when it actually gets good. Case in point: the use of strings when the power blackout was occurring at the Vault, the Cube and on board the Helicarrier. The frenzied tempo gave the sense that something sinister was about to happen, and it underscored the sudden breakdown of the prison systems nicely.

There weren’t really any significant character developments in this episode, but Wasp choosing to go to Ant-Man’s aid instead of helping Hill find Fury was a sure sign that he matters more to her than having an adventure with S.H.I.E.L.D. That said, her complaint about the organisation being “too dramatic” for her had better be one she’s prepared to put to one side, because there’ll be no shortage of drama on the Avengers roster.

Not much more to say about this one, but it had a decent cliffhanger. The Raft prisoners are now free and Fury’s in deep trouble. Now we can finally get to the battle six episodes in the making.

"Breakout, Part Two" Review:
The breakouts are the least of the superheroes’ problems in this episode as Graviton, newly freed from the Raft, sets about exacting revenge on Nick Fury and demonstrating his might by trying to destroy New York. Predictably, Thor is the one to come to Fury’s rescue (giving the others enough time to have a breather from the prison madness) but Thor is actually out of his depth for once and you know what that means... Avengers assemble!

First thing’s first, the scale of the battle with Graviton is huge. The villain’s command of gravity is so formidable that he’s able to stop Thor’s trusty hammer Mjolnir from knocking his block off whenever the aforementioned thunder god is on the offense. I had no idea who Graviton was before this episode and couldn’t fathom why the writers would use anything short of an A-list villain for the Avengers’ first outing as a team, but a maniac with the power to send someone hurtling into space or slam them down onto the ground with but a thought was a good choice and fit the bill nicely. The Avengers might not have been able to pull through if the Hulk hadn’t come to their aid… and if Ant-Man hadn’t been so adept at taking villains by surprise (using the ants to distract and irritate Graviton was brilliant). How it all came to Graviton so effortlessly is a bit confusing, as he had been unconscious since the day he acquired his powers, but I won’t look into it too deeply.

As action-centric as this episode was (the brawl with Graviton was long, and felt it a couple of times), there were some welcome developments. We learn that Wasp and Iron Man are already acquainted via the party scene, and Hank becomes Giant Man in a desperate attempt to even the odds. I was delighted by the latter, because there’s not much that someone who can shrink to microscopic size and communicate with ants can do when compared to the likes of Iron Man and Thor. Giant Man’s look is a great one. I would say “Who needs the Hulk?”, but, well, the green ogre definitely came in handy here (at a cost to Bruce Banner, who we hopefully haven’t seen the last of after his deal with the Hulk).

I’m not entirely sold on the animation. When Thor was attempting to smite Graviton with Mjolnir, and later when Iron Man blasted the villain with the unibeam, it wasn’t exactly DR Movie standard from the days of Justice League Unlimited. Still, the storyboarding captured how frantic the situation was for the protagonists (like when Graviton was hurling cargo at the Hulk, who was simultaneously bashing the cargo to one side and fighting the pull of the gravity). What’s more, the humorous moments drew attention away from the drawbacks with the visuals (“Anything you’d like to tell us, Fury?”, “Not really” and Thor proclaiming, “Come! Let us celebrate!”). The thunderer hugging his teammates was a great moment. With the team together at last, I can see that he and Ant-Man/Giant Man are going to be my favourites, at least until Hawkeye, Cap and Panther join.

The dialogue was fun (“I’m the strongest one there is!”, “You sure about that?” and “You had the power to do anything and you used it to put millions of lives at risk”, “Pretty sad”). Overall, this episode held my interest and provided a good excuse for uniting the team members. The first part was a bit more enjoyable because the breakout had more going for it, but if this episode was any indication, the team will work well as a single unit. Roll on the next episode, so we can see more of that potential realised, better late than never!