Episode #8 - Some Assembly Required
Original Airdate - October 27th, 2010
Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and more of Marvel’s greatest characters begin their lives as Avengers. But with a wild card like the Hulk on the team, and a little prodding from the villainous Enchantress, will the team be smashed by one of their own before they embark on their first mission?

Written by Brandon Auman
Directed by Sebastian Montes
Review by ShadowStar
Media by Marvel Animation Age

This episode finds the Avengers adjusting to the new status quo. While Iron Man, Wasp and Thor are embracing the radical changes to their lives, Ant-Man is sceptical of the whole operation, despite Wasp doing all she can to persuade him that they serve a greater purpose by uniting against the dozens of escaped super-villains. Tony has turned the museum for the Maria Stark Foundation into a mansion base for the team, complete with labs for Dr. Pym, but their words and actions are having little effect on him. To make matters worse, Fury is on Stark’s case about the Avengers and unbeknownst to everyone, a rift is forming between Hulk and the others, courtesy of Enchantress.

One plot point thrown up by this episode is the Avengers’ dysfunctional relationship, which is addressed through Ant-Man’s dubious stance about the good the team can do. As Tony and Pepper lead the quartet on a tour of Avengers Mansion, Hank undermines the great effort that was put into preparing the base by asserting that the Avengers must be Stark’s new “pet project” (and he’s taking every opportunity to express that disdain – notice the glare when Tony outlined the Quinjets’ attributes for those who couldn’t fly?). Later, he remains adamant that Iron Man is taking for granted the notion of comradeship and assuming that they can be an efficient, close-knit group from the outset, when it will in fact take time to get to that stage. He has a point. Before the end of the episode, the team threatens to unravel as Enchantress’s plan strikes quite close to home. In tribute to the comics the series is based off, the Hulk comes to see that he doesn’t fit the mould (and how unusual is it to see him without Betty Ross in tow?); it brings home the notion that teamwork isn’t second nature when there are underlying issues… cracks for the villains to exploit.

Ant-Man isn’t the only Avenger showcased well here. Hulk’s conviction that he’s wasting his time persevering with the Avengers leaves the team bewildered and unsure of how to handle him (and mischievous Enchantress is quick to play on this). Moreover, the outsider hero hides a fragility which is brought to light towards the end, after he flattens the Wasp and almost proceeds to punch her. Also, Thor (who I stated previously that I’ve never found to be all that interesting – and I’ll have to retract that comment now), was quite entertaining in this episode. As a solo hero, I can take or leave him, but he has a stately presence amongst the Avengers, even when he’s not being taken seriously (“Which lady d’you mean, blondie?”, the Hulk scoffs after Thor calls him out on his attitude towards Pepper Potts). Thor unwittingly brings some nice humour of his own to the table at times, such as when he dismisses a terrified Mandrill as being a source of “shame to all monkeys”.

It was a bit of a head scratch when Enchantress, who looked ever so remorseful about deceiving Thor in “Thor the Mighty”, maliciously attacked the team in Central Park. She’ll be back no doubt, and I hope her motivations will be revealed in time; the bad blood between Thor and Enchantress has just come out of nowhere. Being an agent of Loki doesn’t quite cut it for me; she wants a slice of the power he’s after, yes, but we’ve yet to discover why. Still, she makes for a great, snide villain – her retort that she and Executioner thought they would “come and see what all the fuss is about” was amusing. Enchantress’s character design must have been off model in her previous appearance because her eyes looked different here – more “evil”. Anyway, it was nice to see the Avengers face off against two of Thor’s adversaries and the ball was set rolling for a well-choreographed clash in Central Park. Poor Hank couldn’t catch a break as he was blasted by fire and later knocked into the stream, while Iron Man was rendered defenceless by an unexpected, and shocking, blow to his chest armour by Executioner’s axe.

The opening scene with Mandrill was perhaps the weakest part of the episode. Sure, it was neat and meant to show off how powerful the team line-up is, but it's one of those scenes that hinges on the use of rousing music to make it feel epic, and that music never came. But I digress.

The show continues its trend of embracing continuity by bookending this installment with Black Panther cameos, as the prince of Wakanda ventures into New York, seemingly to find the Avengers. Furthermore, the nods to Reed Richards and the Negative Zone, plus the unearthing of Captain America’s shield in the closing moments of the episode, are reassuring and suggest that this will be the fan-friendly series that it needs to be in order to stand tall alongside DC’s great animated efforts. I also find it promising that the writers are sticking fairly close to the source material (Hulk departing the fold early on) and finding new ways to tell stories like this. The magic consistency that this show has continues to show itself here, and we could be looking at one of Marvel’s finest cartoons if the quality doesn’t slip.