Episode #9 - Living Legend
Original Airdate - November 3rd, 2010
Frozen since WW2 and kept alive by the super soldier serum, Captain America is now a man out of time trying to discover his place in the world. But he may not have much of a chance, as his old foe Baron Zemo aims to destroy Captain America, even if that means going through the Avengers!

Written by Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt
Directed by Vinton Heuck
Review by ShadowStar
Media by Marvel Animation Age

And now we come to the most anticipated episode from the first half of season 1 (at least, for me): the revival of Captain America, who finally joins the team. In keeping with the original comics, Hulk is out and Cap is in. The opening scene, where the four remaining Avengers chance upon Cap, is one that I had hoped to see adapted in a modern Marvel cartoon, and it was great to have my wish granted.

Cap is understandably distraught when he first comes around, Bucky’s death still resonating in his mind. His assumption that the Avengers are agents of Hydra and/or experiments of Baron Zemo results in a fight scene which proves to be the most entertaining part of the episode. Battles between superheroes are somewhat obligatory when they’re coming face to face for the first time, but this one worked well as it highlighted Captain America’s confusion and the extent of the Avengers’ respect for him – so concerned for him were they that they held back, all of them going out of their way to resolve the situation peacefully. Captain America did trounce them a bit too easily, but causing harm wasn’t really on the agenda for them. Situating the battle by the statue of liberty was a nice touch, Cap being the ultimate freedom fighter and the personification of liberty.

Unfortunately, the episode failed to sustain this level of quality as it went on - the clever use of Black Panther aside. Obviously he wishes to recruit the Avengers, but he’s doing his homework first by hacking into their secret files. What are we to make of that? Is he going to use what he's learnt from the mansion systems to blackmail the team into helping him?

The villains of the piece are a mixed bag. Baron Zemo is nothing we haven’t seen before, the former leader of Hydra with an axe to grind against Cap. He even turned down control of Hydra so that he could pursue this vendetta (and after seeing his exposure to virus X via a slightly disturbing flashback, it's hardly surprising). Arnim Zola and Doughboy, meanwhile, are utterly lame, the latter so much so that he induces flashbacks of the Teen Titans villain Plasmus. Remember him? Doughboy is every bit as one-dimensional, and the Avengers’ displeasure at having to deal with this nuisance is shared by the viewer. The team looked ridiculous as the fight drew to a close, and it warranted more of a head-shake than an amused laugh.

Baron Zemo’s coolness redeemed the episode slightly, his cold comment about Bucky’s demise (“Let the Skull have Bucky… your life is mine to take!”) sealing the deal. He strikes me as a good villain even if the purple get-up is a bit dated, and I'm glad that he'll be back, as there’s more that can be done with him. How much mileage he has as a recurring villain is in question at this point in time, though – he can’t exactly go toe-to-toe with all of the Avengers.

As it stands, I'd say that Captain America is my fourth favourite character in this show (Thor, Giant Man and Hawkeye have the edge for the time being). It will be interesting to see how he copes in the new world, having lost so much from being frozen in ice for decades. I sort of expected him to be less accepting of his fate, given how violently he reacted at the beginning of the episode, but it's good that he came to his senses and didn't spurn Tony's offer to join the Avengers. More focus on his anguish would’ve been ideal, but no doubt he will be shown to be a bit displaced in the coming episodes, so that should make up for this. Captain America was, admittedly, a bit useless during the final battle though, contributing nothing more than the information that Arnim Zola was the creator of Doughboy. He’d work best in his rightful role of leader, but I can’t see Iron Man surrendering the title anytime soon… Still, the seasoned super-soldier is the one who should be barking the orders.

This episode wasn’t quite everything I had hoped for but there were some enjoyable moments seeded throughout, from Iron Man deflating Wasp’s exuberance (“It’s actually on auto-pilot, Wasp… sorry”) to the newfound depth for Iron Man (as we learnt that he had idolised Captain America growing up). There were a few confusing matters, like how Captain America’s costume seemed to repair itself before his battle with Zemo, but never mind. As ever, we end with the promise that the plot strands presented in the course of the story will lead to a pay-off later down the road, so with any luck the forthcoming encounter with Black Panther and the revelation of what Enchantress is up to will deliver on that promise.