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And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them
Review and Media by Stu; Pan by Bird Boy

Episode 14 - And A Blind Man Shall Lead Them
Original Airdate 23rd September 1995

The Fantastic Four lose their powers in a nuclear explosion. Reed attempts to return their powers, whilst Ben enjoys being back to a normal looking man. But when Dr Doom takes over their building, whom can the FF turn to for help? Here comes Daredevil, The Man Without Fear!

Credits
Written By: Steve Granat and Cydne Clark
Directed By: Thomas McLaughlin Jr.
Music By: William Anderson and Anderson Scores
Animation By: PASI (Philippines)
Guest Starring: Quinton Flynn as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch*, Simon Templeman as Dr. Doom, Bill Smitrovich as Daredevil/Matt Murdock
Based on Fantastic Four # 39 and #40

*- The Human Torch was recast in Season 2.


Note: For more on the pitched "Daredevil: The Animated Series" that was rumoured to air on Fox, click here.

Review: After what can only be described as a piss poor first season, Marvel finally switched production houses and we started to get a vastly improved show. Given how irredeemable the opening season was, it was always going to be a difficult task to do something to make the show watchable again so a complete and utterly revamp was in order.

Thankfully, just about everything was reworked from the ground up, bar keeping the voices for Reed, Ben and Sue in tact. The difference in quality between the seasons is like night and day – there’s so few bad episodes in the seasons it’s a shame it’s not remembered as fondly as it deserves to be.

On some levels, this opening episode is arguably the best of the series. In others, it’s not so enjoyable.

Dr. Doom reappears and finally starts acting like Dr. Doom! His design is no longer an eye sore! The animation is actually one of the episodes highlights of the episode, and it certainly showed off the new designs in all their glory. The story wasn’t one of any great depth, but considering it basically had a whole new show to introduce, it did very well for itself. Doom never did get such a great portrayal in this show – it seems odd but I found him to be done a lot better in both Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk when he guest starred over in that. There’s nothing in here as terrible as the first season portrayal but he’s still not outstanding, just pretty good.

The characterisation here was spot on, especially The Thing, who is human once again and loving it. You feel a great sympathy for him at the end of the episode when he must revert back to his rocky state to save the others. They tried pretty much exactly the same thing in the live action movie but it was written so poorly that my eyes were rolling. Meanwhile, Reed is hard at work trying to restore their powers, Sue wonders if the powers are a blessing or a curse. Johnny doesn’t get up too much, but does manage to bring in at least 2 horribly corny lines. For those wondering, no, he doesn’t rap this season. Watching the recent Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes makes you realise how superior that cartoon’s version of The Human Torch is.

It does a good job bridging the changes between the seasons, including moving from the Baxter Building to Four Freedom’s Plaza, which of course resulted in the loss of their annoying landlady, Ms. Forbes, thank the Good Lord.

The one nitpick in an otherwise good episode is Daredevil. As a Daredevil fanboy, I was a little disappointed by his appearance here. He was more of the joking, Stan Lee kind than the gritty Frank Miller character. Visually however, it was Daredevil all over. The billy club, the radar sense, the costume, all so beautiful, exactly how you’d want it if someone grants us a Daredevil: The Animated Series show one day. He really does across as Spider-Man Light rather than Hell’s Kitchen Guardian Devil. Compare this to his Spider-Man: The Animated Series appearance and you’re going to end up disappointed. Kudos though – he had an outstanding design. This is easily the best Daredevil has ever looked when animated.

Daredevil’s somewhat weak character is more than made up by The Thing’s. It was almost tear inducing as he reverted back to The Thing, and proceeded to crush Doom’s hand. This truly was the highlight of the episode.

Overall, A Blind Man Shall Lead Them is a very strong episode that is a couple 23.87 times better than all the first season put together. It actually made me look forward to the next episode when I originally saw it, instead of wincing at what was being done to my beloved Fantastic Four.


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