Episode #9 - Ancient History 101
Original Airdate - June 5th, 2009
The search is on for the Makluan Rings, and Tony and his friends go back to square one -- the site where Tony's dad found the first ring. But at the site, they find more than they bargained for, namely a test -- and a guardian. Finding the ring is one thing, but you have to earn their power. And while Gene and Rhodey learn the secret history of the Makluan Rings, Tony and Pepper are in for the first of their lives against the ring's guardians -- the Dreadknights.

Story Editor Christopher Yost
Written By Alexx Van Dyne
Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
Review by Arsenal

Letís talk about the animation of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

Iíve reviewed the last seven episodes and talked about plotting, writing and even a bit about voice acting, but ignored the animation almost entirely. Thatís my fault. Allow me to rectify that here.

Iron Man is computer animated and, instead of recalling the more stylized Jimmy Neutron or Back in the Barnyard, it resembles the MTV Spider-Man or Reboot. It uses more realistic, stiffer human models.

The stiffness of the animation is an asset when Tony Stark is Iron Man. It makes sense that someone moving in 100 pounds of metal would be a little rigid, and it makes the fight sequences that involve Iron Man, the Mandarin or the tech-based baddies more realistic.

However, it hurts the ďactingĒ of the animated people. Tony (as Tony), Gene, Pepper and Rhodey only seem to have a limited number of facial expressions and gestures, so nuances of the voice are not often reflected in the face.

Some episodes (like ďThe Crimson DynamoĒ) overcome this with great voice acting and improved animation, but generally the animation feels like a series of understated expressions trying to approximate human emotion.

The episode you ask? Oh, itís an important one that pertains to one of the two season-long plots.

Tony, Gene, Pepper and Rhodey are searching for another of the Mandarinís rings. They fight some big, stone creatures in an ancient temple beneath New Jersey. (Once again, the plot feels familiar. X-Men Evolution did something almost identical.)

Also, Rhodey learns to trust Gene (who is, by they way, the villainous Mandarin) even though Gene knocks him unconscious with a big rock.

The episodes involving Obadiah Stane or the Mandarin are supposed to be the tent poles of this show, because the little details will be important the next time we see Stane or the Mandarin. The problem? Stane and Mandarin are both boring villains.

The writers try to upgrade Mandarin here by making him seem like a clever manipulator. But he comes off as a goofball who is in over his head. (Once again, his scheme includes wacking Rhodey in the skull with a rock. This is the best an evil genius could muster?)

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