Episode #51 - The Makluan Invasion, Part One
Original Airdate - July 18th, 2012
Possessing all ten rings, Mandarin plans to rule the world, but instead he signals the Makluan Overlord’s alien fleet to invade Earth! Can Iron Man, War Machine, Rescue, Gene, and S.H.I.E.L.D. stop this new threat?

Episode #52 - The Makluan Invasion, Part Two
Original Airdate - July 25th, 2012
With Gene aboard the Makluan ship and Howard Stark at the Armory, Iron Man, War Machine, and Rescue must unite Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Black Panther, and the Hulk to stop the Makluan Overlord from destroying the Earth!

Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
Review by Arsenal


It wouldn’t take a cynical person long to punch holes in “Makluan Invasion,” the two-part series finale of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

There’s plenty of eye-roll material – most of it stemming from misguided one-liners. Gene Khan threatens that “resistance is futile.” James Rhodes spouts, “What chu talkin’ ‘bout, Makluan?” and punctuates it with a “Say whaaa?” And Tony Stark tells an alien gladiator that he “just got pwned.”

There’s also a lot of padding on this story – which is, in simplest terms, a straightforward alien invasion – to help stretch it to 44 minutes.

For example, there’s a 7-minute subplot in the first episode in which an omnipowerful alien overlord forces Stark, Rhodey, Khan and Pepper Potts to fight alien gladiators.

The segment doesn’t advance the plot. (When the sequence is finished, the overlord just puts the armored trio back on earth so the real invasion can start.) It doesn’t really do any important character work either.

It fills time and, when it’s finished, gives Stark an excuse to say “Are you not entertained?”

It could easily have been left on the cutting room floor – as could have a few Hawkeye one-liners – without hurting the final product.

But – if one chose not to be a cynic, if one opted to focus on the better aspects of “Makluan Invasion” – then they could find several things to like.

For instance, this episode does a great job of capping off two of the series’ longest-running plotlines: That Tony doesn’t play well with others and that Gene can be redeemed.

We might forget (because it’s been awhile) but season-one Tony had major trust issues. He would shut people out – even Rhodey and Pepper – in favor of handling things himself. But, over the span of 52 episodes, he’s learned to accept help.

In this finale, he embraces the team mentality and helps lead a group that includes everyone from his father to the Gray Hulk to victory. (I hope I’m not giving away too much by saying that the aliens do not, in fact, destroy the earth by the end of the episode.) Season-one Tony could never do that.

Also, the series finally gives us a satisfying ending to the long (and often boring) story of Gene Khan.

Gene spent 49 episodes as an obnoxious, entitled, know-it-all, B-grade Dr. Doom. But the last three episodes convincingly turned him into a likable hero by:

· filling in his back story. (See my review of “The Dragon Seed” for more elaboration there.)
· contrasting him with the alien overlord. (Gene spends most of this finale a captive of the overlord. Their relationship is a lot like Prince Zuko and King Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gene, like Zuko, thinks he wants to be a conqueror until he sees the overlord and realizes being a conqueror would make him the bad guy.)
· teaming him with the heroes. (The Zuko analogy continues to work here. Gene comes full circle by the end of the series and teams with Tony (who totally works as an Aang analogue, by the way,) Rhodey (more of a Katara) and Pepper (definitely a Sokka/Toph hybrid.)

In addition to giving us satisfying conclusions to those series-long plots, the episode also fits in some other nice moments. We get the proto-Avengers (Team Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Black Panther and Nick Fury) fighting aliens, Howard Stark donning an Iron Man suit and a nice wrap-up to all that Pepper-Tony flirtation.

So – despite the fatty plot and occasional groan-inducing punchline – “Makluan Invasion” has plenty to enjoy, if you’re willing to put your cynicism on hold.

And I think that’s true of the series, as well, especially in the much-improved second season.

Because, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be hard to find something to complain about in any given episode of Iron Man. (Both the writing and the animation could be iffy sometimes.) But we shouldn’t disregard a show’s successes because of its flaws.

This was a braver show than many people realize. Iron Man: Armored Adventures dared to let its hero lose – a lot. The creators of this series allowed Tony to grow through both success and failure, which is a great (and uncommon) message to pass along to the children who are watching.

And, finally, it cannot be stated enough that Iron Man: Armored Adventures – if nothing else – got its core triad of Stark, Rhodey and Pepper absolutely right.

The creative crew had a great grasp on who those three kids were, what they wanted and how they interacted. (Also, it should be said, that the voice actors had a great grasp on their characters, as well.)

A good bit between the three of them salvaged some dire episodes.

Ultimately, what you think of Iron Man probably says something about you as a viewer. If you hated it and thought it was all dreck, you probably came in with some preconceived notions and expectations that you never shed. (I suspect some people never got over the de-aging of Tony Stark.)

If you loved it unabashedly, then you’re probably the sort of person who thinks writing 1,000 words dissecting a cartoon is a waste of time.

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. Because even the show occasionally made me roll my eyes – they seriously made Gene say “resistance is futile” – that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me smile too.

Allow me to leave you with a nonsequitur quote from Pepper Potts, the character who made me smile the most:

“They’re coming in at three o’clock. And six o’clock. They’re coming in at all o’clocks. Every hour. Every minute of the day.”

Iron Man and related characters and indicia are property of Marvel Comics, 2013.
Marvel Animation Age and everything relating to this site - copyright, 2001 - 2013.
Return to Marvel Animation Age.