The Leader In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

The Super Hero Squad Show premiered in 2009, and originally aired on the Cartoon Network. It was based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from Hasbro, which portrays all the characters in the Marvel Universe in a super-deformed-style, and was aimed at a younger generation. The show featured a lot of characters from the Marvel Universe, but primarily focused on a team of heroes including members of the Avengers and the X-Men. It was mostly a parody of super hero shows, and I doubt it ever wanted to be taken too seriously. The story-arc for the first season was about the "Squaddies" trying to stop Doctor Doom's Lethal Legion from collecting the Infinity Fractals, shards from the broken Infinity Sword, which Doom plans on using to rule the world.

The Leader appears only in one episode, "Tremble at the Might of MODOK!" but doesn't have any lines. He can be seen taking part in the Big Really Amazingly Immense Noggin Convention hosted by MODOK (other members include Egghead, Puppet Master and the Impossible Man) at the start of the episode. He also shows up again later at MODOK's party, the inauguration of the new MODOK mansion - formerly Doctor Doom's headquarters.

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes premiered in fall of 2010 on Disney XD. The first five episodes of the show were split into 20 micro-episodes which were released online prior to the shows' premiere on television. The Leader here was voiced by Jeffrey Combs. His design looks pretty great but its his voice that I think makes him almost perfect. After having a brief appearance in "Thor the Mighty", ordering the Wrecking Crew to rob a shipment of Stark tech (it is later revealed this was in reality Loki disguised as him) and a cameo in "Hulk Vs. the World" (he can be seen as an inmate in the Cube, when Banner is talking to the Absorbing Man about the prison), he finally debuts in the episode "Breakout, Part One". During the commotion of the multiple breakouts, the Leader also escapes but decides on remaining there and using the former prison as his headquarters.

His major appearance on the show takes place in the two part episode "Gamma World", where he uses the Cube's Gamma generator to create an energy dome which envelops the former prison, and slowly expands to cover the entire world. Everyone that is caught inside the dome turns into a Gamma mutant, while all the villains who were imprisoned in the Cube are now even more powerful thanks to the Gamma boosters the Leader gave them (the devices were actually originally developed by Doc Samson, and were used to drain their Gamma energy but the villain modified them). The Avengers and SHIELD agents try entering the Cube to stop the generator but are soon surrounded by some of Hulk's old foes. Some of the heroes also are affected by the radiation, turning into monsters themselves, until Black Panther manages to find and destroy the generator. At the end of the first part, their mission seems to have been a success, except the fact they didn't find the Leader anywhere inside the Cube. It is then revealed that all this was merely a test run and now the Leader is ready to start his real plan to change the world, literally re-making the world in his image.

The Leader's master plan begins in the second part. This time a Gamma energy dome is created in Las Vegas and once again slowly expanding to envelop half of North America. Everyone on the streets is mutated, except for Thor (as an Asgardian, he is apparently immune to radiation), who is brought before the Leader by Abomination. Thor confronts Leader and asks him what gives him the right to rule the world, after the villain broadcasts a message to the entire world explaining that humanity has a better chance at survival as mutants, and with him in charge. Seeing that Thor is immune to the Gamma radiation, the Leader then plans on keeping him around for entertainment, meaning he has to fight the Abomination for his own amusement. And as an answer to Thor's question about why he should rule, the Leader simply says because no one can stop him. Everything seems to be going according to his plan, until Hawkeye and Hulk smash their way into the Leader's lair - though obviously the villain was expecting his old nemesis to show up. He tries to convince Hulk that the Gamma World he is building would be a better place for him to live in: he won't be hunted anymore. However Hulk refuses the offer and starts smashing the place. The Leader uses a mobile-suit to fight his enemies but the fight is over soon enough, as the Hulk simply picks up the new Gamma generator and throws it into outer space. Interestingly, the feedback from the removal of the generator causes the Leader to mutate even further, because of the headgear he was wearing which connected him to the generator. As a result, his head grows even bigger, up to the point his body can no longer support the weight. The episode features one of my favorite lines from the Hulk on this show, used after the Leader is defeated

Leader: It would have been glorious. I was creating the perfect world, all in my image.
Hulk: That's the problem. You're ugly.

Sometime during the show's run the Leader was transported to Prison 42, a special prison located in the Negative Zone. His final appearance on the series takes place in the second season episode "Assault on 42". This time, some of the Avengers and SHIELD agents used to guard the prison find themselves trapped inside the Negative Zone, and soon discover that some kind of alien bugs are trying to break into the place. The Leader (who is now apparently able to keep his head up) tries to tell the others that he can sense these bugs and that something about them is driving him insane. The bugs are revealed to be under the control of Annihilus, an insectoid-like creature who wishes to destroy the prison that was built on his domain. The heroes realize they're going to need all the help they can get in the upcoming battle, so they decide to free the villains from their cells, at least until the crisis is averted. In the end, Leader is the one who actually saves the day, by changing the frequency from Annihilus' cosmic control rod (the rod that was used to control all the bugs) and the device which was driving the Leader insane all throughout the episode. As a result, the bugs turn on their former master and Annihilus is last seen carried away by a swarm of them. Overall this was a great episode and I thought it was interesting how the heroes were saved by a villain - it was a nice twist.

All in all, even though he wasn't used too much on this series, the Leader still turned out to be pretty awesome. He's never really been one of my favorite villains but I liked how A:EMH portrayed him. No idea when or where he'll show up in animation again (though I'm guessing the upcoming Hulk show might be a good place to look out for him); hopefully his next appearances will be good. This thread will be updated as more cartoons will feature him. udging just by this first season, leader was pretty awesome. His design looks cool and his story-arc was pretty interesting, and it's not over yet. I thought this was a perfect way to end the season - Gene is only half-way through his quest to become the one true leader.