"Iron Man: Armored Adventures - The Complete Season One" DVD Review
April 30, 2010 by James Harvey
A teenaged Tony Stark? Well, it’s a risk, I’ll give it that. Iron Man: Armored Adventures had a lot going against it when it was announced. A CGI cartoon with a drastically reworked Tony Stark was, as you could expect, not received warmly among fans. I can see why. It’s simply not the Tony Stark that fans grew up with. Plus, no one seems to be a fan of CGI-animated cartoons. However, I’m one of those fans who’s more open-minded to different interpretations of a character, with each as valid as the next as far as I’m concerned, and Iron Man: Armored Adventures is no different. And now we have the entire first season available on DVD to dissect and validate.
Join the adventures of teenage prodigy Tony Stark, and his alter ego Iron Man, as he uses his technological inventions to battle villains and save the world! When threats like Stane, Whiplash, The Mandarin, Living Laser and Madame Masque bring their own brand of chaos, it's up to Iron Man to answer the call! Suit up and get back in action with Tony and his best friends, Rhodey and Pepper, as they risk it all to defeat evil and save the day using their futuristic gadgets and a little teamwork. Enjoy 26 action-packed episodes filled with challenges, secrets and pulse-pounding showdowns. Prepare to blast off with Iron Man: Armored Adventures – The Complete Season One!
To describe the show “Peter Parker as Iron Man” isn’t far off, in all honesty. Stark is a brainy high schooler by day, butt-kicking crime-fighter by night. While he may not suffer the tumultuous beatings at the hands of Flash Thompson and his ilk, the comparisons are apt. Thankfully, the creators behind the show seem very blissfully aware of this, and even run with it. So, what we get is a basic formula which does work for the most part. While I wouldn’t say this show is extraordinary on the level of the late, great The Spectacular Spider-Man, but it’s still a totally watchable show that does have its own merits and drawbacks. Though, I will say, for the traditional Iron Man fans, turn back now. I can’t see those who’ve grown up with the comic series enjoying this take on the character.
To move on, the episodes featured in this release include the entire first season of the series, all 26 episodes. Admittedly, the show does start out kind of rough, but it does improve, by leaps and bounds at times, as it progresses toward the two-part season finale. Plus we get to see pretty cool appearances by the likes of the Black Panther and the Incredible Hulk. Fans who caught the series on Nicktoons will know what to expect here, and will likely enjoy getting to watch the entire first season on a nice DVD collection. Those new to the show, well, it’s not easy to predict what the outcome will be there. If you’re willing to take this show as a different take on an established character, then I think viewers will be pleasantly surprised.
Nice yes, but, sadly, not every episode rises above average. Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a good show, one with plenty of room to grow, gradually learning and improving with each episode. We get to see an ongoing story-line unravel mostly in the background, save for the occasional episode where some of those said subplots are thrust to the forefront, mixed in with fun one-offs. Additionally, I’m glad to see this is a series that actually acknowledges past episodes. Villains return and we see their respective storylines continued and pushed ahead. It’s a nice thing to see after so many other animated shows focused mainly on the “done in one” idea for an episode, where everything starts and ends in the same place. And this all builds to a nice two-part finale which, well, has me looking forward to the second season. There are some actual surprise twists that threw me for a bit of a loop, I’ll admit. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a great way to end the season but leave us wanting more.
Thankfully, many of the villain redesigns really, really work, some improving upon the source material. We get to see plenty of Iron Man’s classic foes, but they’re pretty much all redesigned with a new tech style that works really well for the show. And while they can be annoying at times, particularly Pepper Potts and the wasted Happy Hogan, the supporting cast does add a nice balance to the series. Adrian Petriw, voice of Tony Stark, does an excellent job here, effortlessly skipping between hero, orphaned son, and high school student with ease.
The episodes featured on this collection include “Iron, Forged in Fire, Part One,” “Iron, Forged in Fire, Part Two,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Cold War,” “Whiplash,” “Iron Man vs. the Crimson Dynamo,” “Meltdown,” “Field Trip,” “Ancient History 101,” “Ready, A.I.M., Fire,” “Seeing Red,” “Masquerade,” “Hide and Seek,” “Man and Iron Man,” “Panther's Prey,” “Fun With Lasers,” “Chasing Ghosts,” “Pepper, Interrupted,” “Technovore,” “World On Fire,” “Designed Only for Chaos,” “Don't Worry, Be Happy,” “Uncontrollable,” “Best Served Cold,” “Tales of Suspense, Part One” and “Tales of Suspense, Part Two.”
Overall, it’s a different take on the Crimson Avenger, but it’s enjoyable for what it is. I’ll give Iron Man: Armored Adventures – The Complete Season One the stamp of Recommended, but with some heavy reservations. I can guarantee there will be folks who will not like this series, and it’s understandable. If you’re insulted by the idea of Tony Stark struggling through high school, then this show may not be for you. I’d still recommend at least giving the show a bit of a test drive before dismissing it completely. This is an enjoyable show, one that does improve as it progresses, albeit perhaps a bit too slowly. It all leads up to a really enjoyable finale that raises some interesting questions that fans of the series will want to see answered. Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a new take on the character, it’s one that deserves a spin, and you can’t go wrong with a full season collection.
Vivendi Entertainment has given Iron Man: Armored Adventures – The Complete Season One a pretty snazzy release. Hidden beneath a bright and colorful package, red and yellow the primary colors, all four discs are safely packaged with a digi-pak foldout inside of a slipcase.
Looking inside, audio and video for this release is pretty impressive. The video transfer is undeniably strong here, looking crisp, clear, and near perfect. The audio is just as solid, managing to really pack a punch during the action sequences. A remarkable amount of work has definitely been put into making Iron Man: Armored Adventures look its absolute best on DVD. It’s a shame this full season won’t see a Blu-ray release.
And while this release may be stacked with episode after episode of Iron Man adventures, the bonus materials are a shade light but an improvement over the single-disc volume releases. Bonus content mostly consists of a smattering of storyboards and design work for the series. We get to see rough sketches, model sheets and design work for an assortment of characters and accessories for the show – basically the same images that Marvel has been releasing to promote the series. The disc is rounded off with some trailers. Somewhat disappointing, especially since the Wolverine and The X-Men DVD releases can get commentaries on every episodes, I would have liked to have seen even one or two commentaries, even just on the pilot and season finale, for example. Given the international background for this series, that might have been an interesting avenue to explore, too. But, still, we get the entire first season plus some good material, so fans should be generally pleased here.
For die-hard fans of Iron Man: Armored Adventures, you have no reason to pass this up. You get the entire first season of the series in one tidy little collection. Even casual viewers should check this out, especially in light of the big screen Iron Man 2 flick. The episodes included are enjoyable, and the show gradually improves more and more after a somewhat limp start, leading up to an absolutely adventurous two-part season finale. For fans of the show, or perhaps parents looking to add some iron to their kid’s DVD collection, this hefty release should do just fine. Iron Man: Armored Adventures – The Complete Season One comes Recommend to own.
Iron Man: Armored Adventures – The Complete Season One arrives on DVD May 4th, 2010.