"The Super Hero Squad - The Complete First Season" DVD Review
November 19, 2010 by James Harvey
Believe it or not, but you can see the progression of this series from the first episode to the season finale. Jokers become tighter, plots a bit looser, and the series in general a little less…hands on. The Super Hero Squad Show felt like a very “by committee” series when it first kicked off. Enjoyable, yes, but a bit stiff and somewhat forced at times, both in terms of script and animation quality. However, as the show rockets toward its two-part season, The Super Hero Squad Show becomes quite the zany adventure. Not as solid or consistent as Batman: The Brave and The Bold, but still a friendly, all-ages take on Marvel’s mightiest heroes.
When the greatest heroes on the planet unite to face the world’s greatest villains, you get the biggest, most family-friendly Super Hero team-up in TV history…Super Hero Squad. It’s no small job protecting Super Hero City from the wild, weird (& even wacky) villainy of VillainVille’s infamous baddies…but Iron Man, Wolverine, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, Thor and the Falcon are always up for the job. Shouting "Hero Up!" as they rush into battle, the Squad must keep Dr. Doom’s allies from gathering pieces of the Infinity Sword. Otherwise, Doom will use the Sword to rule the universe! Luckily, the City is filled will Marvel Super Hero guest-stars to help out in a pinch. These brave heroes totally deliver the action – but with plenty of humor on the side. "Hero Up!" with The Super Hero Squad – The Complete First Season!
A fun, and usually packed with family-friendly action, The Super Hero Squad Show is definitely an interesting little series. It’s a team show like you’ve never seen, taking a very all ages approach to some of Marvel’s biggest heavy-hitters, both good and bad. In fact, this new take on Marvel’s stable of heroes, save for Spider-Man, is blatantly obvious from the get-go. With a big feet/big hands chibi-esque design to each character, and simple fact that Super Hero City and VillainVille are the main locations for the show, we know this series be a dark and gritty drama like some of Marvel Animation’s other recent titles. The crew behind the show are striving for something different and, for the most part, they do succeed.
The best way to describe this show is “cute.” It’s a cute show. All the characters look cuddly in their own respect, with their stubby three-fingered (and one thumb) hands and huge feet, completely inoffensive in every way. Even Wolverine, who’s claws now look kind of like knitting needles, is cutified. And naturally, all the villains are bumbling idiots, stumbling about and barely competent. The action is very soft and usually packed with jokes,farts and one-liners. All in all, I believe the creative team have faithfully executed what they wanted to do – make an all-ages fun adventure show starring Marvel heroes. Nothing serious or dark, just flat-out fun and corny, and they succeeded. There’s nothing here to scare kids and the show should keep most adults entertained for the duration of each episode. In fact, this show is a great gateway into the larger Marvel Universe for the younger set.
If I have any complaints, it’s for only two things really. The first is that some of the humor just doesn’t work, which is the same as any show I suppose. I’m sure kids love fart and burping jokes as much as the next, but it seems like there’s just so much of that at times. It’s completely expected for a show such as this, but sometimes…boy…they really pile it on. Secondly, this show seems really “by committee” for me. While the creative team on the series obviously has great love for the series, it does seem a bit artificially composed at times. However, that does seem to wither as the series moves toward the finale. Perhaps the earlier episodes were more strictly regulated than the latter. The latter episodes do feel a bit looser and, therefore, easier to digest than the earlier ones. Still, the feeling remains nonetheless.
Now, this collection contains all 26 episodes from the first season of The Super Hero Squad and, like any show, there’s a fair share of stinkers and successes. Thankfully the great episodes far outweigh some of the weaker ones. In fact, there is maybe three or four weak episodes in total, with the rest strong across the board and nearly all respect. Included episodes are “And Lo... A Pilot Shall Come!,” “To Err Is Superhuman,” “This Silver, This Surfer,” “Hulk Talk Smack!,” “Enter Dormammu!,” “A Brat Walks Among Us!,” “From the Atom It Rises!,” “Night in the Sanctorum!,” “This Forest Green!,” “O Captain, My Captain!,” “If This Be My Thanos!,” “Deadly is the Black Widow's Bite!,” “Tremble at the Might of M.O.D.O.K.!,” “Mental Organism Designed Only for Kisses!,” “Invader From the Dark Dimension!,” “Tales of Suspense!,” “Stranger From a Savage Land!,” “Mysterious Mayhem at Mutant High!,” “Election of Evil!,” “Oh Brother!,” “Hexed, Vexed and Perplexed!,” “The Ice Melt Cometh!,” “Wrath of the Red Skull!,” “Mother of Doom!,” “Last Exit Before Doomsday!,” and “This Al Dente Earth!”
If I had to pick out a couple of the weaker episodes, and this is just my opinion, it would likely be “This Forest Green!” and “A Brat Walks Among Us!,” two of the earlier episodes. The attempts are there, to make some great knee-slapping episodes, but both just seem to peter out quickly. Like I said, the earlier episodes seem a bit more rigid and stiff as compared to the latter episodes, which brings us some great gems, such as “Election of Evil!” and “Mother of Doom!” among many others.
The Super Hero Squad Show is a fun show, no doubt. It’s one that parents can feel confident parking their kids infront of, and it serves as a great gateway to a bigger, more mature Marvel Universe down the line. Additionally, if you’re a hardcore Marvel fan, there is plenty of in-jokes, nods and references that should catch you eye. However, keep in mind that this series is aimed squarely at the younger audience. Yeah, there’s some jokes the older set may get that the younger kids won’t, but this show won’t appeal to everyone, even all Marvel fans, so be warned in that respect. Still, if you want a good chuckle or enjoy Marvel’s “all-ages” titles, The Super Hero Squad Show is right up your alley. For open-minded and Marvelites of all ages, this fun little show deserves the Recommended stamp!
Like with last year’s release of Wolverine and The X-Men: The Complete First Season Vivendi Entertainment Canada has packed their previous The Super Hero Squad Show DVD volumes releases (The Super Hero Squad Show – Volume One: Hero Up, Squaddies! and The Super Hero Squad Show – Volume Two: Titanic Team-Ups!)with unreleased material to bring about this complete season set. All four discs are housed in a standard Amaray case with special inner hinge flaps to hold all of the DVD discs. All in all, Vivendi Entertainment Canada has offered up a nice release for Marvel fans in the Great Canadian North. The extras may not be overwhelming, but there seems to be just enough to engage the younger audience and provide a new bit or two of information for the older set.
Digging in, the bonus features and overall presentation is pretty fantastic. The menu set-up definitely looks flashy, though simple and easy to hop around on. And while the bonus features are light, it’s nice to see Vivendi putting in some bonus extras that fans both young and old will get a kick out of. The bonus material includes hero profiles, music videos, trailers, and a Stan Lee interview. It’s a small collection of extras, yes, but still nice, and should provide viewers with a few extra moments of enjoyment once the main programs on each disc wrap up. The only problem is that is seems as though the bonus content just repeats itself on the second, third and fourth disc, with even the menu appearing identical. Perhaps it’s just a way for Vivendi to get bonus content on each disc, or making it easy to find regardless of whatever disc the user puts in. A teeny gripe, but one worth noting for fans picking up this release.
Click here to view package art and menu screens from these two DVD titles.
The audio and video quality is excellent for this release, I find. Audio is pretty impressive across the board, everything crystal clear and booming out of each speaker on each disc included. The mix is definitely center-oriented, but each speaker gets a bit of work here and there. The video is also well done, though compression is noticeable from time to time. Additionally, this is also a bilingual release with a complete French language available.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the show, or looking for some family-friendly comic book cartoons to watch and share, The Super Hero Squad Show is a great place to start. It’s not the best show by any means, it starts and bit rough before finding a footing, but it’s a good way to get some all-ages appropriate superhero action out to the younger crowd. Plus, there’s plenty for the die-hard Marvel fan to enjoy, no question. Full of in-jokes and references, The Super Hero Squad Show should keep the majority of Marvel fans happy. Get caught up with this fun, acclaimed series with The Super Hero Squad Show – The Complete First Season, a home video release that definitely comes Recommended for Marvel fans of all ages.
The Super Hero Squad Show – The Complete First Season is now available to own at all Canadian retail outlets. Please note that while these releases are intended for Canadian consumers, these titles are available to order online for American and other Region 1-capable consumers.