Directed by: Michael Gerard, Patty Shinagawa, Mitch Schauer
Producer: Marvel, Shout! Factory
Review by: Jason King
Disney’s buyout of Marvel was deeply canny for both parties – Marvel gains Disney’s shadow of distribution to provide what should be a more effective core competency (selling comic books to the young) – and Disney gains some famous names that, fears aside, will probably be used effectively.
The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show, within that framework, is a very odd show that addresses none of the potential benefits, but it is a show that I love and look forward to watching more. In many ways, it is a video successor to Twisted Toyfare Theatre that Robot Chicken has never been for me.
When watching the show, it’s immediately apparent that the show is geared toward kids. Characters are portrayed with exaggerated, cartoonish features and speak in voices that cater to children. The theme song is repeated endlessly to help brand the show.
Ultimately, though, Super Hero Squad Show comes off as being a show for people that have followed comic books for many years and not much for children at all. A main thrust of the show is, indirectly, a commentary on comic books and characters in a truly funny way. Hulk clearly is strong, but, in a way that’s strongly reminiscent of Twisted Toyfare Theatre, Hulk’s stupidity is a more central focus of his character and, as a result, he successfully acts as comic relief. Silver Surfer comes across as being more like, well, a surfer from the Silver Age, and Thor’s “Goldilocks” routine is played off constantly.
I’m not sure this is what kids want, though. If comic books are any guide, the cartoonish features take away from a superhero’s strength and self-actualization, and the humor often falls on deaf ears. Maybe kids want to see superheroes look silly, but I’m not sure.
The first volume DVD of the Marvel Super Hero Squad Show compiles the first seven episodes. All are well-written and have a surprising number of guest appearances, among them the voice-acting talents of Tricia Helfer and Robert Englund. There is little else on the DVDs besides the shows – a few trailers – one of them for a pathetic-looking MMORPG – and an interview with Stan Lee.
In conclusion, this DVD would be perfect for someone who has been an avid fan of comic books for a long enough time to understand the Infinity Gauntlet, Dormammu or the old Gray Hulk. While it is a good show for anyone, many others, including children, will be left out of a lot of the show.
For more info, http://superherosquad.marvel.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Vol. 1 DVD courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.