Friday, November 20, 2020


Written by Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: The Avengers search for Hulk in the arctic, but instead find Captain America, frozen in suspended animation. They defrost him in their Quinjet en route home, and Cap flies into a rage, briefly fighting the group before leaping out of the jet into the water as it approaches New York. The Avengers go after Cap on Liberty Island, where he holds his own against them until Wasp helps him realize what has happened.

Meanwhile, in Hydra's secret island lair, Baron Zemo confronts Baron Strucker for leadership of Hydra -- but learning that Cap is back, Zemo leaves the organization to Strucker and departs to seek out Arnim Zola instead. Zola gives Zemo a treatment which apparently prolongs his life. Zola and Zemo then sic Zola's creation, Doughboy, on Liberty Island. Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man head out to stop the monster, while Wasp stays behind, trying to comfort Captain America. Another Doughboy invades Avengers Mansion, but Wasp defeats it --then Zemo shows himself, knocking Wasp out, and attacks his arch-enemy.

The two old foes duel, and when Zemo briefly gains the upper hand, Black Panther appears and saves Captain America. Cap then continues the fight, defeating Zemo, but the villain escapes with the aid of a bomb. Realizing that the Doughboys are vulnerable to Wasp's stings, Cap and Wasp quickly depart to aid the overwhelmed Avengers on Liberty Island. After Cap explains, Ant-Man and Iron Man team up to create an energy frequency that destroys the humongous Doughboy.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Tony Stark invites Cap to join the Avengers, and he accepts. Meanwhile, Zemo returns to Zola's lab to find the scientist unconscious, and the Enchantress and Executioner waiting for him with an offer.

Continuity Notes: The group shot in the opening credits shows only Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and Ant-/Giant-Man.

Iron Man says that the adventures of Captain America and Bucky are taught to schoolchildren, and notes that he, particularly, sees Cap as an inspiration. Later, he gives Cap a photo of his father, Howard Stark, with Cap and Bucky.

Unbeknownst to the Avengers, Black Panther breaks into the mansion while they're out dealing with Captain America, and searches their personnel files. He also spies on the group as they speak with Cap in their meeting room. This leads up to the moment where he saves Cap's life against Zemo -- and then, when Cap mentions the Panther to Tony in the episode's closing scenes, Stark is understandably confused.

Zemo declares that he was "running Hydra when [Strucker] was a child." We're told that Strucker left Zemo imprisoned in the Raft at some point in the past. As in the early AVENGERS comics, this Zemo is Heinrich, the man who Captain America battled in World War II -- but he wears the costume of the second Baron Zemo, his son Helmut. He does, however, wear the original costume in a flashback to the War. Zemo is also highly proficient with a sword, as his son has been shown to be in the comics.

In the flashback, which shows the accident that fused Zemo's mask to his face, the baron reveals that he is a super-soldier, having experimented upon himself. He also later tells Cap that he's "evolved his body" over the decades since the star-spangled sentinel went on ice.

Iron Man provides Cap with a room designed to resemble the trappings of the 1940s, though how he did it so quickly (like, within hours of the Avengers finding Cap) is a bit puzzling. He also gives Cap a very slightly modernized version of his original costume.

Do I Know That Voice? Again, nobody I recognized this week.

My Thoughts: You can't really say this issue is based on AVENGERS #4, which brought Captain America into the modern Marvel Universe, but it certainly borrows a few plot points from it (the Avengers finding Cap in the arctic while looking for Hulk, Cap going off the rails and attacking the group when they defrost him, and the team going off to fight a new threat while Cap stays behind at the mansion), while also mixing it up a bit with the first appearance of Baron Zemo -- though I seem to recall that when Zemo arrived in the comics, he already had the Masters of Evil with him. In that respect, I like this version better. The idea of Zemo first going after Cap solo and then realizing he needs a team is a good one.

But beyond that, this is just a good, solid episode. I love Captain America, and this series plays him just about right, referring to his various fellow Avengers as "soldier" when he talks to them, being a bit of a square, etc. It's good stuff. Plus, much as I love Chris Evans in the role, I think Brian Bloom's deep, authoritative voice fits Cap better. (Though the best Cap I think I've ever heard was David Kaye in the role, in one of the ULTIMATE ALLIANCE videogames. He nailed it.) And the ease with which he dispatches the Avengers early on is magnificent to behold.

I also like Wasp filling the Rick Jones role from the original comics, trying to help Cap come to terms with his situation. It's also nice to see Iron Man and Captain America having a pleasant first encounter. The MCU is so ingrained in me these days that it's sometimes hard to remember that prior to those movies, they were generally depicted as really good friends who had occasional disagreements, rather than uneasy, standoffish teammates. (Though this Iron Man is clearly influenced by the movies -- two of which had hit theaters at this point -- his arrogance is drastically downplayed here. He's cocky, but not an over-the-top know-it-all like Robert Downey Jr.'s interpretation could often be.)

And then, of course, we have the continuing sub-plots. Black Panther's mystery quest continues, while we get some nice serialization in the form of Hulk being gone and the episode ending on a cliffhanger with the Masters of Evil on the verge of forming. Once again, EMH, in these early installments, shows how an animated adaptation of a serialized superhero comic book absolutely should be done.

Next week, it's another episode inspired by an early AVENGERS issue, as the group meets Wonder Man in "Everything's Wonderful"!

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