Without wishing to raise the specter of ancient Marvel/DC rivalries, it's impossible not to compare this series with Justice League, and with Justice League's successor series, Justice League Unlimited
. For although The Avengers doesn't quite have the philosophical depth of Justice League Unlimited, like the Justice League shows it is nevertheless proof positive that a superhero cartoon can be done entirely seriously and - astonishing as this might be for some people - still wind up as an intelligent piece of television. Far more so in fact than most live action "grown up" shows that get made.
There is so much to say here, but of course, I don't want to give away any spoilers. One thing I will say is that I particularly love the languid pace at which the broader, season-spanning plot arcs are slowly, almost casually moved into place, even as the audience is blitzkrieged with the superheroic action sequences of the moment. For like Justice League Unlimited, this show is as much a serial as it is a series.
So keep your eyes open as you go along!
But for me, the best thing about The Avengers is the truly seamless melding of silver and iron age aesthetics. Old-school fans will delight in all the countless references to the original Avengers comic books from the 1960s. This applies on virtually every conceivable level, from costume design to inter-character conflicts. At the same time, we also see at least the beginnings of a far harder-edged iron age cynicism, and even political consciousness - particularly in the characters of Tony Stark, and, arguably, Henry Pym. Neither of these elements were ever even remotely present in the original comics. Contemporary comic book fans will likewise note the merging of elements from both the original and "Ultimate" Marvel Universes. Yet here again, these disparate elements are so perfectly combined that it is difficult to imagine them ever being apart.
At the time of writing, this disc is not yet available for purchase, and the product info does not state which, or how many episodes are included. As you may have noticed, I've reviewed the show, not this specific release. However, the length is listed as 154 minutes, which would translate to exactly 7 episodes of 22 minutes each. Thus, it seems likely that what we have here are the first 7 episodes. It does kinda suck when companies milk their new releases like this: I think it's obvious that most consumers would far prefer it were the show to be released in whole seasons, or at least half seasons.
While we're on the topic of this release, it's also worth adding that on a purely visual level, the DVD cover art we see in the product snapshot here on Amazon doesn't really do this show justice. The art in The Avengers actually has a very slightly "gritty" feel to it that I haven't seen in an animated television show before; at least, not outside of some of the older MTV stuff from the 1990s.
Finally, returning to the show itself, there is a lot here to tickle the interest of the more knowledgeable animation and sci-fi fans. For example, Jeffrey Combs, who so superbly provided the voice for The Question in Justice League Unlimited, here voices the classic Hulk supervillain The Leader. Combs will also be familiar to many from his various roles in multiple Star Trek series (always in heavy alien makeup). For the movie buffs, Iron Man is voiced with a downright Robert Downey Jr. quality; albeit not by Mr. Downey himself.
Ah well. We can but dream!