Debuting this Saturday, October 23rd at 6:30 AM EST (no, that’s not a typo, I wrote “AM”), is the second season of Marvel animated series “Super Hero Squad,” a kid-friendly, more comedic version of their super-team, the Avengers.
The overall plot of the show’s first season: perennial Fantastic Four villain Dr. Doom is seeking fragments of a powerful sword that’ll give him the power to conquer the world. From his lair in “Villainville,” Doom relies mainly on his two bumbling henchmen to gather the fragments: MODOK (a giant head with arms in a floating chair; his name’s an acronym for “Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing”, but here he’s just a sniveling underling of Doom’s) and the Abomination (an old Incredible Hulk villain; he has powers like the Hulk, but can’t turn back into a normal human/opted to use his powers for evil).
The three villains, plus occasionally-appearing other Marvel villains under Doom’s employ, are regularly defeated by the Squad, an Avengers-esque group of heroes based on SHIELD’s flying Heli-carrier who defend “Super Hero City.” Said team consists of: Captain America; Iron Man; Wolverine; the Silver Surfer (who here has a “surfer dude” accent); Thor; the Hulk; Falcon (an African-American hero with falcon-like abilities; Wikipedia says he’s mainstream American comics’ first African-American superhero); and Reptil (a Hispanic teenaged hero who can turn any part of himself into any type of dinosaur). Their SHIELD supervisor is Ms. Marvel, a heroine with super-strength, speed and flight powers.
The second season looks like a bit of a retooling: the new main villain will be Thanos (an old Marvel master villain, a la DC’s Darkseid), who’s looking for a set of gems that’ll give him the power to conquer the universe.
The show’s clearly aimed at a young audience (lots of slapstick moments, plus the earlier episodes feature toilet humor), but has a fun tone to it. While it has racial diversity (Falcon and Reptil, plus the occasional appearance of other minority Marvel heroes like Storm and the African-American version of Nick Fury), as noted by Comics Worth Reading, one flaw is the Squad’s complete lack of female members (unless you count Ms. Marvel). The second season plans on adding several female characters to the cast—a few villains, plus the Silver Surfer’s being replaced by the Scarlet Witch (a mutant like Wolverine, and X-Men enemy Magneto’s daughter; her mutant power is possessing mystical “hex powers”). Even better in that regard would be to see the cartoon follow its spinoff comic’s lead, and also add the Scarlet Witch’s fellow heroines the Wasp, Tigra, and She-Hulk to the Squad.
With the debut of “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” a new Avengers cartoon for Disney XD (featuring a more serious/traditional take on the above heroes), I’m wondering what the future of “Super Hero Squad” will be, given I doubt Marvel/Disney will see a need for *two* Avengers cartoons, and surely would rather promote the one that’s airing on a network they own. Not helping my concerns is that Cartoon Network’s apparently decided to bury “Super Hero Squad,” airing the second season’s debut (and new following episodes) at 6:30 AM EST/5:30 AM CST. One would think Cartoon Network could free up one of their multiple daily airings of “Scooby-Doo” or of one of their second-rate live-action movies/reality shows to give “Super Hero Squad” a better time slot.