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“The Super Hero Squad Show: The Infinity Gauntlet, Vol. 3″: Infinite Fun

The Super Hero Squad ShowThe Squaddies are back for a second season of hilarious hi-jinks, goofy stories, and light-hearted action. If you have been enjoying the adventures of The Super Hero Squad so far, then you are in for more of the same all-ages comedy and action. If you’re new to the series … well … you may be in for a surprise. I can only assume – if you’re reading this review – you’re well versed in the Squaddie world. Appealing to both the long-time Marvel Comics reader and young children alike, The Super Hero Squad Show brings the light side of the Marvel Universe out, resulting in some pretty fun adventures that are worth a look. In short? Hero Up!

The fate of the universe rests in the hands – or should we say on the hand – of whoever wears the Infinity Gauntlet, a mystical glove that gives its owner the power of the cosmos. And if Thanos has his way, he’ll be wearing the Infinity Gauntlet very soon! But first he has to acquire each of the gems required to power the gauntlet, and the only things in his way is the teamwork of the exciting and lovable Super Hero Squad – Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Wolverine, Falcon and Scarlet Witch! The second uproariously funny and adventure-filled season of The Super Hero Squad Show nears its conclusion!

The Super Hero Squad ShowI’ve described this show in the past as “cute” and…while I think that still stands, it does do the show a bit of a disservice. I think I’d maybe lean a bit more toward “goofy” than “cute” actually. By no means are there constant pratfalls and goofy hamming for the camera. In fact, there’s barely any of that. Yeah, we get jokes and farts and burps and the like, but the humor is surprisingly restrained as we dive into the second half of season two. The majority of the humor remains broad, but there’s definitely an increase in the more subtle gags. One instance is Werewolf by Night getting frustrated by his constant changing between man and beast on a cloudy night. It’s a gag that works surprisingly well. One of my favorite gags in the entire DVD is the back and forth between Thor and Ray Beta Bill in the aptly-titled “The Ballad of Ray Beta Bill.” The constant misunderstanding and confusion between the two is pretty hilarious.

The action is very soft and usually packed with jokes and one-liners. The writing is really well done, finding a solid balance between the action and comedy. Yeah, every joke doesn’t exactly work, the batting average is still pretty impressive. All in all, I believe the creative team has 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. Sure, some adults may roll their eyes when a tussle between a hero and a villain ends up with the bad guy farting at the good guy or running away screaming his/her head off, but adults are obviously not the target audience here.

The Super Hero Squad ShowOne thing I really have to give this show credit for is bringing in such obscure Marvel characters. Man-Thing! Devil Dinosaur! Moon Boy! Werewolf by Night! Yeah, every Marvel Zombie knows who they are, but introducing these characters to a young audience is a stroke of genius on Marvel’s part. And sure, these are really sanitized renditions, but I couldn’t help but have a massive grin on my face when Man-Thing popped up on screen with Werewolf by Night to duke it out with Dracula! Or Wolverine buddying up with Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur! It was just … kind of awesome. They even managed to pay nice homage to the X-Men epic “Days of Future Past,” with a surprisingly hilarious and the intentionally cliché-riddled take on Magneto fighting off robots with a walker.

I couldn’t also help but notice how…looser this second season of the show has felt. The first season felt very “by committee,” a mish-mash of input resulting in a fine but uneven show. This has definitely changed in the second season. Stories feel more organic and a bit looser. Episodes are allowed to breathe. While the jokes are pretty constant, it’s not an ambush. The pacing has improved dramatically and, as a result, the show does feel a bit different. Some of the episodes here can feel a bit slower as compared to first season episodes, maybe even lighter in jokes from time to time, but the episode quality does seem improved overall. The fact that all seven episodes here are connected pretty closely, offering somewhat of an ongoing narrative, I find really enhances the show.

And just one last note, six of the episodes here basically have the same intro – with Dark Surfer tossing a different Squaddie into a new reality. The episodes aren’t repeating, even if they all start the same, so just let the moment play out and you’ll be enjoying these multi-reality adventures in no time!

So, which episodes do we get on this latest The Super Hero Squad Show DVD release from Shout! Factory? We get “Fate of Destiny!,” “The Ballad of Beta Bill!,” “Days, Nights, And Weekends Of Future Past!,” “This Man-Thing! This Monster!,” “The Devil Dinosaur You Say!,” “Planet Hulk!,” and “1602!”

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Moving on to the disc, it’s a pretty standard package. The disc is housed in a clear Amaray case, with images printed on both sides of the cover slip. Digging in – the menu set-up definitely looks flashy, though simple and easy to hop around on. The audio and video quality is something of a mixed bag here, I find. Audio for both titles is pretty impressive, everything is crystal clear and booming out of each speaker. The mix may be predominantly center-oriented, but every speaker gets the workout here. A big plus is an improvement in the video quality. I found less aliasing and compression this time around.

In terms of extra…there is none. Perhaps Shout! Factory will give us a nice batch of bonus content for the fourth (and likely final) second season DVD release of The Super Hero Squad Show. A little disappointing, but not that much of a letdown. The seven included episodes does make up for it. Single-disc volume releases like this can be a bit of a turn-off for fans, but it’s nice to see Shout! Factory stack them with a nice helping of episodes.

Pushing further into the second season, inching closer to the second seasons (and series) finale, The Super Hero Squad Show offers up genuine laughs and solid (though kid-friendly) action. It’s not the best show by any means, but it’s a good way to get some all-ages appropriate superhero action out to the younger crowd. And – yeah – it is actually pretty fun to watch! It’s just great to check out with the younger kids in your life. Plus, there’s plenty for the diehard 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.