Iron Man Armored Adventures – The Armor Wars: Termination Review

TV

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Iron Man Armored Adventures – The Armor Wars: Termination
Studio: Marvel Animation/Method Animation
Publisher: Beyond Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $12.98 (Available Here)

Overview

‘The Armor Wars: Termination’ is Season 2, Volume 2 of the animated series ‘Iron Man Armored Adventures’. Originally airing in the first half of 2012, Termination came to DVD boasting 7 episodes. With the litany of Iron Man-based anime’s out there, you Marvel fans may be asking yourself if Armored Adventures may be worth your time. Read on to find out.

Story

The Armor Wars: Termination covers episodes 7-13 of Iron Man Armored Adventures’ second season. Like most long-form animated series, most episodes have their own self-contained story, although certain themes and characters re-appear to thread together a main plot. The first half of Season 2 – which is concluded with this DVD – revolves around the Armor Wars whilst the last batch of 13 episodes focuses on the Stane International storyline.

The Armor Wars involve many entities who have either stolen, or are attempting to steal Stark tech for their own evil purposes/plans. Many of those plans include the destruction of Iron Man. The first episode on this DVD, “Titanium vs Iron”, has Justin Hammer – a 21 year old multi-billionaire and competitor to Tony Stark – presenting his newest creation, Titanium Man, to prospective buyers in the military field. Infiltrated by Iron Man, the presentation is a bust and the first confrontation between these men of metal ensues.

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“The Might of Doom” introduces Fantastic Four super villain Dr. Doom into the mix as he makes a somewhat shaky deal with Obadiah Stane – recently appointed, acting CEO and Chairman of Stark Industries – to help his floundering project in exchange for the Iron Man suit specs. I particularly liked Doom’s treatment here as a major force in the Marvel Universe. I also appreciated how, what seemed like a flaw in continuity when Iron Man’s attack actually floored Doom, was later addressed and tied into Doom’s reasoning for wanting Stark’s tech.

“The Hawk and the Spider” sees the familiar pairing of Hawkeye and Black Widow appear on the scene. The duo steal Stark Industries’ U.I. Chip (just another job for them), but don’t keep possession of it for very long as Justin Hammer ends up getting his weasily hands on it. This is little more than a throwaway episode used just as an introduction for Black Widow. “Enter: Iron Monger”, however, is important in introducing the Iron Monger suit that Obadiah Stane is famous for using in the comics. Here, he builds it under the guise of simple construction-demolition equipment, but Iron Man knows better.

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“Fugitive of S.H.I.E.L.D.” features the return of Black Widow as she plays thief, yet again, only this team S.H.I.E.L.D. is the victim. Taking a Vibranium/Adamantium mix alloy and data drive, Romanov tags Iron Man in passing, resulting in S.H.I.E.L.D. pursuing Stark for the crime. Stark discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has built a troop of “Mandroids” (terrible name) integrating unauthorised Stark tech. After an encounter with them, Stark sets his sights on the stolen goods, entering a four way battle with Romanov, Stane and (returning from episode 4) Ghost.

This next episode really took me off guard, as it basically turns into an absurd Saw film. Tony Stark’s classmates, twins Rhona and Andy Irwin, gas the classroom and proceed to test Stark in a series of stages where he must correctly answer a question for each of his captured friends. There was always tension between the two parties, but this episode felt like such a jarring thematic departure. And what is their motivation? Rhona is upset that Stark has taken over as the No. 1 student…is that truly reason enough to threaten  his friend with a descending saw?!

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Finally, we have “Heavy Mettle”. Stane has improved the Iron Monger after developing the Vibranium/Adamantium alloy and is showing it off to interested Military parties. The board at Stark Industries is poised to make Stane permanent CEO when Stark crashes the party with some incriminating footage of Stane’s dealings with Ghost. However, Stark makes the mistake of repeating a line to Stane both in and out of the suit, leading him to be discovered by him. Furious, Stane then goes on a rampage before his daughter Whitney convinces him to stop.

Soon enough though, Justin Hammer interferes, having the Iron Monger remotely controlled by an ally as he tries to make the save and put on a show for the news cameras, effectively painting Titanium Man as the hero and superior combat suit. This mega-brawl requires Tony to don the Hulkbuster suit, and things really pick up. This episode is a great bookend to this half of the season, leading into the Stane International story arc. The show really shines during the action sequences, and this episode is one of those instances.

Visuals & Audio

Iron Man Armored Adventures follows the trend of Western animation where the visual style is much more three dimensional and less hand-drawn. Characters look like 3D models in a video game, but with much less detail. I prefer the 2D, illustrated style implemented in Japanese anime as it feels more organic and artistic and not as technical. Though, when the characters are in motion, Iron Man Armored Adventures looks very good.

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When things are at a stand-still is when you begin to notice how flat and non-descript the environments are especially. Unfortunately, this style also doesn’t leave a lot of room for subtlety in facial expressions either. The voice acting, thankfully, does not exaggerate too much in compensating for that fact. Overall, there are some of the usual cheesy jokes and delivery of lines, but the voice acting is more than serviceable.

The sound effects do their job and the music is your standard fare of classic action/super-hero, dramatised pieces. In terms of issues in the presentation, the video/audio transfer itself is good, except for a slightly noticeable transparent vertical line on the very edge of the right hand side of the image. Also, there are no menu options or a set-up sub-menu to speak of, so English better be your first language!

Overall

This Iron Man Armored Adventures – The Armor Wars: Termination DVD is bare bones with no special features, but with animated TV series like these, that’s not uncommon. And for the price of only $12.98, you get what you pay for. I was disappointed, however, to see a complete lack of set-up/settings; I expected, at the very least, some subtitle options.

The show itself is definitely more suited for pre-teens/teens (especially because Tony Stark et al are in their teens here themselves), but for a Marvel fan of any age, it is watchable. The visual style was a bit hit-and-miss for me, and the story is very cookie-cutter, but the action is well choreographed. If you have kids who are getting into comics, you should take a look at buying this DVD.

6-5-capsules-out-of-10

I am a graduate of the Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment (w/ major in Games Design) course at Qantm College, Sydney.

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