EPISODE REVIEW: Iron Man:Armored Adventures: “Ancient History 101” (Episode 9)

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Iron man’s unexpected winning streak continues with what is unquestionably my favorite episode of the series so far. I initially decided to start reviewing this series on a lark, since Marvel is woefully underrepresented on our site (Owing mostly to the fact that I don’t really like it, and the guys on here who do like it don’t wanna’ write about it), but Iron Man is really the only Marvel Hero who works for me (I think mainly because Rocket Red was so woefully under-used in the DC universe). I quickly regretted my decision, and watching the show became a chore; writing reviews afterwards moreso. But brother, that’s done. We’ve got three really good episodes in a row, the show seems to have found it’s footing, and I’m actually looking forward to it again.

PLAY BY PLAY

Gene Khan - the Mandarin - has been helping Tony try to figure out information surrounding the mysterious magic ring that Mr. Stark found, and which Gene stole unbeknownst to Tony. Pepper and Rhodie don’t really trust or like Gene, but Tony thinks he’s great. So moody and surly, and cool, and with good hair, too. If he dressed better he could be a latter day Seto Kaiba.

Anyway, Rhody suggests they just go to the Stark Archeological Dig in New Jersey where the ring was discovered in an ancient Chinese temple. (Don’t ask.) This they then do, and find the site abandoned. They go inside, find a secret doorway with one of those ‘test’ dealies a’la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and then the floor collapses. Rhodie and Gene end up in one part of the temple complex, Pepper and Tony in another. While they’re trying to get their wits about them, a seemingly infinite number of giant stone statues of knights come to life and try to kill them. We get some fighting, Tony in his armor, and Gene in his whatever-the-hell-it’s-supposed-to-be magic armor, with some nice tension arising from the fact that Tony wants to hide Iron man from Gene, and Gene wants to hide the Mandarin from Tony. Meanwhile, Rhodie and Gene bond over their inability to trust people, and then Gene KOs Rhodie with a big rock.

Tony eventually solves the puzzle - it was really way too simple - and they escape just as the temple collapses. Gene saves Rhodie, which kind of surprises both of them. In the process they find a map which indicates the presence of the next ring, and because they’ve passed the test, both of Gene’s rings are now active.

OBSERVATIONS

Again, there’s nothing *new* in this episode, it all played out like a pastiche of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tomb Raider, National Treasure, you name it, but it was a fun episode that moved the characters forward a bit, and once again we managed to avoid any super villains (Aside from the Mandarin, who does nothing supervillanous in this episode), and no mighty-fighty robots. The initial format of the show has been ditched for three weeks now, and as a consequence my opinion of the series is growing.

The scenes of Pepper and Rhodie basically wanting to protect Tony were kind of nice, and they actually are right: Tony is Naïve. He kind of needs them to look out for him.

Gene is an interesting presence. He’s a good addition to Team Stark, at once friendly and standoffish. He’s obviously smart as hell, and of course he’s got an entire mafia working for him, but the scenes when he’s talking about friendship almost come off as though he means it. I think we’re supposed to believe that he’s using Tony to get the rings, but at the same time he’s actually growing attached to these people.

I assume Gene will be part of Team Stark until the end of the season when he’ll betray the in the finale, but you know I find myself hoping they don’t do that. I almost don’t want the Mandarin to become a ‘real’ adversary in the show because the tension between them both trying to keep their secrets is nice. Or perhaps they could do a Mr & Mrs Smith thing, where they’re friends by day, and unwittingly trying to kill each other by night. That’d be cool.

Pepper’s screaming crush on Tony is kind of charming and kind of heartbreaking at the same time, since he clearly doesn’t know she’s alive. The animators seem to like to capture her with the “Just kiss me, stupid” look of breathless anticipation at least once an episode.

In any event, I’m definitely starting to like the show.

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