The year was 1994, The nation struggled to make up its mind about NAFTA, Rock & Roll lost an icon in Kurt Cobain and Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. And do I remember any of this happening?
But I remember the Iron Man animated series.
A few weeks back Marvel was kind enough to send Major Spoilers a copy of the 3-disc collection of Iron Man, encompassing the complete 1994 series. So I poured myself a bowl of fruity pebbles, changed into my Power Rangers pajamas and sat down to relive some of my childhood memories. And there was some reliving going on, but mostly, watching each episode in succession like this allowed me to better appreciate this show, if not for its writing, then at least for its unique nuances.
The Changing Seasons
Season one is pretty bad, fortunately it’s funny bad. Most episodes consist of everyone’s favorite stereotype, The Mandarin, sending his array of cronies (Blizzard, Whirlwind, Hypnotia, Living Laser, among others) to steal Iron Man’s armor. Now if this concept sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen a cartoon before. Plotlines are tied up within one episode and the heroes, here comprised of Iron Man and Forceworks, pull out some last minute solution to foil the Mandarin’s non-diagetically hare-brained schemes. All and all very simplistic. At least until season two hits.
And really this is what makes this collection interesting, not just the fact that it has seasons one and two, but that, halfway through disk two, season 1 ends, and season 2 does a soft reboot of the series. Suddenly Tony Stark has a mullet, Forceworks dissolves, and people stop speaking in cliches and start speaking in snappy comebacks. Suddenly you go from Superfriends to post-Watchmen era characterization, not to mention that the animation and character designs change as well. I would say all these changes definitely improved the show, but it still seems a little sudden when you’re settled down for an Ironamanathon.
That said, season two is pretty strong. It touches on a lot of the Iron Man storylines of the late 80s, features a cameo by the Hulk (and Max Headroom as the Leader), and perhaps most importantly, institutes one of the best title sequences to come out of the 1990s.
All the Iron Man You Can Eat (If you’re Fin Fang Foom)
This 3-disc set is very nice, the only complaint I have about it is that there are no special features. That said, you do get about 10 hours of content, and once again, the fact that the entire series is collected here makes it that much more appealing.
I give the Iron Man Animated Series 3-disc set three whole slices of meatloaf, because it’s concise and it gives you an almost scientific glimpse into a series being rebranded, with the added benefit that, if you don’t want your kids to watch them newfangled Secret Saturdays, you can get this collection for them and expose them to some quality, family friendly (TV-Y7) superheroics.