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Living Legend

Season One, Episode 09

Director(s) Vinton Heuck 
Writer(s) Kevin Burke
Chris Wyatt
Summary The Avengers are in glacier territory, following the Hulk after he bounded off at the end of the last episode. While they scan with JARVIS' sensors for the Jade Giant, they find the ice-bound form of Captain America, who has been trapped in the ice since World War II. They defrost him on their way back to New York City, and Cap picks up where he left off; he assumes that Iron Man is some kind of Hydra automaton, and tries - and succeeds! - in escaping, diving out the hatch of the quinjet and into the waters near the Statue of Liberty.

Meanwhile, the Black Panther does a little high-tech breaking and entering while the Avengers are out of the Mansion. He makes his way to the sub-levels and the Meeting Hall, where he hacks into the Avengers personnel files.

Back at the Statue of Liberty, Iron Man tries to convince Captain America to come with them quietly, with no success; its not until Wasp shows Captain America to the Cap/Bucky Memorial statue that Cap is shaken from his conviction that this is all some kind of Hydra trick.

On the flying island base HYDRA headquarters, Zemo confronts Baron Von Strucker and the Grim Reaper about Von Strucker's takeover of HYDRA while Baron Zemo was imprisoned. Von Strucker orders the Grim Reaper to attack baron Zemo, who puts the Grim Reaper on the ground, literally dis-armed, in seconds. Von Strucker powers up the Satan Claw, and is about to throw down with Zemo, when a HYDRA agent comes in with the news that Captain America is alive!

Zemo walks out, telling Von Strucker that he can have HYDRA, but that Zemo is taking Arnim Zola... to destroy Captain America!

Flashback to 1943, Italy, to a heavily-guarded HYDRA research facility. Captain America is fighting Baron Zemo, while Bucky deals with the HYDRA soldiers (using a HYDRA machine gun). Baron Zemo is about to release Virus X against the allies, and as he fights Cap, he boasts how the Erskine Super-Soldier Formula is no match for his own; he's stronger and faster than Captain America. As Zemo is about to unleash Virus X on Cap, Cap throws his shield at the vat behind him, and Virus X spills on Zemo instead, binding his mask permanently to his face.

In the present day, Zemo has entered Arnim Zola's lab, and is attacked by Doughboy, but called off by Arnim Zola. Arnim Zola gives Zemo another treatment to keep the effects of Virus X at bay; it was only Zemo's version of the super-soldier formula and the treatments that has kept the Virus X from killing Zemo all these years.

Zola is informed of Captain America's survival, and Zola comments that a DNA sample from Captain America is all Zola would need for an army of super-soldiers, and a permanent cure for Zemo. Zemo promises to bring Zola the head of Captain America.

Back at the Mansion, the Avengers have returned with Captain America, interrupting the Black Panther's file-scanning, but remains undetected while the Avengers show Captain America relevant news clips about his past since becoming an icicle. Cap, doing the whole "...everything, everyone I know... is gone" bit, puts down the shield and walks away. Wasp goes after him. Alerts about unidentified Zola Doughboy-esque monsters attacking Ellis Island come in, and as the Black Panther watches from the shadows above, the Avengers are off to battle! Iron Man's repulsors don't seem to be effective, and their malleable nature defies the Thunder God's strength. All the proto-Doughboys have merged into a huge monstrosity. Giant-Man is engulfed.

At the Mansion, Cap broods and Wasp comes to talk to him. Doughboy itself shows up at the main gate, and its Cap, Wasp, and the mansion's defenses against it! It swallows Wasp, who blows it up with her stings from the inside out, to her goopy-covered disgust, only to be zapped into unconsciousness by Baron Zemo; Doughboy was just a distraction so that Baron Zemo could enter the Mansion.

Baron Zemo and Captain America (sans shield) battle, and Cap is down as Zemo taunts him about being a relic of the past, while Zemo has continued to make himself stronger. The fatal blade comes down... and its blocked by the shield? The Black Panther has come out of hiding, and saved Captain America by tossing him the shield, just in time!

Captain America rallies, and the fight against Baron Zemo continues! On the ropes, Zemo tosses an explosive device at the Wasp's body, and while Captain America runs to shield her from the blast, Zemo escapes.

Back at Ellis Island, Thor makes the uncomfortable discovery that electricity just makes the Doughboy creature(s) grow! Captain America and Wasp arrive, and Wasp's bio-energy stings prove an effective weapon, freeing Thor and Giant-Man from the creature's envelopment. Captain America frees Iron Man, and as Cap describes the creature as one of Arnim Zola's monstrosities, Giant-Man realizies thats why Wasp's bio-energy stings are so effective. Pym has studied Zola's creatures, and they all suffer from a cellular instability; the proper energy signature should prove quite effective, and after Iron Man orders JARVIS to reconfigure his armor's weapons to thatenergy signature, the creature disintigrates into messy puddles. Victorious, the Avengers and Captain America return to the Mansion.

Tony Stark extends an invitation for Captain America to join the Avengers, and Cap accepts, expressing his eagerness to meet the Avenger in the black cat suit who saved him from Zemo, to which Tony replies "Who?"

Zemo returns to Arnim Zola's lab, where he discovers Arnim Zola is the prisoner of the Executioner and the Enchantress, where the Enchantess has an offer for Baron Zemo...
Commentary My first thought in this episode is how rich the storyline is; its really hard to come up with a short summary, without actually cutting important stuff out. Christopher Yost (et al) is doing an excellent job of adapting the formative adventures of the Avengers into a modernized cohesive whole. Those familiar with the Avengers history will find many familiar echoes.

As a long-time Winghead, I am... well, perhaps not happy with all the changes they've made to the Captain America legend to bring it up to date, dodge certain restrictions, and still be recognizable. I admit, with the earlier abortive attempt at an Avengers cartoon, I was grateful that the "Big Three" had been excluded. Not so with this show; while there are certainly changes, the flavor and essential elements have been preserved, mostly to account for a cohesive, logical narrative. The role of Zemo, pere and fils, is fulfilled here by just the father, who has survived the time since World War II because of his and Arnim Zola's scientific genius. He is Captain America's physical equal, and his intellectual superior; in every way he is the twisted, evil mirror, the yang to Cap's yin.

The essential elements to the Avengers' early history with Captain America are here, sans the rather insipid alien menace; the "Man Out of Time" card is here, the "Bucky is dead" card is here. Neither of these cards is over-played; the heavy-handed melodrama of the Stan Lee era has given way to a much more realistic tone. Also, replacing the Medusa/alien threat with Zemo lets us progress deeper into the series' mythos. Nothing is wasted, which is why the episode feels so fully-packed. The shield use sequences are masterfully choreographed, although I swear when he leaped at Zemo's bomb to protect Wasp, I could have sworn he planted his shield just short of her body.... *snickers*
Notes Youtube:
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