Review: The Venture Bros. - Handsome Ransom
by Annie Wu, posted Oct 26th 2009 12:08PM
(S04E02) First things first. If you are not a connoisseur of '90s superhero cartoons or a huge nerd that has been closely following Venture Bros. news all the way through production, you may have missed out on the full "Handsome Ransom" experience. That is not to say the unaware couldn't have a good time, but things were made ten times funnier if a viewer knew that the not-so-pure Captain Sunshine was voiced by Kevin Conroy, aka Batman.
The whole episode was laden with Batman references, from the giant penny to Dick Grayson's circus background to actual direct mentions of Batman. Since so many of the jokes are heightened by the fact that it's Kevin effin' Conroy reading them, this leads me to wonder if Jackson Publick crossed his fingers for Conroy as he was writing (really difficult to type with crossed fingers) or if it was all done after Conroy had already signed off. If it was the latter, then I can only imagine the giddiness/pressure of getting to write for Batman. Come on.
Unlike the season premiere, which was heavily rooted in various parts of the show's history, this was more of a standalone installment. Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and laugh at the characters for twenty minutes without trying to tie bits of the show's universe together, and this episode certainly succeeded in doing that. Bringing back some good ol' Monarch action was nice, as usual, if only to see Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and the now weirdly super-buff 21.
The return of Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy was also very welcome, though Sgt. Hatred seemed to have some old gears turning once he found out that although Billy is built like a child, he's actually 37-years-old. Man, you'd think one pedophile would be plenty for a cartoon, but no.
Other highlights of the episode included Captain Sunshine beating the crap out of Scorpio with the end of his own scorpion car, "Shit, it's Chuck Scarsdale!", and the very existence of Ghost Robot. Also, Barbie-Q was played by a voice actress I hadn't heard before, Rachel Feinstein. That brings the Venture Bros. lady count to, like, four, I think (Mia Barron, Lisa Hammer, Nina Hellman). Yeah. You didn't know there was a lady count, did you? Well, I've been keeping track.
By the way, did this episode look extra-pretty or what? In previous seasons, the Monarch and Dr. Wife would go through a lot of stylistic fluctuations but they were beautifully animated this time. I think the subtlety of the super-powered sunburns and the Monarch's face were particularly impressive.