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April 20, 2014

Review: The Venture Bros. - Return to Malice

by Annie Wu, posted Nov 9th 2009 12:40PM
21 podcasting
(S04E04)
It's enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious, in a town called Malice. Yeah. I totally just made that up. Right now. Free words of wisdom, from me to you.

This episode wasn't spectacular for the purposes of laughing-out-loud. It was funny in a few moments, yes, but I spent most of the twenty-some minutes resting my chin on my fist, brow furrowed with concern. All the characters are going through some heavy stuff right now, and that inner turmoil, dealing with loss and identity and love, came bubbling to the surface in this episode. Doing so, again, isn't much of a gut-buster, but it makes for beautiful character development. Can you tell I have faith in this show? Maybe a little too much.

One of the major points in this episode was 21's grieving process over the loss of 24. In addition to bulking up and becoming a genuinely feared henchman, he's been carrying on one-sided esoteric, nerdy arguments with a skull, which we'll for now assume is that of 24. I'll admit, before the season started, I had already accepted 24's death as something 21 would just have to deal with alone, but thanks to the post-credits clip, it looks like there's going to be a spooky, scary mystery surrounding this whole matter.

Plus, someone in the comments of the Mantis-Eye Experiement discussion post noted that Exodus 21:24 is the "eye for eye" verse. Real sneaky move.

Also, apparently heated cryptozoological or pop culture-centric discussions are common among the Monarch's henchmen. Also, also, I was caught off-guard by the henchmen actually looking different from each other, instead of just being 24 copies. Was this a move to humanize/individualize them after a major character tragedy, in a "Henchmen are people too!" way? Or just because they got sick of always drawing square-jawed 24?

Speaking of drawing, did anyone else notice that Dr. Mrs. The Monarch's boobs completely exploded when she was on the phone? Of course you did. That was, you know, interesting. Of all the characters, I feel like her design is the most inconsistent. She's always attractive, but I thought she looked the best mid-season two when she was a little more angular and not just all circles, even in the face. Maybe they're trying to push the cartooning more, emphasizing her short curviness to contrast with, like, Molotov's extra-tall, lean silhouette. Sorry, is my illustration-tainted brain showing?

Ahem. Anyway. There were some tender character-revealing moments between Dr. Venture and Dr. Girlfriend, 21 and the boys, puffy-faced Monarch and 21, Sgt. Hatred and the rain ("What would Giant Boy Detective Do!?"). I especially liked that talk between Dr. Venture and Dr. Girlfriend, as it wasn't as sleaze-fueled as their conversations in the past. Not much action, not too many laugh-out-loud moments. It felt like a half-hour staircase to something bigger and crazier that will surely come later in the season.

I believe this was the first Doc Hammer solo writing effort of the season. It felt very Doc Hammer-ish. Hammer also seems to have been doing a lot of design work lately. That magazine cover we saw for all of two-thirds of a second was distinctly his doing, and I think we also caught a glimpse of the moon-orbiting Astrobase on the back cover of something at some point. Oh, and if there are any full-on Hammer fans lurking around here, you should probably go here (kind of NSFW... Just scroll carefully). There's also this Auxiliary Magazine interview he did recently, in which he talks about fashion, painting and a little bit of Venture Bros. Just putting that out there.

Finally... I miss Dr. Orpheus already. Let's get some of that action going again.

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Brockfan

Anyone else like the conversation when Hank told 21 that he needed to move on from the loss of someone he loved? Great symmetry there, I thought.

November 09 2009 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gio

I enjoyed this episode alot, It had the character developmental thing, Visually it was Very carefully laid out, I was impressed with Mrs. Monarch's expressiveness as she sat on the porch with Doc V. (check that out better emoting than alot of real actors) Theres alot of effort being made to elevate this series beyond a superfriends/ johnny quest satire. I found myself chuckling quite a bit, it had a subtle humor that maybe partially tied to being a teenager in the seventies. Last episodes references to YES album cover artist Roger Dean were further evidence of this mind set.
Like a classic video game i could watch this one again, combing for missed details ( I am an Uber Fan!) In contrast to the Capt. Sunshine episode this season. Kind of Baron Ironjaw tries to marry Dean plot recycled. I don't object to some transgender humor. But It gets to be a stale one note joke if not used sparingly.

November 09 2009 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
EbonyDad

Thanks Annie. I noticed it afterwords, then just chalked it up to spellchecker. :-)

November 09 2009 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I'm not sure if the moving skull thing was something we'll see more of or random thought. We still haven't heard or seen anything more about Phantom Limb's survival/revenge attempts aside from a post credits clip of him attacking Manitor.

November 09 2009 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ryan's comment
Annie W.

Ah, a very interesting thing to consider. Not entirely sure why P. Limb would be scratching names off 21's list, but that guy is twelve kinds of crazy anyway, so it could very well be him.

November 09 2009 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
EbonyDad

I thought the reason they had different looking henchmen was for the fact that 21 had recruited new henchmen from his LARK group. This was also the reason why a number of the henchmen also looked up to him.

November 09 2009 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to EbonyDad's comment
Annie W.

Just to save you from the wrath of the hardcore: It's LARP.

Also, that's an interesting point, though I don't think it would work with the Nessie v. Champ guy, who seemed to only know 21 by reputation. And I think most of the henchmen looked up to him because he bulked up and became extra-authoritative. That stubble is kind of intimidating too.

November 09 2009 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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