‘Iron Man: Armored Adventures' Season 2 Vol. 1
Back in 1996, Marvel Comics brought in a teenage version of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in an “Avengers” storyline that was largely criticized and later undone and mostly ignored.
You'd think that might have been the last anyone heard of Teen Tony, but when “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” debuted in 2009, the animated series retrofitted Tony's origin and supporting cast onto high-school age characters, making the series something of an Iron Man/Spider-Man hybrid. The second season began in 2011, and the first six episodes come to DVD in “Iron Man: Armored Adventures — Season 2 Part 1.”
In “Armored Adventures,” Tony's a 16-year-old supergenius, who is heir to tech company Stark International. His high school pals include James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Pepper Potts. As the second season begins, Rhodey is wearing the “War Machine” armor as Tony has been away.
He's forced to suit up again when corporate execs are kidnapped and Tony's father's company is endangered. The series features updated versions of classic Iron Man villains Whiplash and Blizzard. Tony must fight detractors in his own company — Obadiah Stane, running the corporation until Tony turns 18 — and outside it — new rival Justin Hammer, played as the Justin Timberlake of weapons companies.
In the third episode, Tony must help out his former villain the Living Laser, split into two distinct personalities; in the fourth episode the near-unstoppable spy The Ghost attempts to steal the Iron Man armor.
The high point of this release is “Armor Wars,” loosely based on the comics storyline of the same name that's considered an “Iron Man” strong point. Tony's Iron Man designs are stolen by The Ghost and sold to Stane, who creates knockoff corporate iron men called “The Guardsmen.” Tony's forced to go rogue to discredit the Guardsmen and retrieve his designs. In the final episode on the disc, Black Panther guest stars as Tony finds out Stark International may be involved in a foreign civil war.
The show is clearly aimed at a younger demographic, and tweaks what fans may expect from the comics and feature films. The animation works well for the armor scenes, but at times is less impressive for flesh-and-blood characters. Iron Man's younger fans likely will enjoy it; for older fans it's at best a stopgap until Robert Downey Jr. again puts on the armor.
— Matthew Price