(Recap by Erik Slader)
Episode 4: “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out”
Episode 4 gives us in an interesting one, it contrasts Nolan and Debbie’s marital troubles with Mark and Amber’s first date jitters. One thing I really appreciate from the show so far is that we get a lot more of Debbie’s perspective than we did in the comics. We see her trying to sell Olga’s house, and she starts to become more suspicious of her husband’s unusual behavior. Nolan’s putting on a good show, but it’s pretty clear that he’s cracking under the pressure. We get a really disturbing moment while they’re on a date in Rome, when a dragon randomly attacks the city and he refuses to stop it!
Meanwhile, Mark and Amber share a cute scene where he’s trying to open up to her, without revealing his secret identity. Mark accidentally slips up at one point and mentions that he and his dad took a trip to Mount Everest (which was true), but when she asks him which country he went through he immediately changes the subject as awkwardly as possible. This series (like the comics) really does a great job of playing up the tropes while shedding new light on them. Cecil attempts to get Omni-Man off the planet long enough to investigate further, by asking him to escort a group of astronauts to Mars. Unfortunately, Nolan refuses claiming that Earth needs him in the wake of the recent tragedy (that he secretly caused).
Mark overhears the conversation and steps up, offering to take on the mission in his father’s place. Cecil’s a little hesitant at first, but decides to give the kid a shot, secretly testing to see whether or not they can trust him. The only downside? Mark has to leave Earth and now has to explain to Amber why he’s suddenly going to be “out of town” for 2 weeks. The chemistry between Steven Yeun and Zazie Beetz is absolutely on display in this one and I hope we get to see more of this before shit really hits the fan.
The mission starts off without a hitch, Mark hitches a ride on top of the shuttle and they make it to Mars without any problems. Everything seems to be going as planned. Mark gets bored and plays on his phone until the battery runs out, then passes out. When he wakes up, he glances over to check on the astronauts only to find that – gasp! – they’ve gone missing! Long story short, after some shenanigans, Mark nearly starts an interplanetary war with an underground Martian civilization, but manages to save the astronauts and narrowly averts a xenomorph level biological crisis… or so he thinks!
Back on Earth, the last remaining Mauler twin starts to clone himself, the new Guardians move into the old headquarters, Rex and Monster Girl have some banter, Robot takes a blood sample from Rex-Splode, and there’s a mysterious reveal of a deformed humanoid creature floating in a vat (not as mysterious if you’ve read the comic, but very effective nonetheless). Finally, Damien Darkblood (gotta love Clancy Brown) is brought in by Cecil, who reveals that he’s aware that Nolan is the prime suspect, but isn’t ready to play his hand, so sends the demonic detective back to Hell…
This show continues to deliver a clever remix of the comics – with just the right balance of images ripped directly from the page, and new elements sprinkled in to spice things up. I will say, one improvement over the comic is that this show’s pacing is relentless. It totally makes sense for them to streamline certain story arcs, especially for a different medium, but I love how they’re also taking the opportunity to expand on the moments that really make this series stand out.
Erik Slader is an author, podcaster, and full-time nerd. He’s the co-author of the “Epic Fails” book series (The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History, The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost, etc) and the creator of Epik Fails of History, a podcast and blog about the most epic fails… of history. He’s also a co-host on 2 Young 4 This Trek: A Star Trek Podcast, and an editor / frequent contributor on Podcasters Assemble. ErikSlader.com