Venture Bros. Wrapup: “Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny” (S03E01)

Ahhhhhhhhhh, that’s better. After months and months of waiting, Season 3 of The Venture Bros. is finally upon us. And true to form, the season opener, “Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny,” was full of surprises (so if you don’t want to know them, stop reading now).

The Monarch

The first surprise is that no one with the surname Venture appears for more than about 10 seconds in this episode, and even then they have no dialogue. Rather, this was all about the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend (who will apparently not be changing her name to Dr. Wife despite her recent marriage to the Monarch). The story of their odd courtship is told through a series of flashbacks, with the framing device being another Monarch trial – this time held by the Guild of Calamitous Intent.

Second surprise — turns out the Monarch got his start in super-villainy as one of the Phantom Limb’s anonymous henchmen (#9 to be precise, thus the name of the episode), known as the Shadowmen. This was an unexpected and awesome development. I especially loved how #24 was shown to be just as pathetic as one of Phantom Limb’s henchmen as he is as one of the Monarch’s.

So while the Monarch is consumed with his tribunal (excuse me, “crucible”), his own henchmen are now under the leadership of Dr. Girlfriends’s murderous moppets, who prove to be surprisingly efficient and cruel. They drive the Monarch henchmen to rebuild the destroyed flying cocoon, which I hope is insured for all the damage it takes. The henchmen, probably upset over being forced to actually work for a change, enlist Brock Samson to kill the moppets but that plan predictably backfires.

The Monarch’s trial wraps up, and the result is that he and Dr. Girlfriend are officially approved by the Guild to operate as a duo. Their first assignment: to liquidate the Phantom Limb, now a fugitive from the Guild.

Overall, it was a great episode and made the wait worthwhile. Now we just need to get the rest of the regulars back into the mix, and I’ll be all set for a great summer of all things Venture.

Final grade: A

Best moments/lines:

  • “I know he wears an awful lot of purple for a white guy.” (The Monarch on Phantom Limb’s attire)
  • Guild member A: “I always say it’s a crucible.” Guild member B: “Oh, that’s way cooler.”
  • The Monarch reading his uniform upside down and thinking he was Shadowman 6.
  • “Silence!” “OK, you need to do that when she’s talking. Now I completely forgot what I was saying. Thanks!”
  • Apparently Monarch’s dream girl was Markie Post. Go figure.
  • In an obvious nod to comic book geeks, we find out that the Monarch kept a giant penny in his lair, just like a certain Bat-themed superhero.
  • I love how the song playing during the makeout flashback sequence had to be replaced because of licensing issues. And that the sequence even had a screen wipe.
  • I really didn’t need to see the Monarch in his animal print banana hammock.