Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Compliment Case 4: The Venture Bros.

The current crown of the adult swim line-up, the world of Hank and Dean Venture, and their father, Dr. Thaddeus S. Venture, provides a stark warning to Avatar Aang.
Avatar is the perfect Saturday morning cartoon, and The Venture Bros is its perfect mature deconstruction. It roots adult humor and concerns in the adventure cartoon framework, questioning and critiquing and celebrating those tropes all at once. Based around one brilliant question—“What happens when Johnny Quest grows up?”—the Venture family lives in a world of fading glory, where childhood adventures lead to adult traumas, satisfaction remains elusive, and both hero and villain find themselves questioning their priorities as they crash into middle age. It takes these issues, and their characters, seriously, even as it makes jokes at their expense, or asks us to laugh at bloody carnage inflicted on low-rent villains with goofy names and goofier powers. The Venture Bros provides an honest, and often cynical, but always hilarious, adult perspective to the cartoons of our childhood. There are sick, but hearty laughs in the idea of melding Shaggy and Scooby with the Son of Sam, and a fresh perspective on what could happen to a childhood icon.
            Early on, Billy Quizboy says of Dr. Venture “he peaked too early, like at 16.” Aang saved the world at 13. Maybe he should think about that.

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