The Venture Bros “Venture Libre” part 2

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Hopped up on coffee beans, suffering from intense delusions of gradeur and, most important, without a brother to stabilize him, Hank contracts jungle fever and becomes the man he’s always wanted to be: Batman. Or, at least, his own version of Batman. His origin differs from Bruce Wayne’s, because his father is still alive and he never knew his mother (he adopts “the jungle” as his mother), so his Batman is correspondingly different – a hand-made Batman, a very Venture Batman, one who has to take frequent diarrhea breaks.

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Back in the US, Congresswoman Marsha Backwood crashes into Gen Manhowers’s office to take him to task for Rusty’s disappearance. Odd, that a rabid conservative would question something the military has done, but then conservatives will play any card when there’s a white American at risk in a foreign land. If Rusty had been a blond teenage girl, Backwood probably would have led an invasion force.

In Puerto Bahia, Rusty immediately dashes Venturestein’s hopes of help. Why? Because of the central fact of Rusty’s life: he is a failure. Not only does he not really want to help Venturestein, he couldn’t help him if he did, because no one in the scientific community would listen to him. Venturestein’s key line is: “Father not help Venturestein, Venturestein help self.” Imagine that! Venturestein, a patchwork-quilt reanimated corpse, has, in under a minute, come to a conclusion that has utterly evaded Hank, Dean, HELPeR, Billy, Pete and anyone else who ever depended on Rusty to be a decent human being. If your parents disappoint you, cast them aside and do your own work yourself! Venturestein may need many things, but therapy isn’t one of them. He puts the call out – via iPad (or jPad, as it’s called here – after JJ, who apparently manufactures them) for all abominations to come to their new homeland, their Isreal in the jungle, as it were.

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Meanwhile, Hank-as-Batman does a very un-Hank-like thing – he succeeds. Whether it’s the coffee beans or his newly-developed jungle senses or the dehydration brought on by diarrhea, he’s actually an effective Batman, taking down a giant lobster and two Moreauvians in a one-man ambush. As Hank Becomes The Night, Sgt Hatred has a Bourne-like flashback to his birth as a supervillain. And again, look at how far the script takes this. The script calls for a flashback, so the director (who is most likely the same guy) makes it a Bourne-style flashback. And there are the OSI characters, giving Hatred the serum that makes him evil (suggesting that he was originally intended to be an OSI super-agent). Making Hatred’s flashback a Bourne flashback would have been enough for most shows, but The Venture Bros then goes the extra step, in just a few shots, of showing that Hatred was being turned into a maniac during OSI’s Bring Your Son to Work Day, and actually tore a young child (wearing a Captain Sunshine t-shirt) limb from limb right after inoculation. Not only is the idea of OSI bringing a child in to witness a man’s transformation into a monster (making Hatred his own Frankenstein, betrayed by his parents) darkly funny by itself, but the show then brutally murders the boy. And puts the boy in a t-shirt for a character we already know to be (like Hatred) a child molestor.

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A great animated script is nothing if not fleet, it races from plot point to plot point, builds tension at every step, and no sooner does Venturestein, our guest protagonist, declare independance than he faces insurrection from his own kind. He has gone, in a heartbeat, from rebellious son to put-upon father, something Dean may wished he’d observed: with independance comes responsibility. Mainly, responsibility to protect his family from Rusty’s family – ie, Hank’s surprisingly-effective Batman. (Since Hank’s Batman depends on coffee beans for his effectiveness, does that make him more like Hourman, who needed to take a pill – ahem – to have super-powers?)

(I see within the Cheetah-Man’s ranks a Terminator, a Brundlefly, a Gill-Man, a Man-Thing and two Oompa-Loompas, with many more on the way later.)

Bat-Hank infitrates Venturestein’s headquarters and finds himself face-to-face with Venturestein himself. Venturestein may or may not understand who Hank is, but he understands Batman immediately, and puts on Hank’s own old Batman mask in a show of solidarity. The other abominations want revenge, but Venturestein is actually the most evolved of the group: he’s disappointed in his father, but doesn’t want his death. In his love for Batman and his forgiveness for his father, Venturestein at this point becomes more of a brother to Hank than Dean.

Hank releases Rusty and Hatred from their prison, but Hatred is in a prison from which he cannot be released. Still reeling from his flashback, he declares himself to be an abomination himself, and not just because he’s got breasts now. He sees a kinship with Venturestein, which also makes him one of Rusty’s children, another Venture Brother. That is, until the Cheetah-Man’s horde arrives to kill them all, when he suddenly decides he’s not such a monster after all. His flashback suggests that he was once a man and was made into a monster, and if he could be made into a monster, that means he may once again be a man. Or, in his case, perhaps a woman.

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Hank, shockingly, leads his father and Hatred to safety on the beach. His plan to use the jPad to kill their attackers fails, but that’s not his fault, it’s JJ’s – his electronics aren’t fit for use in the jungle. Hank, finally coming out of his coffee binge, collapses, and Rusty and Hatred are cornered by Cheetah-Man’s gang of thugs. At the last moment, HELPeR, Rusty’s least favorite child of all, and his most loyal, arrives to save him.  Before HELPeR can mow down the abominations with a machine gun, however, here comes Venturestein’s promise fulfilled: all the monsters of the world pull up in boats. (I spy Robot Monster and the Human Centipede, someone will have to help me with the others, like the dog with Sean Connery’s head [not Sean Connery’s head – see comments].)

There is no promise so glorious, however, no dream fulfilled, that can’t be ruined by a conservative politician, and guest-antagonist Congresswoman Backwood shows up to “rescue” Rusty. Immediately dispatched by JJ’s late-triggering jPad and stitched together by Dr. Venture, she remains a proud conservative, and, judging by her speech, has brought the other abominations to the party as well, proving that democracy, the “fair family” writ large, can be a fickle thing indeed.


41 Responses to “The Venture Bros “Venture Libre” part 2”
  1. Heather says:

    We rewound the scene of the monsters arriving on the boats multiple times in a fruitless attempt to name all of them. Shown there as well as earlier (listening to Venturestein’s speech online) is Jan In The Pan and her hulking friend from “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (she’s just a head and he carries her under his arm like a football).
    The cyborg orangutang looks so darn familiar to us but we couldn’t quite place him.
    But we did spy Bebop without his friend Rocksteady in Cheetah-Man’s group.

    I’m eager to read who the other characters are!

  2. springjack says:

    The dog with a human (not SeanConnery) head is from the 1979 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I believe- tho it doesn’t involve a ‘Hurt Scientist’.

  3. FDSY says:

    Did anyone notice that the long haired Venturestien was the Shaggy analogue in the episode where the parodied Scooby-Doo?

    Also the suicide bomber Venturestiens were the sticked together corpses of Hank and Dean clones.

    • Nick says:

      Yes Venturestien in fact hangs around for a while and Hank gives him his batman mask (the one Venturestien wears in the episode).

    • Todd says:

      I noticed the second time around that Venturestein’s assistant was named “Sonnystein.”

      • Mark says:

        Yep, and the balding one was “Tedstein”. Sonny’s tormentor in his previous life is his comrade-in-arms now.

  4. Japey says:

    Isn’t the joke with Cpt. Sunshine that he’s not actually a molester? That while he seems real molesty, there’s no molesting going on?

    • Mark says:


      “Damn Cap, another one?” is a clever way to lampshade the ridiculousness of a grown man going through multiple wards (isn’t Batman on his 4th or 5th Robin at this point?).

      • Jon Wood says:

        5th, before the continuity reboot, of which three of them had “died” at some point. Steph wasn’t his ward, though.

        Also, Dick and Tim both grew up, and Tim was only adopted by Bruce after his own dad was killed. Given the era they were parodying, it was just Dick. I think it’s more a reference to Wertham’s “Seduction of the Innocent” than anything else.

        Incidentally, in Wildstorm’s The Authority, the Not Superman and Not Batman are gay, married, and have a daughter.

      • ZephyrSP says:

        Jackson and Doc actually explain in the commentary for that episode that their intention was for Capt. Sunshine to actually have no pedophile intentions, and is just REALLY obsessed with having a ward (despite the over-the-top kiss at the end)

  5. Nick says:

    Wasn’t the Sgt. Hatred flashback, from when the OSI cured him?

  6. Phillip says:

    Sgt. Hatred doesn’t kill the boy, he rips his underwear off with his teeth. The boy is General Treister’s son, who, we know from an earlier episode, lives.

  7. Bobulus says:

    Did you notice that Venturestein spent his free time making shoes? All his followers were wearing them. It’s a skill he learned from his father (or, at last, his father’s Learning Bed) and he used it to provide for his children.

    • Todd says:

      Oh, I thought he learned how to make shoes from the sweatshop kid he befriended.

      • Bear says:

        In “¡Viva los Muertos!” Venturestein’s first Learning Bed curriculum is sweatshop instruction, and the sweatshop buddy (Little Jorge) was featured in that film from the Jonas Sr. days. After the government expresses interest in using reanimated corpses as cannon fodder, Venturestein is switched to a military training program.

        Interesting that even though the sweatshop “program” was quickly supplanted, it’s still deeply enough ingrained that he immediately recognizes the adult Jorge AND retains the sneaker production skills.

  8. Ry Jones says:

    Wonder if Hank is a call out to Die Fledermaus from The Tick.

  9. CWW says:

    I didn’t get the inclusion of the congresswoman into this episode. It seems like she was only included so there could be someone to get blown up at the end of the episode.

    • Todd says:

      Steven Rattazzi, who, coincidentally plays Dr. Orpheus, is an old friend of mine, and once instructed me as to the genius of Shakespeare. I had said to him that Shakespeare always has too many characters and he tut-tutted me, saying that Shakespeare often “twins” his characters, giving each one an equal and/or opposing force. Venturestein is a guest protagonist and has been given a guest antagonist in Backwood. This episode isn’t about the Monarch arching Dr. Venture or Monstroso bedeviling Brock, it’s about Venturestein’s quest to be free. For that quest to have dramatic impact, he needs someone fighting against that quest. Cheetah-Man is one force allied against him, but if Cheetah-Man takes over, there’s still a revolution among the abominations. For Venturestein’s plot to work, there needs to be someone trying to shut him down. Manhowers wants to kill him, but Backwood actually wants to take away his father and end his revolution.

    • Mark says:

      Possibly a reference to Jonestown, which really fell apart after killing Congressman Leo Ryan.

      Except in the Venture-verse, Rusty ‘saves’ Congresswoman Backwood and Backwoodstein makes a speech at the UN singing the praises of Puerto Bahia (presumably giving the island legal authority to exist).

    • Nomad says:

      Marsha Backwood is a parody of Sarah Palin (same number of syllables) and her “down-home wisdom.” Of course, Sarah was a governor, not a Congresscritter, but it seems pretty clear.

      • Todd says:

        I’m still saying she’s a parody of Michelle Bachmann.

        • Nomad says:

          I could see that one too. In any event, a politician way out of her league, boldly jumping into situations where angels fear to tread and getting herself blown up in the process. An embodiment of the the Dunning-Kruger effect (“too stupid to realize they’re stupid”), yet wielding real power (having a shot at becoming President or Vice President).

          Or are they just marionettes in the end? The implication was that Backwoodstein was programmed (by Rusty? Some redemption after all for his failure as a father to Venturestein?) to obtain nationhood for URGH at the UN.

        • Rob says:

          Clearly “Marsha Backwood” sounds like Michelle Bachmann. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but when they showed a Congresswoman with a surgery scar on her head who was talking a little funny, I was also reminded of Arizona Senator Gabrielle Giffords. 🙁

  10. N.A. says:

    The joke I got from the fate of Marsha Backwood is that she was a brain-dead, glassy-eyed automaton before her little accident, blundering around spouting inarticulate ideas. And not only does she remain exactly the same after being stitched back together (minus a bit of diction), but _no one seems to notice the difference_.

    Also, I love that Backwood has one connotation of its own, but that it also sounds like “Backward.”

    Did Hatred end up staying with U.R.G.H.? We don’t see him in the post-credits sequence.

    And is “winning” going to be a theme this season, after four years of failure? Last week, everyone got everything they wanted, even if Dean didn’t remember his victory afterward. Here, Venturestein gets his safe haven for abused freaks; Hank actually becomes Batman; Dean successfully reassembles H.E.L.P.e.R. (not that Hank or Dermott appreciate it, or that Rusty even cares); and even Rusty manages to resurrect a thoroughly exploded member of the U.S. Congress.

    — N.A.

    • Todd says:

      I don’t know if “winning” is a theme, but characters do seem to be making emotional progress this season.

  11. Oi2dwrld says:

    New here, and love the breakdowns.

    I do have to disagree about H.E.L.P.e.R being Rusty’s child. I think he’s Rusty’s “Older Brother.”

    He was probably made first by Jonas to help in the lab, but then he was used to protect Rusty Venture “Boy Adventurer” (as seen by H.E.L.P.e.R.’s actions in “Return to Spider Skull Island” and when Rusty uses his scared child voice to call him in “Dia de Los Muertos”). H.E.L.P.e.R. PROTECTS Rusty like an older brother would. Or in the Venture Bros. world, a bodyguard. There are only three “people” in the world that Rusty depends on. Brock, J.J. and H.E.L.P.e.R.

    H.E.L.P.e.R. is a Venture Brother, but he is one with Rusty and Jonas Venture Jr.

    • Todd says:

      Yeah, it’s like HELPeR is Rusty’s other little brother, the one he can beat up.

  12. Brandon says:

    I have to disagree with you calling Hank’s success as The-Bat un-Hank like. I know everyone brings up the famous quote from Doc and Jackson about the show being about failure, but that was from all the way back in season two. I think they have grown from that. While failure is surely a big presence, they also have committed to growing the characters, and how satisfying would it have been if they failed every step of the way? Hank has shown that he has some competence as an adventurer, back when he tried to join SPHINX he did extremely well on the tests. It wasn’t the coffee that made him effective, that was character growth. The coffee just made already crazy Hank crazier. There has been a good amount of success in some of the characters. 21’s transformation. Billy’s now a Doctor, has an arch and can be called a super scientist. Failure clearly isn’t the fate of everyone.

    Also, I don’t think the drug that was given to hatred was intended to make him evil, it was called Solider X, so probably a super solider serum. Probably the side effects of which will be an ongoing story this season explaining the pedophilia and breasts.

    Other than that some allusions to the political character being far more partisan than they portrayed her, you do decent Venture reviews. Respect.

  13. I caught a few echoes of Captain America’s origin in Hatred’s flashback, too.

  14. Andrew says:

    Hey there, long time reader, first time poster. I’ve read through the prior comments and from what I saw this was not touched on but if it was then please excuse me. I wanted to point out that in Sgt. Hatreds flashback we see a research team as well as Former head of the OSI Gen. Treister administering a drug called “Soldier-X” to Hatred. What follows I assume is Hatred having an adverse effect to the drug which then leaves him with his pedophilia. What I found most interesting is the child Hatred attacks. It is the generals son! The very boy Brock babysat that administered his License to Kill renewal exam back in season 1. I found this very interesting, again not sure if another fellow Venchman had pointed this out yet but if not then consider it food for thought.

  15. Matt says:

    The dog head is from Experiments in the Revival of Organisms, a Russian documentary from the 40’s. Not science fiction, but science fact. Very very disturbing science fact.