Venture Bros: Ice Station Impossible!

One of the things I like about The Venture Bros. is how, aside from all the ugliness, scabrous humor, scatology, cruelty and misanthropy, there is almost always some really interesting idea.

This time, it’s Mrs. Impossible.

First of all, props to Publick and Hammer for coming up with a cogent, valid comment/criticism on the Fantastic Four.  Reed Richards is a preening, callous prick and Professor Impossible strikes me as a serious consideration of what that guy would be like in a real-life sense: cold, calculating, controlling and ultimately murderous. 

But his wife (Sally?) as the woman who becomes invisible, but only her skin, well.  It sticks with me.

Great idea for a character.  Maybe not a superhero, because there’s not much “super” about her, but a tragic flaw.  A beautiful woman who, unless she concentrates really hard, cannot maintain her outer beauty.  The scenes between her and Rusty have a real punch for me because a) Mrs. Impossible is a great piece of character design (meaning, I, like Rusty, want to have sex with her) and then b) it’s impossible to see her beauty again after you’ve seen the muscles and tendons twitching beneath her skin.  Endlessly attractive when her skin is on, one wants to stay with her forever.  And yet, one could never relax around her, as you’d always worry that the next time you looked, AAAGGHHH!  The red, twitchy muscles again.  And no eyelids to boot.  Beauty, lest we forget, is only skin deep.

Rusty is such a shallow, hateful man.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: When “Race Brannon” dies, he says to Brock “Tell Johnny I love –” then dies.  I was fully expecting a scene where Brock would track down “Johnny” (whoever he is), tell him that Race’s dying words were “Tell Johnny I love him,” and then realize that Race’s dying words could easily have been “Tell Johnny I love Jane” or “Tell Johnny I love his cooking” or “Tell Johnny I love Alias.”  And maybe the news that Race loves him wouldn’t make Johnny feel better, but then Brock wouldn’t have it in him to redact his message.  And one more person would be made a little more unhappy by Brock Samson.


31 Responses to “Venture Bros: Ice Station Impossible!”
  1. greyaenigma says:

    I actually didn’t like VB first time I saw it (Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean) For many of the reasons you describe… well, I’m OK with misanthropy. Ice Station Impossible is one of those episodes that let me know that it’s not just about shock value. I loved the satire of what the Fantastic Four would be like if they had to live in our world. (OK, and Doctor Orpheus helped win me over.)

    I’m now expecting a series — what is the interesting idea for this week’s episode?

    • Todd says:

      Well, of course, you know that when I comment on the show’s ugliness, scatology, scabrous humor, cruelty and misanthropy, I mean it as a positive thing.

  2. eronanke says:

    It’s actually my favorite episode, but mostly because of the scene where “The Thing” and “The Human Torch” run around Dr. Impossible, wrapping him up with his own limbs, screaming things like, “AHH! You JERK!” or something like that.

    • Todd says:

      It certainly makes a lot more sense that a teenager who spontaneously catches on fire would find the experience unpleasant in the extreme. And it makes sense that Reed wouldn’t give a shit about that.

      Let’s face it, Reed Richards is kind of a jerk.

      • eronanke says:

        Hells yeah he is. I *hate* that guy.
        But then again, I’ve ALWAYS hated The F4.
        Stupid plane shaped like a 4!! ARGH!
        Anyway, I respect them for their part in rebuilding Marvel, (them and Spiderman), but that’s about it.

  3. popebuck1 says:

    The whole concept of the Impossible family – trapped up in the icy Arctic wastes, imprisoned by their sanctimonious patriarch, and continually tormented by their own physical handicaps – I find genuinely haunting. It’s like “No Exit” for superheroes.

    And it’s one of the things I like best about The Venture Bros. that such genuinely disturbing, and/or thought-provoking, ideas creep into the wicked satire with such regularity. Hell, the character of Rusty Venture alone is like everything Philip Roth and John Updike never wrote: a portrait of utter middle-aged impotence and embittered failure at its most pathetic. It’s like some kind of savage indictment of the American Dream, tucked into this ridiculous little “Johnny Quest” parody. Kinda gives me intellectual whiplash.

    This is how I felt before the intelligentsia “discovered” Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Pretty soon, the poor Ventures will get “discovered” too, and our secret fun will be over, dammit.

  4. greyaenigma says:

    It’s also possible that Johnny’s last words to Race were, “Damn you, Race! Do you have any emotions at all? Don’t you feel? Don’t you love?”

    I’m better it was “peanut butter fudge sundaes”, though.

  5. greyaenigma says:

    Must… stop…

    “Beauty, lest we forget, is only skin deep.”

    As I looked into her sweet, limpid face…

  6. rjwhite says:

    Where the hell’s Urbaniak?

  7. sotisse2 says:

    Tell Johnny I love —

    I’m not sure whether this was the source, but I thought it was a reference to campy death lines, especially in the gory golden oldies songs in which one of a pair of teenage star-crossed lovers dies.

  8. robolizard says:

    Johnny would be Johnny Quest, right…RIGHT!?…[feels asleep]

    • Todd says:

      Oh, snap!

      I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Maybe because I thought that Race Brannon was supposed to be Clutch Cargo (anyone remember Clutch Cargo?).

      • robolizard says:

        I remember the Clutch Cargo clip from Pulp Fiction…

        There was a cartoon Eskimo with real lips saying ‘Paddlefoot, he’s a funny silly dog…’
        Then we heard barking, and saw the face of a Brock Samson look a like.

        Then Christopher Walken walked in, and it all spiraled into awesome.

        Ahhh… the memories… of… great films…

        Actually, after googling a picture, the man really looks like he was drawn by Publick in the 60’s. Odd.

        • Todd says:

          You’ve inspired me to Google Johnny Quest, which I should have done in the first place. Race Brannon is obviously modelled on Johnny’s father, albeit with more of Clutch Cargo’s broad shoulders and lantern jaw.

          • Todd says:

            Besides which, if they’d want Race to resemble Clutch Cargo, they would have given him the “live-action mouth” effect. Creepiest animation on Earth. Even as a kid, I watched Clutch Cargo and said “They’re just doing that to save money.”

            • Anonymous says:

              And, now that I think of it, there’s nothing at all perverse or disgusting about a father declaring his love for his son with his dying breath. Shame on me.

              • robolizard says:

                Nah, Race isn’t Johnny’s father, he’s his body guard, much like Brock is to the Venture Bros., and thus he is witnessing the death of someone he is techinically parodying. Tres meta, no? [the love is possibly meant to reflect Brock’s love for the boys, and also a mockery of the emotionless Hanna Barbera cartoons where complex emotions were simply not to be.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Tres meta, no?

                  Or at least deeply discomforting for Brock.

                  • Todd says:

                    I note that Dr. Quest, Johnny’s father, is voiced by the incomparable Don Messick, who went on to everlasting fame as the voice of Scooby Doo. I wonder if little Johnny ever felt a goose walk over his grave whenever he saw a Great Dane.