Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zevo-3

Plot: Based off of redesigned characters from a Sketchers commercial (please don’t leave) Zevo – 3 is about three teenagers who get superpowers after getting covered in the mysterious substance known as Zevo. Dr. Stankfoot, creator of the Zevo, reawakened from being turned to stone after an incident involving the Zevo several decades ago, is also mutated with the ability to spawn monsters from his oozing footsteps. The newly created superheroes, Matt AKA Kewl Breeze, Jason AKA Z-strap and Ellie AKA Elasticka fight the monsters set from Dr. Stankfoot to protect the citizens of New Eden City.

Breakdown: My thoughts going into this were openminded. Cool series have been based on sillier origins. Just because they’re based on characters from a Sketchers commercial and the fact that this is produced by Sketchers Entertainment in conjunction with Nicktoons should not damn them right off the bat.

My thoughts going out of this were ‘Thanks for abusing my ever dwindling ability to not make snap judgments, Zevo-3…’

My God this as a show and as a first episode are a total mess. The first half is dedicated to showing us, through video files and flashbacks, the origins of the Zevo and how the three teenagers got their powers. This is so sloppily done it’s depressing. There’s exposition dumps and then there’s that. The way the entire episode is structured, there’s really no reason why that information couldn’t have been given to us in real time. Show us what happened with Dr. Foot and his Zevo as an introduction to the episode, flash forward to where we are now, show the kids getting their powers and then sic the monster on them. Very simple, very effective formula that has worked beautifully through many other similar shows.

Why have us start out showing the group screwing around then them watching a video of the origins of Zevo? One that doesn’t even make sense in its creation. Who was filming Dr. Foot doing those things? Why is that in government computers? Why would Matt hack government computers and frame his school for the illegal acts just to make a pointless video instead of just telling his friends the story?

Ellie even states that if someone is caught for something like that they’d get 20 to life in prison and then they show some seemingly nice elderly person who works at the school getting taken away by huge government guys in weird armor. Way to make the first act of our main character both illegal and completely cruel to some poor lady.

And then Matt pesters Jason and Ellie into telling them the story of how they got their powers on camera, again, for really no reason, and we see what happened through two separate flashbacks.

Just to get this out of the way, yes, there are several pokes at feet throughout this series for no reason. The destroyed city that Dr. Foot was working in was Stank city. Dr. Foot’s name is a foot reference clearly. His villain name is Dr. Stankfoot and his power comes from his oozing feet. Despite all this, though, they don’t mention Sketchers or sneakers once so I guess we can be thankful for lack of product placement.

However, there is no lack of stupid names. Z-Strap? What the hell does that even mean? His powers are supposedly metal based, which makes no sense to me because I could’ve sworn his little accident with the Zevo involved shards of glass going into his arms, which, by the way, friggin’ ouch. What do straps or….Zs have to do with metal?

Kewl Breeze? 

His powers are ice based so at least his name makes a bit more sense, but this cartoon came out in, wait for it……..

2011!

I thought we got over this a long time ago, for the most part anyway.

This show is so living in the 90’s. The styles of the clothes, the way they talk and their slang and even their superhero outfits just reek of ‘dated’, especially Kewl Breeze’s.

Oh and as you can tell, they put the first letters of their superhero names on their outfits.

Actually, scratch that, THEY didn’t. These outfits come with their powers for absolutely no reason. They activate their powers and boom they change clothes. I can’t in good conscience mark that off too harshly because, as a lover of magical girl anime, I know that’s a very common thing in ‘superhero’ shows, but it just really makes no sense. This Zevo stuff is like radioactive goop. It’s not specifically designed to make heroes. It didn’t give Dr. Foot a fancy new outfit. It just made him ugly…..and Joker-looking, which isn’t helped by the fact that he’s voiced by Mark freakin’ Hamill who must’ve needed a quick paycheck.

The kids must’ve seen the letters on their costumes and made names that matched up with them, which might actually help justify ‘Z-strap’ and the K for cool, but not really.

As for the second half of this episode, it’s very typical superhero fare. A monster is unleashed on the city, the heroes beat it. The main baddie recharges to fight another day and we get foreshadowing of a bigger threat looming over the city….actually it’s not really foreshadowed. They outright tell us that the creator of New Eden City, a city which was basically made as a post-disaster utopia where apparently, according to Jason, nothing ever goes wrong, is a big bad guy who’s all evil despite making off like a messiah.

Speaking of New Eden City, that is pretty much the only thing that is really interesting and good in this series so far. A paradise-like city built on ruins after the Zevo disaster, I think anyway, run by a corrupt official is a little interesting. Nothing really terribly creative, but interesting.

The fight between the kids and the monster is okay, I guess, but it seems like their powers are really inconsistent. I thought Kewl Breeze just had ice powers. But he can fly? And he can be thrown THROUGH several buildings at once and get up like it’s nothing?

I thought Z-strap just had control over metal? He can fly too?

They all seem indestructible and they all inexplicably also have super speed. And I’m just going by the powers displayed in this first episode.

Speaking of powers, Elasticka’s is so dumb. Her name implies that she is stretchy like Mr. Fantastic, but no, it’s just that her hair is super stretchy and can grow to insane lengths. Her flight is somewhat explained by the fact that she can spin her hair super fast and fly like Tails from Sonic, but she also floats when her hair isn’t spinning, so I dunno.

Getting to the characters;

Jason: He’s the tough guy loner of the group and if you forget that, he wears a shirt with a frowny face on it. I’m not even kidding. Jason’s a bit annoying because he can come off like a jerk quite often. His superhero design is my favorite one though, mostly because for some reason it reminds me of Snake Eyes from GI Joe.

Ellie: Matt’s older sister, she shares a very typical dynamic with Matt in that she picks on him sometimes, is very annoyed by his antics but shows that she loves him when the situation calls for it. She’s also a gymnast who seems to have no reprehension fighting these monsters, which is nice, but she’s pretty bland overall.

Matt: He’s apparently a super genius and is very much a typical tween boy. He’s amazed by these powers and the fact that they’re superheroes now. He loves anything deemed as ‘cool’ and he frequently speaks in slang. Matt is voiced by Dante Basco, who seems to just be doing this whole character as Jake Long from American Dragon only higher pitched. Outside of Matt’s genius, they’re basically the exact same character.

Dr. Stankfoot & Ronson: Stankfoot’s not really a villain you can take entirely seriously mostly because of his silly behavior in the final shot of him in this episode. Ronson, the guy who created New Eden City, is the only threat we can take seriously. He has full government control behind the scenes, a great public persona and even states outright that if Zevo-3, which I guess is what the team are going to call themselves, go against him that they’ll be killed without question.

Art and Animation: Both are really cheap. Nothing stands out as a design on quite literally anything. In fact, I could swear that Kewl Breeze’s outfit is a complete ripoff of another character design from the 90’s possibly from some toy line. Ellie’s design particularly annoys me. Because her power is her hair it’s almost like the animators decided to make her head look too big to help make the animation easier or something.

Music: Completely generic and forgettable.

Voice acting: While I give nothing buy respect to Dante Basco and Mark Hamill, it really feels like everyone here is phoning it in. Mark Hamill’s channeling his Joker voice for this Joker rip off and Dante Basco is channeling Jake Long for a very Jake Long-ish character.

Jason is voiced by Bryton James, whom you may know more as Richie from Family Matters. He’s also Static on Young Justice, but I really just find it weird that I stumbled upon Richie from Family Matters….

Ellie is voiced by Kari Wahlgren who I’m ashamed to have not recognized sooner as she’s the voice of Haruko from FLCL, Robin from Witch Hunter Robin, Saber from the Fate franchise and a crapton of other things. She has really good range.

The best performance goes to Kevin Michael Richardson as Ronson whom you may known from an equally long list of things, live-action and western animation alike, but I know in particular as Trigon from Teen Titans, Gantu from Lilo and Stitch and even Action Hank from Dexter’s Lab. Oh and even more coincidentally, he also voiced the Joker in The Batman.

Final Verdict?

There is no substance to keep me coming around. For kids who haven’t seen many other shows in a superhero genre, this is probably okay, but as a first episode this is just very sloppy and if you’ve seen even a few other superhero shows, based on comics or otherwise, you’ve likely seen better superhero shows.

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