In the wake of Dr. Venture’s failures, heroes arise to clean up the mess. Last week it was the unlikely team of Billy Quizboy, former henchmen Gary, and Dean. In “Venture Libre“, Hank again becomes The Bat, and proves that with properly caffeinated fuel this could be Hank’s true calling. Dean, too, may have found his true calling, but after telling his father to basically, fuck off, he’s left to discover this on his own. Mix in some heavy influence from The Island of Dr. Moreau, Guevara-like revolutionary politics, and the return Venturestein and it’s a solid second outing for The Venture Bros.‘ fifth season.
The government’s come a calling because one of their operatives in South America’s gone A.W.O.L. and the only one he’ll answer to is his father, Rusty Venture. Last seen in “¡Viva los Muertos!”, Venturestein’s since learned how to make more good diction, make bed, and kill. (Syntax not so much.) He’s also learned about Ché Guevera and his revolutionary tactics from Jorge, the little shoe boy from father teach films. Armed with such knowledge Venturestien intends to create a new nation, Abomi-Nation, where all freakish experiments can come and live in peace. With his military group, U.R.G.H., United Repressed Grotesque Humanity, Venturestein will liberate all those unfortunate souls abused by super scientists and their bad hurt science. This is all well and good until Rusty, Sgt. Hatred, and Hank – Dean in his continued rebellion chooses to sit this adventure out because he is so over this shit – are sent by General Manhowers to end Venturestein and his revolution.
After their jet’s attacked by a pterodactyl (Pteranodon, you monster!), Rusty and Hatred are captured by Venturestein’s army of Moreau misfits, while Hank – escaping with a jetpack he thought was a parachute – is left on his own, lost in the jungle. It is there he finds sustenance in the form of coffee bean crops capable of unlocking his true potential. An earlier off hand remark about Hank eating too much dark chocolate and staying awake all night installing Murphy beds across the compound becomes rather important, because apparently, caffeine gives Hank the drive and focus to accomplish anything. In this instance, truly become The Bat.
Hank’s escapades as The Bat have ranged from suicidal leaps off the roof to single-handedly taking out Ünderland guards with his nerd rage. In “Venture Libre”, there’s strong evidence the life of a caped crusader might just be Hank’s calling. Completely hyped on caffeine Hank not only creates his own Jungle Batman costume and the Hankmobile out the jetpack and dead husk of a giant crab, but he strikes fear in Venturestein’s comrades, eventually outsmarting them and rescuing his father and Hatred. Watching Hank as The Bat in action this time, you’d think he might actually be cut out for this superhero work. And maybe that’s the direction the show hopes to take Hank. I mean, he can already list a stint as Captain Sunshine’s sidekick, Wonder Boy, on his crime fighting resume.
Dean, too, when left on his own reverts to what he’s best at, and what Dean’s truly best at is being a super scientist. No matter how much he’d like to deny it. H.E.L.P.eR. has been part walking eye since last season and Dean, noticing how depressed this seems to make the robot, decides to fix him. Not until after H.E.L.P.eR. traverses the globe, fighting sperm whales and giant squids, to save Rusty from Venturestein’s U.R.G.H. comrades, but eventually Dean puts him right. And we’re also shown through flashbacks a possible origin story for Hatred, who like the other freaks of Abomi-Nation, was created through super soldier experiments peformed by O.S.I. Those same experiments may also be the source of his pedophilia tendencies.
Venture Bros. continues to subvert the common tropes of science fiction adventures in such a genuinely original and funny way. In their world there are legions of ghoulish science experiments gone wrong ready to join Venturestein and U.R.G.H. because, of course there are. Hank is capable of becoming a superhero fueled by coffee, Dean can become the greatest Venture super scientist yet, and Hatred, well, he still has boobs and we still don’t know why, but even he’s capable of more than what he was originally created for. Of all of them, it’s Rusty who seems incapable of changing, still scheming for ways to live off his father’s accomplishments and suffering for his own past mistakes. But really, I don’t want Rusty to stop failing anytime soon.
– Dean’s a vegetarian now. (I don’t eat face.)
– Venturestein, outfitted with an army of his own – one you’ll need to pause in order to catch all the references – may become a recurring character since I’m sure we all thought he was a one and done before.
– Also, Venturestein kept the Batman mask after his evening out with Brock looking for prostitutes. (Prostitutes!)
– And no Brock at all this episode. When will he make his triumphant return? I really thought Hatred would choose to say in Abomi-Nation seeing as he learned what he truly was, but nope, that possibility was squashed quickly.
–Gillian Jacobs was a guest this week voicing the congresswoman, Marsha Backwood, but the character and her inclusion was uneventful, so that was unfortunate.
Oh! Forgot to mention this last week, but the Shirt of the Week Club has returned! This week’s shirt is an U.R.G.H. spin on all those Ché shirts teenagers wear without having a clue who the hell the man was. Available for one week only, until the next episode of Venture Bros. airs, next Sunday night at midnight on [adult swim].