Welcome to Calamitous Intent, Comics Alliance’s weekly reckoning with The Venture Bros, in which Betty Felon and Elle Collins, longtime fans of Adult Swim’s most complicated half hour, discuss and clarify the latest episode.

In this week’s installment, “Rapacity in Blue,” the Monarch tries on a new identity, Brock gives in to his desires, and VenTech creates something really dangerous. “Rapacity in Blue” was written by Doc Hammer and directed by Jackson Publick.

 

 

Elle: When Rusty’s woken up by Jonas Jr’s alarm clock, the thing that’s really unsettling is that it was clearly intended for JJ himself. Can you imagine being the sort of person who wants to be woken up by a pep talk from a holographic doppelganger? Rusty may have more than his share of failings as a human, a scientist, and a father, but Jonas Jr was just insufferable.

Betty: I can’t imagine waking up to a chipper hologram of my dead relative, especially one who succeeded in everything I failed at, so I fully sympathize with Rusty in this scene. JJ was not only a reminder of Jonas Sr., but also of everything that Rusty should’ve grown up to be. Regardless, it is really eerie to program a hologram of yourself into your daily life, and I can see why Rusty would want to veer away from JJ’s technological projects.

In this episode, we see VenTech working on super science endeavors, specifically on a project called “God Gas.”

 

 

Elle: God Gas is fascinating and terrifying, and leads to great stuff throughout the episode. I love the scene where Billy and Rusty are talking about its implications without explaining themselves, and Pete has no idea what’s going on (I didn’t either) and then they both shout “Mind control!” at the same time. Also the stuff with the mice who we see developing complex religion over the course of the episode, without any of the scientists noticing, until they blow themselves up.

 

 

Betty: Every scene with the mice is great and reminds me of that one episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Little People”).

Meanwhile, 21 is trying to convince the Monarch to consider taking up his inherited mantle as Blue Morpho, in a ruse to fight and eliminate the villains who are queued up to arch Rusty Venture. The Monarch seems apprehensive about masquerading as a vigilante, even under the pretense of villainous intent.

I didn’t realize until this episode that Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is still completely in the dark about the discovery of Blue Morpho’s lair under their house, which I can only presume is to prevent any potential conflict of interest of being villains who live in the former headquarters of two vigilantes who pretended to be villains. Oh, the classic trials and tribulations of being a villain!

 

 

Elle: I kind of love how wrapped up the Monarch’s identity has become in being a villain, that just the idea of pretending to be a hero is completely offensive to him. But of course his father, the original Blue Morpho, was an ally of Jonas Venture Sr, which casts his own morality into serious doubt. Although so far the only thing we know for sure that they did together is group sex, which isn’t that big a deal, all things considered.

 

 

Betty: I think that the flexible morality of the heroes and villains in The Venture Bros. is so intriguing. This is a world where there aren’t necessarily gritty anti-heroes, but one where the heroes usually have questionable morals and the villains abide by the strict rules of the Guild of Calamitous Intent. There’s so much gray area that the hero/villain labels are sometimes the only differentiation.

The Monarch starts to warm up to the idea of fulfilling his birthright, but also expresses apprehension of the possibility that he may enjoy being a “good guy.” He and 21 finally agree to wear Blue Morpho and Kano’s costumes in a retro Batman ‘66/Super Friends-esque montage as they head to VenTech. But first, they have to surpass the biggest menace of New York City: the traffic-riddled Lincoln Tunnel. As they wait in traffic, 21 is trying to convince the Monarch to trim his beard to better suit his Blue Morpho digs, because look at how ridiculous his facial hair looks with a hat and domino mask.

 

 

Elle: Monarch-as-Morpho, calling everyone “citizen,” is just delightful for us, and clearly for him. Also the bit where 21 alters the costumes is great, and it comes as no surprise that Gary has cosplay skills. The first villain they go after, of course, is the guy who happens to be attacking the Venture building right at that moment: An Australian Road Warrior/Dreadnok/ape-looking guy named Haranguetan, who’s also attracted the attention of one-breasted ersatz Wonder Woman Warriana, aka Brock’s big crush of the moment.

 

 

Betty: While the Monarch and 21 are waiting to strike VenTech and bombard Haranguetan, Rusty decides to test out the God Gas on Haranguetan, but accidentally exposes both Brock and Billy Quizboy to the gas.

The God Gas creates a side-effect for Haranguetan, where he sees Rusty as the Devil instead of God. For Billy, the gas triggers his childhood admiration for Rusty Venture circa his famed boy adventurer past. Brock’s crush on Warriana is fully realized as the God Gas causes him to run straight to her residence and pour his feelings for her at her doorstep.

 

 

Elle: I was really iffy about Warriana’s role in the show at first, but what happened with her and the gassed-up Brock in this episode made me really happy. Especially after Brock’s advice to Hank about basically how to dominate women, seeing him just be completely direct in declaring his attraction to her was a really great moment. Brock has always liked formidable women the most, but an actual literal Amazon (at least that’s what she seems to be) is taking things to a whole new level.

 

 

Betty: Yeah, I was really worried that they would go a different direction with this Warriana x Brock relationship, but it was really nice to see this dynamic play out.

While Brock and Rusty are off the premises, the Monarch and 21 make their grand entrance in VenTech and rescue Billy from Haranguetan. In his fanboy daze, Billy recognizes Blue Morpho, but also believes that it’s Rusty behind the mask (now that The Monarch has trimmed his beard to the same style as Rusty’s beard). I love how hyped the Monarch and 21 are after spending the night as vigilantes --- it actually kind of reminded me of why I enjoyed the Green Hornet movie from 2011.

Elle: I have to admit, I never saw the Green Hornet movie. But I agree, it was fun to see Monarch and 21 having so much fun. And it's interesting that the physical resemblance between Rusty Venture and the Monarch was emphasized in the same episode where we learned that their fathers were swingers together. But surely the show won't go there (it may already be going there).

In the meantime, I’m still worried about the Monarch’s marriage. He just seems to be digging himself in deeper and deeper.

 

 

Betty: Same! Between the Guild and the Monarch’s secrets, they’ve barely spent any notable time together as a couple, and I have a feeling that this is going to culminate to a huge blowout --- presumably more members of the Guild will encounter the Monarch and 21 as Blue Morpho and Kano and it will be a huge point of contention. But who knows --- maybe they could make it work as a high-position villain and a villain-turned-hero power couple?

Elle: If Sheila’s willing to forgive him, she’s smart enough to find a way out of the situation. But at this point he’s not only hiding a superhero’s headquarters under the house from her, he’s actually become that superhero behind her back. They’ve been through a lot in the past, and clearly their bond is strong, but I just don’t know how bad this might get, especially if the Blue Morpho situation becomes public in a way that embarrasses her in front of the Guild.

 

 

Betty: Yikes, it sounds like it will get very messy very fast. I can only hope that Brock and Warriana or Hank and Sirena will have better luck in their romantic endeavors.

Elle: I hope Sirena’s back next week! I’m very excited about her date with Hank!

 

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