I rewatched season 2 of The Venture Bros. recently in preparation for buying season 3, and during the episode where Rusty gets Dean a speed suit, I realised that Hank was Rusty's Un Favorite, backed up by a later scene in the car where Rusty praised Dean and chastised Hank in the same breath. Later, it struck me that this explains everything about Hank's character - his headstrong and assertive nature is him trying to impress his dad. He latches onto Brock and everything Brock does because Brock pays attention to him like a real dad. He teases and belittles his brother because he's secretly jealous of him. It's present without being Anvilicious, it adds some Hidden Depths without seeming out of character at all, it makes a character I formally viewed as the most cartoony of all the characters (even more so than Dean) into a real person, and it ties in perfectly with the overall theme of failure. God, I love this show.
This is admittedly fairly obvious, but i managed to come to the same conclusion when it dawned on me that Dean and Hank are twins and there's no reason for Rusty to exclude Hank other than just pure unfavoritism
Dean is a sensitive introvert who's generally nervous about interacting with the world, and is very aware that he's being mocked. Hank is a brash, slightly dim extrovert who has no idea how little he knows about the real world, and no idea that people are laughing at him. Dean is young Rusty as he really was, while Hank is Rusty Venture, Boy Adventurer, as the adult Rusty views him after a lifetime of grief and failure. Of course, since this is Rusty, he flips it around. Dean, who he projects on, is now the Super-Scientist Boy Adventurer that Rusty wants to be, while Hank, who he resents, is the jaded and cynical Anti-Adventurer that Rusty is.
Hank idolizes Brock, who has a well-known aversion to using firearms. You know who else is a famous example of Does Not Like Guns? Batman...who happens to be Hank's all-time favourite superhero. Both Hank's heroes, real and fictional, share a common trait.
More than one, as it turns out. In a world of people with wacky science powers and supernatural abilities, Brock regularly holds his own in a fight despite his only "power" being superior fighting ability and training...again, just like Batman.
Watch the episode where Killinger becomes a consultant for Dr. Venture, and flashes back to the first time Doc ever felt inferior to his father. The cereal he's eating is "Alpha Dog"!
In the finale of Season 3, Brock fools one of the assassins by shaving his head and placing his hair on a shark. He then decides that he's lost his touch and quits as the Ventures' bodyguard. Brock... Samson.
Phantom Limb manages to be a) a tribute to the superhero The Phantom, b) a direct descendant of pulp criminal antihero Fantômas, and c) a joke on "Phantom Limb Syndrome" at the same time.
When I watched "Pomp and Circuitry", I was confused as to why the Guild didn't do anything to the Revenge Society, even after the neutral meeting. They were already trying to get Phantom Limb. And then it hit me: the Guild doesn't mess with other sanctioned villain teams. They can discourage against them and what not, but they can't fight them. And with the OSI recognizing the Revenge Society, the Guild can't touch them; Phantom Limb knows this and thus can remain safe in Impossible Plaza until he decides to take out the Guild. Genius.
It just dawned on me. Captain Sunshine is an obvious expy of Batman/Superman who horribly mourns the loss of WonderBoy after the Monarch kills him. In "Self Medication", it's shown that the supposedly dead WonderBoy wasn't the original (or first) one. Additionally, Captain Sunshine believes the Monarch to be "invulnerable" due to a mishap discussed in the Season 3 Premiere and confirmed in Season 4. Captain Sunshine is Batman, The Monarch is The Joker (another supposedly death-proof villain), dead WonderBoy is Jason Todd (2nd Robin), and if you go re-watch the scene in "Handsome Ransom" between the Monarch and Sunshine, it suddenly works on all kinds of new levels.
It occurs to me that now with Col. Gathers in charge of both O.S.I. and SPHINX and The Sovereign, who is in actuality David Bowie, having officially been deemed by Dean as the true Sovereign of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, we've been giving probably the greatest Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny in cartoon fiction!! Hunter S. Thompson vs. David Bowie!!! Place your bets!!
Sadly this doesn't happen.
Okay, spoilers ahead, but they're season 1 spoilers so I'm not going to mark them (also because it ruins the joke.) Okay, so, it turns out the Strangers in "Trial of the Monarch" are working for the Phantom Limb. What does that make them? The Phantom's Strangers.
From the season 4 finale: The Outrider is giving Dean a little speech about Triana. Dean delivers his now-famous Precision F-Strike. At first I just thought it was at worst a non-sequitur or at best Dean's character development. Then I realized what the Outrider was really talking about. As the guy who took Dr. Orpheus's wife, of course he'll try to convince Dean to let Triana go off and be with her new love interest. Dean's Moment of Awesome just got more awesome, since now I see it as him calling bullshit on the Outrider.
This is of course a matter of personal perspecive, but I would like to disagree here, at least partially. I mean, yeah, the Outrider's little speech is pretty clearly related to the situation with Tatiana, and it is also true that he's kind of an asshole, but the way I see it, Dean's "Fuck You" is more a sign of him starting to grow up. It's not that he's planning to cling on to Triana, and disliked being told he shouldn't; it's that he's tired of being talked down to. This works well with his character development as seen later in season 5.
In season 4, after his level in badass, 21 speaks in a gruffer, more action hero-like voice than he used to. However, when he's upset or stressed (for example, when he and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch are trying to revive the unconscious Monarch in "Assisted Suicide"), he slips back into his old voice. Clearly, stress makes his facade slip.
When Sergeant Hatred becomes the Venture bodyguard and tries to encourage the boys to participate in their own protection, Hank says that Brock never had a problem protecting them. On the surface it just seems to confirm that Hatred isn't as good a bodyguard as Brock was, but the backup clones made Brock's job considerably easier. Hatred has managed to actually keep the boys from dying, which is more than can be said for Brock.
It's implied that in 'Pinstripes and Poltergeists' that Brock has been secretly protecting them still.
...which would mean they have double the protection they would normally have.
An alternative explanation is that Hatred is teaching the boys how to protect themselves because, being a recovering pedophile, he knows that someday, the boys might have to protect themselves from HIM.
In season 4, the Monarch tells the Moppets if they ever defy his rule again, he'll have them killed & fed to the dogs. In the season 5 finale, 21 - the Monarch's most trusted henchman - calls the Moppets out on trying to usurp the Monarch's position & proceeds to reveal Kevin & Tim-Tom killed 24 to the other henchman, before leading the henchman in killing the Moppets. Or if you prefer, 21 kills the Mopppets' reputation amongst the henchman, before leading the attack dogs as they eat the Moppets alive.
Dermott grew up believing his mom was his sister and his grandma was actually his mom. Thia is notable because it has real-life precedence—Jack Nicholson was also born from a teenage mother, and believed almost his whole life his grandparents were his real parents. The Fridge comes in during Doc's last onscreen interaction with Nikki—he calls her "Nikkles". Nicholson = "Nikkle's son" = Dermott.
It's interesting to note that the first time David Bowie is mentioned in the series is when Molotov Cocktease retrieves his Panda bear from Mr. Brisby, since that Panda hasn't shown up since then. However, given the show's creators' love for Call-Back and Continuity Porn, the fact that we never see the Panda with Bowie/The Sovereign could be a subtle clue that he isn't actually David Bowie.
Why would the Sovereign be so desperate to get rid of the investors? The last man that they had a problem with was pushed out of a sky fortress.
At the beginning of Season 3, the Monarch moves into Phantom Limb's house. It's revealed in the special after Season 5 that Phantom Limb has been living in the Monarch's childhood home.
When Zero kidnaps all sidekicks to pit them off in gladiator combat, why is Desmond the character to turn things around for their side? He's not a sidekick, he's a retired superhero!
The brothers' personalities are reflected in their outfits in the early seasons. Hank dresses like Freddie Jones with Aquaman pajamas — he Jumped at the Call and was born for the life of an adventurer. In contrast, Dean's dressed as Spider-Man in his pajamas and Peter Parker in his regular clothes — he never asked for this life but rolls with it as best he can, often pining for a normal life.
In Season 5 the Monarch finds a photo of him playing with Rusty as a child and is naturally confused. The events of season 6 make this make a lot more sense. His father was the Blue Morpho and friends with Jonas Venture.
When Think Tank came to visit Doctor Venture during Season 6 and challenge him to a game of chess, he seemed completely surprised that our good Rusty was not much for the intellectual game of chess. The Fridge sets in here when you realize he may have been waiting for a chance to challenge his brother, JJ, whom may have been more than happy to play him, and simply been unaware he'd recently perished in Gargantua II.
Why did Wide Wale want exclusive rights to arch Dr. Venture? To piss the Monarch off. Why? Because Wide Wale was once Dr. Chester Ong, who worked with his brother Doug... as in Douglas Ong aka Dr. Dugong, one of the heroes that the Monarch killed off in his upset of being unable to arch Venture. It would be reasonable to assume that Wide Wale knows this and knows that by arching Venture exclusively, it would PO the Monarch off. This is confirmed in season 7. Chester knew and he's happy to show the Monarch his displeasure when he has the gall to break into his home dressed as the Blue Morpho.
Rusty is another term for "worn down", "out of use" or "faded away" ... a good name for a jaded, washed-up former boy adventurer.
As the series progressed the title "Venture Bros" became less fitting as Hank and Dean were pushed out of the primary spotlight for focus on Rusty and the Monarch... but as of season 7 and the massive implications (though not explicit confirmation) Monarch is Rusty's half-brother suddenly the title is all too fitting again, just not towards the people we assumed.
In the episode It Happening One Night, Rusty seems to be unaware that Wes Warhammer is a villain until the end of the episode (just before Warhammer gets killed by the Blue Morpho). That's when Rusty says "You're all just a bunch of thieves!" to which Warhammer responds "Uh, yeah." While this serves to explain how exactly Warhammer arches, it's also a Take That! against Andy Warhol, on whom Warhammer is based - calling him a "thief" who rebrands commercial art as his own Pop Art creations.
The Monarch mocks Augustus Saint-Cloud when they meet in season 7. But, he's being quite a hypocrite, since Saint Cloud is pretty similar to himself - a rich heir who bought and conned his way into supervillainy just to harass some old acquaintance over a minor (perceived) wrongdoing.
In season 1, Rusty claims to be 43 years old (it's unlikely that he's lying, since he was talking to himself), but, in the "Ghosts of the Sargasso" episode flashback, which takes place less than 30 years in the past, he's still a prepubescent child. A case of Writers Cannot Do Math, or was he younger than he should've been because he was cloned a few times, like the boys?
Why was Councilman 1/Vendata so insistent on helping the other members the council when Phantom Limb was attacking? Because he was once the Blue Morpho, who was once a hero.
Pete White ends up in charge of the Shrink Ray pretty much every time it needs to be used. Every time, he can't aim for shit. In season 7 he accidentally hits a cockroach in the distance instead of the people in front of him. It makes perfect sense considering he's an albino, which aside from pale skin, white hair, ability to sunburn to a crisp on a cloudy day, etc., causes vision problems such as nystagmus (rhythmic, uncontrollable eye movements) and lack of visual acuity. Maybe if someone else tried firing it for once... it might hit the intended target for once.note Although if that's intentional, it's a mystery why neither he nor his Heterosexual Life-Partner who's an actual neurogeneticist never points out there's probably a reason he misses every time.
The Blue Morpho was Jonas Venture's go-to for any kind of dirty work he needed done. Carry it forward decades later with a twist of irony, and the Blue Morpho (the Monarch as Blue Morpho, rather) is once again taking care of the Venture's problems by killing all of the Level tens Arching him, albeit unbeknownst to Rusty.
It's a little weird that in The Silent Partners, with a whole crew of henchmen onboard, Monstroso doesn't deputize any of them to help Billy with the surgery when it looks like the main challenge for him is wrestling a giant heart half the size he is into a guy about five times his height, which would however be super easy for anyone the size of those henchmen. However, it's mentioned at one point that a lot of the Monarch's ex-henchmen went to work for Monstroso, so they might just be so dumb that Monstroso figures they'd find a way to bungle it. Monarch henchmen: too dumb to walk and chew gum at the same time, never mind help with surgery.
Also, Monstroso mentions he almost didn't give Billy that sports outfit because it's so small he wanted to hang it from his rearview mirror. Maybe the reason he ends up doing the surgery in a pair of sad saggy y-fronts is because Monstroso couldn't bear to part with the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny scrubs he might have actually got for him.
In "The Venture Bros S 04 All This And Gargantua 2", when Rusty and Billy are stuck sharing the parva cubiculum, Billy probably calls dibs on the bottom drawer because in a typically nebbishy move he'd resigned himself to sleeping in it. It sounds like when kids are divvying up a bunk bed, but there's only the one bed, plus a chest of drawers that's almost big enough for someone Billy's size to sleep in. It just wasn't clear until I'd rewatched a couple times.
In The Venture Bros. season 3 ep where Hank and Dean are alone in the compound while Monarch and crew wreck it up, Monarch says he gave a robot with Rusty's face chlamydia. Now, provided Monarch wasn't lying, consider that his marriage was described by him as an "open marriage" in season four's finale. Did he or Dr. Mrs. The Monarch give the other an STD?
In the episode "Past Tense", Brock throws Colonel Gentleman over the head of the Action Man (as they are both disguised as the bad guy's Fem Bots at the time), and the Action Man tilts his head a second later. Bringing one of his sharp antennae/ear-pieces pointing straight up. If he'd tilted his head while Gentleman was in the air above him... it wouldn'thave been pretty.
In "Any which way but Zeus" it's revealed that Captain Sunshine's butler, Desmond, was the original Captain Sunshine with the second being his Wonderboy. Its always been stated in statistics that kids who have been molested have a high chance of being child molesters themselves, a possible Freudian Excuse for the good captain?
Word of God says Captain Sunshine isn't a child molestor. He just has no sense of personal boundaries, and is completely oblivious to just how inappropriate his behavior seems.
Even if Captain Sunshine isn't a pedophile, it makes sense that he'd already have come out of the Wonderboy experience somewhat traumatized, to the point where he doesn't grasp what's inappropriate about it or that it's anything abnormal. The death of Wonderboy, on top of its inherent traumatic value as the death of a young charge, would have at the same time reminded him of his own former vulnerability and his irregular upbringing as a sidekick. So, still a cycle of negative behavior mimicking the way sidekicks in media grow up to be superheroes with their own sidekicks; it's just not necessarily sexual abuse that they're warped by.
Which makes perfect sense when you realize Captain Sunshine is a Composite Character parody of Batman, Superman, and Michael Jackson
What's worse is that in this same episode, Desmond said he wanted to throw a party to show the sidekicks that they were important and loved. Given that the current Captain Sunshine was a sidekick, and how he turned out, Desmond is clearly trying to prevent his mistakes from repeating. It also means that he deeply regrets what he did to the guy when they were younger, and might not have any idea how to fix the damage he caused.
Furthering the theme of failure — Desmond can't undo what he's done; Captain Sunshine genuinely wants to be a good guardian to his sidekicks, but he doesn't know how and his relationship skills are hugely unhealthy. (Again, paralleling how victims of abuse sometimes grow up to be abusers, but not specific to pedophilia. It's still possible that he was sexually abusedand isn't a pedophile; the creepy trappings seem normal to him and he has a poor sense of boundaries as a result.
And another layer of Fridge Horror is added by the artbook of the series; the creators say that once Desmond dies, Captain Sunshine will be the new butler, a Wonderboy will be the new Captain Sunshine and then he'll have to pick a new sidekick to traumatize. Its a pretty vicious cycle to go through.
In "The Invisible Hand of Fate" Pete, after weeks of Billy leaving him for the OSI, is heavily sun burnt and depressed. Put two and two together.
In the same episode, Billy gets conveniently freed from his study obligations when his roommate commits suicide and gets to spend more time with Professor Phantomos, just as Hunter Gathers wanted. Far too convenient to be coincidence, it's far more likely that Gathers murdered an innocent student to get what he wanted. (Brock is too wracked by guilt over the accidental death of a classmate during football to have been involved in this one)
Actually, Gathers revealed that the student was their insider and he was Phantomos' personal assistant, so it's not hard to guess who killed him if he really didn't commit suicide. Goes right back into Fridge Horror territory when you consider the circumstances of said events: The insider student was probably picked by Phantomas personally, was badly disfigured along with the rest the class, and immediately committed suicide when Billy showed up with papers that helped in the completion of the growth accelerator. Phantomas treated the whole thing as a matter of convenience for Billy and outright stated that the rest of the class was beneath him. He might have considered the assistant and the rest of the class as expendable guinea pigs for his project and killed him when he outlived his usefulness or he might have figured out that the assistant was spying for the O.S.I. and, as a member of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, killed him. In both cases, he could have made it look like suicide.
To be precise, Pete White is an albino, people who should be in the sun unprotected as little as possible.
Suicide by Sunlight, like a vampire! Although, alternately, he apparently went out of his way to buy a trailer and park it in the exact spot he last saw Billy. And his weird jacket-and-underpants outfit suggests he's at least trying a little to keep the sun off. His plan might have been just to wait for Billy to come back, and he might just be sitting outside to make sure he sees him, but unfortunately can't do that without broiling half to death. Or, mostly, it looks like he intended to just wait and see if Billy ever comes back, but is also passively self-destructing at the same time by sitting outside in the desert sun without so much as a hat. In any case, he looked so shaky and bleary-eyed in that scene, if it'd taken much longer for him to be reunited with Billy, he might have gone blind or died of sunburn-related infection or dehydration. Which can happen!
When Captain Sunshine kisses Hank and tells him "You broke my heart, Hank, you broke my heart!" this may be a shoutout to the death of Fredo in The Godfather. If so, it means that Captain Sunshine gave Hank the kiss of death and he now has a promise that he will be murdered by Captain Sunshine at some undetermined point in the future...
In "Love Bheits", Baron Underbheit asks a henchman who can see the future if his new wife (actually Dean in a disguise) will "last longer than the others" who Underbheit had had killed. The answer is "yes"; given that "Dawn" literally revealed himself and thus ended the marriage minutes after the wedding was over, one has to wonder how long the previous baronesses lasted...
It's probably not that bad. The fortune teller was probably going off the idea of the how long the "wife" would be alive, not how long Dean would be a wife. Still, each wife can't last more than a few years and who knows how many have died at this point.
Dean and Hank, in their death montage, are seen playing football when a spaceship crashes down, killing Hank. Now, in their other two 'solo deaths' (Hank falling off the roof, Dean running with scissors) it can be assumed they were alone. In this scene, though, Dean is clearly seen backing up to catch the football that Hank was about to throw before he was killed. So Dean has, at least in some incarnation, witnessed the death of his brother and only real friend.
More Fridge Horror when you think on how jaded Dr. Venture is to this happening, and when you think on how they made Then-Dean forget his brother had just died, and S.P.H.I.N.X. wasn't around the Venture compound then. Well...
One of deaths the boys had was dying while trapped inside of their dads body so to Rusty and Brock the boys just disappeared.
I was just thinking about Dr. Venture's disapproval of Triana Orpheus and some unfortunate implications of why he shelters the boys so much: in not letting them have any friends or socialize with children their own age, it makes it easier to gloss over the fact the boys die so much. From a practical standpoint, it would be a pain to keep explaining why Hank and Dean die and come back so many times, especially when they die at the end of season 1 in front of Dr. Orpheus, who actually seems fond of the boys and is understandably heartbroken about their deaths.
In "Careers in Science", is Bud Manstrong's account of the Phantom Spaceman true or false? He seems to know a lot of details about how it happened (even if it just a ghost story to entertain Hank and Dean) and Lt. Baldavich complains they are alone on Gargantua-1. Did Bud Manstrong open the bay doors and kill everybody else on the station just to be alone with Baldovich?
Movie Night turned out to be extremely real, and all of the victims who weren't wearing spacesuits, as Red Death was, all perished horribly, both villain and civilian alike. Manstrong "being a paperboy" on the station might be made up, but it's very real that after dozens of people died horribly, apparently including Jonas Sr, the station was more-or-less abandoned by Venture Industries and the government, save for the bare minimum skeleton crew who had neither the technical skills nor knowledge to properly maintain the station themselves.
Movie Night was real and Manstrong was a paperboy on the space station. He is one of 4 or 5 known survivors of the incident. The bigger question is why there wasn't more safety features on the bay doors. The answer is obvious later on. Jonas was an asshole and didn't care if the system endangered lives. Hell, he may even have considered using it against his rivals to dispose of them cheaply. He just was too arrogant to think that anyone, even the Blue Morpho, would kill him that way. The bigger question is who opened the doors as the Blue Morpho doesn't remember if he did, but he's certain that he wouldn't have.
When 24 and the Monarch stole Dr. Venture's space shuttle, they pressed the autopilot for going towards Gargantua-1. The same Gargantua-1 that fell into orbit & burned up upon entry. There's no implication that the shuttle could find Gargantua-2, so if Dr. Mrs. The Monarch hadn't accidentally run into them, would they have just been left adrift in space with a shuttle they can't drive?
With The Ventures moving to the their new home in season 6, does that mean Hank will have to leave his best friend, Dermott, when they move?
Yes, but it didn't matter anyways. Rusty gives Dermott a recommendation to the OSI. They would have been separated anyways. However, given Red Death's slaughter at Dummy Corps., Dermott might get reassigned to New York to fill in the now vacant spots. On one hand, good, they can be together. On the other hand, Dermott would then be in the most dangerous superhero/supervillain haven in the country.
Rusty's Hilariously Abusive Childhood makes more sense when you realize that Johnny Questand its knock-offs are all canon. For a time in the 60s and 70s, it was a fad to forcibly take along an underage child as an adventurer. Not only were the boy adventurers subjected to all the abuses that entailed, they were sired in the first place as a fashion statement.
Rusty can't properly remember which events were from his childhood and which were just his TV show. Given his father was behind the show, and was also both Rusty's therapist and primary abuser, this may be entirely his father's intent.
It gets worse when you remember that Rusty is actually a clone of Jonas meaning that its likely that Jonas was so dangerously reckless with his own son, he had clones to be used as backup.
In "Ice Station Impossible", Richard's first reaction to Hank showing symptoms of the Goliath Serum is to immediately shoot him, saying that it was the only cure. However, later he says that the "cure" the team came up with was just ranch dressing, and that Hank's recovery just showed that the serum didn't work on humans. But, the video Brock watches beforehand implies that there were either human test subjects or accidental exposures because they knew what symptoms to look for in humans. It's pretty obvious what happened to whoever was exposed to the serum before Hank, and it wasn't even necessary.
The death of Jonas Venture was implied to be at Kano's hands in order to stop him using the Orb. Years later, we'd discover the Orb didn't work and hadn't since years earlier than that. That means, his death was completely unnecessary.
As it turns out Kano had nothing to do with Jonas' death, nor did it have anything to do with the ORB. Jonas died during the infamous 'Movie Night' on Gargantua-1, and even then his head was technically alive in the PROBLEM module on the space station. Now it seems that the "great man" that Kano killed was actually his first boss, the Blue Morpho, who was most likely remade into the cyborg villain Vendata.
Actually, Blue Morpho became Vendata only after trying to kill Rusty, Kano was most likely the one that pulled his body from the plane crash and brought him to Jonas to try and save him rebuilding him into Venturion. Kano most likely meant how Venturion would go on to become Vendata and felt he killed the great man he tried to save, and created a villain that would go on to join the Guild and the Council of 13.
More likely Kano felt that he killed the Blue Morpho/Venturion when he ripped off Venturion's head to save Rusty.
The Blue Morpho worked with Jonas Venture and was called on to do work that was too dark for Doctor Venture. Given how openly psychotic Jonas was able to get away with, and in some cases was praised for, acting... then what kinds of things did the Blue Morpho get called on to do?
We know now - one of them involved murdering one of Jonas' arches.
Red Death's wife seems okay with him slaughtering people. She is aware of her husband's activities.
Now that the truth of Jonas Sr.'s depravity has been brought to light, does Rusty have anything about his dad to appreciate? Now there are implications that Jonas knew what Rusty was going through, and didn't care. Imagine how Jonas Jr. would react if he knew. It's probably better that he died not knowing the truth. Also, Rusty is extremely uncaring that his dad died again. He even makes a joke about it and smiles. Jonas was that much of a monster.
In "Careers in Science" the Problem Light seems like a really impractical device, especially considering Jonas built it, it supposedly glows when something on Gargantua 1 is broken without telling anyone what exactly is wrong. Then we find out what PROBLEM is actually for.
In the 7th season finale we find out that Rusty and The Monarch are brothers. This means that the shows title doesnt just refer to Hank and Dean, but to Dr. Venture and the Monarch, too!