He’s a super-Ghostfreak. He’s super-Ghostfreaky.

The Ben 10 franchise just keeps plugging along, here with another five episodes of Ben 10 Omniverse that originally aired in March-April 2014. These episodes have been rebranded “Galactic Monsters” on both the cover art and on each episode’s theme song. So, let’s blast off with Ben and see if there’s any spooky fun to be had.

Teenage Ben Tennyson (Yuri Lowenthal, Naturo) wields the Omnitrix, a device that allows him to transform into a whole lot more than ten superpowered aliens. Ben and his partner Rook (Bumper Robinson, Futurama) are “plumbers,” secret police who monitor and police aliens secretly living on Earth.

This episode list secretes a thin layer of protective mucous…

* “Rad Monster Party”
Ben, Rook, and useless supporting character Rad Dudesman crash land on Anur Transyl, a planet full of monsters, where they discover an even more monstrous plot brewing.

* “Charmed I’m Sure”
Magic-wielding enemy Charmcaster becomes a reluctant ally with Ben after she arrives on Anur Transyl.

* “The Vampire Strikes Back”
The crisis on Anur Transyl reaches a head, where Ben must face old enemies Ghostfreak and Dr. Viktor, as well as the vampiric, power-mad Lord Transyl.

* “Something Zombozo This Way Comes”
Zombozo, the evil clown, gets creepier than ever as he’s going around transforming people into…zombie clowns! Ben insists that he’s gotten over his childhood fear of clowns, but everyone else knows better.

* “Mystery Incorporeal”
While away at college, Ben’s cousin Gwen (Ashley Johnson, Spooked) investigates a mystery under her masked guise as Lucky Girl.

The idea here is that we’ve got a three-part story making up the Anur Transyl arc and two additional “monster” themed episodes. Basically, Ben and friends run around on a planet that looks like a classic Universal horror movie, which allows the animators to riff on all their favorite horror movies. The Universal classics are at the forefront, but there are not-so-subtle references to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King as well. This is fun and all, but I can’t help but wonder if Ben 10 Omniverse is spinning its wheels a little. The villains are mostly one-note, their only desires being power and “to rule.” The fight scenes, which used to be so varied and cleverly staged, now feel like the same few jumps, punches, and explosions over and over.

Further, from a show that previously took time to explore who these people are when not fighting monsters, there’s very little character development. This time around, it’s all plot-based, with chases and fights but not a lot of new insight into our characters. Ben does the right thing while occasionally making wisecracks, Rook takes the job a lot more seriously, and that’s about it. So while there’s a lot of action, weirdly-designed aliens, and other such sci-fi craziness, there’s no emotional investment in it all, making this batch of tales ultimately forgettable.

That doesn’t mean everything is terrible. There are some bright spots to enjoy on this disc. The episode “Mystery Incorporeal” is a winner, showing how college life has and hasn’t changed Gwen, and it reevaluates her relationship with Ben in the months they’ve been apart. It also brings back another villain from the series’ past (not going to spoil who!) for a surprise reappearance. Additionally, the creators continue to mix in classic Ben 10 Omnitrix aliens with the new ones, so old faves like Swampfire are prominently featured. Plus, Ghostfreak has been renamed “Zs’Skayr,” just so we can introduce a new Ghostfreak in the Omnitrix for Ben to use.

The episodes are all presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As is the case with Ben 10 DVDs, colors are bright and vivid, and the animation comes across smooth and clean. The 2.0 stereo audio continues to be good as well, especially when the action kicks in. No extras this time.

If you’re reading this with no idea what a “Ghostfreak,” “Swampfire,” or “Rad Dudesman” are, then know that any Ben 10 first-timers aren’t going to have any idea what’s going on here.

This might not be the best of Ben 10 Omniverse, but the “old-timey monster movie” vibe still offers enough amusement for longtime fans. Lesser Ben 10 is still Ben 10.

verdict

Not guilty. Come one, come all.

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