Back when I reviewed the first season of this show, I made the observation that it was not really about "breaking new ground", in terms of the stories it told. This holds true of the second season as well: the focus remains on reinterpreting familiar superhero tropes into the show's nominally science fiction setting, rather than in being particularly innovative in any way.
Season two's bag of re-jigged comic book plotlines includes:
- the mega-powerful who just wants to eat the planet (their Galactus is a giant tick);
- impersonated by a super-villain;
- alternate reality hijinks;
- my superpowers are malfunctioning!;
- forced into gladiatorial games; and
- reluctant team-ups with enemies
Of course, an argument can be made that Ben 10's innovation is that it tells superhero stories in a nominally not-superhero setting. And innovative or not, it's a smart idea. Superheroes are a pretty rich vein to mine, but doing a straight-up capes cartoon that's not associated with the big 2 of Marvel and DC is likely to be something of an uphill battle.
And then there's the fact that at the end of the day, solid execution often trumps innovation, and the people making this show know what they are doing, so their execution is solid through and through. I do think this season is overall not quite as engaging as the first - possibly because the character dynamics are pretty much established now and we don't see a lot of change in them during these episodes - but there is still plenty to enjoy.
I mean, at the very least, I have to tip my hat to a show that's willing to include Chekov's Foot Powder.