Monday, April 7, 2014

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Stranger in a Strange Land"

Well, back to Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. This week, Doctor Strange appears for the second time in the Marvel Animated Universe in an episode titled “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Well, the title may have taken five seconds to come up with, but let’s hope they spent more time and effort on the actual episode.

Let's grok this shlock.
The episode opens on the Gamma Base, where She-Hulk appears as the lovely assistant of A-Bombo, the Great, who is performing for the rest of the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. He’s… not very good. Though he can adequately perform a basic card trick, his “teleportation” onto the stage leads him into a coughing fit from the smoke, he accidentally pulls his suspenders from his sleeve instead of a scarf (pulling toilet paper, a plunger, and his own underwear out in the process), failing to saw She-Hulk in half (by using an actual saw on her indestructible body), and also failing to teleport her from one box to the other. I’m just glad that A-Bomb has another excuse to wear his tux. I don’t think the Hulks get invited out much after Galactus attacked Vegas.

On an unrelated note, Paul Dini is not listed as the writer of this episode, but I think that he had a hand in it. Why? Well, She-Hulk shows up onstage clad in a top hat and bow tie, much like Paul Dini's pet DC character Zatanna does.

I mean, the man married a real-life magician who looks just like her.
A-Bombo (cutaway): “Okay, maybe I’ve only been practicing a week. But how hard can this magic thing be? I read, like, ten books! …okay, I copied some guy I was watching online, but he was awesome!”
To be fair, that’s pretty realistic of most crappy amateur magicians nowadays, At least Skaar is impressed by A-Bombo’s “tricks”. Then again, I think Skaar would be impressed by a bug crawling up the wall.

Please stop making that face.
A-Bombo: “Worst magic show ever.”

I would have to agree. A-Bombo’s like the anti-Mac King. But it seems that Hulk has taken pity on poor A-Bomb, and called in a favor. Suddenly, in a puff of mystic fire, Doctor Strange appears, hair as greasy as it was in his Ultimate Spider-Man appearance.

Take a shower, Doc.
I can tell you right now, this was a bad idea. A-Bomb wants to learn stage magic, so you call up the SORCERER SUPREME? That’s like wanting to learn how to litter box-train a cat, so you call in a lion tamer. It’s a bit of overkill, is what I’m saying. Anyway, we come back from the titles, and A-Bomb is impressed at the good Doctor’s “trick.”

Dr. Strange: “It’s no trick, A-Bomb. I’ve mastered the mystical arts. The willful manipulation of reality at the quantum level. It’s science, not trickery.”

Oh, that statement is going to be hilarious at the end of this episode. You guys don’t even know yet. But A-Bomb, being only an egg, brushes this off, saying that “stage magic is the basics of real magic” and that Strange will help him get his “wizard on.” I swear, sometimes this is like a lost 90’s cartoon.

Dr. Strange has some reservations, but Hulk convinces him to give A-Bomb a try. A-Bomb hides a couple cameras, and Dr. Strange teleports himself and A-Bomb away. For some reason, Dr. Strange’s spell did not include A-Bomb’s tux, which floats to the ground. I’d ask why Dr. Strange has a spell that will teleport his own clothes, but not A-Bomb’s, but Marvel decided around One More Day that magic doesn’t have to make sense. So A-bomb’s rockin’ out with his cloaca out.

They reappear at Dr. Strange’s house, the Sanctum Sanctorum. Dr. strange is slightly miffed at the cameras A-Bomb brought along, but I’m just wondering why, since A-Bomb only brought two cameras, we can see both cameras. Afterall, this show is supposed to be what the people in the show see on Rick’s in-universe video series. And why is it cutting angles the way it is? He would have had to bring four cameras for that, but he only brought two! But I’m going to tell myself that it’s just a show, and relax. I’m certainly not putting more effort into explaining this than the writers did. Whatever; A-Bomb wants to learn how to teleport.

Dr. Strange: “It takes years to master traveling spells.”

Again, that statement is going to be hilarious. Or possibly infuriating. So A-Bomb plays with some artifacts, including a box to Hell, a mirror that creates an evil version of yourself (amusingly, A-Bomb’s evil version is simply the comic book version of A-Bomb), etc. It’s okay, though, Dr. Strange saves the day with the “Enchanted Chains of Astaroth.”

Does that have anything to do with either of these guys?
Dr. Strange is starting to rethink taking on A-Bomb as a helper, and A-Bomb suggests that the Doc could just give him a “magic necklace” so he can do magic.

Dr. Strange: “That’s not how magic works.”

Again, remember this statement. Dr. Strange instructs A-Bomb to begin some chores, and he does. Back at Gamma base, Shulk and Hulk are sparring against cardboard cutouts of their villains, and Shulk is whining about it. Also, Skaar set Rulk’s head on fire. Devil Dinosaur, who is apparently of human intelligence (?), uses the extinguisher to put it out. Hulk votes that they all go visit Rick.

Rick, meanwhile, finds a spellbook while dusting and decides to use a wind spell to make his job easier. He starts reading the book, eventually substituting the pseudo-Arabic/Latin for gibberish (“…Cincinatti?”), and it works. A-Bomb summons a tornado, and Dr. Strange puts it right. This is a weird adaptation of "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice."

Dr. Strange: “There. Are. No. Shortcuts!”

I hate to keep repeating myself, but keep this in mind; it all pays off in my review. Rick gets back to his chores while Dr. Strange goes off to go protect this universe from Dormammu, of the Dark Dimension. Typical Monday, basically. Rick mops a hallway, but it grows longer when he finishes. He mops the new part, it happens again. And so on, and so forth. I imagine that the ninth Doctor did the same thing to Mickey. Anyway, after completing the infinite hallway, the magic phrase “Mercava Vee” appears to A-Bomb, which makes the hallway go back to normal. A-Bomb has just learned TARDIS-magic. He goes off to celebrate with Strange, but interrupts his spell, and Doctor Strange gets sucked into the Dark Dimension. Oops.

All Doc has to worry about is this guy. Way to go, A-Bomb.
Later, the other Hulks arrive, and they try to figure out what to do next. We learn that Red Hulk is arbitrarily skeptical of magic, despite already having dealt with a magical curse that turned him into a monster. Not only that, but “magic” is more logical than the way science has to bend over backwards to justify Gamma radiation creating Technicolor rage monsters. A-Bomb figures out which book they need to consult by remembering what Dr. Strange was doing, and he gets to work deciphering the text (in a foreign language, no less) to figure out the spell.

First attempt: Ravens burst forth from Skaar’s mouth.
Second attempt: She-Hulk grows a beard.
Third Attempt: Rulk’s head shrinks.
Fourth Attempt: Ctrl-Z on the previous spells.
Fifth Attempt: Portal to the Dark Dimension, where the Dreaded Dormammu awaits.

So, when you mispronounce a spell, you get those spells from LEGO Harry Potter that cost thousands of monies, but do nothing but make you dance or give you red hair? Magic is stupid.

A-Bomb and Hulk go through the portal to, well, Hell, more or less. Fire, brimstone, monsters, and we get a little bit of trippiness where the sky shatters. To make a long story short, they fight through Dormammu’s mindless goons and rescue the good doctor while the Agents left behind keep the same goons from invading Earth. There’s a wizard’s duel between Dr. Strange and Dormammu, which ends with Dormammu falling down into the swirling abyss, before zapping Strange’s amulet. Strange, Hulk, and A-Bomb exit the Dark Dimension and close the portal. But it seems that Dormammu zapped himself into Strange’s amulet, and he rematerializes in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Naturally, Strange and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. fight the giant demon.

Dr. Strange: “You will not pass!”

Yeah, big words there, Gandalf, seeing as how he just broke Glamdring. …Yeah, I know the name of Gandalf’s sword. What of it?

"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Ud√Ľn. Go back to the Shadow!"
Strange soon falls, and he tells A-Bomb to use his spells against Dormammu to prevent his escape. After getting Dormammu caught in an infinite hallway, Rick whips out the mirror from earlier.

Because Dormammu is evil, his mirror counterpart is pure good, and the two fight. They both get sucked into the mirror dimension, blah blah blah, Rulk believes in magic, Rick moves on to ventriloquism, the end.

So, why did I tell you to remember all those things that Dr. Strange said? I’ll elaborate as I review.

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