Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Monsters No More"

First of all, I'm going to say this. The title is a nice bit of misdirection. I (as well as others, probably) was expecting a story about all the Hulks losing their powers. So the fact that the title refers to how the public's perception of them changes instead is a subtle twist on the audiences expectations. Honestly, I have to give the writers props for that.

So it's a shame this episode isn't very good. Pretty much every single plot point has something wrong with it. Let's go through them.

Plot Point 1: The Hulks finally get recognized as heroes.
Why is the Hulk only now considered a hero? Because he stopped the invasion of Toad-Men? A few points regarding that topic.

1. The Fantastic Four helped. A lot.
2. Hulk has stopped invasions with the Avengers before.
3. Technically, no one actually saw Hulk save the day.

Plot Point 2: The Leader has secretly been behind a massive scheme this whole time.
Again? The Leader sucks as a villain. Every time we see him on screen, he's either monologuing about the evil scheme that he's apparently been putting into effect for the past six episodes or being defeated.

Most of his impressively villainous schemes are done offscreen. Like giving lasers to the Savage Land, helping the Frost Giants, hiring the Agents of C.R.A.S.H., and let's not forget conquering a planet. All I ask is that we actually get some kind of hint that the Leader's actually some kind of threat. As it stands, one episode he'll be begging Doctor Doom to let him out, and the next one it'll turn out that he could get out whenever he wanted!

He's had much better opportunities to enact his escape plan. Like the time Red Hulk and Devil Dinosaur were missing, the time the Hulks were fighting Venom in New York City, the time they were fighting the jet on the moon, especially the time that Abomination had infiltrated the base, the time that Hulk went missing and the others were distracted by the fact that A-bomb screwed up the base's systems.... need I go on?

The Leader is a terrible villain who only succeeds because the writers say he does.

Plot Point 3: The five "Gamma Bombs."
"Evacuate the town! There are bombs!"
Six words, and the military wouldn't be after the team.

"Knock one out and take his belt off!"
Seven words, and the town would realize that there were invisible villains.

"Call for S.H.I.E.L.D. backup!"
Four words, and Fury's boys could help reverse any reputation damage by working with a team that just proved themselves by fighting off an invasion.

Plot Point 4: The Leader is the ruler of Sakaar.
And he's been gone for, what, weeks? Months? And the majority of the people hate him? Can you say "slave uprising"? "Coup d'├ętat"? "Military revolt"?

Also, how is the day-to-day business of government done? Yes, many vast empires were united under a single ruler, but the longest-lasting ones also had some kind of council, congress, senate, or other kind of governmental assembly to keep the darn thing running.

Here are the possibilities.
A. The Leader is the sole ruler.
- Not anymore, if he's missing for that long.

B. There's some kind of Senate to do the boring administrative work.
- And they'd most likely appoint some kind of new ruler after the Leader disappeared without a trace.

C. There was a temporary ruler in the absence of the Leader.
- Because "temporary rulers" have worked so well for Earth empires. (Cough, Julius Caesar, cough.)

So basically, this whole situation is implausible. Am I nitpicking? Maybe a little. But it just goes to show that if you're going to create a fictional universe, then some actual thought needs to go into it. This series' internal consistency is out of whack, and this episode is filled with plot points that don't hold up to even cursory examination.

I hereby declare: FAIL.

However, in the interests of fairness, let me go over what I did like. 

Characters
I liked the idea of the Agents of C.R.A.S.H. I love mirrored contrast, especially when it comes to teams of heroes and villains. Revengers, Injustice League, Crime Syndicate, Frightful Four, etc.

The Fantastic Four team-up was nice, too. I mean, Hulk's been crossing over with them since the beginning.

No self-promotion is too shameless for Stan Lee.
Animation
I do like the way Sakaar looks at the end. It reminds me of planet Vulcan crossed with Tatooine.


Plot
It's admittedly a nice exploration of the characters. They've finally achieved their goal of being seen as heroes, which brings up an interesting question: Now what? Though I feel like the episode doesn't deal with the dramatic weight of losing their newly-gained status very well, there was a modicum of thought given to the characters, if not the actual plot.

Next time, we'll see what happens next. Will the next episode be the awesome adaptation of Planet Hulk that I've been hoping this show would do?

See you then.

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