In the same way that "Not a Toy" was a superhero version of the old "frisbee in the cranky old man's yard" plot, this episode was the superhero version of the"secret pet" plot.
Pre-Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Importance
This episode establishes a true friendship between Hulk and Spider-Man, which even extends to an exchange of secret identities. But more importantly, Hulk and S.H.I.E.L.D. end this episode on good terms. This sets up the final episode on this road and goes a long way to explain why the Hulk has so much S.H.I.E.L.D. gear/assistance by the time the premiere of Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Of course, there's still a lot the remains unexplained, such as the Hulk's increased intelligence, but there's still one more pre-HAS episode to cover. Never fear.
The true depths of just how freaking irresponsible he actually is is revealed. Not only through his misadventures in pet-have, but because he brings an infected Hulk to his house, potentially endangering his Aunt and neighbors. I mean, they could be hurt by the Hulk, the Phalanx, S.H.I.E.L.D. squads....
Nice job, "hero."
Well, we learned that Hulk is willing to listen to his stomach. But more importantly, Hulk is a human being, not an unstoppable force of nature. This goes a long way to develop sympathy for him by the time we see him next.
Traditionally, these are X-Men villains. And while they stick to their usual shtick here, I have to criticize their two designs.
|And this one.|
I'm not an expert on all things X-Men (there's a lot of X-Men continuity to sort through), so I'm not sure, but I think they're supposed to look like this in the comics.
|A bit less like potatoes.|
And more than that, I'm not sure why the Phalanx were chosen to be the big bad of this episode. I mean, they don't really tie into the themes of the episode. If it were the Skrulls invading, for example, then you could deal with themes of identity, hiding, etc. But having said that, I guess it is nice to see the writers using obscure characters. So I can't fault them on that point.
I noticed that this episode was more willing to go off-model this episode, whether it be the Hulk's face contorting as he eats or Spider-Man's poses getting more energetic than usual. While I don't necessarily like how cartoony this looks, I do appreciate the extra effort it takes to create such unique poses and such.
All in all, this episode is simply alright. Much like "Freaky," the question is whether or not you find the jokes funny. I can't really recommend it on its own merits, but it does help to explain the eventual status quo for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
One more step on our pre-Agents of S.M.A.S.H. journey. Will it end with a smash or a whimper? We'll see when we get there.