Monday, April 18, 2016

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "The Doppelsmashers"

Today, I return to Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. for the first time in a while, now that I'm halfway through the "Fugitive Hulks" story arc. In the previous two episodes (three, if you count the out-of-order Halloween episode), the Hulks went on the run, got their dinosaur back, and wrestled an alien.

Hopefully, the story arc's actual plot shows up soon, because there's only two episodes left in it, including this one.
Since last episode, Xemnu the Living Hulk has presumably left Earth without further incident. Because as their dealings with Ego and Galactus have shown, the Hulks will just let planet-killers roam free. As long as they limit their killing to planets that aren't Earth.

So Krypton was fair game.
But even though Xemnu has apparently departed for parts unknown, the Hulks are still wanted fugitives hiding out at an abandoned train yard. Tomorrow, they may find themselves running from the military. But tonight, they're roasting hot dogs.

So... where did they get a few hundred hot dogs while on the run from the government? Unless... hm.

In the absence of any other evidence, I choose to believe that the Hulks killed Xemnu and ground his body into sausages, that they may feast upon his flesh and steal his strength.

Or maybe they snuck into a store after hours and left some money behind. I like my version better.
Hulk is stubbornly insisting that his burning food is fine, Skaar's table manners are worse than the dinosaur's, and the other three are discussing each other's various flaws. Red Hulk's main flaw is (apparently) his rampant hot-headed egomania, She-Hulk is called "too competitive," and A-Bomb won't shut his blue face. And yes, it all ends in fighting.

Hulk: "Can't we all get along for one night without smashing each other?"

Hulk declares that he's going to make his team learn to work together no matter what it takes. And in a way, he succeeds. The others stop their fighting long enough to call him stubborn in unison.

Hulk: "What, you think that's my flaw?"

Hulk has a point. Though the Hulk is more intelligent here than he usually is in other media, he's still rage incarnate. Of course, Red Hulk and She-Hulk have some serious anger issues, too. I guess only Red Hulk is being personified by his anger so each character can have separate flaws to overcome in this episode. Because if there's one thing any writer will tell you, it's that you change established characters to fit the story, not vice versa, right?

She-Hulk: "That, and you can't cook."

That is literally the saddest face I've ever seen the Hulk make.
Hulk (cutaway): "I'm not stubborn. I'm just not a quitter. Why should I give up when I don't have to?"

Really.

Hey, Hulk, remember a couple episodes ago when you were determined to clear your name for the destruction of Vista Verde?

"Yeah"
When you saw that the Abomination was running the show, did you peacefully turn yourself and the Leader over to S.H.I.E.L.D. to get things sorted out, or did you abandon your plan and start fighting the Abomination?

"I started fighting the Abomination."
And once you had defeated him, did you stay behind and let Vista Verde vouch for you in order to clear your names? You know, your whole goal after getting home from space?

"No, I went after the Leader to get our pet dinosaur back."
Okay. Once you got your pet back, what did you do?

"We resumed our mission to clear our names."
And what have you done to accomplish this mission since then?

"Well, we found an abandoned train yard to use as a base."
And then?

"...We wrestled an alien and had a wiener roast."
I see.

"But what about my time in space? Despite overwhelming odds, I led my team back to Earth successfully."
Fair point, fair point. Counterpoint: When you had your little breakdown at the beginning of the season, did you keep on following your convictions, despite how easy it would have been to give up being a hero?

"Not at first. I decided to stop being a hero until my team convinced me otherwise."
Right. Just asking.

Anyway, the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. apparently decide to ignore the current topic of conversation in favor of watching A-Bomb use his iPad. He had earlier synced it with his S.H.I.E.L.D. frequency scanner, and it just intercepted a distress call from Nick Fury. Apparently, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Tri-Carrier is under attack by the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Which is weird, because they're currently having a little campout.

In the space of a single commercial break, the real Hulks have boarded their jet an are en route to the Tri-Carrier, which is still under attack by unknown forces. This is a little problematic when you consider that Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Avengers Assemble, and Ultimate Spider-Man take place in the same universe.

Though the Tri-Carrier has also appeared in both Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers Assemble, it's most closely associated with Ultimate Spider-Man. Not only because that's where the Tri-Carrier debuted (after the destruction of the regular helicarrier), but because that's where Spider-Man and his Sandwich Club of heroes got their missions and trained for more than a season. And even when their HQ moved to the Triskelion, Spidey's Sandwich Club still responded to threats on the Tri-Carrier all the time.

So here's the logical question: Where is the Sandwich Club?

The obvious answer would be "Somewhere else." But where? After all, Nova, White Tiger, Iron Fist, and Power Man spent a long time living on the Tri-Carrier. So if they're not there, then what's going on?

Well, let's see....

We're dealing with the Tri-Carrier, so this obviously must be set after the episode "The Man-Wolf," which was the Tri-Carrier's first appearance. And more importantly, it must be set after the episode "The Incredible Spider-Hulk," which was where the Hulk's Agents-of-S.M.A.S.H.-level intelligence originated.

Next, we can assume that the Ultimate Spider-Man two-parter "Blade and the Howling Commandos" takes place a year before the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "Hulking Commandos." Both episodes took place on Halloween, but "Blade and the Howling Commandos" continues into November 1st. And since N'Kantu the Living Mummy refers to the events of "Blade and the Howling Commandos" during "Hulking Commandos," the Ultimate Spider-Man episode must have come first.

At the end of that same season of Ultimate Spider-Man, though, the Hulk appears with the Avengers, apparently pardoned of all crimes, which seems to give us a timeframe for this episode: After "Blade and the Howling Commandos," but before "Return of the Sinister Six," the USM season finale.

But then we run into another issue: there aren't many USM episodes within that timeframe. It would imply that the year between "Blade and the Howling Commandos" and "Hulking Commandos" took place between the USM episodes "Second Chance Hero," and "Sandman Returns." And I refuse to believe that Norman Osborn was running around as Iron Patriot for a whole year, since he was only armored up for a couple episodes.

So in order to make these timelines match up, the easiest thing to do is assume that the destruction of Vista Verde, the Hulks-in-Space arc, and the Fugitive Hulks arc of Agents of S.M.A.S.H. all occurs during the third season of Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors. Most likely, Hulk's guest appearance as a hero in "Rampaging Rhino" would have happened shortly before he was framed for the destruction of Vista Verde at the end of Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Season 1. Which narrows it down nicely.

And so, I can now say with some certainty that "The Doppelsmashers" takes place at the same time as the Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors episode "Burrito Run." The reason that Spider-Man and the Sandwich Club haven't been called in to help is that Spider-Man, Squirrel Girl, and Luke Cage are sneaking out past curfew to get burritos while the other heroes-in-training are getting some well-deserved shuteye.

And so, continuity has been maintained. This would also mean that the Hulks were saving Salem from Dormammu while Spider-Man teamed up with the cast of Jessie. (Note: I refuse to believe that "Halloween Night at the Museum" happens between "The Revenge of Arnim Zola" and "Contest of Champions: Part One," no matter what the official episode numbering says. Mainly because it was aired a year before either of those episodes.)

You know, one of these days, I'd like to come up with a full timeline of the Marvel Animation Universe, but my attempts so far are the stuff of madness.

Madness, I say!
And don't get me started on how Guardians of the Galaxy started screwing with not only the timelines of Ronan and Thanos, but also the established Inhuman continuity of both Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Ultimate Spider-Man.

...Wow, I got way off track.

Anyway, A-Bomb's wondering why they're rushing to save the guys trying to take them down, so Hulk brings up the fact that whoever these imposters are, they probably shouldn't be given free reign of the Tri-Carrier. Red Hulk thinks this might be a trap, but the smoking Tri-Carrier says otherwise, though Hulk concedes that it might be a very convincing trap.

She-Hulk tries some fancy maneuvers as Red Hulk criticizes her flying.

She-Hulk: "Wanna have a piloting contest? Oh, it's on."

And I'll admit, Skaar quietly buckling up while Red Hulk and She-Hulk argue is pretty dang funny.
Hulk tells them to quit arguing, but it's too late. The jet gets hit, even though Hulk stubbornly refuses to abandon ship.

Skaar: "Skaar bail."

Seriously, the fact that Skaar of all people is the voice of reason in freaking hilarious.

The jet crashes, but the Hulks ride to safety on their rocket boards. Suddenly, Hulk manages to catch a defenestrated Nick Fury in the nick of time, and asks what the heck happened.

Nick Fury: "You monsters are too slow. I'm all that's left. You'll never get control of this ship...."

He passes out as A-Bomb protests their innocence. So now all that remains is to survey the damage. The titular Doppelsmashers are long gone. She-Hulk sees to Fury's medical care while Red Hulk snatches Fury's ID card and uses it to check the surveillance footage. The computer plays a recording of the Abomination returning to the Tri-Carrier with the "Hulks" as prisoners.

Rick, 3D will always suck, even with these blue Star Wars-style holograms. Don't get too excited.
The footage cuts to the Doppelsmashers in restraints that the real Hulks doubt they themselves could break out of. Then the Doppelsmashers do just that to start wrecking the place.

Speaking of wrecking the place, as the holographic footage finishes up, the actual Doppelsmashers return to fight their counterparts. The Hulks steer the fight into the hangar to protect Nick Fury. All things considered, the Doppelsmashers are surprisingly chatty. But instead of saying anything relevant, they just repeat catch phrases over and over. Moreso than the actual Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

Fake Hulk: "Hulk smash!"
Fake A-Bomb: "A-Bombs away!"

Good so far.

Fake Skaar: "Skaar slash! Skaar slash!"
Skaar: "Skaar slash more!"

Pretty funny.

Fake She-Hulk: "Oh, it's on."
She-Hulk: "Do I really say that?"

Yep. Like, five minutes ago.

Fake Red Hulk: "Here's Red in your eye!"

Hmmm... I know that the other catchphrases have been used before, but I can't remember Red Hulk ever saying "Here's Red in your eye!"

Well, there's only one way to find the truth: Re-watching the 36 previous episodes of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. to see if he ever said "Here's Red in your eye."

I think you'll understand if I just move on instead.

The fight does not go well, since the Doppelsmashers aren't as dysfunctional as their counterparts. Heck, the Fake Skaar even tricks the real one into stabbing a jet's fuel tank, allowing the Doppelsmasher to set it alight with his sparking sword. Skaar ends up getting blown up, Red's anger gets him so hot that he melts through the floor....

Red Hulk: "I hate clones!"

"I feel you."
And when the Hulk finally gets fed up and demands answers, Fake Hulk's eyes shoot out a hologram of the Leader.

Leader Hologram: "Premise: How does one defeat monsters?"

For the love of Bob, this again? That's not a premise, that's a question.

Leader Hologram: "Conclusion: By building better monsters."

That's a hypothesis. You're really bad at this, Leader.

Can we bring back Bruce Banner to school this green bean?
The Leader explains that while he was captive in space, he studied all of the Hulks' flaws, which he then programmed the Abomination's Life Model Decoys to specifically exploit.

Hulk: "So we'll just swap dance partners."

Standard procedure for these kinds of stories. But amazingly, the Leader actually predicted this and gave the Doppelsmashers the ability to shapeshift into whichever Hulk they're fighting. Except for the one She-Hulk's fighting, which turns into A-Bomb instead. Because She-Hulk's double is busy piloting a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet into the team.

The Hulks end up clinging to the outside of the Tri-Carrier after getting knocked through a wall, meaning that they get a close up view of Tri-Carrier's external defenses. And they're now pointed right at NORAD.

Hulk (cutaway): "Let me guess. Leader and Abomination wanna nuke the nukes and trigger World War 3. Then they'll take over what's left. Oh, and blame us for starting the whole mess. And he calls us predictable."

Okay, that was funny.

The Hulks start yelling at each other about their flaws again. Except for Skaar, who continues to be the voice of reason.

Skaar: "Skaar want patience! Skaar want patience now!"

After a quick speech about teamwork, the Hulk gets his team to work together to re-enter the Tri-Carrier, taking the fight to the Doppelsmashers.

Computer: "Impact in T-minus five minutes."

I'll let you know when it's been five minutes, readers.

The fight actually goes surprisingly well, since the Hulks are finally working together to fight, meaning that the shapeshifting robots can't decide who to morph into.

Hulk, are you saving that hand for later?
In no time, the Doppelsmashers are reduced to nothing but silver goo and leftover portable Gamma reactors, which were no doubt installed in the Doppelsmashers to jumpstart the destruction of NORAD once the Tri-Carrier hits it.

Hulk: "Figures. Leader always has a backup plan."

No matter how contrived it may seem.

This time, the backup plan is to have the reactors go off in five minutes. Red Hulk insists that he can disarm them... just not in less than five minutes. Hulk remembers that the special Hulk containment chambers have rockets on them to launch them into space if the Hulks get out of hand. But since the Leader is actually crazy-prepared this episode, the reactors grow crab legs and scuttle off in different directions.

The Leader hologram returns and gloats for a bit, but the Hulks quickly get into gear and round up the reactors before the Tri-Carrier crashes. Except for She-Hulk, who gets to try and stop the Tri-Carrier.

She-Hulk: "I've never flown anything this big."
Red Hulk: "You mean crashed anything this big."

She invites Red to put his money where his mouth is, but he declines the offer.

She-Hulk: "Well, then. Go make yourself useful, General."

Yes, lessons are being learned all around. A-Bomb shuts his mouth and uses his invisibility to sneak up on one of the mobile reactors, Skaar uses patience, Hulk learns when to change tactics, and the mobile reactors are soon prepped to be launched into space.

It's been five minutes, by the way, even though the timers show fifteen seconds left as they prepare to jettison the reactors into space.

Where's the kaboom?
Computer: "Purge sequence initiated."

Oh no, the Leader's real plan was to make them watch a terrible movie!

As the reactors detonate in outer space, our heroes hit another snag.

She-Hulk: "I need more power!"

"Bit busy at the moment!"
She-Hulk doesn't have enough lift to get the Tri-Carrier off it's NORAD-bound heading, so the others head outside on their rocketboards to push up on the Tri-Carrier from underneath.

Nope.
Hulk: "Hulks are the strongest there is!"

First of all, "there are."

Second of all, it doesn't matter how strong you are, what matters is how much lift your boards can generate.  It's elementary school science. For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. So it doesn't matter how hard the Hulks push up on the Tri-Carrier. Their relatively small rocket boards might be able to lift a Hulk, but they simply don't have enough power in those tiny rockets to lift a whole Tri-Carrier. So logically, pushing up on the Tri-Carrier should accomplish nothing but forcing their rocket boards down with equal force.

You know, the basics of physics.
But hey, the Hulks successfully spit in the face of physics, and set the Tri-Carrier down outside NORAD. And when She-Hulk is found, alive and unhurt in the wreckage, everybody starts going on and on about how great she is. Except for Red Hulk, who reminds her that a crash landing is still a crash. So she decks him.

But alas, the Abomination shows up outside with a buttload of Hulkbusters backing him up, demanding the Hulks' surrender. And now that Nick Fury's awake again, he demands that they stand down.

She-Hulk: "First, I wanna talk to my lawyer."

So, um, instead of complaining about how She-Hulk is supposed to be a lawyer... well, just keep the line "I wanna talk to my lawyer" in the back of your mind for the next episode. Trust me.

Red Hulk: "You got no authority over me, Fury! I'm a General! You're a "director," whatever that is. I outrank you."

Oh, hey, General Ross doesn't know the chain of command. Wonderful.

But let's see how the "stubborn" ol' Hulk forces his way out of this one.

Hulk: "I give up."

No surprises there, even though the episode treats this like a big change of heart. As I mentioned earlier, Hulk gives up all the time.

They surrender as Hulk insists that the truth will come out. And when Fury spots the severed hand of one of the Doppelsmashers, he gets a mite suspicious.

And now he has half a pair of official Marvel "Hulk Hands."
The Hulks are taken into custody, confident that perhaps honesty and playing by the rules might be the best policy this time. Which is why I'm absolutely positive the next episode won't have them clearing their names by using deception and rule-breaking. ...Right?

The Hulk gives a wrap-up speech about overcoming flaws in a cutaway, and the episode ends.

Now let's review.

10 comments:

  1. You know, you've put infinitely more thought into all this than the actual writers of the show. In other news, the sky is blue. Yeah, you really should have Jeph Loeb's job.

    - That One Anon

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    Replies
    1. I don't think Jeph Loeb's the real problem. I think the real problem is that no one involved with these shows at all cares about basic continuity. Or even basic storytelling in some cases.

      Delete
  2. ...*squints* "Bill is watching" and...I can't figure out the other one.

    Anyhow, most impressive deep analysis of continuity between shows that put no effort into having one.

    - Faceless Enigma

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what was going on as I made that chart. Things were written down, I passed out for a bit....

      Anyway, Avengers Assemble: Ultron Revolution has Ulysses Klaue gaining powers, when he already had them at the beginning of Ultimate Spider-Man. I may have to give up any hope of real continuity....

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    2. Maybe he lost his powers and gained them again, in true comic book-y, status quo-y fashion? Does that works?

      - F.E.

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    3. Sure. Now if only we could figure out how Triton is an adult on Earth in Agents of S.M.A.S.H., a teenager on Earth in a later Ultimate Spider-Man episode, AND in space as an adult at roughly the same time.

      I mean, obviously, we could pull Time Stones and reality warping out of our rear ends to justify it. But I don't think we should have to when these shows are allegedly in continuity with each other.

      Delete
    4. Yeeeah, at this point if someone told me that Avengers EMH and Phineas & Ferb are in continuity with all this, I would just answer "makes as much sense as everything else".

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  3. "You know, one of these days, I'd like to come up with a full timeline of the Marvel Animation Universe, but my attempts so far are the stuff of madness."

    Well, I've seen someone make one here http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_Universe_Reading_Order_Part_19 Earth-12041, you could use that to help

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    Replies
    1. Oh, man, that makes things MUCH easier. Thanks!

      Delete