Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Savage Land"

You know, I don’t look forward to Hulk and the Agents of S.MA.S.H. But I can say that it’s darn satisfying to rip it to shreds. Cathartic, you might say. I’d much rather continually spotlight excellent episodes of other shows, but I feel that there is a need to show the flip side of the coin. If you can identify something bad, you can learn to appreciate something good. And with that, let’s see where this next episode falls in the Good/Bad spectrum.

The answer may surprise you. But it won't be a nice surprise.
The episode opens up on A-Bomb climbing a plateau, filmed by his omnipresent cameras.

A-Bomb: “I know what you’re wondering.”

Then explain why Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is on TV while Beware the Batman got postponed until next year.

A-Bomb: “What do the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. do when they’re not savin’ the world?”

Fight each other? That’s what we’ve seen so far. Turns out that all the Agents are climbing, too. Hulk, in particular, is hanging by Rick and giving him all sorts of advice. The other two, She-Hulk and Red Hulk, are on a team of their own in this race... which Hulk insists isn’t actually a race, but a training exercise. Rulk spreads the drill sergeant gospel, and the climb quickly devolves into a race.

In the cutaways, Hulk expresses concern over training Rick, but Rick wants some modicum of independence. Back in the climb, Rick makes a mistake and falls. The Hulk catches him, but both A-Bomb and Rulk protest Hulk’s help. Rulk then proceeds to reach the top. Then lava starts spewing out of the top in flagrant disregard to how volcanoes actually work. Not only is their Nevada base in a relatively volcano-barren area, but the magma would melt the lower part of this tall, skinny rock formation before it ever got a chance to reach the top.

Hulk grits his teeth, and the title goes. After we return, the volcano is shooting ridiculous amounts of lava into the air. The Hulks leap down to the ground. A-Bomb has rocks fall on him, but he’s fine.

She-Hulk: “This volcano’s supposed to be dormant. It’s not due to erupt for a million years.”

In this shot, I would like to add that the shape of the plateau has changed to more volcanic proportions. Let’s chalk that up to “I don’t care” and move on.

A chunk of flaming rock about the size of a couple of Volkswagens gets ejected from the volcano and heads towards Vista Verde. I could say something about the fact that if the town were close enough to be hit by a chunk that improbably large, then they’re also most likely going to be feeling incredible heat from the lava.

Red Hulk: “I got it!”

He “gets” it by leaping up and punching the rock over Vista Verde, which smashes it into small, flaming pieces that no doubt caused havoc when these flaming pebbles rained on the town. The episode repeats the footage of the volcano, and Hulk sends Skaar off to help Rulk while he and A-Bomb go off to divert the lava flow.

Two things.
1. Where’s She-Hulk?
2. You can’t really “divert” a lava flow with rocks, it’ll still cause all sorts of havoc.

Skaar leaps up and slashes another erupted boulder into pieces, and this time we actually see the rock raining down, but all the small, flaming rocks miraculously missed anything important! …that we see. Meanwhile, the rest of the team (including the unmentioned She-Hulk) seems to be “diverting” the lava flow by punching a trench in the Earth. Oddly enough, the debris from the ground seems to disappear after flying offscreen. A boulder falls in, blocking the flow of the lava. A-Bomb attempts to move it out of the way, but Hulk ends up saving his bacon.

The team reunites to gaze upon the lake of lave they’ve created, and they should all be burnt to a crisp. But like in Avengers Assemble, this is apparently a world where convection does not exist.

Hulk: “Magma contained. Nice work, Smashers.”

Lava. A-Bomb whines at Hulk, Hulk argues back, blah blah blah, it’s the standard teenage independence shtick with the twist that Rick’s a Hulk. When A-Bomb storms off, Rulk agrees with him and goes off to mentor him and “let him make his own mistakes.”

Back at Gamma Base, they use their computer to keep track of similar happenings all across the globe. Somehow, they are able to triangulate the source of the volcanoes to Antarctica. Red Hulk exposits that Antarctica is where the Savage Land is, and Hulk goes to check it out. On the way, the team explains that the Savage Land is a hidden tropical forest in Antarctica. And it has dinosaurs, which A-Bomb squees over.

A-Bomb (cutaway): “I love dinosaurs! Scales, fangs, claws, they’re my peeps!”

And… this is truly a weird bit of editing. They cut from an A-Bomb cutaway… to an A-Bomb cutaway.

A-Bomb (other cutaway): “Check me out I’m a T-Rex! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUUH-RREAAAAAAGH can’t quite reach ya with mah tiny arms eeearrrrh!”

Now that the obligatory T-Rexes-have-tiny-arms joke is done, we can continue. They fly to the Savage Land, and Rick squees some more after seeing a pterodactyl.

A-Bomb: “Dinosaur! Dinosaur!”

No, that’s a pterodactyl. Dinosaurs were land animals. The things with flippers and the things with wings aren’t actually dinosaurs. For a guy who loves dinosaurs, you really don’t know anything about them. Though I suppose we can throw common sense out the window, seeing as how the next scene has pterodactyls with laser cannons shooting at the Hulkjet.

A-Bomb: “Oh, my gosh, dinosaurs with lasers; how cool is that?”
Red Hulk: “Why do ya think they call it the Savage Land, kid?”

Yes, lasers are truly the sign of savagery. Little known fact, you know how European explorers traveled to all these distant lands and dubbed all the inhabitants “savages”? It was because while the Europeans had muskets and bayonets, the native peoples were merely content to hunt for their food with lasers. After all, the laser is one of the “Simple Machines,” along with the Inclined Plane, the Pulley, the Wheel, and the Internal Combustion Engine. Either that, or that was a stupid thing for Red Hulk to say.

Hulk activates their own laser cannons, and begins to gun down all the pterodactyls he can find. Out the window, Rick spots a half-man, half-pterodactyl riding a pterodactyl named Sauron. I’d make a joke, but I’ll wait for you to finish with the one that’s no doubt in your head.

I know you're all expecting a running gag of relevant puns, but I'm trying to break the hobbit.
Hulk (cutaway): “Sauron. Half-man, half-dinosaur.”

No, half pterodactyl. He's a mutant, if you want to get pedantic.

Hulk (cutaway): “Has some kind of mind-control power. Can drain your energy by touch. (Sighs.) And probably wants to rule the Earth.”

Say what you will about Spider-Man, at least they tried to justify is powers as being linked to his animal mutation. Sauron (who I just noticed has dragon horns) gloats a bit, and Rulk takes a-Bomb to go fight on the aircraft’s hull. Hulk goes to join them, and She-Hulk says she’ll work on landing them in one piece. Then a pterodactyl hits the windscreen, which better not be a “women-drivers” joke.

"Oopsie, I keep confusing the turn signal with the brakes!"
Aw, crap, now I'm making sexist jokes, too.
Rulk gives A-Bomb a “Gamma Taser,” and they start shooting pterodactyls, with Rick almost hitting the Hulk. Rulk and Hulk argue about giving Rick a weapon that he hasn’t trained with, and then the craft lurches. A-Bomb falls off, and Rulk starts arguing with Hulk again. Rulk also gets knocked off before Sauron takes out an engine. Hulk throws his broken weapon at Sauron, and the jet starts to crash.

After the crash, we cut to Rulk and A-Bomb making their way towards a giant volcano, which comic book logic demands is the right place to be headed towards. Rulk gives A-Bomb some bad advice, and they head off. At the same time, She-Hulk says she can salvage the jet in an hour. Hulk demands that they go find A-Bomb and Rick, but She-Hulk accuses him of being over protective. They go back and forth, and She-Hulk instists that Rick needs to make his own mistakes. Hulk sends Shulk and Skaar over to the volcano, and goes off by himself to find Rick and Rulk.

Rick and Rulk, meanwhile, are staring down an inaccurately drawn dinosaur. However, this is supposed to be Jack Kirby’s creation Devil Dinosaur… so it gets a free pass. I can buy that this is an invented species.

Red Hulk: “Lesson Two: Smash first, ask questions later."

Sauron, as it turns out, is on Devil Dinosaur, and commands him to attack. Meanwhile, at the volcano, Skaar and Shulk are spying on the lizardmen slaving away on their doomsday machine in flagrant disregard of the immense heat that should be frying them all. They head off to destroy the doomsday machine, and the lizardmen call for back up. Sauron commands DD to finish Rick and Rulk, and heads off to answer the call. DD eats A-Bomb, and Rulk punches the thing in the face. More arguing ensues, and Hulk rides the dinosaur like a horse, training it. Sauron’s mind control wears off, and DD burps up A-Bomb.
This was the picture Marvel released from this episode. Apparently, they were ashamed of the rest of this episode.
A-Bomb: “Lesson Three: No more lessons from Red.”

Devil Dinosaur, being a carnivore, is of course now completely domesticated, and A-Bomb takes a liking to him. They head towards the volcano, where pterodactyls fire lasers, Skaar swordfights, and Sauron dominates Skaar’s mind and sucks out his energy. Sauron becomes a musclebound Hulk-dragon-man, and A-Bomb goes after the drill while Hulk fights Sauron. The drill goes into overdrive, and Rulk and A-Bomb go to smash it.

Sauron sucks out the Hulk’s power, but this just makes him mad. Rulk sets the drill into reverse, and A-Bomb jumps in and jams the drill on his armor. Sauron gets knocked into the lava, and flies out.

Sauron: “Noooo, all my power burned away….”
As long as your ring didn’t go in with you, you’ll be fine. The pterodactyls all gang up on their former master, who flies away in terror. The drill blows up, Rick and Rulk emerge from the ground, and the team goes back to Base.

A-Bomb appreciates Rulk’s “attack the problem” methods, while also learning when to use Hulk’s “think it through” methods. Hulk tells Rick he done good, and it turns out that they took Devil Dinosaur back with them, despite him not logically being able to fit in the Hulkjet. “Red Rover,” as they call the dinosaur proceeds to either defecate or throw up on Red Hulk’s bunk, and Rulk starts glowing red, which causes the glass of water in his hand to boil. What, now they remember that aspect of Red Hulk’s powers? That the madder he gets, the hotter he gets? Hulk talks in a cutaway, and the episode ends.


This episode… this episode.
You may have noticed that this recap isn’t as snarky, lengthy, or probably as funny as previous ones. There’s a reason for that, and I’ll explain it in the review of this episode.


  1. Does anyone know if Devil Dinosaur was ever called Red Rover in the comics? Or associated with the Hulk? Because if he wasn't I'd say it's kinda disrespectful to Jack Kirby. But they already showed they don't care about Kirby and his creations with the Ego episode. Kirby's life history... I made myself sad :(

    1. As far as my research has revealed... no.
      Also, now that I think about it, what IS Devil Dinosaur's name in the show? Is it "Red Rover" or is it "Devil Dinosaur"? The Hulks go back on forth. All I ask for is consistency. And good episodes, but consistency is slightly more likely.

    2. I didn't know that. Because (thankfully) we don't have Hulk and the Agents of SMASH in Argentina (yet). Not that I plan on watching it. And you know what I said about Kirby's creations, well they proved they don't care about anybody's creations with, well, every character on the show.

    3. Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they didn't care, but they certainly have... differing opinions as to the cores of the characters.

    4. I guess that's a way of saying it.