Monday, November 25, 2013

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Wendigo Apocalypse"

Not a dream!
Not a hoax!
Not an imaginary story!
Here it is, the moment that none thought possible! Today, we’re looking at an episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. that’s…
Surely, the endtimes are upon us.

Or maybe I'm just celebrating the 15,000th page view?
The episode opens with all the Hulks in their Hulkjet. Out of all of them, only the Hulk himself is restrained. Has he lost control? Is Mesmero possessing him? Will he unleash a torrent of his wrath upon this Earth!? No, he just doesn’t want to go on vacation.

Hulk: “I warned you before. Don’t take me on vacation. You won't like me when I'm on vacation.”

Well, I wouldn’t call this “funny”… but at least there’s no toilet humor. Which is a rather nice change from earlier pieces of episodes. Hulk’s opposition to this vacation makes sense, though. The Hulks are hated and feared by normal humans, and wherever they go, monsters or military show up, putting people in danger. It makes sense that the Hulk would tend to dislike vacations. Pff, but why listen to the guy who’s had the most experience with this whole Gamma-Mutant thing, right? Let’s go to Vegas!

Actually, they’re going to a Canadian ski-resort, because it’s the only place they could find where She-Hulk would fit in a hot tub. The thing that really sealed the deal was when Rick found out about the local “sasquatches” that legends say roam the area. He wants to catch one on camera, though Red Hulk remains skeptical. Sure, the man’s fought Gamma-Mutants and extra-dimensional monsters, but sasquatches? That’s a load of malarkey!

As She-Hulk preps the landing sequence, something jumps onto the front of the plane and begins throwing it off balance. The Hulk recognizes it as Wolverine! …sorta.

See? Told you.
Teaser over, five-note theme, let’s continue.

As the somehow-hairier-than-usual-Wolverine attacks the jet, Red Hulk works to undo the restraints on Hulk. She-Hulk demonstrates her piloting skills by keeping the plane level until Wolverine takes out an engine, causing the plane to start falling from the sky. It crashes in a giant fireball, and we just cut to the unharmed Hulks talking about the situation on the ground. Why does this show have an aversion to actually showing the Hulks escaping these crashes as opposed to just cutting like this? Is it because… kid-friendly? Wha…? I don’t know. Anyway, wreckage.

She-Hulk: “What is that, jump-jet number nine? Hope we’re getting them in bulk.”

I went back and counted, yes, that does seem to be jump-jet number nine. Well-played, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
…did I actually just say that? No! I must criticize! Um, ah! Where are they getting all these jump-jets from, then, huh?  …well, logically, the military base probably has multiple jump-jets. Military hardware usually isn’t one-of-a-kind. Nothing to criticize here. Dang it, show, stop being good! I can’t be as funny when you're actually good!

Hulk then emerges from the wreckage, discarding his broken restraints, and the team figures out the situation. Hulk confirms that Wolverine must have gone “rabid,” and She-Hulk says he must have gone “nuclear,” considering the destruction of the forest around them. She’s referring to the claw marks mutilating the surrounding trees, of course, not the destruction caused by their jet. Also, technically, every character here but Wolverine has “gone nuclear.” You may want to rephrase that.

Rick tells the camera that this is just like his favorite horror movie, Dusk of the Undead. Didn’t the Cinema Snob review that? Anyway, whispering screams echo throughout the forest, alerting Skaar that Wolverine must be coming back for more. Indeed he is. Wolverine jumps at the S.M.A.S.H. agents as a series of semi-animated stills. Unlike in other episodes, Wolvirine is drawn in a different style here, so it comes across as intentional stylization rather than laziness on the part of the animators. Honestly, the effect is a good one, and creates a tense mood. Dang it show, you’re even doing the things I hate well!

In an actually-impressive movement, Hulk catches Wolverine and uses his momentum to swing him around away from them. Wolverine counters by yelling and snarling. Hulk notices that something’s wrong with Wolverine, and tells him to calm down. The Hulk is telling someone to calm down.  Alanis Morissette, that's ironic. Wolverine won’t listen, so he runs across a log to attack the Hulk, who responds by kicking the log in the air and punching through the log, knocking Wolverine into a tree. With bones cracking and popping, Wolverine gets up and snarls some more.

"Hey! What did I say about peeing on my foot? Bad Wolverine!"
Skaar stares in amazement at Wolverine’s inability to be hurt, so She-Hulk and Red Hulk briefly explain his mutant background and his Adamantium skeleton. That’s a good way to handle exposition for a character that most people already know about. Somebody help me, I can’t stop complimenting this episode!

Wolverine falls to the ground and loses his white fur, also regaining his sanity. He doesn’t remember much of what just happened, though. He remarks that “it’s true,” Hulk has a new “set of dwarves.”

Wolverine: “Let me guess: Dopey, Happy, and Bashful.”

Hey, kids! Did you know that the names of all seven dwarfs are copyrighted by Disney? Way to take advantage of the Disney ownership, Marvel.

"I'm not touching you." "Yes, you are." "Shut up!"
Rulk and Wolverine exchange threats, but Hulk quickly takes charge of the situation. Hulk, in a cutaway, explains that when he and Wolverine first met, they fought. Apparently, the two dislike each other to this very day.  She-Hulk finally asks Wolverine what happened, and he explains that he was bit by a Wendigo.

Wolverine: “It’s an ancient, cursed monster. Bites are contagious.”
Rick: “Just like a zombie movie! This is so cool! Except the part where it’s real. There’s gotta be a cure, right?”
Wolverine: “Healing factor did the trick. But everyone else at this resort has already been turned.”

So, your mutant ability protected you from a magical curse? I’ll buy that, because the curse is causing a biological alteration, which his healing factor can presumably fight against. Hulk votes to contain the curse before it can spread to the outside world, and they set off. Wolverine finds the scent, but insists on going it alone, even shoehorning in the catchphrase Frank Miller gave him.

Wolverine: “I’m the best there is at what I do… but what I do ain’t very nice.”

No one gives wet willies like Wolverine.
He walks off alone, but the team decides tag along behind anyway. Shulk votes for splitting up the team, which Rick is horrified by. He claims that not splitting up is Horror Movie Rule #1.

Rick (cutaway): “Rule Number Two: Never look under the bed. Rule Number Three: Never peek in the closet. Rule Number Four: Never go check on a monster who’s down ‘cause he’ll always spring back to life and GET YAAAAAA!”

So, rule number four is “doubletap”?

After romping around for a bit, they come across what appears to be the Eye of Sauron. Wolverine explains that it’s an old Native American warning. Suddenly, the team is surrounded by Wendigos, and I mean suddenly. Like, between cuts.

Hulk: “Remember, these are people! Weapons on stun.”

That’s not a joke, the Hulks are all carrying laser guns. The Wendigos attack, and Wolverine warns Rick not to get hit, because he’ll get cursed. They fend off the Wendigos, and Hulk spies a bigger, stronger Wendigo King with a necklace thingy on him on a nearby ledge. She-Hulk saves Red Hulk from a Wendigo after Rulk forgets the fourth rule, and Hulk has to prevent Wolverine from killing one of them. The Wendigos all run off, and Hulk yells at Wolverine that they used to be human.

Wolverine: “Well, now, they’re monsters. AND THE OLD YOU WOULD A’ SMASHED ‘EM!”
Hulk: “The new me’s gonna smash you.”

She-Hulk breaks them up and reminds them that there’s no time for arguing; they need to figure out a plan. They all walk off, but Skaar takes a second to sniff Rick. Apparently, he smells a bit different now, and we can see a claw mark on his side.

A-Bomb takes a second to look up anything he can about the Wendigo on his smartphone, and reads aloud what he finds.

Rick: “Yo, freak force! Look what I found on my favorite monster website!”

First Kaboomerang, now Freak Force? Why does this show keep referencing comics by other companies?

Rick reads aloud that Wendigos are said to be the manifestation of inner rage, which gets Wolverine making fun of Hulk again. A-Bomb continues that the curse began from the original Wendigo King, who has a hypnotic stare. The curse can only be lifted by defeating the Wendigo King. Wolverine and Red Hulk dismiss the idea of the Wendigo King as a load of malarkey, but Hulk surmises that the necklace-wearing one earlier was the King.

Later, Wolverine notices the Wendigo smell coming from Rick, who unconvincingly tries to deflect the inquiry. The team gets surrounded as Rick spouts Rule 47: If you can hear the monsters, but not see them, they're either above you or below you. Or, you know, invisible. Like you can do. Wendigos burst from the ground, and a fight ensuses. The team runs up the mountain towards a tram station, enter the tram, and get it going.

Rick: “Whew! Right in the nick of time. Just like a…”
Red Hulk: “Horror movie, we get it!”

Unfortunately, the Wendigos climb up the mountain and pile onto the tram. The team opens fire on stun as Rick begins to transform into a Wendigo and attacks Hulk.

I felt similar after watching "All About the Ego."
As the team is forced onto the roof, She-Hulk gets clawed as well. Finally, Wolverine just cuts the cable on the tram. It falls a long way, with one of those faraway, silent shots and hits the ground.

Hulk and Wolverine are separated from the others, and they begin to make their way. Soon after, they’re joined by the other Agents of S.M.A.S.H. All Wendigos. Wolverine’s willing to fight and kill them, but Hulk wants to find another way. The Wendi-Hulks start fighting Hulk and Wolverine, who quickly take down the monsters. Hulk gets hit when stopping Wolverine from killing one of them.


Hulk changes tactics at this point and starts punching the mountain, causing an avalanche that takes out the Wendi-Hulks.

Wolverine:That's the Hulk I’ve been waiting for.”

Hulk and Wolverine go to find the Wendigo king before Hulk transforms.

Hulk: “The world may think I’m a monster, but I refuse to become one.”

Wow. That’s surprisingly deep for this show. Kudos.

Hulk and Wolverine track down the King to his cave and prepare to enter. The Wendigo King sleeps inside between piles of skeletons, and the heroes remark on the smell.

Hulk: “Smells like a giant Wendigo outhouse.”
Wolverine: “Yeah, try having heightened senses.”

Hey, finally some toilet humor that doesn’t make me feel like someone’s peeing on my soul.
Did I just compliment the toilet humor? WHAT HAVE I BECOME?

Anyway, our heroes come across even more Wendigos, and a fight ensues. Wolverine and Hulk get a chance to show what they’re made of, sharing more banter.

Hulk: “See what happens when you check your temper, stay in control?”
Wolverine: “You oughta write a book.”
Hulk: “You oughta read one.”

They venture deeper into the Wendigo lair, and encounter more Wendigos, including the King.

Wendigo King: “I am the beast made flesh. You and you world will become one with the pack.”

Holy crap, it can talk? That’s creepy.
Wolverine jumps it, but it displays the ability to become mist and teleport. That’s pretty cool. The Wendigo King spams his teleport ability, and lays a pretty brutal smackdown onto Wolverine and the Hulk. Hulk transforms into a Wendigo, but manages to stay sane enough to tell the tell the Wendi-Hulks to resist and fight back. Hulk throws Wolverine at the Wendigo King, and destroys the talisman on the necklace. And with that, the curse is lifted, and the Wenidgos turn into very confused naked people who freak out at the Hulk.

Wolverine: “They’re not monsters, they’re Agents of S.M.A.S.H. They saved ya.”
She-Hulk: “So, what are we doing in this gross smelly cave?”
A-Bomb: “And why am I so hungry for kibble?”
Skaar: “Skaar always hungry for kibble.”

After exiting the cave, A-Bomb throws away the talisman to prevent sequels from happening, and the others begin to respect Rick’s genre savviness. And Wolverine and the Hulk understand each other a bit more now. She-Hulk jumps into the Hulk’s hot tub in the cutaway, and the episode ends.

As you could probably tell, I liked this episode.
Before you call the men in the white coats, hear me out.

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