Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Incredible Shrinking Hulks"

Now, I’m going to say right off the bat that I was not originally a fan of this episode.
But before I go any further, I will mention the fact that there was an episode of the 1982 Hulk cartoon called "The Incredible Shrinking Hulk."

So that's where the "the" went!
In that episode, Bruce Banner was shrunk by a blast of Gamma Rays. As I mentioned in my Captain Atom Character Study, radiation just kind of did random things back in the day. Creepy crawlies were the only menace (probably because Skaar wasn't there to slash them) and General Ross even shows up in his non-Hulk state (because this show aired decades before that storyline).

Anyway, let's not put off reviewing this episode any more.
Before the episode aired, the Wikipedia synopsis said that Ant-Man would guest star in the episode. I love Ant-Man, so imagine how disappointed I was that he never showed up.

After giving this episode a rewatch, I took something different away from this episode regarding the series.: it's paint-by-numbers.

Let me explain.

Let’s begin with the characters.
We have a "Five Man Band." The Leader (Hulk), the Chick (A-Bomb; he’s not a girl, but he serves the same function of balancing out the other members), the Lancer (Red Hulk), the Big Guy (Skaar), and the Smart Guy (She-Hulk; not as strong as the others, but able to use technology that they can’t). They fulfill these functions, and little more.

Even the attempt at shaking up the dynamics with Skaar being a traitor is bare bones.
Step 1: Establish the traitor. (Episode 2)
Step 2: Have him do traitorous things. (Episode 3, Episode 7)
Step 3: Redeem the traitor. (Episode 7)
They checked off all the points in turn, and didn’t take their time with anything. We’re seven episodes in, and the only real sub-plot is over. Did you enjoy it?

As for the series itself, let’s look at the episodes so far. We have the 2-part origin episode, the giant robot episode, two alien menace episodes (four if you count the premiere), the dinosaur episode, and now the shrinking episode. They’re hitting all the comic book plots one by one, and not doing anything new or interesting with them. I’ll give the show points for variety, but none for creativity.

As for the episode itself, it wasn’t bad. It was close to being okay, but it was brought down by the rushed feeling of the resolution of Skaar’s subplot. Even without nitpicking the inconsistencies of the shrunken Hulks’ strength levels, this episode just wasn’t good. I won’t remark on the quality of the animation, because I don’t know if it’s stopped being bad or if I’ve lowered my standards.

Overall, I can say that the series is improving, but only because it’s not horrible anymore. If I were a teacher, I’d say that the show went from 10/100 to 50/100. It’s a better effort, but it’s still not a passing grade.

Still, I remain hopeful. If the show keeps improving at this rate, it should be good. Hopefully, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. will be remembered as a show that was pretty good, despite initial growing pains.
But only time will tell.
See you next time!

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