Monday, January 20, 2014

Recap/Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "The Skaar Whisperer"

Hey. I'm back. Earlier this month, I attributed my remaining alive to not watching Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Today, I'm alive in spite of it. Yes, I marathoned the remaining episodes in the season. Some of them weren't bad, but this one? Ugh. In this show, I’ve seen horrible stories told badly, I’ve seen good ideas wasted, and I’ve seen a single completely enjoyable half hour of television. At the very least, it can be said that this show is inconsistent. Well, in what is seemingly an effort to give the tone a more consistent feel, we have yet another horrible, badly-told episode to add to that particular pile.

Shall we get this train wreck a-rolling?

Yeah, no personalized title cards anymore. What with the post titles, it's kind of  redundant.
Yes, I know, this is a huge issue.
The episode opens at the Vault, which is one of the many super-villain prisons in the Marvel Universe alongside the Raft, the Cube, and many others. At the moment, it seems as though there’s a breakout in progress. Naturally, what with this being a potential national emergency, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and any other professional team qualified to handle this is absent. It looks like the safety of the general public is in the hands of…

Rick: “Hey Hulkies! We’re cruisin’ to the Vault!”

…the general public is screwed. Especially since the Hulk’s holographic face reports to A-Bomb and Red Hulk that the main criminals trying to escape are Absorbing Man (who can take on the properties of matter that he touches) and the Wrecking Crew, who are four thugs who got the powers of Thor from a magic crowbar. Comic books, ladies and gentlemen; you can’t make up stuff this ridiculous. Actually, I guess someone did, by definition. So never mind.

Anyway, in a surprisingly strategic move, the Hulks are taking both their jet and their Hulkmobile to the scene of the action. Unsurprisingly, it degrades into a race between Rulk on the ground and Shulk in the air. This gives She-Hulk a good excuse to tell Hulk (who probably knows already) about the jet’s new Gamma reactor, which is twice as efficient and doesn’t pollute. By definition, this is impossible.

Yes, I will acknowledge that clean, cold fusion reactors are the goal of today’s nuclear science, but the fact that She-Hulk said “Gamma” implies that radiation is given off. This would mean that there is some sort of end byproduct as a result of whatever process the reactor uses to generate energy. If the reactor gives off ambient radiation, that's just unsafe and begging for someone to wander up to it and become a super villain. If the reactor creates a matter byproduct that just happens to be radioactive, then that could be classified as pollution. The only way that no pollution would be given off is if matter were corrected directly into energy. Unfortunately, “Gamma” would be in no way involved, and this would easily be more than “twice” as efficient as whatever reactor they had been using. Oh, Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Please stop technobabbling.

After Hulk makes a “going green” pun and Skaar stares and nearly slashes at the pretty lights on the jet’s control panel, She-Hulk brings up some good points to the Hulk regarding Skaar’s behavior. He’s not acclimating to his surroundings, and his slash-and-smash behavior is going to end badly for everyone. And as you may have guessed from the title, this B-plot material is expected to pass for an A-plot this episode. Abandon all hope.

Back in the episode, Skaar picks his nose in a cutaway scene. …how lovely. Hulk, who wants to prove that Skaar can be trusted to behave himself, tells Skaar that’s he’s going to lead the charge.


Skaar uses an energy whip to cut his way out of the jet and look for things to attack. A voice comes over the radio, informing the Hulks that they have clearance to land, and the jet touches down. Hulk and Shulk race toward the outside perimeter of the Vault as Hulk surmises that Skaar’s probably subduing inmates as they speak. This proves to not be the case. Skaar gets thrown out of a giant crack in the wall by the Absorbing Man, who takes on the properties of the Vault walls and begins to attack the team, first sending the Hulk flying. As they fight, She-Hulk instructs Skaar to help plug the hole in the wall before more villains escape. Skaar decides to help the Hulk instead, leaving She-Hulk ill-equipped to deal with the escaping Wrecking Crew. The various members of the Wrecking Crew, known as Thunderball, Piledriver, Bulldozer, Wrecker… and for some reason Titania (I guess she’s there, even though she’s not a member of the crew, because only girls are allowed to hit girls on TV) step out into the world. The Agents begin a-smashing, and the rest of the team shows up.

Flash Fact: The Wrecking Crew are all Thor's villains originally. Seriously, Loki gave the Wrecker a magic crowbar.
I love comics.
The battle turns into a free-for-all, with each crewmember taking on a different agent. Skaar, not listening to Hulk’s advice, allows Absorbing Man to touch his energy whip, becoming pure energy. He runs off and steals the jet while the Hulks take care of the rest of the Wrecking Crew.

She-Hulk: “We just got that jet.”

Against Hulk’s orders, Skaar shoots down the escaping ship, meaning that Hulk’s plan of stopping Absorbing Man in the air is useless. They find nothing in the wreckage, but find only the black box recording of Absorbing Man escaping. Hulk is understandably upset about what Skaar did, and lets him know it. This other Hulks get on his case a little for being hard on Skaar… which makes no sense for She-Hulk, who had also been criticizing Skaar earlier and saying much worse things about him. And Red Hulk immediately turns around and jokes that they need a dog trainer for Skaar, giving Hulk an idea. An awful idea. Hulk got a stupidly awful idea. And it takes up the next 12 minutes or so, with 13 minutes left in the episode.

Later at the base, some snooty, upper class white guy with a green ponytail gives Skaar instructions to sit, like he’s a dog or something.

Doctor: “Skaar, I’m Leonard Samson. But you can call me ‘Doc.’”

That’s not Leonard Samson. Leonard Samson may be a psychiatrist in the comics, but like She-Hulk, he’s a compassionate, self-sacrificing professional who breaks the “dumb muscle” stereotype associated with such characters. This guy’s just an @$$. He begins by assuming that just because he’s the world expert in metahuman anger issues, Skaar has read some of his books. We then have a “joke” where Skaar tries to eat a book.

Skaar: “Book taste bad. Your hair green.”

Doc explains that he also had Gamma issues back in the day, but he worked past them. Yes, because being generally unpleasant and snooty is much better than getting angry a lot.

"And what did we learn?"
"Skaar not pee on couch anymore."
Back with the rest of the team, they’ve finished taking the jet back to base so they can analyze it and figure out how Absorbing Man escaped. They all go off for pizza except for Hulk, who discovers that Absorbing Man turned into Gamma energy and hid in the reactor. Reconstituting himself in a giant, glowing, Gamma-powered form, Absorbing Man starts fighting the Hulk with his newfound Gamma strength. The strength also comes with megalomania, as he considers trying to take over the country with his new powers.

Large and... well, I wouldn't describe anyone in this show as "in charge."
Back with Skaar, Doc’s trying to learn him to knock on the door. Skaar keeps smashing down the door, the joke is run into the ground, moving on. Doc moves on to try and teach the merits of please and thank you, but gets hit by a barrage of whys. Meanwhile, Hulk’s losing badly against the Absorbing Man. Hulk tries to explain that Absorbing Man’s going to end up a mindless monster, but he won’t listen. He absorbs titanium to go along with his “Gamma goodness,” and the other Hulks join in the fight along with Devil Dinosaur. Well, except for Skaar, who responds to a series of Rorschach tests with “Skaar slash.”

Doc moves on to teaching Skaar about table manners, but this goes as well as can be expected. It doesn’t work, and it’s not funny. The Hulks lament that Skaar’s busy as they fight the increasingly powerful and increasingly mindless Absorbing Man. Absorbing Man starts smashing his way to the base’s reactor, and Doc starts hypnotizing Skaar into a well-cultured gentleman. Absorbing Man breaks into the room as this happens, and Skaar stays out of the ensuing fight to sip his tea. Absorbing Man goes on his way, and the others try and talk Skaar into fighting, but it’s no use. They continue to attack the increasingly large Absorbing Man as Skaar tags along behind them, watching. Still drinking that tea.

Finally, Absorbing Man reaches the reactor. The Agents redouble their efforts, but it’s no use. The automatic lockdown locks them out as Absorbing Man begins absorbing the energy core, going all god mode, planning on absorbing the world into himself as he becomes a black hole. Skaar, who found his way inside the chamber with Absorbing Man, is told by Hulk to attack him. Hulk uses the word “please” which was the safeword that Doc hypnotized him with, and Skaar pours out his tea. Skaar tricks the attacking Absorbing Man by shoving a book in his path, turning the Absorbing Man into paper. Logically, like with the titanium earlier, this should turn him into Gamma-powered paper, but instead, he becomes normal paper.

Skaar: “Absorb this.”

Skaar crumples him up and throws him away, and the Hulks thank Skaar later at the base. Doc Samson laments that Skaar was a lost cause, and the Hulks beginning to fight sends him into a nervous breakdown, and the green-haired man runs away laughing uncontrollably, no doubt on his way to become the Joker.

In the cutaway, Hulk surmises that Skaar’s going to just have to get better over time, like he did. Skaar crashes into the picture while playing with Devil Dinosaur, and the episode ends.

Now, I've usually been putting the review segments in separate posts, but you know what? This episode doesn't deserve lengthy analysis. Here's the review.

It sucks. All the elements are there for a good episode, but the guest villains are wasted (the Wrecking Crew is barely used, Absorbing Man is bland) and the guest "hero" of Doc Samson bears little resemblance to the actual character from the comics, and is instead written as Charles Emerson Winchester III with a bug up his butt. And a ponytail.

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