Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Galactus Goes Green"

Now, this was a good episode, but it still had some flaws. Thankfully, some of those flaws mainly stem from the problems the series as a whole has. This episode told a good story fairly well, albeit with a few hiccups.

The thing that bogs down this show the most is the subject matter. The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. are not very interesting, conceptually. It just boils down to "a team of Hulks." That's the whole premise. It's not "a team of Hulks working with a society that hates and fears them," it's not "a team of Hulks trying to benefit humanity with the aid of S.H.I.E.L.D." It's just "a team of Hulks." And that's boring.

So it really says something about the writing quality when they've managed to make a few episodes that can work in spite of the lackluster premise. It helps that there was no toilet humor in this episode. And I still can't believe that I have to list "no toilet humor" as the show doing something special.

Despite this episode being a fun action-romp with some funny moments and a fairly clever (if not original) solution, there are a few flaws with it.

First of all, John DiMaggio as Galactus... wasn't that great. Don't get me wrong, Mr. DiMaggio is an immensely talented voice actor, and I'm a big fan. But they had him deliver stock Galactus lines about eating the planet, and they pitch-shifted his voice down until it was nearly unrecognizable. So basically, they got themselves a John DiMaggio... and they wasted him by not giving him anything to do that suited his talents.

The threat-level of this episode rings false, too. When Galactus first appeared in the comics, only the Fantastic Four went up against him, because superhero crossovers were the exception rather than the norm. In flashbacks or adaptations, other teams (Avengers, X-Men, etc.) are usually there because of the scale of the threat. It'd be stupid for the other heroes to sit back and take a load off when the world's at stake.

So, this is a universe that has S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers, and who knows how many other teams... and no one else shows up to stop the world-eater alongside the Hulks? I'm not buying it.

Also, a minor point, why does She-Hulk have this chip on her shoulder about being hated and feared if she could pull enough strings to land those tickets? Well, the episode also states that the Hulks were "invited," so that's not entirely clear. Speaking of her, this was a She-Hulk-centered episode, let's talk about She-Hulk.

I maintain that She-Hulk is the worst-characterized character on the show. I also maintain that this is a darn shame. She-Hulk is probably the most interesting Gamma-character in the comics. She's a lawyer, she's self-confident, she's clever, and she has an awesome supporting cast. Here, she's just some chick with a big, green chip on her shoulder. They took the coolest character from the Hulk comics, and they made her the most boring character in the show. This episode does do a bit to remedy that and flesh her out a bit, but only because the episode focuses on her. I don't expect her to be as three-dimensional in future episodes.

I've made a couple jokes about She-Hulk harboring some romantic feelings towards the Hulk, and I'm just being facetious. But the spark for my comments is tied to the core of She-Hulk's character. More specifically, her lack thereof. This show’s version of She-Hulk, in general, simply doesn't get along with anyone. Anytime a guest character is introduced, whether it be Spider-Man, Iron Man, or anyone, She-Hulk takes it upon herself to be generally disrespectful and rude to them, whether or not they deserve it. I chalk this up to the writers overcompensating for her second X-chromosome. As I've said since the beginning, the writers are trying to prove to the audience what a girly-girl she isn't. This has, thankfully, cooled down since the beginning of the show. Now, she's not overtly disrespectful to everyone for no reason, she just won't take crap from anybody.

While we're on the subject, her relationships with her individual teammates are basically non-existent. You can tell where all the others stand towards each other. Rick and Rulk are hot-headed rivals, Skaar likes everybody, Hulk's a sort of mentor and leader to the team. But She-Hulk? She's just there, joining in with what the others are doing, whether it be fighting enemies, petting Devil Dinosaur, what-have-you. She's just there.

The reason that I joke about romantic vibes between She-Hulk and Hulk is because She-Hulk has no vibes of any kind to speak of between her and any other character, which, by their absence, put increased focus on the chemistry between She-Hulk and the Hulk. I've seen versions of Reed Richards and Sue Storm with less chemistry than this. Pff, I've seen versions of Superman and Lois Lane with less chemistry than this. It’s really a credit to Fred Tatiasciore and Eliza Dushku (the voice actors) that they have such good chemistry, often in spite of the actual lines. Unfortunately, the case might be that they have too much chemistry. 

Remember on Heroes when actors Hayden Panettiere and Milo Ventimiglia started dating, when their characters were related? And some of their “familial” moments had a weird flirting vibe to them? It’s a similar case, just without the behind-the-scenes dating.

This adaptation of She-Hulk was misstep after misstep, and stands out as the biggest mistake in a show that’s full of them. The character, as written, is bland at best and blandly angsty at worst. Her unique qualities are removed, and she’s been reduced to a blank, boring canvas. The voice actress does a good job with the material she’s given, but she has very little to do besides say “Hang on, we’re gonna crash again.” An episode focusing on She-Hulk could have been more interesting than this. This was a good episode, but not one that utilized She-Hulk to her fullest potential.

You know what? Go read some She-Hulk comics. Any writer, any issue. Just do it. She-Hulk has several excellent runs with clever writing, good art, and actual characterization.

And if you’re sick of me ranting about She-Hulk since the beginning, don’t worry; that’s all I have to say about She-Hulk. At the end of this season, I plan to do an overview of each of the other Agents of S.M.A.S.H. too, I just thought it would be appropriate to do so for She-Hulk for this review.

Oh, well. Still a good episode overall. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
We'll see, next time!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. Talk about disappointing. She-Hulk sis one of my favorite Marvel characters, and considering my other favorites include big names like Spidey and Iron Man, that says a lot about how complex, multifaceted, and just plain entertaining a character she is. And cool electro gauntlets aside, there are none of those qualities to be found in this shiw's version of Jen Walters. Crying shame right there.

    - That One Anon