Monday, March 3, 2014

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Mission: Impossible Man"

Last time, I began my Recap by showing that the quality of this show has generally been improving over time, culminating in the very enjoyable "Abomination". Well, today, we're back to basics! Yes, we're returning to the crapola this week with the introduction of the most annoying character in the show. Small, hyperactive, semi-omnipotent, and voiced by Tom "Spongebob" Kenny. You have been warned.

The best argument against the existence of a kind and loving God.
The episode starts with the most outright cartoonish argument between Hulk and Red Hulk yet. Red Hulk posits that superior firepower makes one a hero, and Hulk argues for the importance of heart. No, I'm not making a Captain Planet joke; I'm not the Nostalgia Critic. What makes the argument cartoonish is the fact that Red Hulk has decided to paint a line down the center of the base, denoting his side and Hulk's side. No, really.

Suddenly, an alarm goes off as a monster attacks! Stepping outside, the team finds the Impossible Man disguised as a dragon! ...though the caption says "Fin Fang Foom." Even though the giant monster clearly is wearing Impossible Man's tights and has Impossible Man's face and looks nothing like Fin Fang Foom. Impy's name's in the episode title, for crying out loud. But no, none of the Hulks recognize him.

Really, Hulks?
There's a fight, blah blah blah. I'll instead use this time to explain who the Impossible Man is supposed to be. He's Marvel's version of Mr. Mxyzptlk; but instead of a 5th-dimensional, omnipotent trickster, Impy's an alien shapeshifter with limited reality-warping powers. Limited. But the writer, it seems, is just cribbing from Batman's gallery of rogues, because Impossible Man is written like Bat-Mite. In fact, this episode seems to be directly based on "Emperor Joker!" down to most of the details. Who wrote this derivative crap? ...Paul Dini, who helped mastermind Batman: TAS, and pretty much the entire DC Animated Universe. Well. I await the wrath of the internet.

But... I have to say it: the basic plot's identical to "Emperor Joker!". I'd love to end the Recap here, but I need to show how this episode is an inferior rip-off of the other... I just realized that I'm accusing Paul Dini of poorly plagiarizing from TBATB. Well, then, let me backpedal. I don't know if Paul Dini stole the plot of a TBATB episode, and this could easily be just a coincidence. However, I'll still be making the comparison between the episodes because the similarities are still there. (Paul Dini is a very talented individual; he, Bruce Timm, and Dwayne McDuffie created the most in-depth animated universe ever conceived. I am not trying to belittle that achievement, I'm just critiquing an episode of his which is of... less than his usual quality.)

Anyway, the draconic Impossible Man critiques the ideological differences between Hulk and Rulk during the fight (similar to the types of comments Bat-Mite makes in his episodes) and swallows the team.

Impossible Man: "Well, Hulkies, I guess that's it for our show! See you next time!"

Three things.
A. You're not allowed to call me a "Hulkie" either.
B. Breaking the fourth wall to a camera. (Bat-Mite breaks the 4th wall all the time.)
C. I wish it were over....

The Hulks make Impossible Man throw them back up (tastefully done offscreen), and Impossible Man squees over their clever escape. He reveals himself as the Impossible Man, from planet Poppup. He explains that he can "pop" himself into any form, and proceeds to do so with a "fwash" sound effect, not a "pop." Better fire the foley.

Hulk (cutaway): "Guys like Impy are what we heroes cal CP's: Cosmic Pranksters. Crazy powers, childish brains. Only way to win is to outwit 'em. Or try to ignore 'em. They hate that."

Hulk also earlier made reference to an Avengers file on this guy, referencing the Avengers Assemble episode "Avengers: Impossible"... which is odd, considering that in that episode, Hulk made a reference to this episode. So... which happened first? What's the order?

Space is warped and time is bendable!
Impossible Man wants to join the team, calling himself a "true fan" (coughBat-Mitecough), and he watches Rick's webcast in his "universe." Not only does Bat-Mite watch Batman's show, but Impy is from another planet in this universe. But you know who does live in another reality? Yep, Bat-Mite.

Anyway, Impy transforms himself into a Hulk to join. The Hulks, and the audience, just want him to leave, so the Hulks make up the reason that they can only have five Hulks on the team, so he merges Hulk and Rulk into a half green, half red, two-headed Hulk, meaning they only count as one. They have some issues working together, and an alarm goes off. The team goes off to do their job, and save Coney Island from a seaborne invasion by Sauron and his water-dragon army. Said water dragons will be called "dinosaurs" in the show, even though dinosaurs didn't live in the water. (Water reptiles existed, but they weren't dinosaurs.)
End this now.

The Hulks fly in, crash the jet, and the Impossible Hulk attacks Sauron, doing plenty of damage in the meantime. The "dinosaurs" are pretty much taken care of by the jet's weapons, and the Impossible Hulk has already defeated Sauron. But Sauron turns the tables by absorbing Impy's lifeforce/powers to become a super-strong Sauron-Hulk. (Hello, plot of "Emperor Joker!")

She-Hulk gets hurt in the kerfuffle, and the powerless Impossible Man flees. More Hulk/Rulk bickering, more fighting Sauron, and Impossible Man loots the place. Shulk, Rick, and Skaar try to teach him that it's heart, not powers, that makes a hero, and he melts into goo when his shapeshifting fails him. Speaking of shapeshifting, Sauron figures out that he got shapeshifting powers from Impy and makes four heads to fight the two-headed Hulk.

In another kerfuffle, Sauron learns how to teleport, and uses his newly-boosted powers to summon the real Fin Fang Foom, a mighty dragon. Well, actually, an alien. But whatever. More fighting, the still-powerless Impy flees in his spaceship, but learns the lesson and flies back, kamikaze-ing into Fin Fang Foom and falling to the ground, dead. And there was much rejoicing.

What's interesting is that Impy morphs his head into Stan Lee for a bit, but they don't get Stan Lee to do the voice. Why? Stan Lee already appeared as Mayor Stan of Vista Verde, and multiple times in the sister show Ultimate Spider-Man as Janitor Stan. Why not have him come back? Stan appeared in Daredevil, for crying out loud, why not this piece of crap? Interestingly enough, Stan Lee gets credited as "Mayor Stan" for the episode, but I did a side-by-side comparison of Stan's earlier appearance to this one. It's obviously Tom Kenny doing the voice. Kenny does a good impression, but can't quite reach Stan the Man's grandfatherly-gruffness. He can't disguise his voice well on the higher pitches, either, and the delivery is a fraction more Shatner than Stan Lee. Also, he morphs snakes with the heads of the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. to give him a pep talk. With the correct voices. What the heck?

Getting Men in Black II flashbacks. Not a good thing.
Back to the plot, the team mourns over the little pest's body, and he comes back to life. The only way this episode could have been redeemed, wasted. He's got his powers back, and whips out a growth ray he stole from Ant-Man. He zaps Hulk/Rulk with it, and the giant Hulk/Rulk wipes the floor with Fin Fang Foom and defeating Sauron. Impy shrinks down Hulk/Rulk to normal size, and clumsily breaks the fourth wall to explain that the reason he didn't just shrink down Fin Fang Foom was for the "awesome" giant Hulk/Rulk.

Impy says his goodbyes, and we get the funniest line in the episode.

Impossible Man: "Skaar-crow, I'm going to miss you most of all."

Yeah, what does it say about the episode quality when a random Wizard of Oz reference is the funniest thing in it?

Back at base, Impy pops back in to fix Hulk/Rulk, and the cutaway scene almost ends well, with the two Hulks punching either side of Impy's face, but Impy's shrill voice has to ruin it.

Impossible Man: "I love these Hulks!"

Finally, it's over. Ugh. Let's just get on with reviewing this piece of episode.

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