Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Stranger in a Strange Land"

I have little to say about the majority of this episode. Dr. Strange, though he looks like he needs a shower, is a nice guest hero, and HRG of Heroes does a nice job voicing him. The plot’s not bad either; it’s your basic “apprentice saves the master” tale, and it’s not too bad. There’s a few hiccups, like when A-Bomb is apparently too dumb to realize that just setting up a couple boxes does not automatically give you the ability to teleport someone between them.

I also have to bring it up again: A-Bomb wanted to pull a rabbit out of a hat, so Hulk called in someone who rewrites reality every time he burps. A-Bomb doesn’t want to be a Level 20 Wizard, he wants to learn Prestidigitation. Overkill.

I predicted the ending, too. As I recorded commentary to incorporate into my Recap and Review, I mused that it would be interesting to point the magic mirror at the Leader, or Doctor Doom to create a good counterpart for them.

Finally, to be fair to Red Hulk’s skepticism, all the magic in the Marvel Universe can be explained by technology. Teleportation magic can just be wormholes, fire dimensions can be lava planets, etc. However… Red Hulk was not only changed into a Wendigo by a magical curse, but he’s been to the home of the Norse Gods. So forget what I said to defend Rulk's skepticism.

All in all, not a bad episode from those details alone.


...this episode is utterly infuriating

First of all, Dormammu’s head is on fire. Now look at this shot.

Yep. That's the shadow of fire.
You know when you have a bonfire, and the fire is so big, that it casts that giant shadow on the ground? No. No you don’t, because IT DOESN’T HAPPEN!

Secondly, remember all that crap that I told you to remember? About how “magic doesn’t work like that?” Let’s think about that.

Magic, in this world, allegedly seems to work along the lines of Dungeons and Dragons. You need to “level up,” so to speak, to learn the complicated stuff. Under such a system, Dr. Strange is leveled up all the way, and A-Bomb can only do 0th Level cantrips, like Light, Prestidigitation, and suchlike. But that’s all he wants to learn, so this lesson should only take a day or two. But what happens is that A-Bomb figures out how to successfully use Dr. Strange-level magic, despite his inexperience. How? He just figures out how to pronounce the magic words. This is Harry Potter logic, but only dumber, because if the Harry Potter universe worked this way, Dudley Dursley would be able to use magic.

According to this episode, it’s the magic words themselves that contain power, not the wielder. And not even then! A-Bomb completely mispronounces most of the magic words he uses, but he gets the proper effect!
Please bear with me as I flaunt both my English and Theatre Majors, but this reminds me of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. In that play, Dr. Faustus goes through all sorts of hard work in order to summon himself a demon slave. Faustus is all self-congratulatory and brags about his “great accomplishment”. However, later in the play, an uneducated idiot manages to summon a demon just as easily by reciting meaningless gibberish and getting all the details wrong.

The idea is that Faustus has accomplished nothing, if the same thing can be managed by an idiot with no training. Do I really need to explain my point here? I will anyway. The fact that A-Bomb can accomplish the same magic as Doctor Strange means that Doctor Strange is the Master of NOTHING. All you need to do is know the right words. No innate magical skills, no practice, nothing.

See this? No big deal. Anyone can do it. According to this episode, this is not difficult to learn.
What does Dr. Strange say  in this episode?

Dr. Strange: “It’s no trick, A-Bomb. I’ve mastered the mystical arts. The willful manipulation of reality at the quantum level. It’s science, not trickery.”

No, it’s not science. It’s literally magic words.

Dr. Strange: “It takes years to master traveling spells.”

No, it doesn’t. It takes an hour at the most. If you know how to pronounce the magic words, you can do it instantly.

Dr. Strange: “That’s not how magic works.”

Yes. Yes it is.

Dr. Strange: “There. Are. No. Shortcuts!”

Yes, there are. There are shortcuts, and even A-Bomb can figure them out. That is exactly what we see.
My point is this: If anyone can master magic in less than a day, then what makes Doctor Strange so special? Nothing. He’s a pajama-wearing prat with a greasy haircut. And the blatant contradictions absolutely ruin this episode. Keep your fictional universe internally consistent. That’s all I ask. From what I can tell, we've got one more episode in this season. See you then.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't Strange say it was magic to Peter? And now he says the opposite to A-Bomb? But... and.... askdngakfdng,sfknblsgkbl. THERE-IS-NO-PLOTHOLE DOCTOR-STRANGE-IS-A-WIZARD-AND-A-SCIENTIST