Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Planet Hulk Parts 1 & 2"

You know, sometimes I look back at all the things I've watched for this blog and I think, "Those were good times."

And sometimes I put myself through this crap.

So, like I always say, I try to be fair. Really, I do.

So I'm going to start this Review by listing all the good things about this episode.

First of all, I like the idea of continuing the "lost in space" plot. It gives the show a certain je ne sais what that was sorely lacking from last season. Let's be honest, the subplots in Season 1 were sparse. Having the Hulks be lost in space, trying to get home creates a focus for the show. And it gives Marvel a chance to use their sparsely-utilized cosmic characters. This could be the Star Trek: Voyager of the MAU. Except that Voyager wasn't very good. Uh-oh.

I like the fact that Hulk started questioning his identity as a hero. For a brief moment, he decided to give in to the dark side of being a vigilante. While I think this subplot should have been dragged out across a few episodes, it finally gave some kind of dimension to the Hulk. For a bit.

And the Leader was actually shown to have some kind of plot, apart from being retconned into a mastermind. And he really feels like a threat when he proves to be able to adapt to new situations, like having the Hulks come after him or when they stupidly give him control over Galactus' weapons.

The toilet humor, though still not my thing, was understated. So it could be worse.

"On the other hand...."
At this moment, this is the worst episode of the entire series so far. And if you've read my other Reviews, you'll know that's not a claim I make lightly.

And it's all for one reason. The moral.

Let me unequivocally state that everything I say about this episode does not necessarily carry over to my views on anything in real life. We're talking about the Marvel universe and the Marvel universe only. We're here to talk about a fantastical world with aliens and monsters. As such, fair warning, I will not let this get political. If you want to talk about how my opinion on Ego and Galactus would carry over to the real world political situation, that's great, but that's not what we're here for.

I'm not here to talk about how my opinion on Ego's sacrifice would affect the real world political situation. I'm just here to talk about the politics of the aliens and superheroes of the Marvel universe.

I'm not advocating the death penalty. I'm not opposing the death penalty. I'm not trying to make any statement about the death penalty, assassinations, or whatever. I'm not trying to make a political statement. In fact, I'm trying to be as apolitical as I can. I'm not saying that superheroes should kill. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that as a general rule, superheroes shouldn't kill.

But we're not talking about a dictator, or a war criminal, or anything that actually exists in real life. I'm talking about a universe where living planets kill entire planets. A universe where there's a guy eating entire planets.

In this universe, under these specific circumstances, Ego should have been sacrificed to Galactus.

Point 1: The Hulks have no legal jurisdiction in space.

Ostensibly, the Hulks are in Kree space, along with Ego and Galactus. Therefore, the Hulks, Ego, and Galactus are subject to the Kree system of justice. And we clearly see that Kree justice demands the death of Ego and Galactus not only in punishment for countless previous crimes, but to prevent the inevitable new ones that would arise.

Not only that let's think about the Hulks' galactic status.

Let's assume that S.H.I.E.L.D. has officially fired them, and they enjoy no diplomatic status. They have no sort of jurisdiction in Kree space, and have only the same rights as any other person within Kree territory.

If Canada were going to execute a criminal, and an American tourist stopped them from doing so, guess what? That guy just broke the laws of another country. As long as he's in Canada, they have every right to detain him for obstruction of justice. (Within reason. Fair trial, no cruel and unusual punishment, etc.) It would then be up to the government to figure out extradition of any kind, political prisoner exchange, etc. The same thing applies here. The Hulks have no right to interfere.

Having said that, let's assume that the Hulks are acting as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives, as well as Earth's ambassadors. Guess what? The Hulks still shouldn't interfere. Agents acting to oppose a foreign power without express permission of their bosses is what's known as "going rogue." Their actions would be disavowed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and they would be left to the mercy of Kree justice.

So essentially, the moral of the episode is "If you don't agree with a foreign country's laws, go right ahead and break them!"

Point 2: Galactus WILL destroy more worlds. And so will Ego, from what we've seen.

"But Newt, they can't kill the villain; it's a kids' show!" - NewtCave readers

Yes. It is a kids' show. So maybe the writers shouldn't have made an episode about two characters who regularly commit genocide. That's what Ego and Galactus do. They commit genocide, whether out of apathy or hunger. And the "Heroes don't kill" moral falls very flat when the heroes are rescuing murderers with body counts higher than the population of Earth. In fact, both of them tried to add the population of Earth to their body counts.

If they had done the "Heroes don't kill" moral with a villain like Shocker, then that's fine. All he does is steal stuff and fight Spider-Man. But when you up the body count of the villain, you make it more necessary to stop them with whatever measures possible.

"But Newt, they found a third option!" - NewtCave readers

Yes, they did. Because when you're a writer, you can make anything happen. Unicorn faeries could have flown out of the sky to save the day with magic if the writers wanted.

If you're going to write a story with a "Heroes don't kill" moral, you need to present a viable alternative to killing. Imprisonment, rehabilitation, anything. This show's alternative is to let the murders go free but make them pinkie-swear to stop killing. It only works because the writers say it does.

So, in short, this episode had a good moral to tell. But it picked the wrong plot to tell it.

Next time, the show apparently forgets that this season takes place in space. Just in time for Halloween. See you then.

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