Friday, January 16, 2015

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "The Hulking Commandos"

The more pedantic among you are asking why I'm doing another episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. during "Premiere Month."

Answer: I was going to do the premiere of Wolverine and the X-Men, seeing as how that "Coming Soon" message had been lingering down there on the left for quite some time. Then I realized that I was already actively covering between twelve and sixteen shows already. As well as adding Gotham Girls into the mix. Suddenly, it seemed like a bit much. Hence the last-second swap out.

The poor souls among you who have seen this episode are wondering why I'm covering a Halloween episode in January.

Answer: I said "last-second swap out."

Happy Janu-ween, everyone!
Our episode opens up on Halloween night in Salem, Massachusetts, a place where no witches were ever burned. A total of nineteen people were hanged during the Salem Witch trials, and five of them were men.

Yet another good reason to not learn history by watching reruns of Charmed.
Anyway, the Hulks are currently preoccupied with trick-or-treating and snooping around in paper-thin costumes that in no way hide their Hulk-ness.

They're wearing the finest disguises that Party City can provide.
You may have noticed that this episode suddenly takes place on Earth despite the ongoing "Lost in Space" plot. There's a reason for that. Long story short: This episode got moved from later in the season because of Halloween. For some reason, they kept the standard episode numbering going, which "officially" puts this episode in the middle of an unrelated subplot.

Way to go, Marvel.

In contrast to that, in a nice detail that has nothing to do with the episode proper, the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. are all wearing costumes that reflect their inner selves. Red Hulk, an army guy, is dressed up as an army guy. Skaar, an uncouth brute, is a pirate. Hulk, formerly Bruce Banner, is a scientist. A-Bomb, who can turn invisible, is a ninja. And She-Hulk, who just wants acceptance despite her bad press, is wearing a Spider-Man costume. Is this an element of subtlety creeping into the show? Holy crap, I think it just might be.

Anyway, our heroes are apparently on the run from the army while also tracking a mysterious energy signature of some kid. Naturally, this is such an important thing to investigate that Red Hulk and Skaar are trick-or-treating. And the less said about the Skaar's double-eyepatches, the better. She-Hulk, meanwhile, simply relishes the chance to be someone else for one night. But as Red Hulk points out, that doesn't stop them from being seen as monsters for the other 364 days.

Hulk (cutaway): "People think we're monsters. And bein' a monster ain't something you wanna be."

You know, it might help your image if you didn't eat your candy with the wrapper still on, Hulk.

Hulk's wrist doo-dad tracks the energy signature towards some old building. In the sky, they see a possible source of the signal, a literal "Monster Truck" shaped like a dragon.

Red Hulk: "And we know who's drivin' it!"

Well, we don't.

As it turns out, it's the Howling Commandos, last seen in an Ultimate Spider-Man episode of the same name which I was going to cover before switching it out to do "Halloween Night at the Museum." I regret that decision.

The team consists of....

Frankenstein's Monster
The post-modern Prometheus.
N'Kantu the Living Munny
A living mummy
A swamp-matter golem responsible for a lot of dirty jokes pertaining to his name.
He turns into a werewolf. By night.
Half-vampire. Vampire hunter.

The Howling Commandos, only one of which might actually howl.
The Commandos have orders straight from Nick Fury himself to bring down the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. because of the Vista Verde incident. And seeing as how this is the Marvel Universe we're talking about, these two teams of heroes begin fighting each other.

After some standard hero-on-hero action, a portal opens up in the sky, no doubt the result of whatever bad mojo the Hulk was tracking.

N'Kantu: "A great evil approaches!"

Because we might have assumed the gigantic portal in the sky was good? This one leads to the Dark Dimension, where Dormammu is trying to use the evil energies of Halloween to break into the mortal realm. He can't quite break through the dimensional barrier, but he does manage to remotely steal a gigantic hourglass out of the Salem Witchcraft Museum. (A real place, by the way.)

"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhww. Sorry, I'm just really tired."
Both teams go to stop the theft, but to no avail.

Hulk: "What is that thing?"
Blade: "A mystic artifact said to maintain the balance of order and chaos. It keeps our reality together."

Oh, like the Force. Okay. That would explain why the hourglass also has a light side and a dark side.

Red Hulk: "You're tellin' me this magic hourglass can destroy reality... and it's just sittin' around in a museum?"

Welcome to the world of comic books, Red Hulk. Everything in museums can destroy reality. Did you not read my Recap of "Halloween Night at the Museum"?

Red Hulk: "Seriously, people, lock this stuff up!"

Dormammu begins using his evil hoodoo to start flipping it to the dark side while sending one of his minions (the Mindless Ones) to stop the heroes. The Mindless One zaps a boatload of innocent bystanders, transforming them into more Mindless Ones. In the ensuing fight, Red Hulk, Skaar, and She-Hulk get transformed, as well. But somehow, Hulk himself is immune to the transformation. And so is "Frank."

Frank: "Frank am like you."

You're more like Bizarro, with grammar like that.

Werewolf-by-Night ends up transformed, and Dormammu begins taunting the heroes with various evil boasts as Blade himself gets transformed. So, uh, this is going well. Our remaining heroes head for the museum for shelter, but the Mindless Ones break in almost immediately. N'Kantu surmises that Frank and Hulk may be immune to the transformations because they're already Agents of Chaos. Or, as Frank puts it...

Frank: "We are all monsters."

But that's the last thing Hulk ever wants to hear. After putting down Frank again, they get to work barricading the church. After that, they form a new plan. Step one: Get to the Dark Dimension and flip the hourglass. There is no step two.

N'Kantu is hesitant to mess with such power again after the time he dabbled in villainy on Ultimate Spider-Man, but is willing to give it a shot. The team calls over and boards the Monster Truck and they take it over to the evil portal.

"But who hasn't tried to take over New York, am I right?"
Meanwhile, the Mindless Ones use their chaos stares to weaken the dimensional barrier. This won't bring Dormammu to Earth, but it will bring Earth to Dormammu. After successfully reaching the Dark Dimension, thanks to N'Kantu's magics, they split up. Hulk and Frank go punch Dormammu while A-Bomb and N'Kantu go try to flip back the hourglass. Naturally, Dormammu has the home court advantage, and he nearly transforms the two into his servants.

Ghost Rider called. He wants his head back,
Over with the other two, ghosts start possessing N'Kantu while A-Bomb tries to flip the hourglass.

"Who ya gonna call? Someone else."
Back with Hulk, Dormammu fails to transform the Hulk.

Hulk: "You can't turn me into a monster... 'cause I already am one!"

A single punch knocks down Dormammu, and a pep talk from A-Bomb restores N'Kantu's mind. Hulk helps talk a transformed Frank back to "normal," and N'Kantu unleashes his scarab breath on Dormammu, talking him out long enough for Hulk, A-Bomb, and Frank to flip the giant hourglass.

To make the resolution simpler, the hourglass teleports back to the museum as the heroes escape the Dark Dimension in the Monster Truck, thanks to some help from Man-Thing on the other side.  Everyone goes back to normal, the day is saved, and the two teams part amicably.

Hulk (voiceover): "So, sometimes, it's okay to be a monster, 'cause we all get to choose what kind of monsters we wanna be."

"I, uh, chose... poorly."
Hulk (voiceover): "Speaking of which, I choose green. Happy Hulk-oween everyone!"

Let "Hulk-oween" never catch on. Although it does give me a potential alternative to doing Thirteen Days of Batman again....  Anyway, the episode ends. Let's review, if only so we can stop looking at that Brundlefly picture.

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