Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "The Incredible Spider-Hulk"

So, you might be a bit confused as to why I included "Freaky" as part of the Road to Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. I mean, the Hulk never even showed up in that one, right? Well, here we are on the final leg of the journey to Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. It's a bit later than the others (which were themselves late) because one of those infamous Michigan potholes kept me from reaching my computer. But I'm here now, and so are you. Time to complete the last leg of the road.

Let's hope it's less troublesome than the actual roads I've been driving on.
The episode opens with Spider-Man fighting Batroc the Leaper as JJJ rants on the Bugletron about how much of a menace Spider-Man is. If you stuck every opening this show has ever had into a blender, this is what you would get. Spider-Man flips the "french fry" onto his back, but Batroc manages to leap away, specifying that french fries were invented in Belgium. Um... the more you know?

As Jameson's bile continues, the chase is on as Batroc proves what a true Frenchman by humming a few bars of "La Donna il Mobile," an Italian opera. As they fight, Spidey gets booed by the Jameson-loving civilians. After Batroc notes the irony of the hero getting booed, Spider-Man webs him up just in time to get a call from Nick Fury on his communicator.

Spider-Man: "Dude! Can someone unplug J. Jonah Jerkstore?"
Nick Fury: "Freedom of speech, kid. Like when I let you call me 'Dude' just then."

1. Freedom of Speech is the political right for citizens to give voice to their opinions or ideals. It does not give carte blanche to insult people willy-nilly. For example, it's absolutely legal for you to say that your boss is a moron. It's also legal for your boss to punish you for it.

2. J. Jonah Jameson is not speaking as a private citizen, he's speaking as a news source and is therefore subject to broadcast laws, standards, and practices.

3. By making unverified claims about Spider-Man's "crimes," J. Jonah Jameson is quite guilty of slander many times over. Any semi-decent lawyer could have Jameson arrested on charges of defamation of character and/or false light charges.

In closing, S.H.I.E.L.D. can and should really be putting a stop to this.

Nick Fury: "You know what, you're right. Let me stop keeping peace all over the world so I can help you and your little P.R. problems."

Spider-Man is a fully-deputized S.H.I.E.L.D. cadet. This is a S.H.I.E.L.D. problem. I mean, you know that Fury would send Matt Murdock in to sue Jameson if he had been insulting Hawkeye. But no, all we get is an imaginary cutaway gag where Fury and Spider-Man are on the Oprah couch.  Ultimate Spider-Man, ladies and gentlemen. Where common sense is sacrificed for unfunny jokes.

Anyway, the reason Fury called.

Nick Fury: "It's the Hulk."

You know, I more or less gave "Exclusive" a pass because that episode aired before Avengers Assemble specified that the Hulk was hanging out at Avengers Tower. But now that Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man are running concurrently, I have to wonder. Is Hulk a menace or not? Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Ultimate Spider-Man say yes, Avengers Assemble says no. But instead of opening up this can of continuity worms, I'm going to tell myself that it's just a show and I should really just relax. That should last me at least a few minutes.

Spider-Man soon arrives at the Tricarrier, and Fury takes the webhead over to Mesmero's holding cell to explain the situation. They've had Mesmero locked up since "Freaky," and they want to offer him a shorter sentence in exchange for fiddling around with the Hulk's mind to make him a bit more smarter and less angry. Spider-Man's quite reticent after the whole mindswap fiasco.

But the S.H.I.E.L.D. technicians are confident that Mesmero will hold up his end. Because if he doesn't, he'll never see the light of day again. And it's not like they captured the Hulk for unwanted experimentation, either. He's been here since the end of "Home Sick Hulk" on his own terms.

Hulk: "Hulk wants this. Hulk tired of Hulk. Not safe for others."

But there's an elephant in the room.

Spider-Man: "So, his public image you'll help?"

Excellent point. One that won't be brought up again.

Nick Fury: "Turn into that, I'll help you too."

Fury's tactless joke makes Hulk angry, but he quickly calms himself down and gets hooked up to the machine. At the Hulk's insistence, it's Spider-Man who attaches the psychic headgear. Mesmero is brought in, and he does that voodoo that he does. Evil, evil voodoo. In an attempt to save Hulk, Spidey ends up looking into Mesmeros eyes. And just like last time, he wakes up in another body. This time, it's the Hulk's body in the Tricarrier medical bay.

"Guess who?"
For some odd reason, Hulk's body isn't being guarded at all, so this gives Peter the opportunity to go seek out the Hulk.

Peter: "Oh, gosh. This body's huge."

That's what... nah, too obvious.

"How do I shot web?"
Peter trips out the door, alarming an agent who quickly calls for battle stations. As Peter searches for Fury, he ends up finding Mesmero's cell and demands his old body back. Unfortunately, his unfamiliarity with Hulk's size means that he accidentally crashes into Mesmero's cell and frees him. Whoops. Fury finally shows up and orders the "Hulk" to stand down.

Peter: "I'm not the Hulk! I'm me!"

He grabs Fury to try and convince him, but this is misconstrued as an attack and Peter runs away as Agent Coulson calls in the Hulkbusters, which shoot him right out of the Tricarrier.

Nick Fury: "Whose idea was it to let Mesmero anywhere near the Hulk?"
Coulson: "Sir, I was following your order."

But this isn't the same mismanagement you'd find if Col. Henry Blake ran S.H.I.E.L.D. This was Mesmero planting a suggestion in Fury's head the whole time. As Coulson wonders where Spider-Man is, we see Hulk waking up in Peter Parker's body which is in Peter Parker's bed in Peter Parker's house. How did Peter's body get back here after the bodyswap on the Tricarrier? A wizard did it; I don't know. Hulk is very confused and angry at this situation. So much so that he throws his beeping communicator out the window.

Maybe you should ask him to change his ways?
After looking in the mirror and ridiculing the scrawny body he finds himself in, he demands food from Aunt May.

Aunt May: "Teenagers."

Aunt May drives Hulk to school as he keep eating her famous wheatcakes, and Hulk lets her know exactly how much he appreciates her kindness.

Hulk: "Lady nice."

MJ runs up to Hulk and asks if he's ready for the big science test. I smell hijinks. Hijinks aplenty. At least Hulk isn't hitting on MJ this time. As the test begins, I have to applaud the show. When the camera gives us a quick look at Hulk's science test, if you pause it, the letters are quite obviously in Greek. Because the writers decided to sneak in a reference to the phrase "it's all Greek to me."

You know what? I'll criticize many of the broad strokes of this show, but I have to admit that there's some real care put into some of the fine details.

Credit where it's due.
Anyway, Hulk has the same issues with the test as you'd expect, with the same result you'd expect.

Hulk: "Wwwwhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyy!?"
Ava: "Guess who didn't study...."

Peter's phone rings, so Hulk answers it right in the middle of class. You know, I find it really funny that Wolverine had to have Mary Jane push the talk button for him in "Freaky," but Hulk just figured it out on his own. Anyway, Peter, crammed into a tiny phone booth (ask your parents what those are, kids), is about to tell Hulk what's going on, but the teach comes over to take the phone. Before Peter can rush over to the school to figure something out, it's time to copy-and-paste plot points from "Freaky" again. Last time, it was Sabretooth who wanted to randomly fight Peter in Wolverine's body. This time, it's the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing who wants a few rounds with Peter in the Hulk's body.

The Hulk's greatest weapon: His unwashed armpit.
Peter: "This is gonna take a while. And hurt."

That's what I thought as soon as I turned on the episode.

Peter fruitlessly attempts to explain the situation to the Thing, but Thing's a bit too smash-happy.  You know, all Peter has to do is surrender. Think about it. He surrenders and S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up from there, all Peter has to do is tell them that Mesmero switched his mind with the Hulk. And if they don't believe him, they should get the Sandwich Club to verify. The Sandwich Club would take note of "Peter's" odd behavior, and the whole thing would eventually get sorted as S.H.I.E.L.D. made capturing Mesmero a priority. Sure, this plan might take a while, but there'd be one easy way to spot that something wasn't right about the "Hulk." If "Hulk" acted calm, then something would obviously be up, and Fury would probably get Coulson to see if anything was wrong with "Peter." "Peter" would be obviously acting strange, and the story would check out.

But no, Peter's going to trade blows with the Thing for a bit. After launching the Thing away, Peter manages to dial Ava's phone on a payphone. (Ask your parents, kids.) For some reason, she answers it in the middle of class. Somehow, the teacher doesn't notice.

Peter: "I'm in the Hulk's body and vice versa!"

After the test, Ava grabs Hulk and introduces herself.

Ava: "My name is Ava. I'm a friend."

Not of Peter's. And I've got a few episodes' worth of evidence to back that up.

They rush past Stan the janitor and slip on his floor momentarily.

Hulk: "Hulk walking!"

In response, Stan literally pulls out a soapbox and stands on it while talking. (A reference to the "Stan's Soapbox" pages in the older comics, where Stan would ramble on for a bit.)

Stan: "You know, back in my day, a "hulk" was a pulse-pounding, piledriving, pound-packing person of profound pulchritude! What's the world coming to?"

I like to think that that part wasn't in the script, but they just recorded Stan Lee's reaction to seeing the dailies for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. for the first time. Also, "pulchritude" means "beauty." Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Still, the crazy rantings of an old man are probably more interesting than, say, a comic book review blog.
Anyway, Hulk and Ava suit up on the roof, and Hulk finds out what a webshooter does by accidentally hitching a ride on a passing Daily Bugle helicopter.

"Well, my work here is done. Time to leave the episode."
Meanwhile, more fighting between the Thing and Peter as Hulk arrives on the scene.

Peter: "This is all Mesmero's fault! I have to find Mesmero!"

Mesmero, instead of laying low, is catching a taxi to the airport after robbing a bank. Hulk joins the Peter/Thing fight, and Thing throws the scrawny "Spider-Man" onto a nearby bridge, which ends up holding up traffic. Including Mesmero's taxi. The other heroes arrive and Mesmero, seeing an opportunity, hypnotizes the Thing into attacking Hulk and Peter.

Peter: "I just purpled my pants."

And people say Disney's too squeaky-clean when it comes to their humor.

In the ensuing fight, Peter manages to save a bus full of kids. But irony of ironies, people start cheering on the Hulk. Including what appears to be Roxy Rocket, a Batman villain.

Which is odd, to say the least.
The Thing is quickly hit in the head to undo the mind control, and Hulk and Peter quickly team up to nab the fleeing Mesmero.

Mesmero: "It wasn't me! I didn't do this!"
Peter: "It wasn't?"
Mesmero: "No... Of course it was me!"

What a pointless exchange. Kind of sums up the episode, now that I mention it.
After Peter delivers the Hulk's catchphrase, Mesmero undoes that voodoo he did. But Hulk is feeling a bit melancholy.

Hulk: "All I want to do is help people. But everywhere I go, everyone hates me. Everyone's scared of me."

Hulk calls Spidey a good friend, but jumps away to figure things out for himself. Nick Fury starts to call in a team to capture the Hulk, but Spider-Man points out that, intentional or not, Hulk's mind is different now. Not only is he calmer, but he referred to himself as "I," not "Hulk."

And that's why the Hulk is uncharacteristically calm smart in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Citizens of the Internet. So you can all stop criticizing the show for that. And you can start criticizing the show for its many actual flaws.

Nick Fury: "Keep an eye on the Hulk, but do not engage unless you hear from me. Let's see how this plays out."

It doesn't play out well. Trust me. But enough of that now. It's time to review.


  1. Well, its pretty established that SHIELD is incompetent and borderline evil in this show, so of course they wouldn't care about Spiderman's PR.

    1. I've got a bit of a theory, but I'm saving it for later....

  2. "Any semi-decent lawyer could have Jameson arrested on charges of defamation of character and/or false light charges."

    If only there were some sort of... green, female, super-strong lawyer for superheroes related to the Hulk, too bad there's no one like that

    "...there's some real care put into some of the fine details."

    More than in SMASH and it's "alien jerk language", that's for sure

    1. I would TOTALLY watch an Agents of SMASH/Ultimate Spider-Man crossover where they took Jameson to court over the slander.

    2. But that will never happen because She-Hulk is not the lawyer she SHOULD be

    3. Apparently, she is. Her law degree actually came into play in an episode of Agents of SMASH. I was shocked too.

    4. Did they say if she got it recently?

  3. I'd have to rewatch the episode to see, but I seem to remember that she had the degree, but hasn't used it since turning green.

    1. She better have gotten it after the first episode