Monday, July 27, 2015

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Future Shock"

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is no more.

This is the first episode I've covered since the show was given the axe to make room for a Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon. While the prospect of no more episodes is good cause to celebrate with the good champagne, the fact that I still have to cover the rest of Season 2 seems like good cause to drown my sorrows in whiskey. Either way, I believe I might need to be inebriated to endure the next half-hour. Let's get this over with.

Alcohol, I still drink to your health.
The episode opens up with our Hulks still lost in space. And for the first time, they're finally encountering one of the problems with prolonged, unplanned space travel. Dwindling supplies. Not only is food low, but the Hulks are forced to only use a single square of toilet paper for... well, they're on a spaceship. Let's call them "Captain's Logs."

Now, look. There are a lot of people out there who think that one or two squares of toilet paper is enough. But I think we can all agree that one square will not do the job for a Hulk. No wonder Red Hulk's in such a bad mood.

Skaar, in this desperate time, has taken to drinking the water droplets leaking out of the faucet.

My girlfriend's cat does the same thing.
A-Bomb tells him off for this, because apparently, he's wasting water. That was dripping out of a leaky faucet. Meaning that it would have been wasted anyway. He also tells Skaar not to take any long showers.

Skaar: "Skaar not shower. Ever."

Which is why Skaar is no doubt riddled with all sorts of skin diseases.

Over with Hulk, he's busy with something this show rarely has. Continuity. Using the star chart the Guardians of the Galaxy gave him back in  "Guardians of the Galaxy," he's found a wormhole that leads straight to Earth. But according to the computer, it's got some timey-wimey wibbly-wobbliness to it.

Skaar's not too happy about not being able to get back... well, huh. I was going to say "back home," but Skaar's home is the place they all left at the beginning of the season.

For whatever reason, Skaar's not too happy about not being able to get back to Earth, so he throws his sword at the screen.

Hulk: "We'll take the long way home. It's safer."

Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe?

Skaar, down in the dumps, sulks through the ship for a bit, coming across the Leader, making a log entry from his hamster-ball prison. He complains about how Hulk's choice to not take the wormhole to Earth is going to doom them all, despite the fact that he shouldn't have known about the wormhole Hulk found. Clearly, something's up.

Leader: "My intelligence may dwarf Hulk's, but what we need is one with the courage to take charge and save us."

This gives Skaar an idea, as the Leader had hoped. Skaar walks back to the bridge and pushes She-Hulk out of the pilot's seat in a way that shouldn't be as funny as it is.

I'm probably a horrible person for laughing at a random act of cruelty. I'll admit it.
Skaar then sets a course to the wormhole, working the controls despite the fact that he's so stupid that he's literally eaten books. Hulk punches Skaar into the ceiling, but it's no use. The coordinates have been locked in. And so, the Leader enters the bridge to gloat.

Leader: "It was worth it for me to say, 'Skaar has doomed us all.'"

They enter the wormhole, and everything goes wibbly.

After the opening titles, they find themselves orbiting Earth. The Leader also finds himself on bathroom cleanup duty. Because screw the victory of returning home, we need toilet humor.

Why is the toilet water green? Just... why?
Hulk: "Hey, don't blame us. You stocked the galley with sardines and mustard sauce."
It feels like this show is cramming in toilet humor to make up for all the time I was spending not recapping it.

But when the spaceship lands at the coordinates for New Mexico, the Hulks find a tropical paradise. And as if that wasn't weird enough, and army of lizard-men riding monsters comes to greet them. A fight ensues, as you might expect, and the Hulks soon take out the platoon of lizard men by mimicking Hercules' Fifth Labor with a nearby waterfall.

Then, from out of the sky, a purple figure floats down. All the lizard-men bow before the divine figure and call him "Master."

You answer is as hilarious as it is wrong.
There ya go.
High Evolutionary: "I am the High Evolutionary. Leave my people in peace."

To be fair, the lizard-men attacked first.

High Evolutionary: "You are the aggressors here."

No, they actually weren't this time. And Hulk actually brings up my point to the High Evolutionary.

High Evolutionary: "What else could these simple creatures do when threatened by the rampaging monsters known as the Hulk and his Agents of S.M.A.S.H.?"

Anything else.

And don't think I realize what's going on with the High Evolutionary's voice. It's provided by none other than Corey Burton, who perfected his creepy robot voice in the DC Animated Universe, where he voiced Brainiac. And his performance here is trying to ape that for all it's worth.

He reveals that he knows who they are because he, like all the other villains in the show, watches Rick's vlog. But he doesn't do much of that anymore because the place they're standing in hasn't been called "New Mexico" in a thousand years.

As Hulk realizes that the wormhole must be responsible for taking them to the future, High Evolutionary explains that a few months after the Hulks went missing, the Earth was hit by a meteor.

"That was me. I did that."
Humans reverted to savages, chaos reigned, and the High Evolutionary figured that the best way to recreate society would be to make everyone into lizard-men. I trust you see how that makes sense.

This is a bit of a departure from his comic book incarnation, where he's known for creating half-animals of every sort called "Beast Men." Guy's just a furry at heart, I guess.

Anyway, the Hulks aren't fans of this future where the High Evolutionary rules over his half-humans with an iron fist and they plan to change the past by going back through the wormhole, which High Evolutionary won't stand for. He captures the Hulk in an energy bubble and starts dreaming of the monsters he could make by hyper-evolving the Hulk. And when his friends try to save the green lug, he changes them into cave-Hulks. Except for Skaar, who's immune to the devolution through virtue of "the plot says so."

Wow, did the animators really not see the potentially racist implications of having Red devolve into an ape with an afro?
High Evolutionary exposits that now that the Hulks are primitive morons, they won't oppose him. And he's right; they don't. She-Hulk is sniffing her armpit, Red Hulk is eating his own snot, and A-Bomb is just bashing a rock against his own face.

Skaar, having recovered from the shock of the High Evolutionary's blast, tries to attack him, but just gets blasted again. And again, no effect.

High Evolutionary: "Interesting. You are already so far down the evolutionary ladder my devolving ray has no effect on you."

Okay, let's talk about evolution. And I'll be doing my best to simplify it so as not to take up too much time with this, but it needs to be said.

Evolution is just a species changing over time to adapt to its environment. For example, let's say there's a bunch of butterflies. They're all the same species, but their wing colors vary. Some have really blue wings, others have greenish ones. The blue-winged ones don't blend into the leaves as well as the green-winged ones, so more of them get eaten by predators. The green-winged ones pass on their genes, and the next generation will tend to have greenish wings.

So you can't "evolve" or "devolve" a creature. What the High Evolutionary does is just mutate them.

And furthermore, "devolving" as it's used in science fiction, with creatures reverting to primitive forms, is impossible for the simple reason that no creature's DNA contains the complete blueprints for its evolutionary ancestors.

And furthermore, his plan to "evolve" Hulk into the pinnacle of Gamma-induced evolution is laughable because there is never a "next step" in evolution. The "next step" is whatever traits in a creature's offspring lend themselves to survival.

And furthermore....

Oh dear.
Fine. In short, evolution...
  1. Takes place over generations.
  2. Happens to species, not individuals.
  3. Does not have set "levels" or "steps."
And in closing, the High Evolutionary's entire schtick is scientifically inaccurate in nearly every possible way.

The only thing that would make it more inaccurate is if he said that evolution wasn't real.
Back in the episode, Skaar attempts to lead the team to victory.

Skaar: "Listen to Skaar! Attack purple man!"

"Wait, what? What'd I do?"
But they're too stupid to listen, so they ignore Skaar while High Evolutionary waxes on about how he's going to improve the Hulk's DNA before floating away. Skaar, still trying to get the others to go help Hulk, manages to get them to chant "Save Hulk." Then they all run off in different directions while still chanting.  God, these characters are now as stupid as... well, the audience this show is aiming for, I guess.

Skaar voices his frustrations in a cut-away where She-Hulk is picking bugs out of his hair, meaning that Skaar decided to walk back to the ship's convenient filming room to talk to a camera while this ordeal was going on.

But Skaar gets the idea that if the other Hulks are stupid, he should talk to the only smart guy left. The Leader. Who is currently plunging a toilet. Skaar talks to him on a video communicator on the bathroom wall. For some gross reason. He explains the situation.

Leader: "Well, free me, and I will tell you the first rule of leadership. If you can't win their minds, then you win their hearts."

Um, you realize that Skaar didn't free you and you told him anyway, right, Leader?

Skaar goes to each of them and wins their hearts one by one. He teaches A-Bomb not to hit himself in the face with a rock, gives She-Hulk his kaboomerang as a back scratcher, and gives Rulk a stick, which he immediately pretends is a gun by saying "Boom boom!" Which I guess makes it a boomstick.

How appropriate, the main characters are now primitive screwheads.
And since A-Bomb wants a gift, Skaar gives him the rock back to hit himself in the face with. Which I'll admit was actually funny.

You get one point, episode.
And so, they decide to follow Skaar. Galactus help us all.

Meanwhile, at the villain's lair....

High Evolutionary: "If there's one thing I've learned over the centuries, it's that any life form can always be improved."

Not if you put the right parts on.
High Evolutionary offers Hulk the chance to fashion a universe of "reason and intellect." two things that you'll never find in this show. Hulk declines the offer, so he quickly get loaded into the evolution chamber and hit with some kind of gas.

Over with the Smashers, they're now outside the evil lair. And they knew exactly where it was because shut up.

Skaar asks if anyone has a plan. A-Bomb suggests hitting himself in the face, Rulk complains that his stick is out of ammo, and She-Hulk grins like an idiot. So Skaar uses his head and come up with the idea of literally using Red's head as a battering ram. A joke that was actually funny.... When it was used in Toy Story 2.

Once inside, Skaar starts attacking the robots inside. and leading the way to Hulk. Thanks to some stupidity, they stumble into High Evolutionary's main evolution room, where he's already evolved the Hulk into his evolutionary pinnacle... a pointy-eared, big-headed Hulk with bat wings.

Yeah, I'm writing this off as a delayed side effect of when Hulk was bitten by Dracula.
But worst of all, he calls High Evolutionary his master.

A fight ensues, and Hulk shows off his new heat vision. So I guess Hulk evolved into a Kryptonian. He starts blathering on about probabilities, and strategies, and blah blah smart people stuff.  High Evolutionary announces his intent to devolve the rest of the smasher into primordial slime, making me wonder why he didn't do that in the first place, especially on Skaar. And if Skaar's immune to devolution, then how does the High Evolutionary plan on turning him into primordial slime?

In the ensuing kerfuffle, while Hulk exposits about his own attacks more than a character written by Stan Lee...

Seriously, were you paid by the word, Stan?
...Skaar asks the question that always end these sorts of episodes.

Skaar: "If Hulk so smart, why Hulk not lead? Isn't Hulk 'ultimate creation'?"

Hulk concedes the point and attacks the High Evolutionary while pointing out the flaw in this episode's take on "evolution."

Hulk: "The very purpose of evolution is for the next generation to supersede the previous one."

Thank you, episode, for pointing out why your own take on evolution is stupid and wrong.
High Evolutionary: "Your logic is flawed. I make you. I will unmake you."

Yeah, my dad says the same thing to me sometimes.

They fight each other for a bit, discussing strategy all the while, until Skaar manages to take High Evolutionary's technological evolution scepter thingy. But since Skaar is, you know, an idiot, he turns Red Hulk into a slug, despite the fact that slugs and humans are so far separated, evolutionarily speaking, that... Nah, I'm aborting that criticism. Let's just chalk it up to the other ways this episode fails evolution.

High Evolutionary brags that only the evolution chamber can restore the Smashers.

Skaar: "You're wrong!"
High Evolutionary: "I am never wrong, you fool! The green button releases a mist that restores an organism to its original form."

First of all, you're an idiot, High Evolutionary.

Second of all, the Smashers' "original forms" are normal humans, technically. But don't worry, this episode won't remember that.

Skaar: "Skaar knows smart guys always talk too much about plans."

Skaar knocks out High Evolutionary and saves Red Slug from being eaten by the others, restoring him with the green mist first while Hulk and High Evolutionary continue their fight, calculating each others' odds of winning.

Hulk: "I will give you one chance to submit. Otherwise, I calculate a 99.9% probability of your destruction."
High Evolutionary: "I put your chances at less than ten percent."
Hulk: "Impossible. My calculations are irrefutable."

High Evolutionary knocks Hulk across the room while he's distracted.

High Evolutionary: "I lied."

Honestly, that was a pretty cool bit.

Red Hulk is soon back to normal, and goes to fix the others while Skaar rejoins the fight, saving Hulk from High Evolutionary. This confuses Hulk, because the whole "friendship" thing is now a foreign concept to him. But when Skaar explains it, Hulk remembers just how valuable friendship can be.

High Evolutionary: "Friendship. An obsolete concept. I never quite understood it."
A-Bomb: "Gee, I wonder why."
She-Hulk: "To have a friend, first you have to be a friend!"
Red Hulk: "Even if that means putting your own life on the line!"

When did this become an after-school special?

The Hulk devolves himself back to normal, delivers a speech about friendship, and High Evolutionary gets hoist by his own petard and devolves into a baby. A creepy as all get out baby.

Also, "devolving" and "de-aging" are not the same thing, episode.
His lizard-men decide to raise him. Or possibly eat him.

And now, reptilians rule the Earth. The conspiracy theorists were right!
And so, the Hulks end up back through the wormhole into their normal time. And now they've got plenty of future-Earth fruit to eat! But still not enough toilet paper. This won't be a problem for Skaar.

Skaar: "Skaar not need. Not need ever."

That's right, everybody! For the past 32 episodes, Skaar's unwiped, unshowered, butt has been separated from the world only by a simple loincloth. So the others decide to drag him off to the shower against his will as Hulk delivers the morals of the story in a cutaway.

Hulk (cutaway): "One, there's no point to being the smartest creature in the universe if you forget the people you care about. And two... huh. What was the other thing?"

I don't know, was it "remember basic hygiene"? Maybe it was, because we cut to the Leader, ankle-deep in glowing, green toilet water.

Mercifully, though, we've reached the end of the episode, so I can give this piece of crap a piece of my mind. I mean, more so than I already have.


  1. This talk about evolution makes me think about Ultimatrix from Ben 10 which could evolve aliens into their Ultimate Forms. It was never said in show what that means but official explanation is that and I quote the wiki "The evolution feature worked by placing the selected species in a simulation, right down to the DNA, for an extended period of time, about a million years or so, in what is described as a "worst case scenario"; the actual DNA is then simply modified to match the new DNA. This survival of the fittest routine explains why the evolutions are more combat-centered than their normal forms. "

    Does that makes some sense?

    1. So, if I'm understanding this right, it's not so much "evolution" as "induced mutation meant to simulate the theoretical effects of evolutionary adaptation."

      You know what? I'll buy it. Because at least that explanation acknowledges how evolution actually works, somewhat.

  2. The episode should've been Hulk, A-Bomb, She-Hulk and Red Hulk reverting to their human forms and being severely outclassed by this world (the High Evolutionary doing that as he sees super powers not "granted" by him an insult) and so its up to Skaar to help them get their powers back while feeling like he's the useless dumb one of the team.

    1. Welcome to Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., where anyone can come up with a better plot to any given episode.