Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "The Doppelsmashers"

Finally, things are really happening in this episode. Unfortunately, story arcs that are set up, ignored, and eventually resolved in two episodes will be the lasting contribution Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. makes to the Marvel Animation Universe.

Hulk probably took the story format with him when he returned to Avengers Assemble after HAS was canceled.

Finally, Leader and Abomination have revealed their hand. Which means that at some point since “Homecoming,” Leader and Abomination officially decided to pool their resources together and work toward a common goal. Hey, at least it gives the Leader a valid reason to have the upper hand for once. That goal, as Hulk hypothesizes from the available evidence, is to “nuke the nukes” and start World War 3, blame it on the Hulks, and rule the radioactive leftovers. Except… that’s a terrible idea.

Let me ask one question: Who profits?

Certainly, the Leader would be all over attempting to rule a radioactive wasteland. But that’s not really the Abomination’s style. He’s more the type to use advanced weapons to convince his opposition to surrender to his iron rule. Abomination seems to be more inclined to try and rule the world as-is, rather than wipe it out and start over.

But I have a theory.

I think this whole Tri-Carrier scheme was meant to draw the Hulks out of hiding while further compounding their crimes, thanks to some flawless doubles. Leader and Abomination knew that the Hulks would be there to save the day. And when that happened, the Tri-Carrier would head towards NORAD, ostensibly to nuke it, but in reality because the Hulks would definitely try to save it. And when the day was saved, the Abomination would be there to arrest the exhausted Hulks. And guess what? He was.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if the attack on the Tri-Carrier was supposed to end in the death of Nick Fury, which would probably lead to Abomination’s promotion to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury probably would have died if the Hulks hadn’t gotten there in the nick of time.

No pun intended.
But like I said, that’s only a theory. I hate to say it, but Leader’s scheme here was probably just another in the long line of failed attempts to rule the world.

The Hulks have already faced their own doppelgangers. But this episode differentiates itself from the Skrull invasion of “Deathlok” by altering not only the nature of the doppelgangers in question, but also the themes at work.

“Deathlok” was all about the dual lessons of embracing who you are, as well as not judging a book by its cover. This episode, on the other hand, uses the Doppelsmashers as an excuse for the Hulks to take a look at their own individual flaws. Not a bad theme to explore, but here’s the problem: it’s not explored.

The episode brings up the idea of overcoming your own flaws, but in little capacity other than "If you overcome your own flaws, then you won't be held back by them." And on top of that, not only the Hulks’ flaws are exaggerated past what they ever were before for this one episode, but the Hulks will all continue to exhibit the same flaws for the rest of the season, meaning that they ended up learning nothing. So it’s barely even a character piece.

At least we learned that ganging up on someone is the quick way to victory.

The Hulk’s main flaw is allegedly his stubbornness, which I’ll admit fits with his general character. But as I pointed out in the Recap, the Hulk gives up a lot. So his surrender at the end, which is meant to be indicative of the Hulk learning when to fold ‘em, is simply just another time the Hulk gave up.

Red Hulk
Out of all the character’s flaws, hot-headedness is probably the big one. I’ll admit that. But that’s a problem shared by almost all the Hulks. And on top of that, Red Hulk has a flaw that’s unique to him: ego.

You know what? Forget what I said about anger being Red Hulk’s biggest flaw. We’ve already had at least one episode all about Red’s ego being his main flaw. Sure, examining that flaw again would be redundant, but it’s not like he learned his lesson from “All About the Ego.”

Red Hulk is incredibly self-centered and vain. He always considers himself the best at what he does, and he’ll often tell the other Hulks to stop what they’re doing so he can take a crack at it. Like he does with She-Hulk’s piloting this episode. In fact, his ego would work better with part of his story arc’s resolution.

She-Hulk: "I've never flown anything this big."
Red Hulk: "You mean crashed anything this big."

She-Hulk asks him if he'd like a chance to operate it, and he leaves it to her. That would be a perfect resolution to overcoming his own vanity and ego, but apparently, this scene is supposed to indicate that he’s mastered his rage… somehow. I guess because he’s not yelling at She-Hulk for… doing her job?

Why bother even talking about A-Bomb learning to keep his mouth shut? We all know this won’t stick.

I never thought that She-Hulk was meant to be “competitive.” I always thought she was just kind of a jerk. But those jerkish tendencies are filtered through a competitive streak that I guess she’s always had, though they’re turned up to eleven here. And her arc is resolved when she… tells Red Hulk to go make himself useful so she can fly the Tri-Carrier?

Wait a minute, the first thing she does after Red Hulk says "You mean crashed anything this big" is to challenge him to fly it. Red Hulk declines. Meaning that She-Hulk has not actually overcome her flaw.

It’s hard to hear accusations that Skaar needs to learn patience when he proves himself to be the character with the most common sense this episode. Buckling up, bailing out, telling the others to stop fighting…. Every once in a while, Skaar becomes a voice of reason and I can’t help but appreciate it when it happens.

Meh. There’s really nothing interesting about them.

The Leader claims that they don’t have the Hulks’ flaws, but there’s really nothing that sets them apart from the mindless Life Model Decoys that Spider-Man trains with on Ultimate Spider-Man. And like I said we’ve seen the Hulks fight their own doubles before. It’s getting a little boring.

Par for the course. In a bad way.

Weird shots moving in front of each other….
Cheap morphing effects….
The usual shortcuts, turned up to eleven in what should have been a visually interesting episode. Oh, and before I forget, there was a cat yowl sound effect in the big Doppelsmasher fight scene. So... way to make the fight not feel like the epic brawl of titans it should have been.

Final Thoughts
Simply average. The show’s usual flaws are on display. And unlike the Hulks, the show makes no attempt to overcome them.

Next time, the Hulks find themselves behind bars. Where they should be, for the crime of starring in this show. See you then!

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