Season 1 Episodes 1 & 2 – “Doorway to Destruction”
The newest Marvel animated show debuted this past Sunday on Disney XD. Set in the same universe (and the same animation) as Man of Action’s other shows, Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man (that would be creative consultant Paul Dini’s influence), Hulk & the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. shines the spotlight on Marvel’s infamous “Green Goliath” and his best friend/sidekick Rick Jones. For those unfamiliar with Rick (you have to admit he has a great name), he is Marvel’s sidekick extraordinaire. He debuted inIncredible Hulk #1 (1962) when it was revealed that he was the teen that scientist Bruce Banner saved from a gamma bomb explosion (the resulting radiation exposure turning Banner into the Hulk). Since then, Jones has led quite the eventful life. He’s an honorary member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, has saved the Hulk’s life countless times, had a cosmic bond with the alien superhero Captain Marvel (and his son Genis-Vell), and even became a superhero himself after being exposed to massive amounts of gamma radiation.
The show starts out with Rick using old military spy cameras (recovered from the abandoned military base that the Hulk is hiding out in) to shoot a web show about his “BFF” the Hulk in an effort to show the public that the Green Giant isn’t the monster he’s been made out to be. These “fun times” are interrupted by a gamma-powered hurricane bearing down on Hulk’s hometown of Vista Verde (Spanish for green, get it?) New Mexico. When Hulk and Rick arrive on the scene to investigate, a portal to the Negative Zone opens up in the storm’s eye. While Rick wonders just who would do something like this (name-dropping several well known villains), Hulk recognizes the handy work of Annihilus, Lord of the Negative Zone (by the way, the Hulk portrayed here is a much more intelligent Hulk than what we’re used to).
Having stripped the Negative Zone of all its resources, Annihilus declares that Earth will be next. Hulk stands ready to oppose him, but it’s not Annihilus who comes through the portal, it’s Skaar. Looking like a cross between Conan the Barbarian and the Hulk himself, Skaar is supposed to be “Big Green’s” son (though this has not been acknowledged on the show yet). Hulk and Skaar start battling all over the desert while Rick looks on. Skaar get the upper hand and seems to be on the verge of victory when the Red Hulk arrives to help. Together, Red and Hulk bring down Skaar and take him back to the abandoned military base. Hulk also notices that Skaar was using some Earth-based technology (meaning that someone on Earth is helping Annihilus). While the heroes come up with a strategy to stop Annihilus (and a way to keep Rick safe) Skaar comes to and blindsides them. Grabbing one of General Ross’ (a/k/a/ the Red Hulk) old gamma cannons, Skaar manages to escape. Hulk theorizes that Skaar is going to use the cannon to help Annihilus cross over into our world (told you he was smarter). Arriving on the scene too late, Hulk and Red fail to stop Skaar from using the cannon to fully open the portal to the Negative Zone. Annihilus’ horde of insectoids begin pouring out of the rift ready to set upon the unsuspecting countryside like a swarm of locusts.
Hulk launches himself into the swarm and begins smashing (pun intended) them bug by bug. On the ground Red uses his guns (firearms not muscles) to help Hulk out until Skaar takes him out. Skaar then uses the gamma cannon on the Hulk (gamma radiation being on of the few things that can actually hurt him). Helpless beneath Skaar’s unrelenting assault, Hulk’s outlook seems bleak. Rick Jones to the rescue! Driving some kind of tank-like vehicle, Rick rams both Skaar and the gamma cannon (and just about runs off a cliff). Unfortunately, the damage done to the cannon causes its core to overload and set off an enormous explosion of pure gamma radiation. While Hulk grabs Rick and leaps away, they are both slammed with massive amounts of radiation (remember what I said about Rick earlier). The explosion also damages the portal and Annihilus orders Skaar to bring him Red Hulk before the rift is closed. Hulk frantically searches for Rick in the rubble and thankfully finds him in one piece. After congratulating Hulk on saving the world, Rick informs him that he doesn’t feel well as his eyes begin to glow green to end Episode 1.
Episode 2 starts out with Hulk carrying the injured Rick Jones through the desert. When Rick starts convulsing and glowing green he slips out of the Hulk’s grasp in the middle of one his mighty leaps. Falling well over a 100 feet to ground, Rick hits a large rock formation that instantly shatters upon impact, burying Jones under tons of rubble. Hulk begins digging him out until he sees a green glow from beneath the rocks. Out burst’s Rick, except he’s been transformed into a scaly, blue monster (see picture above). Naming himself A-Bomb (because he’s a “bouncing bomb of awesome”), he volunteers to help Hulk smash his way into the Negative Zone to rescue Red. Hulk refuses his help out of a concern that his transformation may not be permanent, but admits that he does need help. He needs the “best pilot he knows”. The “hulked-out” heroes travel to Hollywood to enlist the aid of Hulk’s cousin, the Sensational She-Hulk. Working has a stunt double for an unnamed action film (the director even calls her a walking green screen), Jennifer isn’t very satisfied with her career choice (“but when you’re a 6’5″ indestructible green woman, your options are limited”). When Hulk and Rick ask her help she readily accepts (though she takes Rick’s transformation rather lightly). Now with an ace pilot on deck, the team rockets toward what’s left of the portal in aVoltron-inspired gamma jet.
After some very inappropriate toilet humor (it is a kids show after all), Hulk, A-Bomb, and She-Hulk blast their way into the Negative Zone. Once inside they are attacked by not only more bugs (this time with lasers strapped to their backs) but Skaar and Red Hulk as well. While Jenn blasts the bugs with the ship’s gamma cannons (everything is powered by gamma in this show) Hulk goes topside to battle Red and Skaar. With 3 hulks battling it out, it doesn’t take long until the gamma jet begins taking a lot of damage (especially when Red slams Hulk’s face into the ship’s reactor core. Rick comes to Hulk’s aid and discovers that he has the power to turn invisible. With this advantage, Hulk and Rick are able to overcome Red and Skaar and free them from Annihilus’ mind control. When Skaar expresses his rage at being enslaved by Annihilus, Hulk invites him to join the team in a effort to get even. With everyone on the same side now, Jenn informs them that in order to save the ship they must split off into 5 single-manned mini-jets (told you it was like Voltron). The team begins blasting their way towards the portal, raining bug guts all over the Negative Zone. The Hulk breaks off from the team, ordering them to continue onward, in order to stop Annihilus once and for all. One-on-one Hulk seems to be outmatched by the “Lord of the Negative Zone” (ranked by IGN as the 94th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All-Time) until Hulk damages Annihilus’ Cosmic Control Rod. With the Rod damaged, it being the source of his power, Annihilus starts growing weaker. Realizing that it’s powering the portal, Hulk destroys the Rod and the ensuing explosion sends the Hulk hurtling through the Negative Zone. With the portal now closing, the rest of the team goes back for the Hulk and they all make it out just as the portal shuts for good.
Back at the base the team celebrates by eating some of She-Hulk’s famous barbecue (Rick offers her a cooking segment on his web series). Though initially against it, Hulk now sees the value in Rick’s webcast. With their entire battle against Annihilus caught on camera, maybe the world will finally see them as the heroes they are. Both Skaar and Red agree to stick around and Rick even gives the team its name (though even he admits that the S.M.A.S.H. acronym doesn’t stand for anything). Just as the show is about to end on a happy note, we see Skaar talking to the Leader (a notable Hulk nemesis) on a vid-screen. The Leader admits to being the one who was helping Annihilus and that he wants Skaar to act as an undercover agent within the team. When Skaar mentions that Hulk and friends are good to him, the Leader reveals that he is the only one who knows Skaar’s past and if Skaar ever wants to learn it he will do what he is told. Yet we (the viewers) aren’t the only ones who witnessed this exchange as the Hulk himself was looking on the whole time. Speaking into the camera (Real World style) Hulk says that this “family” may be harder to keep together than originally thought.
If these 2 episodes are any indication, then this is going to be a pretty good show. I could do without the toilet humor and pretty much Rick Jones’ character all together but, like I said before, this is meant to be a kids show. The animation is well done, the voice overs are superb, and with Annihilus being used in the premiere episode, we’ll probably get to see a lot of lesser known villains popping up (similar to what’s being done on Beware the Batman). Plus I’m happy just to see Red Hulk and She-Hulk getting some spotlight. All-in-all I give this week’s 2 part episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. a 3.5 out of 5. I definitely recommend it for anyone who’s a fan of the Hulk, the Avengers, Marvel Comics, or just comics in general. I’ll see you guys next week. Until then… FANBOYZ SMASH!!!!