Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

hulk-agents-of-smashDisney and Marvel presents “Hulk and the Agents of Merchandising Possibilities”! Demonstrating the same business model as their rivals at the Cartoon Network, Disney and Marvel’s fusion has guaranteed all the former Marvel shows scrapped in favor of more juvenile and louder action shows. ‘”Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” was taken off in favor of the less complex and more action friendly “Avengers Assemble,” and now Marvel has given Hulk his own vehicle.

This is a show that panders so much to tween boys that it’s quite shameless. Hulk smashes stuff, and happens to have an entire group of superheroes that come from his mythos that also smash stuff. So Marvel put them together to become a superhero team that are also a family! The family that smashes together… well, you know the rest. Watching this cartoon I can almost picture a Toys R Us shelf with large plastic Hulk and Red Hulk action dolls that pose and make different noises. The toys, of course, come in five varieties, in case you don’t just want Hulk. And in case, you want your daughter to join the fun, there’s a She-Hulk doll.

I know, I know: Cartoons being made to sell toys? That’s happened since the early sixties. Probably farther, but it’s a shame to see such a complex character like Bruce Banner and The Hulk reduced to nothing more than a gamma ray induced Ward Cleaver to a group of big bulking anti-heroes. I’m surprised the Marvel animated universe is set primarily around Spider-Man when the Avengers were the big blockbuster heroes at the movies in 2012, but lo and behold, “Agents of SMASH” and “Avengers Assemble” are technically spin offs of “Ultimate Spider-Man.” J. Jonah Jameson even cameos in the first episode. Much like the aforementioned series, “Agents of SMASH” has been adapted for the audience in the 8-11 age range.

Writer Paul Dini and the producers have no confidence in their audience to pay attention, so the entire series is busy, loud, and hard to follow. Rather than getting to know characters, every character is given their own title card to do the work for us. Hey there’s Red Hulk as is noted by the card that says RED HULK! And since the writers don’t figure audiences will know these people or want to, the web series device allows them exposition in the guise of confessionals a la a reality show. So Red Hulk explains who he is, was, and wants to be. Basically, the entire series is a one big meta-reality show starring The Hulk and his knock offs.

Rick Jones, as voiced by Seth Green, is the spectator of the series who films Hulk on his adventures in a web series. Annihilus plans to break free from the Negative Zone and take over the world. To help in the battle, Red Hulk appears to gnarl at Hulk and help fight off Annihilus, all the while Rick Jones is accidentally caught in a Gamma Blast and becomes a Gamma Mutant. Resembling a rock dinosaur monster, he has odd powers, and calls himself A-Bomb. In spite of his mutation, the ones that used to render The Thing, Bruce Banner, and most of the X-Men in to sad bitter characters, he’s still a wise cracking superhero who embraces his mutation. She-Hulk is the feminine element who pilots the neato ships, and helps the group fight alongside Hulk and his teammates that also include Skaar.

Skaar is the snake in the grass who wants to know about his origins. Anyone who is anyone knows that Skaar is the son of the Incredible Hulk, but that may be a head slapping twist to new comers who only know Hulk from “The Avengers” movie. The show is filled with non-stop action that get boring very quickly. Knowing these characters can take immense damage without getting hurt defeats the suspense when they’re in danger or battling monsters. But for the intended audience it should prove a worthy distraction, with every episode its own self-contained story rather than a fluid arc you have to follow loyally. The writing for this series is so lazy A-Bomb comes up with the group name “The Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” to which She-Hulk inquires what the acronym stands for. A-Bomb responds with a “Who cares?!” Because they’re just that cool. And I move on to more fulfilling entertainment. Two episodes is enough for this Marvel geek.


Now airing weekends on Disney XD in America. Check Local Listings.