Just this past week in the review of the last episode of “Avengers: Ultron Revolution,” I was talking about how it might be a refreshing change of pace to see Bruce Banner instead of the Hulk from time to time. I guess I should be careful what I wish for. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Dehulked.”
We open with Iron Man fighting solo against three robots and/or armored opponents identified as the SteelCorps at one of his factories. At first I didn’t realize who these characters were, but then I got it – Detroit Steel or the Detroit Steelcorps from Justin Hammer. Hammer again? Maybe not, I think I detect a Russian accent, so perhaps they don’t come from Detroit.
Before the Hulk shows up to do some smashing, Iron Man makes a comment about not wanting to wake him. Ummm… why would the Hulk be sleeping at one of Stark’s factories? As I pondered that one, the Hulk leaped into the fray to do what he does best – smash, that is until the lead SteelCorpsman grabs him and hits him with a ray. When he’s finished, the Hulk has reverted to puny Bruce Banner.
The SteelCorps sucked the gamma radiation right out of the Hulk reducing him to his Banner form. The bad news is that while there is residual gamma radiation, it’s not enough now, or possibly ever, to push the transformation into the Hulk. The Avengers are weirdly dejected to be stuck with Bruce Banner for the time being as opposed to the Hulk. Seriously??
There’s an intriguing short sequence where they treat Banner almost as if he’s Charlie Brown, but slowly he begins to assimilate back into the team. Teching out with Stark, improving Hawkeye and Cap’s armaments, and doing a repaint of the Hulkbuster armor so he can join in combat, Banner eventually finds a place on the team again. For the time being at least.
SteelCorps strikes again and this time Banner is able to put a face and name to the voice he recognized. It’s his old lab assistant Igor Drenkov. This one is reaching back, folks, all the way to Incredible Hulk #1. Drenkov was a Soviet spy sent to steal the plans for the gamma bomb, and was ultimately responsible for detonating it while Banner was on the range. He made the Hulk.
And now, Drenkov has unmade him. Although it’s worth noting the flashback here has been adjusted for the Hulk’s Marvel Cinematic Universe origins. Drenkov’s plan is to become his own Hulk by bathing himself in gamma radiation. Even though his own power level had returned enough to Hulk out, Banner stops Drenkov with quick thinking and the Hulkbuster armor.
Okay, I just don’t get it. Rather than cheer him, the Avengers berate Banner for not turning into the Hulk. Both the Avengers and Banner are behaving like children. The heroes think Banner can’t contribute to the team as anything other than mindless muscle. Stark says they ‘already have a science guy,’ himself. Are they forgetting that neither Hawkeye nor the Black Widow have powers? Or that two heads are better than one?
While Banner walks the streets sulking (might have been a great place to put the “Lonely Man” theme) he’s not alone, Drenkov is stalking him, and captures him. The villain’s new plan is to drain the gamma radiation directly from Banner, killing him in the process, and turning Drenkov into a new Hulk.
The Avengers come to the rescue and an all-out fight against the mechs breaks out. Soon they are fighting a gamma-powered and armored version of Drenkov. The Avengers can’t quite pull it off, so Banner makes the sacrifice and retransforms into the Hulk and together they drop Drenkov.
The episode was more than a bit childish. It seems like an old 1970s “Super Friends” with a lesson to be learned. Maybe embrace both your brawn and brain? Perhaps at least we’ll be getting more Banner in the future, and less acting like children…