At the close of the last episode of Avengers: Ultron Revolution, government stooge Truman Marsh fired the Hulk from the team, and replaced him with the Red Hulk. Not fitting in is only the beginning of the Red Hulk’s problems. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Building the Perfect Weapon.”
The Red Hulk
Believe it or not, the Red Hulk character dates back to the first appearance of the Incredible Hulk in his first eponymous issue back in 1962. General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross was the series’ perennial antagonist, Banner’s boss, and romantic interest Betty’s dad, and head of the military hunting the Hulk. Ross’ obsession with destroying the Hulk was the status quo for decades.
As a way to combat the Hulk, General Ross allowed himself to be transformed into the monstrous creature known as the Red Hulk, or Rulk, while not only maintaining his intelligence but also gaining the additional powers of energy absorption and heat generation. The Red Hulk has also proven to be irrational and uncontrollable, not a good combination for an Avenger.
In the Marvel Animated Universe, the Rulk is more like, and even dresses like, Rambo, depending more on guns than fists. As Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. has proven, he’s a good strategist, but low on stealth, intelligence, and self-control. Even the Leader calls him ‘Mr. Impulsive,’ acting first and thinking later.
Hulk of Different Color
As we open on trolls attacking a comic con – featuring promotion for the Human-Ant and the Revengers movie – the Avengers seem to be business as usual until the Hulk, I mean the Red Hulk enters the fray. He doesn’t smash, he shoots. He’s all about the guns and the firepower, and to say the least, he’s in overkill mode. Rule is certainly a Hulk of different color.
To make the situation worse, the Hulk – the real Hulk, our Hulk – is still staying at Avengers Tower, but forced to wear a power inhibitor collar that won’t even allow him to change back into Banner. Rulk’s attitude and Marsh’s dislike for our Hulk don’t help the situation. The Avengers’ reluctance to accept the Red Hulk does make me wonder how it will go with all the new members coming next season.
The Leader and Ultimo
Even though the enemies may seem to be Truman Marsh and the Red Hulk, the Avengers are dispatched to confront A.I.M., only to find they are being led ironically by the Hulk’s archenemy the Leader. The Leader is another gamma-irradiated menace, who gained super-intellect instead of strength. The first time I saw him in the comics, he was trying replace Nixon and Agnew with android duplicates. Wow. Does that date myself more or say how evil (or good, depending on your perspective) the Leader was?
If I was a conspiracy theorist I might connect the dots and say there’s something weird about two major Hulk villains in two consecutive episodes. It’s too much of a coincidence. Good thing the next guy up to bat is Ultimo, an Iron Man villain. I have always loved Ultimo since I first saw him as a bonus baddie in the first Avengers Annual, and he challenges the Avengers well here. Sans Red Hulk, the Avengers show great teamwork against him.
Casper the Friendly Hulk
As the Avengers and Red Hulk track the Leader to his island base, the real Hulk, still restrained by that collar, goes walkabout. Wandering the city, he tries to help people, but still gets that oh-no-it’s-a-monster reaction, sort of like when folks realize that Casper the Friendly Ghost is actually a ghost (a go-go-go-ghost!). It’s sad when even the homeless don’t want to chill with the friendly Hulk.
Hulk’s whole act here, in the hat and trench coat, reminds me of the Thing when he’s in one of his poor-me moods. Walking the streets thinking that nobody loves him is sooo Ben Grimm. Even with the power restraints he manages to save folks from a crashing train, even though when the episode ends, the collar is shown broken with no Hulk. Hopefully one of those he saved freed him. It looks like we’ll need a Hulk next episode.
Hot and Bothered
The Leader’s island base seems more approachable for the Red Hulk than for the Avengers. As he goes charging in, the Avengers are stopped at several points along the way, almost as if it’s a trap, and of course it is. Had the team been operating normally as a unit, no one would have rushed in as Rulk did, but then again, that was the Leader’s plan all along. He was building the perfect weapon as suggested quite literally in the title of the episode.
The Leader traps Rulk alone in a particle accelerator with a gamma bomb, a trap designed to put all that energy into the Red Hulk, turning him into that perfect weapon. When the Avengers get there, it’s too late, the Red Hulk is revealed by the Leader to be monstrous and under his control, exhibiting the energy absorption and heat generation powers so far unseen in the Animated Universe. Things are about to get very bad, to be continued…
You can probably tell from my tone that the Red Hulk is not a favorite of mine. I have not waivered in my opinion in seeing his animated form here and in Agents of S.M.A.S.H., although I think he may be an interesting antagonist – putting him back in the role he had for decades as General Ross. I doubt he cared for the Avengers any more than he did the Hulk, if memory serves.
Furthermore the whole plot stinks of set-up. Truman Marsh is another character from the comics who was less than likable, and could easily be a villain, or a pawn. Could it be that the leader planned this whole operation from the start? Master manipulator is pretty high on his resume. Where did the Hulk go? And can the Avengers stop this new savage and hot Red Hulk? We’ll find out next time in “World War Hulk!”