With the Red Hulk turned into a “perfect weapon” by the Leader last episode, the Avengers, without their own Hulk, have to stop the bigger, badder, and hotter Rulk by themselves. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on the latest episode of Avengers: Ultron Revolution – “World War Hulk!”
World War Hulk
In the comics, World War Hulk was a big crossover event. I’ll try to keep this simple and short because it’s pretty complicated. After the events of the Kree/Skrull War, the Illuminati (Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Professor X, and the Black Panther) was formed, a loose gathering of heroes designed to coordinate such happenings. One proactive mission of the Illuminati was to stop the menace of the Hulk.
Shortly before the first Civil War, the Illuminati tricked the Hulk and launched him into space. Meant to land him on a deserted but livable planet, it instead crashed on an extremely inhospitable world, killing his then-wife (don’t ask). Enslaved into gladiatorial games (some of which it’s rumored we’ll see on the big screen in Thor: Ragnarok), Hulk slowly began to take over this planet.
The planet, Sakaar, had a radiation that made the Hulk stronger and smarter. Once the planet belonged to him, enraged by vengeance, he made plans to return to Earth with an army. One by one the Hulk defeated those who had wronged him before Stark depowered him, using that energy coincidentally to create the Red Hulk. At least in the comics.
Baptism of Fire
We open seconds after the last episode ended with the Red Hulk empowered by the gamma explosion in the particle accelerator on the Leader’s island base. Grown to giant size and exhibiting heat generation powers, this new savage Red Hulk follows the Leader’s orders to destroy the Avengers. He’s so hot that he’s able to melt Thor’s Asgardian helmet.
Captain America thinks that the Red Hulk they knew is still in there somewhere, and that may well be for two reasons. He was still fighting the Avengers strategically, and he turned on the Leader. In fact, he pounds the Leader into unconsciousness before taking off. Who’s going to stop him now?
A Moment of Therapy
Rulk isn’t the only Hulk in trouble at the moment though. As the real Hulk wanders away from saving that train last episode, collarless and possibly with head trauma, he’s hallucinating. He sees Banner sitting by his hospital bedside in a partial room with no ceiling so they’re beneath the stars. The sequence reminded me of similar internal sessions the Hulk had during the Peter David era.
After banishing Banner, Hulk heads back to Avengers Tower where a suspicious chat with Marsh seems to indicate whose side the government stooge is on. Not the Hulk’s or the Avengers’ side, that’s for sure. Maybe he’s being manipulated by the Leader? Either way, Marsh verifies Rulk is on his way to Vista Verde. The Hulk goes there to confront him.
Meanwhile the battle continues between the Red Hulk and the Avengers. Thor has discarded his cape and without his helm, it makes for an interesting look. Iron Man has donned his Hulkbuster armor. They’ve modified Hulk’s collar to eight times its original power, but it melts right off. Nothing seems to be able to stop Red Hulk, but Stark has a plan.
Similar to that awesome kaiju fighter armor Iron Man wore in “Avengers World,” but also reminding me of the armors the Avengers wore in What If? #3 (but not the terrible ones used in “Thanos Triumphant“), Stark gives the team Hulkbuster armors. All except Thor who’s already a Hulkbuster all by himself, Iron Man says. Hmmm, sounds like Stark is getting cheap in his old age, ’cause it also seems like Hawkeye’s armor is made of tin foil…
Where Monsters Dwell
In Vista Verde, the Red Hulk, the Hulk, and the Hulkbuster armored Avengers all converge. I love the name of the film on the theater marquee, Where Monsters Dwell, named after the old Marvel comic that reprinted older Atlas monster comics, and also a recent animated feature that teamed Hulk with Doctor Strange and the Howling Commandos against Nightmare.
Again, Stark has a plan, hopefully this one will work. Let’s not even get into the logistics of flying from the southwest to the east coast, but Stark wants to power up the real Hulk like Rulk. Yeah, that’s the plan, and hoping our Hulk can keep in control. In the mad scientist field, what really makes Tony Stark any different from Victor Von Doom?
A New Hulk
A new Hulk emerges from Stark’s experiment, bigger, more savage, with a Frankenstein-like haircut reminiscent of the Kirby days. When Black Widow touches his hand, we also see the Marvel Cinematic Hulk from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even before the fight begins, I’m worried we may be losing the Hulk. Now that he’s almost status quo with the movies and the comics, maybe he really can’t be an Avenger any longer?
In New York now, its Hulk vs. Hulk, and as fun as that might be, happily the showrunners keep it short, so it doesn’t go on and on like a Hulk/Thing fight. The second part of Stark’s, and Banner’s, plan is for Hulk to absorb all the power from Red Hulk, then siphon it off with his self-control. Yeah, it’s wonky science, but more than made up for with characterization. With Red Hulk down, we get our Hulk back.
Just like last week’s episode of The Flash, things get wrapped up too easily. This flaw cheapens what might have been a better episode. Red Hulk is taken into custody, no words of regret or anything from Hulk on that, let alone any mention of the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. in the last three Hulk-centric episodes. Hulk is reinstated as an Avenger and Truman Marsh leaves.
So we are left with the idea that Marsh is simply a bad man, and had nothing to do with the Leader? How did the Leader know about the Red Hulk being with the Avengers, or was the trap originally intended for the green Hulk? There’s a lot here that doesn’t make sense, and has been not-so-cleverly swept under the rug. Just when this season was getting good, oh well. I suppose we will be getting more episodes, but if not, this was a bad way to end it…