With superheroes, and especially Marvel superheroes, probably being among the most popular Halloween trick or treat costumes this year, it might be worth checking out how the animated Marvel superheroes handle the holiday. What do the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Hawkeye and the Avengers do to celebrate Halloween? Meet me after the jump to find out…
Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell
This animated feature from a few years back, officially titled Marvel’s Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell, pits the semi-unlikely teaming of Doctor Strange and the Hulk, with the Howling Commandos against the forces of a more-frightening-than-usual Nightmare in the Dream Dimension. This is a Hulk story, with the added attraction of prompting interest in the then-not-yet-released Doctor Strange movie, and maybe trying to get a pilot for the Howling Commandos as well.
I like my Howling Commandos human, pre-S.H.I.E.L.D., and fighting World War II. This is the Marvel Animated Universe so the Hulk is much smarter and manageable, so the Defenders vibe of Hulk-smash-Stupid-Magician that I always liked is gone. I did however love seeing some of the old Atlas era giant monsters though, fun stuff.
There is other fun stuff here though, kids trick-or-treating at Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, a nonsensical skirmish between the Hulk and the Commandos (cuz monsters just wanna fight), the origin stories, and of course, Banner rocking the Hulkbuster armor, but it’s not all good. I wish we had more Man-Thing, and more non-Commando monsters, with less Commandos and encounter group.
While I dug Nightmare’s horrific new appearance, I really didn’t care for Doctor Strange’s togs in this one. The feature, at just over an hour, might be about thirty minutes too long. Perhaps this would have been a better half-hour episode with the Avengers Assemble or Agents of S.M.A.S.H. filling in for the Commandos. Kids will dig this Halloween animated feature, but adults might get bored quickly.
Spider-Man: Halloween Moon
This year, the new Spider-Man animated series celebrated Halloween with an episode co-starring the Hulk as they go up against Man-Wolf. The teaming of Spidey with the Hulk, a very Jack Kirby Frankenstein looking Hulk with untorn Avengers pants is an interesting proposition as this Spidey series is a reboot of the previous Spidey series which shared continuity with the other Animated Universe series. Confuse? Me too, bottom line, is this reboot doing the same and ignoring previous continuity?
Hulk is still voiced by Fred Tatasciore, and the episode is written by Kevin Burke and Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt, so I’ll keep the faith and play along. Even if Banner grew a wristwatch after not having one as the Hulk. The choice of Man-Wolf is also interesting as an antagonist as J. Jonah Jameson (the character’s father, and reason JJJ hates Spidey) and the Daily Bugle have been downplayed quite a bit in media outside the comics of late.
Together Spider-Man and Banner track Man-Wolf to a school Halloween party where they must deal with infected students-turned-werewolves. Everything comes back to my main complaint about this new series – two much school and not enough superheroics. Proof is evident with Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy coming along for the ride, and Jameson being Norman’s lab partner.
The final act has Spidey fighting a Were-Hulk, and the other students sciencing their way out of the dilemma. I respect the skills here, but it may not only be aimed at a different demographic, but a younger age as well, not my thing. As far as continuity goes, while the Avengers have been mentioned in subsequent episodes, we are still in the dark as to where this fits in.
Avengers: Why I Hate Halloween
Speaking of the Avengers, in the proper MAU continuity, the new team has a scary run-in with Halloween that brings back an old foe from earlier seasons – the prince of darkness himself, Dracula! It should be noted however, that this Dracula is neither this guy nor even this guy. I have to wonder though, is the return of Dracula a reason to do a Halloween episode, or is Halloween just an excuse to do a Dracula episode? Dracula, as I mentioned, has been over with the animated Avengers for quite some time.
Surprisingly we open on the original team of animated Avengers taking down a Hydra lab and one particularly evil scientist by the very familiar name of Whitney Frost. The frontline defenses are robots wonderfully downed by Hawkeye without a bow, finally someone who actually knows how badass Hawkeye is. Her other surprise is she’s working on genetically engineering vampires.
When real vampires come hunting her, Hawkeye is commissioned with protecting Frost, taking her to the Avengers safehouse in Rutland, Vermont, a place the Avengers, and many other superheroes, have visited on many Halloweens. The party really gets rolling when first Crossbones and the Crimson Widow, then Dracula come calling for trick or treat. The Hawkeye Avengers Spotlight (a title he headlined in the 1980s) gets a bit more crowded, when the four humans join forces against Drac and his minions.
The two villains eventually make a run for it leaving Hawkeye to make a final stand against Dracula. The bowman has always been one of my favorite Avengers and this is why. He is the most resourceful and proves it here delightfully in this oddly out-of-continuity eighth episode of the Secret Wars season. Shouldn’t the original Avengers still be lost in another dimension? Still I loved this one a lot, and I dug that Wynn Everett who played Frost in Agent Carter also voiced her here. Nice.