My friends, when it comes to comics and the superhero genre specifically I am a hard man to please. So when I come across something so grand, so incredible, so splendiferous that it leaves me tight in the trousers I must share it with *ahem* “my peeps.” And that is precisely what I have found in the new ‘Hulk Vs.’ cartoons newly released this past Tuesday on DVD and BluRay. But… what the Hell does this have to do with Spidey, you ask?! Keep your pants on, Webheads, we’ll get there before we’re done.
Directed by: Frank Paur & Sam Liu
Written by: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Produced by/Released by: Marvel Entertainment/Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Honestly Spider-Fans, I didn’t expect much from this. When it comes to Marvel, unless we’re talking some of the movies, my expectations are pretty damn low these days – at least where the comics are concerned. Actually they’ve been low for years in that regard. The Spider-Man flicks are great, sure, and Iron Man was like taking a cinema rocket to Mars and kicking the Martian Empire’s ass. I grant you that. But before now my limited experience was watching the thrice-damned Ultimate Avengers crap for free on YouTube – mainly because I refuse to pay one damn dollar for anything with ‘Ultimate’ in it unless it’s sold at Jack in the Box. Had it just been a straight Avengers cartoon I might’ve liked it. You know, something where Thor is actually Thor and doesn’t have that silly damn glowing axe-hammer thing. Now you know what I mean when I say I am hard to please and I like what I like in specific ways. So my negative experience with that lead me to dismiss, out-of-hand, the other Marvel cartoons that followed – Dr. Strange and The Invincible Iron Man. Thanks to the new Hulk Vs. cartoons, I will be seeking those out today and doing it basically right after this review is posted.
Hulk Vs. is actually two, two, two cartoons in one. The first is a Hulk Vs. Wolverine cartoon that’s a little over half an hour and the second, Hulk Vs. Thor, is around forty-five minutes. You have to sit through trailers for Ultimate Avengers 2: Electric Boogaloo and Avengers Babies to get to the main event. Both cartoons come with some fairly weak special features, including looks at two upcoming cartoons: Wolverine and the X-Men and Thor: Tales of Asgard (or as I call it Thor Babies). More on those later, but for right now we’ll focus on each cartoon in order. And yeah there will be spoilers in here, cause I can’t fully explain to you how made-of-awesome these cartoons are without them, so if that twists your panties then turn back now cause we’re about to get waist-deep in the freaky.
Hulk Vs. Wolverine – The Hulk’s decided to take a vacation up to Canada, prompting Department H to send in Wolverine to take him down. Unfortunately for Wolverine, Hulk Is Strongest One There Is – and the Weapon X program decides it needs to capture them both. This leads to what is one of the most violent, insane, fun cartoons I have ever seen. If Quentin Tarantino directed a cartoon it might look like this. Between Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike, Sabretooth and Deadpool there’s more slashing and stabbing than all of the Scream movies combined. See when it comes to cartoon superhero battles we’re used to how it used to be back in the old days. I was expecting Wolverine and the Hulk to square off in the frozen north, smashing a lot of trees and throwing crap… maybe Wolverine starting an avalanche to bury the Hulk or something stupid. You know how it is. We’d sit there praying we could see the two just kick the living crap out of each other but we’d never get that. So when Wolverine leaps onto the Hulk’s back early on and starts stabbing down into his back, repeatedly, right in the lungs… my jaw dropped and I thought I’d wet myself. Finally, a cartoon for me. A cartoon that speaks to me. A cartoon that cares about my needs. The brutal pounding Wolverine and the Hulk give one another is off the freaking chart – and that’s not even scratching the surface. When the Weapon X folks come into play (Sabretooth, Deadpool, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red) it all hits the fan. You will see Wolverine slap Banner around like a sissy boy slap party. You will see body parts come off. You will see limbs on the floor. You will see someone get pulled apart – literally. You will see death, mayhem and carnage in a way you’re not expecting to see – and you will revel in the glory. And for the love of God you will die laughing every time Deadpool talks. God Almighty, please Marvel please give me a cartoon with this Deadpool. Screw it, give me a series with this Deadpool and put it on cable. He steals the freaking show and does something to Wolverine in here that I absolutely will not spoil cause it made me howl in glee. And definitely get past the credits – there’s another funny bit with Deadpool at the ‘dead’ end.
It couldn’t get better than this, right… ? Oh… oh you’re wrong.
Hulk Vs. Thor – Loki’s bored and the Enchantress is tired of being spurned by Thor. So as the evil armies of Asgard attack while the All-Father’s all REM in the Odinsleep, the God of Mischief makes his move and brings Thor to Asgard to kill his brother – the Mighty Thor. The very foundations of Asgard shake as the Enchantress separates Banner from the Hulk and allows Loki to take direct control of ol’ Greenskin’s body. The carnage that follows shakes the very foundations of Asgard. The Warriors Three are here, in all their epic awesomeness and so true to character you will want to cry. Balder’s here, and so is Sif , who is hot and fabulous. The fight scenes in here are so powerful they will leave you wide-eyed and wanting your Mommy. Frost giants, dark elves, trolls, Asgardian soldiers, Valkyries… Hulk, Thor… everything clashes together in a symphony of smash so delicious your taste buds will react. And hey, it all ends in the Underworld with Hela salivating over souls.
In these two cartoons we not only get fantastic Hulk cartoons but we also get insanely pleasing Marvel Universe cartoons. This is how you do Marvel cartoons. This is what we need to see more of – the characters getting depicted exactly as they are in the comics. Drop the Ultimate crap – cripes that whole scene is so messed up now it’s getting rebooted, with its incest and its jackassy glowing axe-hammer things. Keep putting these out, these cartoons more in tune with the actual Marvel Universe and I will lay money at Marvel Entertainment’s feet, giving them the cash that I had stopped spending on their wayward comics. And in the name of all things Holy give me a full Thor feature with this Thor and this Loki and this Asgard. I need this. This didn’t just meet my wants and expectations for a Thor cartoon – it surpassed them. That’s an understatement.
If you are a Thor fan, you must buy this DVD. If you are a Deadpool fan, you must buy this DVD. If you are a Wolverine fan, a Hulk fan… an Avengers fan, an X-fan… whatever you’re into, this thing flat-out wins. If you love the Marvel Universe these cartoons will make you happier than a pig in mud having slop poured down its throat. Bear in mind – these two cartoons are way more violent than most are used to seeing in Marvel cartoons. And with the number of limbs, the blood… maybe this isn’t for the really little kids.
More on those features. The Hulk Vs. Thor cartoon’s got a disappointing ‘Jack Kirby and Thor’ segment which only really scratches the surface of the greatness of Kirby’s Thor. And there’s a sneak peak at Thor: Tales of Asgard, another upcoming feature. Yes, it’s Thor Babies. It’s Thor and Loki and Sif and Amora and all the Asgardians except Odin as kids. I am sure it’ll be well done but… I’ll pass. Let me know when they’re grown up. The Huk Vs. Wolverine cartoon’s got a sneak peak at Wolverine and the X-Men which, again, looks to be well done but… Wolverine’s leading the X-Men and Cyclops is the dangerous loner? My kingdom for an X-Men cartoon that’s beautiful, well made and actually sticks to characters and history. This looks slick but it doesn’t look like it fits the bill. We’ll see – I might actually give that one a go.
So that wraps up our… what? Oh! You want to know what this has to do with Spidey? Well plenty! Spider-Man has either kicked the ass of or allied himself with a lot of the characters in these cartoons. The Hulk? Yep, and more than once! Wolverine? Again, yessiree! Has he partied with Thor? Well duh! And does Loki still owe him a favor despite having boobs now? Of course – some of us are even hoping that’ll bring an end to the current OMD/BND jackassery… but that’s a tale for another time. So Spidey’s shadow’s all over the place here. Then again… it’s all over the whole Marvel Universe, really. And I wish, I wish beyond words, that we could get Spider-Man cartoons of this quality. Cartoons with a real honest to goodness Spidey, free of the current comic taints, free from being trapped as a teenager like the current cartoon. I doubt that’s likely to happen though.
I know I take a lot of shots at Marvel Comics these days – and with good reason. As a lifelong Marvel fan I find Marvel lacking on so many levels today that it turns my stomach. But on the movie and cartoon front I have no quarrel. In fact, Hulk Vs. has reminded me of the deep love I have of Marvel’s characters… a love that the current Marvel’s been trying to wreck for the last several years. And on that front, for the nostalgia factor alone, I am grateful.
5 out of 5 Webheads. Just perfect. Brilliant and action packed and true to character and fun and just damn perfect. And now, based on the strength of this product, I am off to get the Dr. Strange and Iron Man cartoons.
EDIT: After posting this review I noticed how this DVD has caused quite a stir amongst Thor fans, claiming Thor “hate” because Hulk gets the better of him in their fight. As a colossal Thor fan I really didn’t flinch over this. I didn’t take it personal or anything – he goes up against a Hulk with no Banner in him to hold him back… just all rage and power and hate and RAWR! Anyway, your mileage may, apparently, vary. Heh.