It’s understood this cartoon is for kids, it really is. It’s understood that children have different sensibilities and that different aspects of a cartoon will attract them to the story and the characters. As an adult, before judging a cartoon, it’s important to remember who these shows are for. All that being said, there have been MANY great super-hero cartoons, some from the same creative forces behind Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., that do not take the paths of least resistance like this show does. Its simplicity is becoming a bit insulting; at least when compared to some of the excellent work that was done on both iterations of Avengers and some of the recent episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man, that have character depth, humor, and can appeal to a child’s sensibilities. In other words, if one is to do an animated feature introducing Ego, the Living Planet, one only has to look at the work of Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, and many others to see how a fundamentally ludicrous idea can be presented with class and dignity even when the idea is fundamentally silly. Or, one needs not go directly for the snot joke.
Ego is a silly concept; make no mistake, a bearded planet with a leering face that floats through the cosmos destroying other words, but many writers of many comics have handled the innate silliness with panache, never blinking at the absurd nature of the character. Other times, writers have taken a more farcical route to presenting Ego, embracing the absurdity and just going with it. The obvious, simple, and base way to go is to turn Ego into a twenty-two minute booger and zit joke. Alas, that is the direction this new Hulk show seems to be constantly resorting to, and while most kids like a good gross out, it feels the worlds created by Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Buscema, Thomas, and Steranko should be above such things.
There were a few effective jokes in the cartoon that did not involve Hulks ringing mucus out of their hair. Like J. Jonah Jameson blaming Spider-Man for Ego’s arrival, and Skaar screaming “Skaar make holes in teeth,” as he smashes Ego in the mouth, but really it was an indulgence in potty humor with the Hulks actually throwing down with Ego’s zits. Sorry, Marvel…no. They should get credit for resisting the planetary fart joke, but there are limits to these types of things.
The whole episode centered around the Hulks trying to work together with Red Hulk taking the Guy Gardner role of loose cannon ignoring teamwork and trying to do everything himself. That’s fine, teamwork is a theme of the cartoon and an important value to instill in the audience, but the whole thing is diluted when the team needs to band together to free themselves of snot. It feels like the whole episode looks down on its audience, assuming a kid won’t pay attention to the message unless they make with the gross.
The animation is getting choppier by the episode, with a few moments where it was completely unclear how the characters got from one place to the next. Other than the green Hulk, the characters act like caricatures with no motivations or descriptors beyond their appearance and their single defining personality trait.
I’ve enjoyed a number of episodes of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., this was not one of them.