Cartoon of the Week: The Incredible Hulk
During the 1990s Marvel comics created a lot of cartoons based on their popular characters. Some of them like Spider-man and X-men turned out alright. Others such as the Silver Surfer and Iron Man were huge flops. Today we’re going to look at one of Marvel’s more popular heroes and cartoons, the jolly green Giant of Marvel; The Incredible Hulk.
The story of the incredible hulk followed the basic story of the original comics. Bruce Banner was accidently exposed to gamma radiation while trying to save a kid named Rick Jones. Now whenever Bruce gets stressed or angry he becomes the green beast known as the Hulk. Now it’s Bruce’s mission to cure himself of the hulk, while avoiding both the army, and the super villain known as the leader.
The characters of the show are the same characters from the comic, so they really shouldn’t require much of an introduction. General Ross, General of the U.S army hell bent on killing/capturing the Hulk. Betty Ross: General Ross’ Daughter and Bruce’s lover, and one of the very few people who can calm the hulk down. Rick Jones Bruce’s best friend whom he saved from the accident that turned him into the incredible Hulk. Finally, you have Doc Samson a researcher in gamma radiation who along with Betty is trying to find a way to cure Bruce of the Hulk. The Leader; a gamma mutated human with a vast intellect determined to absorb the Hulk’s strength into his body. Then you Have the Gray Gargoyle the leader’s reluctant minion whose only purpose is to find a way back to normal. These are just the core characters of the show, but if I were to list them all off we’d be here all day.
Now if any of you know anything about the Hulk (which I’m going to assume you don’t), he’s been portrayed in a different light with each incarnation. Sometimes he’s portrayed as a force of nature that destroys everything in sight. While other times, he’s portrayed as wanting to be left alone, and won’t attack unless someone else does. What makes this series Hulk interesting is that he acts like a giant green child, and given the Hulk’s character that makes a lot of sense. The cartoon portrays the Hulk as this giant beast who doesn’t want to hurt innocent bystanders, but won’t think twice about attacking the military of the Leader’s minions. The reason for this is the military and the leader is both actively looking for the Hulk in order to either use him or kill him. Then like a child the Hulk throws a tantrum and begins to destroy those that want to hurt him. Outside of battle, you can really see the Hulk’s childlike nature when he’s well looking at nature. You see a much more calm and fascinated look on his face as he observes the world around him. Personally I think this makes great character development for a character whose vocabulary is two words (HULK SMASH!). Although this childlike nature can be somewhat disturbing, given that Betty is the person who usually calms the Hulk down. When she calms him down she sounds like a motherly figure, keep in mind this is the woman who both Bruce and Hulk want to screw. One thing that didn’t change from the original comic was the Hulk’s hatred of Bruce Banner, showing the Hulk and Banner as two different entities rather than one being.
With the idea of the Hulk, you’d think that the show was pretty dark, right? Well in this case you’re right, and you’re wrong. The first season of the show was pretty grim, you have a tortured scientist who just wants to live a normal life with the person he loves and cure himself of the monster inside of him. Well both the military and the leader have other plans. In most episodes, Banner is seen being so close to finding the cure for his Bi-polarism, but then either the experiment goes wrong and creates another Super Villain for the Hulk to fight or the military/leader breaks down the door (most time literally) and then experiment is destroyed. In other words, Bruce is always on the run both from the military and himself. He’s a tortured soul who only wishes to find peace and live his life, instead winds up suffering from Jekyll and Hyde syndrome while being chased. Hell in one episode they came very close to curing Banner I won’t spoil the ending, but I will just say that this one episode is proof that Banner doesn’t have a snow ball’s chance in hell to live a normal life. This is the first season of the show where sunshine and rainbows don’t exist (to be fair in most of marvel’s heroes you’re not likely to final any).
Then you have the second season, this one is real let down. Unlike Iron Man and the Fantastic four, where the studio tries to improve everything about the show, The Incredible Hulk became a joke. Most of the tragedy was gone; the amazing cliff hanger from season one ended up wasted, oh and the show is now called the incredible Hulk and She-Hulk. Betty Ross disappeared, General Ross was hospitalized, Rick Jones kind of faded away, oh and the gray Gargoyle once a tragic deformed human became comic relief. The military stopped chasing the Hulk, that what you get for voting democratic. However, The most confusing thing was the inclusion of She-Hulk I mean yeah she had her origin story in season one and was used for two episodes but why bring her back all she did was act like a giant green slut in those two episodes. So yeah with these “Improvements” the show fell out of grace with fans and this led to the shows cancellation.
While the show did have its ups and downs, almost one thing that always kept the show fun was the crossover episodes. The first season of the show had some pretty awesome crossovers one was with Iron-man and War Machine helping the Hulk beat back the military. Another involved Dr. Doom and his manipulation of the hulk in order to save his cousin Jennifer, who would become She-Hulk. However, the one crossover that I don’t think anyone saw coming was the crossover episode involving the Ghost Rider. That’s right Marvel’s own rider from hell appeared in a children’s cartoon Hell fire, chain and the Terrifying Penance Stare. This was one of the highest points in season one only to be rivaled by the season one finale. It was really cool to see Ghost Rider do what he does best, Condemn that dammed. Ok while he obviously didn’t send anyone to hell it was still pretty cool to see him in action. While you obviously can’t top that there were some other Crossovers with heroes like Thor, and Dr. Strange but those weren’t nearly as cool.
So would I recommend this show? Yes, but I would only really recommend season 1. The show was one of the darker super hero shows at the time and really showed the tragedy of literally living with a monster inside you. Mix that in with some amazing action scenes and surprisingly complex characters and you really get one hell of a show. Oh and one little fun fact, the Gray Gargoyle, is voiced by Mark Hamill… Go figure.
Those were from season one, here’s season 2