Monday, September 8, 2014

Hulk Vs. Wolverine

Over the weekend, amid my regular weekend duties of sorting huge stacks of cash and throwing away Faberge eggs that no longer hold my interest, I figured it was time to get through a few DVDs I had lying around.  One such disc was the "Hulk Vs." blu-ray, containing short animated movies featuring the jade giant's run-ins with Wolverine and the forces of Weapon X in one, and Thor and the rest of Asgard in the other.

Since the two stories were extremely different, I figured it would be best to review each one separately and discuss what worked and what didn't work individually, instead of trying to do it in one.  Areas where one story faltered were extremely strong in the other, and viceversa.

Here's my biggest beef right off the bat: this doesn't feel like a complete story.

You have an introduction, you have a conflict, and you have the build-up to a resolution, and then the story just...stops.  The Hulk and Wolverine literally end the movie hanging in mid-air as they jump at each other, essentially about to do what they spent a good amount of the movie doing towards the beginning.

Now, I get that in the comics you never really get a resolution a story where the strongest being on Earth (sorry, I can't say "there is" when there's actual living planets out there) fights a guy with claws and they both heal extremely quickly.  I mean, unless you count the stories where one does beat the other.  But anyway.

The story is pretty simple: Department H, the Canadian equivalent of ... um, I'm not really sure what their American counterpart is, actually.  The FBI doesn't keep a team of superheroes around, last I heard.  Anyway, they send Wolverine in to track down and take down the Hulk after he (apparently) destroys a small town and causes the deaths of everybody in it.

Wolverine tracks down the Hulk, they fight for a bit, but then are interrupted by Sabretooth, Deadpool, Lady Deathstrike, and Omega Red, all working for Weapon X with the intent of capturing both "heroes" and turning them into weapons.

The action sequences are pretty good at showing the kind of beating Wolverine can take, and other characters are also portrayed extremely well.  Deadpool manages to punctuate every serious moment with a joke (some of which are actually really funny), for example.  However, most of the Weapon X characters are "if you don't know who these people are before the show begins, you won't know who they are at the end."  Lady Deathstrike hates Wolverine because of, um, reasons and honor, or something, Omega Red's just around because...Canada = Russia, I guess?  Sabretooth is extremely underused (although he got enough use in the Wolverine and X-Men films where I guess it's okay).

But again, it all feels like a story where, if you don't know the characters, you're not going to care about the characters.  Lady Deathstrike loses an arm (more than once), showing off the cybernetics she's enhanced herself with, but we know nothing about it.  Was it done willingly, or are those enhancements forced on her by Weapon X like Wolverine's skeleton?  Why is Omega Red there?  Do certain events happen in the past or in the present?  What happened to the babies they spend a decent amount of time showing us and then never appear again?

If I had to list the good points, it would be that the voice acting is of good quality (props to Nolan North, Fred Tatasciore, Steve Blum, and Janyse Jaud), the animation is clean (though I did find myself laughing at the "bloody" scenes), and the backgrounds are very well done.  I just really wish the story was more concise and allowed for some additional exploration of character motivations.  It really felt like I was reading one issue out of a multi-part story, and I'll never be able to find the next issue.

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