RULK REVIEW : “Nightmare in Red” Season 2, Episode 9 of AVENGERS : Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Red Hulk’s Television debut!
“Nightmare in Red” marks the thrilling television debut of the monstrous Red Hulk, which is the 9th episode of the second season of the immensely popular animated series AVENGERS : Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. While this landmark episode will not air in the United States until Sunday, June 24th, the crimson giant’s debut has already premiered in other countries (as well as streamed online), enabling this advance review… which does indeed contain spoilers to a degree that varies depending on the reader’s previous knowledge of the Red Hulk’s true identity and lore. So how did the Red Hulk’s television premiere measure up?
The episode begins with an airborne General “Thunderbolt” Ross and Major Glenn Talbot arriving on the landing pad of a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. The decorated officers have flown there to argue their case with Maria Hill that the U.S. Military needs the sample of Hulk’s blood, currently stored in a secure chamber of the helicarrier, in their effort to militarize it. They also express their utter disdain for allowing the Avengers to harbor a monster such as the “Hulk” under the protection and guise of a heroic teammate.
During this heated exchange, unbeknownst to Hill, the blood sample of the Hulk is stolen… and later mixed with an unknown reddish component and ultimately injected into the arm a mysterious person on board: his identity hidden by shadows. The injection transforms the figure into the raging Red Hulk, who begins to dismantle the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and his crew.
It’s soon obvious that the Rulk is not the one calling the shots however and there is a master plan afoot to capture Bruce Banner. But the Red Hulk has a plan of his own… a plan to finally defeat the Incredible Hulk and prove he is no longer the strongest one there is.
There has been a lot of creative changes made to Red Hulk’s origin in “Nightmare in Red”. Some are due to time constraints. Others are due to the nature of being a children’s television show. Yet some key changes were made simply because the show’s creators are trying to tell a larger tale over a great deal of episodes (like the looming Skrull invasion) versus many self-contained more origin accurate stories told in one or two part episodes. The show’s writers opted to take a creative license (or uncreative license) and made changes to the Red Hulk continuity to make the character fit within the series current “big picture”. The result is an initial level of frustration, like when the realization is made that neither Leader, M.O.D.O.K, nor any member of the Intellegencia seem to be involved with the Red Hulk’s creation. This really doesn’t do the character justice.
Not all of the Red Hulk comic history was discarded for the sake of this television series’ continuity however. The SHIELD Helicarrier attack and the assault on Agent Quartermain was ripped from the pages of HULK Issue #2. Doc Samson appears to be playing a role in duality again… and the theme “Who is the Red Hulk” is honored here, never revealing that General Ross is the Rulk in this episode (which pretty much all but guarantees this is not the last we’ve seen of crimson giant this season.)
And while his absorbing powers are nowhere to be found, the Rulk’s radioactive heat core is on display numerous times. The Red Hulk also has a scene where he expresses an oh so enjoyable sinister, arrogant laugh (that gets to the core of why we find the red villain so enjoyable.)
As with the AVENGERS : EMH series as a whole, the animation suffers from a subpar quality, yet it’s offset by some terrific voice acting and enjoyable action scenes that are pretty well choreographed.
Even with all the disappointing origin changes, it was extremely exciting to finally see the Red Hulk grace the small screen. Let’s hope the Rulk’s next appearance is even better.. and more faithful to the character we’ve grown to love!
3.5 out of 5 Stars
A general falls. A red monster rises. Stay tuned.
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