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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Animated > Fantasy > Hulk VS. (Marvel Comics/Lionsgate DVD)

Hulk VS. (Marvel Comics/Lionsgate DVD)

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Animated Movies: A+

As a 12-year-old kid in 1982 I can still vividly remember the episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends that featured the X-Men.  I was huge fan of all things X-Men at the time, and delighted in seeing them on the small screen.  In the episode the X-Men have about two minutes of total screen time, and Wolverine skewers some fruit from a table, offering it to Firestar while saying (in an Australian accent), "Piece of fruit, doll?"  That was it.  Juggernaut subsequently bursts in on the party and Wolverine launches himself madly at him, flailing his claws but doing very little.

Wolverine and co. re-surface in 1989 in a failed TV pilot called "Pryde of the X-Men" where he again speaks with an Australian accent.  It's not until 1992 that the team gets a proper series (simply titled X-Men) and Wolverine receives a good deal of the lime-light.  In the show they finally get his Canadian origins right, and numerous episodes delve further into his background, old enemies, and old flames.  The X-Men's creators certainly did their best to weave in plenty of canonical continuity, but the generally poor animation, mediocre voice talent, and inability to show the amount of violence necessary to capture the true spirit of Wolverine always left me a bit cold.  X-Men Evolution did a slightly better job, but still didn't complete the circle when it came to depicting Wolverine at his savage best.

Marvel's presentation of the two Ultimate Avengers films represented their best animation efforts to this point.  Hulk VS. easily eclipses both of those feature-length projects with its two forty minute mini-movies.  In the first feature Wolverine finally gets his due as an animated character.  In a reprise of his first appearance from the immortal Hulk 180 - 181, Wolverine is sent by his handlers in the Canadian government to neutralize a rampaging Hulk deep in the Canadian hinterlands.  Wonderfully voiced by veteran voice actor Steve Blum, Wolverine tracks The Hulk and the battle is joined.  Fred Tatasciore brings the Hulk to life in both features, and his voice talent mixed with Jeff Matsuda's character designs and the amazing animation help to portray a simply breath-taking level of violence.  When Wolverine cuts the Hulk with his razor-sharp adamantium claws, the Hulk bleeds.  When some of Wolverine's old associates arrive on the scene, things really get interesting.  This feature is filled with homages to some of the writers and artists most responsible for Wolverine's greatness and appeal as a character.  All of the characterizations seem spot-on, and writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost have mixed some truly hilarious scenes in with the extreme violence.

Hulk VS. Thor is the second disc in the set, and asks the question, "What might happen if a Hulk devoid of the calming influence of Bruce Banner was set loose in Asgard, home of the Norse gods?"  Mayhem is the best answer one can come up with.  This feature will give Thor fans plenty to be excited about, as we see the God of Thunder at his best, taking on the Hulk and protecting his home.  The classic Jack Kirby character designs are all in place here, right down to the colors on the costumes of the Warriors Three.  Although the action in Hulk VS. Thor is amazing, I found myself a bit disappointed by the actual slugfest between Marvel's two mightiest humanoids.  I would like to have seen the actual brawl be a little less one-sided.

Hulk VS. marks a turning point for Marvel's animation department.  They've long been a follower to DC's superior brand of animation excellence, but this might be an indicator that Marvel is catching up.  The extras on both discs are solid, and include documentaries featuring the creators and cast discussing their roles in the production.  The Thor disc also includes a nice piece on the influence and importance of Jack Kirby in both the Marvel Universe and in the production of animated Marvel features.

Hulk VS. delivers on every level conceivable for an animated project. Pulse-pounding action, adult depictions of comic book violence, and well-crafted stories are all supported by Marvel's highest quality animation to date.  Due to the high levels of violence, these features are really not suited for young children.

-   Scott R. Pyle


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