Review And Media by Stu
Episode #1 - Return Of The Beast, Part One
Directed By: Rich Trueblood Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)
Guest Starring: Neal McDonough as Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk, Genie Francis as Betty Ross, John Vernon as General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Luke Perry as Rick Jones, Kevin Schon as Major Glenn Talbot, Matt Frewer as The Leader and Mark Hamill as Gargoyle.
Review:With the booming success of Spider-Man and X-Men on FOX, UPN wanted a piece of Marvelís animation success, and so a new series was commissioned. Given the popularity of the character, and most of Marvelís heavy hitters were either already on FOX or had been done before, at this point in time, it simply had to be The Incredible Hulk. Marvel obviously wanted The Hulk in his own show too, as there was not one, but two backdoor pilot attempts in both Iron Man and Fantastic Four.
Thankfully, this version of The Hulk is far superior to the ones that appeared in those shows, mainly because more of his supporting cast was introduced, and of course, the show is allowed to focus more on Banner than Hulk.
This particular episode perfectly displays the shows premises, whilst delivering plenty of action. Whilst there would be a lot of episodes that topped this one, it still stands out as one of the series best. Itís also made apparent that Banner has become Hulk for several years, and unlike the previous 80ís show, the Military are fully aware that Banner is olí jade jaws and feel The Hulk is a threat to national security and must be stopped. General ĎThunderboltí Ross and Major Ned Talbert thankfully donít fit into the 2 dimensional ďMust kill HulkĒ role that is far too common in animation (Chief Ramos in The Batman being the best example!) mainly because of their relationship with Rossí daughter Betty.
The beginning is a perfect example of how well this show portrayed Bruce vs. Hulk. A nice family picnic ruined by his transformation and how General Ross always comes between Bruce and Betty. A great, symbolic way to open the series.
My favourite part of the episode however, is after Banner is captured and he talks about Hulkís origin sequence. His speech is first class material, and it works perfectly over the flashback sequence.
ďIím so sorry, Betty, for all of it. Losing control of the gamma reactor test, and forÖ and for everything thatís gone so wrong since. I donít know why it had to happen. In one fractured second, one cowardly act of sabotage later the domino started toppling, one after another faster and faster, relentless in itís spiral to disaster. Threatening to take with it one innocent who was unknowingly trapped in itís unforgiving path. So I attempted to oppose fait that dayÖ and that dayÖ I lost.Ē
The animation standards in this show are above those of other Marvel shows, and this episode was no exception. The designs, however, were a little mixed. The supporting cast such as Doc Sampson, Major Talbot, General Ross etc looked fine, as did Gargoyle and Banner. Hulk was a little lacking, mainly his face. He seemed to look like he was pouting rather than full of rage. The worst offender however, is The Leader. Orange and black, the hell? Whatís especially irritating, is that a perfect Leader design was used in Iron Man, and that was scrapped for this eyesore. The Leader acted as the main villain in the show, which brought it down a notch, in my opinion, as he was incredibly weak, if youíll pardon the pun.
Return Of The Beast was a thoroughly enjoyable opening episode, with an unfortunately weak conclusion.