The Incredible Hulk 1982 Complete Season DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
One of Marvel's finest animated series comes to DVD...and it's mad as hell!
Animations fans, and Hulk fans in particular, will fondly remember the first airing of this series in 1982 and will no doubt be eager to snap up this 13-episode box set upon its release. Introduced and narrated by Stan Lee himself, the box set contains the entire series run of Ol’ Greenskin’s adventures and is sure to prove popular with old fans as well as new.
Everything we know and love about Bruce Banner’s angry alter ego is here: the uncontrollable rage, the limited intellect, the need to be left alone, and yes, even Hulk’s contempt for Banner himself.
Mayhem and madness are not all that’s on offer though – also present is Banner’s stifled love for fellow scientist Betty Ross, likewise the Hulk’s need to protect her over all others, despite his contempt for almost every other human who crosses his path. There’s also humour and some surprisingly enjoyable light-heartedness dotted about. And Betty isn’t alone – other familiar characters are here too, including Betty’s father, General Ross, and his number two, Major Ned Talbot (essentially the same character as Glenn Talbot from the comic books, if a bit more clumsy and accident prone). Their constant pursuit of the Hulk remains undiminished and they use every trick in the book to either capture or kill the green-skinned one, allowing for some the best action scenes in the series.
Providing a bit of comedy is constant Banner sidekick Rick Jones, joined this time round by newly created characters, Rio and Rita, a father and daughter Hispanic family who run a restaurant near Banner’s Gamma base. These three all provide light relief to what can sometimes, especially between Bruce and Betty, prove be a very intense and adult narrative. But then again this is Marvel, and adult themes have always featured heavily in their productions and the Hulk is no exception.
Marking Marvel’s second attempt (the first being 1966) at animation with our favourite muscle-bound madman, this series holds very true to the characters and story lines established by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby when the Hulk was first created. That said, there are some noticeable difference between this incarnation and the Hulk of the ‘60s. For instance, the origin story of the Hulk and how he came to be has changed somewhat – gone are the communist Russians of old, desperate to get their hands on Banner’s gamma missile plans. In their place is a sneaky alien from another world, playing a similar role to the commies, but acknowledging the popularity of sci-fi movies at the time (a subtle nod to Star Wars appears early on).
And the changes continue; unlike the ‘60s series and the original comic books from which the stories were lifted, there is a surprising lack of classic Hulk villains in this series. Gone are foes such as the Metal Master or the Gorgon, although eternal enemy The Leader does reappear in one episode. Instead we are introduced to the Puppet Master, a descendant of Quasimodo, the Spymaster and terrorist group HYDRA. Also taking a break from giving Spider-man his regular beating is Doctor Octopus, while making her first animated appearance is Banner’s cousin, and She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters. All of these characters are wonderful in their own right and take nothing away from the show, but fans will no doubt yearn for a few of the Hulk’s classic foes to make more of a show.
However, with fantastic artwork and a wonderful use of colour, it’s really enjoyable this time round to watch Hulk smash and bash his way across the screen, with the animation of the time being put to it’s fullest possible use and allowing for an almost cinematic feel throughout.
Looking at these episodes now, it’s hard not to appreciate how much effort and talent went into the production of each and every one of them. The artwork, as with almost every 80s cartoon, is almost faultless, with the animation itself being of equal quality. Every scene, backdrop and character is lovingly drawn and beautifully animated and really upped the ante in terms of what animation could, and should be doing. It’s not surprising really when you look at the people involved: David H. DePatie (Pink Panther, Looney Tunes), Lee Gunther (Spider-Man, Transformers) were both executive producers on the show and clearly brought their own, distinct shine to the series.
"It seems the early 80s really were the heyday for truly original and innovative animation"
Similarly, fans won’t fail to notice that the show shares a lot of similarities with Dungeons & Dragons, with both shows having a similar look and feel, and both having very similar soundtracks too. Again not that surprising when you consider both shows had the same composer, the extremely talented Johhny Douglas. It won’t come as much of a shock either to learn they were both Marvel productions and were only separated by a year, with Dungeons & Dragons airing in ’83. It seems the early 80s really were the heyday for truly original and innovative animation.
It’s fair to say that this series is one of Marvel’s finer efforts, and one that really stands out in a much loved and highly valued back catalogue. Fans, especially those who grew up watching it, will love it, while younger fans would certainly do themselves no harm by treating themselves to one of the finest animated series ever created. It really is that good. And with Stan Lee introducing and narrating each episode, this really is a special show. As always, the constant gripe of no extras or special features is to be lamented, and this release should really lose points for not having them. That being said, with 13 episodes of quality animation, truly enthralling entertainment and, let’s say it, damn good fun, any such extras won’t be too sorely missed. Overall, this box set is a worthwhile buy and will prove a very welcome addition to any DVD collection. If you like the Hulk, then you’re gonna love this. Enjoy.
TITLE: The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Series (1982)
DURATION: 5 hours 6 mins
The Incredible Hulk 1982 Complete Season is released today.
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