Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: From Page to Screen
Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: From Page to Screen by Jerry Whitworth
Announced at New York Comic-Con 2011, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is a new animated series for Disney XD slated for early 2013. Details are scarce, but S.M.A.S.H. is likely some sort of mash-up between the Gamma Corps (in that it’s a government funded program using gamma-irradiated soldiers) and an agency like S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., H.A.M.M.E.R., or A.R.M.O.R. All we know for sure is that Paul Dini will be involved in the writing for the show and who the show will star based on its promotional image. Lets examine what characters have been confirmed.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962 as a modern day Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde or Frankenstein and his monster, Bruce Banner was the world’s leading expert on gamma radiation who was developing a bomb employing the potent material only to be exposed to it turning into a hulking monster. Bruce’s story began with his father, physicist Brian Banner. Working on a government project to develop clean nuclear energy, Brian became an alcoholic and was involved in an explosion he suspected altered him at a genetic level. This explosion costing him his job, Brian continued to abuse his wife and when she gave him a son, he spread his abuse to him as well. Believing Bruce inherited his altered genetics, Brian isolated the child only to discover he seemed to have developed some enhanced intelligence, which drove the abuse that much more severely. When Brian’s wife tried to leave him with Bruce, Brian killed her in front of his son. The father would be institutionalized for fifteen years before being released to Bruce’s custody, where the pair would eventually fight over the grave of Bruce’s mother and in a fit of rage, Brian is killed. It’s this relationship that led to Bruce’s multiple personalities physically unlocked by the circumstances that turned him into the Hulk (with the genetic manipulation to his DNA likely the reason he even survived the gamma explosion), where the memory of Brian Banner would surface in Bruce’s subconscious into entities like Devil Hulk and Guilt Hulk (Brian would eventually be resurrected taking a form combining elements of the Devil and Guilt Hulks).
The Hulk came into being when during a test of Bruce’s gamma bomb, the scientist discovers someone in the blast range as the detonation was at a stage that couldn’t be reversed. Rushing to his aid, Banner manages to save the youth by pushing him into a ditch only to catch the explosion and becoming irradiated in gamma energy. At first, this developed into a malevolent Hulk that would arise at night and wantonly sow destruction. However, the Hulk shortly evolved into a savage, childlike entity that was easily angered but was capable of performing heroic deeds when the need arose with this change in Banner evolving from a nocturnal release to whenever he became angry. An organization known as the Hulkbusters was instituted to bring the Hulk into captivity led by Banner’s former government benefactor General “Thunderbolt” Ross (whose daughter Betty was involved with Bruce) with Major Glenn Talbot. The Hulk would become one of Marvel Comics’ most storied characters, being a founding member of the Avengers and Defenders, joined Agamemnon’s Pantheon, and when the Hulk and Banner were separated into two bodies, Bruce would take over the Hulkbusters. The Hulk emerged in various forms, including the Savage Hulk, Joe Fixit, Mindless Hulk, Professor Hulk (which was Banner in control of the Hulk), Devil Hulk, Guilt Hulk, and Green Scar. His adventures brought many foes against him, including the Leader, Abomination, the U-Foes, Red King, Sandman, Zzzax, Bi-Beast, Tyrannus, Ravage, Psyklop, Metal Master, Missing Link, Absorbing Man, Rhino, and Juggernaut.
Rick Jones was a troubled youth, orphaned at a young age, who on a dare ventured on to a bomb testing site. Jones’ fate would change that day when Bruce Banner saved his life as the scientist’s gamma bomb detonated, transforming Banner into the Hulk. Jones would be his constant companion, guilty for condemning Banner’s life as a hunted man with a monster that surfaced every time he became angry. When the Hulk joined the Avengers, Jones found a home with the group, later taking on Captain America as a mentor (at one point, Rick taking on the identity of Bucky, Cap’s World War II sidekick). This largely began a career as a sidekick, becoming a companion to Captain Mar-Vell, Rom: Spaceknight, and Mar-Vell’s son Genis. Rick would pen a memoir about his adventures called Sidekick, marry Marlo Chandler, ex-girlfriend of Mr. Fixit, and sponsored the superhero group Excelsior (later called the Loners), which came from a support group for young heroes. Rick and Marlo would later be kidnapped and experimented upon. Captured by the Leader, Marlo was transformed into the Harpy (Betty Ross was earlier turned into the Harpy by MODOK) and, using the blood of the dead Abomination, Rick was turned into a variation called A-Bomb by Intelligencia (under orders of the Leader and MODOK) to be used as a weapon against the Hulk. However, the Harpy and A-Bomb became the Hulk’s allies (able to change between their forms at will).
She-Hulk was created by Stan Lee (with John Buscema) as his last creation for Marvel for some time when he went to focus on areas beyond comic writing. When it was suggested to introduce a female Hulk in the character’s live action television series, Marvel wanted to preempt them in order to maintain the rights (something not unlike the creation of Batgirl). This character was Jennifer Walters, a criminal defense lawyer and Bruce Banner’s paternal cousin who was his best friend growing up and largely the only lifeline for the personal Hell Brian Banner created for his son. Jen’s father was a county sheriff for Los Angeles that drew the ire of crime boss Nicholas Trask who targeted Jen, shooting and nearly killing her. Fortunately, Bruce happened to be passing through and donated his blood to her in a transfusion. The anger of what happened to her and Bruce’s blood transformed Jen into a She-Hulk, whose strength was not as incredible as the Hulk but she maintained her intelligence and memories (likely due to lacking the trauma Bruce experienced as a youth). Another difference was that Jen chose to remain in her She-Hulk form: Jen was a shy introvert who was happy to be powerful and beautiful, brimming with self-confidence and a newfound love for adventure. She-Hulk went on to become a member of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, later forming the second incarnation of the Lady Liberators to uncover the identity of the Red Hulk. Two other She-Hulks have emerged. One is from an alternate future where the Hulk and Thundra had a daughter named Lyra (and who now attends Avengers Academy). The second is the Red She-Hulk, a resurrected Betty Ross raised by the Leader and MODOK and brainwashed by Doc Samson to kill her father, now the Red Hulk.
Lifelong military man Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross became a general in the United States Air Force where he met meek scientist Bruce Banner as part of a project to develop a gamma bomb. Observing Banner as a weakling, Ross became infuriated when his daughter Betty became romantically interested in him. When Banner was involved in the test of the gamma bomb becoming the Hulk, Ross headed up an organization called the Hulkbusters to apprehend and contain the perceived threat. Ross devoted years chasing the Hulk (generally unsuccessfully), his once storied career hopelessly destroyed in his failure, he would even resort to teaming with the Hulk’s vile menagerie of enemies before finally being dishonorably discharged. When Banner and Betty finally got together to marry, Ross showed up with a gun to stop it (shooting Rick Jones in the process). Ross would later die a hero saving his daughter but would be resurrected by the Leader and alternate from being an ally to enemy of the Hulk. When the Hulk and Warbound invaded Earth, Ross was once again a general and led a battle against the alien forces. Eventually, Ross would be subjected to a super-soldier experiment headed by Doc Samson, Intelligencia, and MODOK transforming him into the Red Hulk. Despite creating a lot of mayhem initially (killing the Abomination and Wendigo and destroying the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier), Red Hulk would eventually join the Avengers after he was taken down by the Hulk (with Banner in control) and Banner learned his identity.
The son of Green Scar Hulk and Caiera the Oldstrong and brother of Hiro-Kala, Skaar emerged on Sakaar from a cocoon following the demise of his mother and departure of his father (who led the Warbound to conquer Earth). Becoming a notorious warrior on Sakaar, Skaar was able to communicate with his mother, Caiera, who passed down the Old Power to Skaar as a rising hero until he proved to be driven by a bloodlust. Able to summon the Silver Surfer, Caiera had the cosmic being remove the Old Power from her son and tell of the coming of Galactus. Promising to employ the Old Power to help his people escape Sakaar, Skaar regained his mother’s powers but instead doomed his people by destroying their space-faring vessels in a bid to instead negotiate with Galactus (so that his mother could live on as part of the world). However, Caiera reclaimed her power and exiled Skaar from the planet, awaiting Galactus to consume Sakaar.
Arriving on Earth, Skaar sought revenge against Green Scar Hulk for abandoning Sakaar and battled the Fantastic Four and Warbound before finally meeting his father in battle, unfortunately it was the Savage Hulk persona and Skaar would abandon the conflict to await the return of the personality that became Sakaar’s supposed savior. When Bruce Banner lost the ability to transform himself due to the Red Hulk, he became a mentor to his son under the promise of teaching him how to kill the persona he sought. To train him, Skaar performed several “tests” arranged by Banner and would later join the Avengers until finally father and son met, battled, and reconciled. The youth would operate as a double agent in Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers and would accompany Luke Cage as he assumed leadership of the villainous group of doppelgangers.