There’s something logic about the choice of making this the next Marvel Knights animation project, but at the same time something very illogical as well. Unlike the previous two entries in the Marvel Knights animation line Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk is set in a different world with a story that is connected to other events that you’ll either know or won’t. It’s also the only story to have a huge delay between issues when originally published. While I know that the rest of the series sold quite well when it did return, I did not partake in it. I have a policy that any book that’s published by a corporation that has huge delays are not something that I spend money on. With that said I was curious to see how the story turned out without supporting a late book. I’m going to talk about the story briefly, but any criticism really belongs to the comic and not the animation since it’s just an adaptation of the original material. The first two chapters/issues are great. To be frank they’re why everyone bought the comic to begin with and you can’t deny the quality. It’s just everything after it that becomes a mess of story and to be honest felt slapped together. Not only where there far too many pop culture references that were no longer relevant, but Lindelof manages to make a mess of everything Hulk related at the drop of a hat. The story captures none of the charm of the Ultimate line and instead delivers a stereotypical berserker Wolverine and a comical Hulk.
The overall production on the animation was actually very good and seems to improve with each animation. Yu’s artwork may not have been the best choice for an animation, but the Marvel Knights team makes it work. Yu is notorious for mis-proportions in comics and while that stylization works for the printed page, it doesn’t for animation. Overall though I would say that the animation was successful and especially when you consider how stylized the source material was. I can only imagine how much work must have gone into the production.
There were a couple of things that about the voice acting and narration that didn’t work out. Any caption box that gave a time direction, such as “six months ago” was terribly out-of-place. It could have just been the fact that there was no other sound to accompany the voice over, but even then I think it would have just sounded off. Really the caption from the comic should have been dropped and a newly animated caption blasted across the screen with no voice over. That’s a device that works in the comics, but did not translate to the screen in any way shape or form.
Then there’s the voice acting in general… it was unfortunately not great this time around. It’s not bad and by no means does it stop the product from being good or enjoyable, but it struggles at times. Jen Walters in particular struggled. I couldn’t tell if her character was supposed to be snarky or funny because the character came off annoying due to the voice acting. Also Hulk, true Hulk, was over the top. I can’t even think of a comparison. I wouldn’t say that it was Christian Bale Batman bad, but it was definitely in the same ballpark. It was like Grimlock and another Hulk had a baby and this was that baby. Really after the first encounter with each character you stop noticing it, but the point is that you do notice it.
I wouldn’t say that this Marvel Knight’s animation was as strong at the last two they produced in terms of story and voice acting, but there’s a definite improvement in the quality of the animation. I think it boils down to this story not being the best pick, but if like me you never finished reading it then there is some solid entertainment value to be had. I’m digging this franchise so I’ll be looking forward to what they do next, but in the meantime this was a solid effort at providing some entertainment.
Writer: Damon Lindelof Artist: Leinil Francis Yu, Dave McCaig Publisher: Marvel Knights and Shout Factory Price: $14.97 Release Date: 9/10/13