As I previously wrote, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk converts the six-issue comic miniseries by Damon Lindelof and Leinil Francis Yu to six 10-minute-ish “motion comic” chapters. It goes on sale tomorrow, September 10.
The level of animation is lighter than I remembered from previous releases. For example, lips are made to move for dialogue, but eyes never blink, and nothing else on the page/screen moves. Movement looks like someone’s dragging paper cutouts around, or it’s done by moving the camera instead of the images. I found the effect amateurish, as though they were trying to turn out comics for people who don’t want to read text. Yu’s art isn’t very well-suited to being animated, it seems, since it’s focused on the eye-catching image instead of story flow.
The story opening is gross, with Hulk ripping Wolverine in half — only there’s no action or movement, just the image of Hulk holding two Wolverine halves. It sets up an expectation that requires a lot of patience to fulfill, since much of the first chapter is Nick Fury (Dean Redman) telling Wolverine (who’s voiced by Brian Drummond in a whispery growl that doesn’t live up to movie versions) to find and kill the Hulk. Various references reminded me that this was from the “edgier” Ultimate universe, most notably that they tried to execute Bruce Banner because the Hulk killed over 800 people, but I’m not sure they’ll mean anything to anyone just wanting to watch two anti-heroes fight.
The flashback structure is annoying, since we don’t get to see the actual showdown, alluded to in the first moments, until halfway through the whole thing. Since I wasn’t enjoying the journey, the chronological jumps struck me as a cheap way to try and liven up a boring story (and reuse footage). For what’s billed as a big battle, there’s a lot of talking, not many exciting visuals. At one point, the narration even makes fun of the structure, referring to another flashback as a way to “explain things better”.
It’s also annoying that they insist on reading the “one month later” and similar captions to the viewer. And that we don’t see Banner change to the Hulk or vice versa. (Another shortcut.) I haven’t even gotten to the sexism, with the Hulk off in some mountain hideway draped in bikini-wearing babes, and too many scenes of the female scientist flashing her bra, and the ball-busting Betty Ross (Heather Doerksen) blamed for the Hulk’s murders because she dumped him.
The only extra is a seven-minute “look back” which features supervising producer Kalia Cheng explaining the project to us and a little bit with Leinil Francis Yu. It’s very puffy and lightweight; at one point, they explain the comic creation process, with a writer handing off to an artist. The producer and artist both say something about this being Lindelof’s only comic work, which ignores the three stories (Action Comics #900, Time Warp #1, Legends of the Dark Knight digital) he did for DC. (The studio provided a review copy.)