Marvel Knights- Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk
Shout Factory // Unrated // $14.97 // September 10, 2013
Review by Nick Hartel | posted September 30, 2013
Highly Recommended
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Despite running a scant six issues, "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" was released over the course of nearly four full years. The brainchild of writer Damon Lindelof and artist Leinil Francis Yu, "Ultimate Wolverine" served as a side story between two issues of both Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates. Like a few other noteworthy titles of the modern-era, namely those with big names attached to the writing credit, in this case one of the co-writers of LOST and the mind behind "Prometheus" and the "Star Trek" reboots, Marvel has seen fit to adapt the flat image to the small screen in the form of yet another Marvel Knights motion comic. Every once in a while, one of these translations works far better than expected and despite the inherent annoyances in the presentation, "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" is one of these exceptions, a refreshing change of pace after the incredibly dismal "Wolverine: Origin."

Beginning in media res, "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" is devoid of social commentary and introspection, instead offering viewers a classic tale of two titans of the printed page. When we meet up with Wolverine this time out, he's been torn in two, literally (and I mean in the classic sense, not the idiotically redefined Google sense of the word) by a naturally pissed off Hulk. Whetting out appetites from the get go, Lindelof is then given free reign to tell a relatively straightforward story through the use of flashbacks and shifting time frames. To make a long story short, it all begins officially with Nick Fury enlisting Wolverine to kill what the Hulk who he deems a threat to society, too dangerous to be allowed to go unchecked. Toss in a mystic journey to the mountains of Tibet, generally clever usages of time shifting and the noteworthy debut of the Ultimate version of She-Hulk and you have an unremarkable but enjoyable "versus" tale at your disposal.

As is the case with every Marvel Knights feature to date, "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" is broken into six segments representing the six printed issues of the series; now I don't fault the creators for wanting that natural breakpoint, but someone at Marvel really needs to kill the incessant opening and closing credits for each of the six segments, as its damn disingenuous to viewers to promise 66-minutes of action when the true runtime is probably in the 54-minute ballpark. To make matters worse, the three to four minute breaks between episodes (that's if you don't hit skip as I did after the second episode) is a bit of a momentum killer. That aside, the motion comic translation is the only other negative feather in this feature's cap. Sometimes an art style is well-suited for the motion comic translation, other time's its not; in this case, the art style looks like it would work, but for reasons unknown, the overall level of animation is far more subtle than usual, with only really "big" story moments getting some level of visual life added to them.

What works best in "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" isn't so much the by-the-numbers story Lindelof has reworked into an engaging narrative via the already mentioned flashbacks; no, it's the voice acting, which has always been hit or miss in titles past, but here we get an actor who gets the gruff gravitas of Logan and the out-of-control brilliance of this particular incarnation of the Hulk. The support cast does admirable work as well, with a thankless role going to the man filling the shoes normally associated with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. That said, some of Lindelof's more clunky and cloying attempts at pop-culture relevance fall flat no matter who is being asked to spew it, and truth be told, Lindelof does struggle with the more calm moments involving the Hulk, but these are all generally minor things that don't detract much, if at all from a very entertaining, lean motion comic offering.


The Video

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer captures the animation reasonably enough and accurately compared to the source material, capturing the essence of an Ultimate title quite well. Likely a result of the motion comic process, there aren't a lot of smooth lines to be found, although as in previous titles, compression artifacts weren't as noticeable here..

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track is much better than a lot of the Marvel Knights offerings I've reviewed, with the stellar voice work a tad too aggressively mixed over effects and score, but aside from that, it's an ear pleasing experience.

The Extras

An interview segment pertaining to the original comic series is the lone extra.

Final Thoughts

While "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" may be not be A-level Marvel quality, the story itself is well-structured to hide the lean plot and highlight the sparse action. Kudos goes to the casting department on this successful motion comic adaptation, for nailing some very iconic voices in a production unlikely to be noticed by many big fans, let alone the general public. Highly Recommended.

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