The six-issue miniseries Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk by writer Damon Lindelof and artist Leinil Francis Yu has been given the motion-comic treatment under the Marvel Knights Animation banner. Although very familiar with the characters and stories of Marvel Comics from the 1960s to the early ‘80s, I couldn't tell you what's been going on since. This is my second encounter with the Ultimate Marvel Universe and the first with these versions of the titular characters.
Suffice it to say, I was a little more than surprised when the first episode opened to reveal Wolverine literally ripped apart in two. His upper torso strewn across a snowy mountain; his lower half calculated to be four miles above him thanks to the Hulk. Now I know one of his mutant abilities is a fast-acting healing factor, but to believe his body could fuse back together once the pieces are united after crawling that distance with just his arms and not bleeding out is too much to accept.
The story is presented in a non-linear chronology, and the main reason for that seems to be so Lindelof can tell meta-jokes. Wolverine meets with Nick Fury and accepts an unofficial S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment to kill the Hulk, who was supposed to have been executed after being tried and convicted for the murder of 815 people. Naturally, the Hulk survived the execution and is somewhere on the loose. The reason for the deadly rampage was because Betty Ross cheated on him, revealing this series to be more adult and more of a soap opera than I was used to seeing with these characters.
After surviving the execution, Bruce Banner went on the run in the hopes of controlling his anger over losing Betty yet he always fails, causing him to move to a new location. Wolverine finally finds the Hulk in Tibet, surrounded by scantily clad women and suggestions of what he does with them. Considering Hulk's size and theirs, the insinuation appears impossible.
By this point in the proceedings, I am wondering if this is a parody because if this whole thing isn’t intended to be funny, it's quite a mess, especially after we see Wolverine suffer something even worse than having his body ripped in two, and yes there is something. After their battle, which includes the arrival of She-Hulk, who either fights the Hulk or screws him, and a nuclear bomb, which seems pointless since it didn't work before, the story gets even more convoluted. Then it comes to an abrupt, anti-climactic end with Fury talking to the two heroes before walking away.
Yu's art looks great, even in scenes where the story may lose you. This disc definitely has me interested in seeking out more of his work. The DVD includes the bonus feature, "A Look Back at Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" (7 min) featuring interviews with Kalia Cheng and Yu talking about the series. It would have been nice if the play-all episode didn’t show opening and closing credits for every episode
If Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk is intended as a comedy, there's enough that works to recommend it for Marvel Comics fans. Some favorite bits include the way Logan attempts to start the story in the right spot in Part 3, and Banner using the alias "Bixby". If this was intended to be serious with moments of humor, skip it. Aside from the aforementioned oddities, the biggest issue is Lindelof changed the essence of Wolverine's character so much he's no longer a heroic figure. By giving him magical healing powers instead of science-based abilities, the threat of death and sacrifice are gone, taking away with it the stakes of the story and any empathy for the character. Also, It's not clear why a couple of characters have to be into Star Wars. Bruce referring to Yoda is okay, but to have Dr. Jessica Walter spending $10,000 for a bootleg of new Star Wars movie a month before release is just dumb and make me not trust the writer.