Throwback Thursday: The Incredible Hulk Animated Series

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For the month of March, here at ComicBook.com, we are presenting March (Animated Marvel) Madness. For the past few weeks we dove into  Iron Man: The Animated Series, then covered the other half of the Marvel Action Hour with a look at Fantastic Four: The Animated Series. Today, we're covering the last piece of the triad when we take a look at The Incredible Hulk

Much like Iron Man and Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk had similar aesthetics, but almost in reverse. It had two seasons, but a few episodes shorter than the aforementioned shows, and while FF and Iron Man took on a "darker" and serious tone, the second season of The Incredible Hulk was taken down a notch after being considered "too dark". Check out the intros to see what I mean. 

That's the first season. Wow. The heavy, deep drum beat with just the chanting of "HULK!" evokes the carnal rage that Banner is going through as well as the torment he's living trying to restrain that side of him. The intro goes through the character's history as well and in the style at the time, showed off his rogue's gallery. 

By the time we get to the second season though, it's not just about Hulk anymore, but She-Hulk has been added as the show's co-star. Also note that the intro has been primarily changed to footage from the show itself, with the theme made less epic and almost tamer. Structurally the show was different, too. General Ross, who was a main threat in the first season, was hospitalized and taken out of the story for the most part. Betty Ross herself no longer has an active role and only shown in flashbacks and Bruce's forlorn memories. The show was primarily now with Hulk and She-Hulk fighting guys like Wendigo and the Gargoyle.

One of the best things about the Hulk series was that he also had cameos from characters that weren't shown across the board. Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider (voiced by model/actor Richard Grieco) show up briefly after making appearances in other shows, as Marvel was looking to launch a Ghost Rider series at the time. Both the Ghost Rider and Doctor Strange-centric episodes are considered the darkest of each season, even given the second season's much lighter tone. I mean even the Leader gets beaten by a bunch of swimsuit-clad female scientists. 

So what exactly happened? Well at the request of network UPN, they wanted to try and push more toys and keep it as kid-friendly as possible. Which is probably why the Ghost Rider series never saw anything but a pilot and an action figure line. I guess it's difficult to push a flaming spirit of vengeance on kids 8-12. Season two's big arc was Grey Hulk versus Green Hulk and the winner gets Banner's brain. Guess who won. 

Speaking of toys, just like Iron Man and Fantastic Four, it had a toyline as well which gave us the first Grey Hulk/Mr. Fix It figure. The line also included characters like Doc Samson (who was barely in season 2), She-Hulk, Maestro, and a Banner/Hulk two-pack. 

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When talking about the Marvel cartoons of the 90's, The Incredible Hulk doesn't get far as many mentions as X-Men, Spider-Man, or even Iron Man, even though it had the same formula when it was being made. 

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Then again, I guess it's still an upgrade from the 1982 series. 

So, readers, out of the animated series talked about so far, which is your favorite? Did you have any of the toys as well? Sound off in the comments!