My dad and I have long been avid Hulkies. As I’ve written about previously, The Incredible Hulk comic books were a continuing point of connection for us during my childhood. He used to surprise me by buying me issues of the comic back then — and now that I’m an adult, the tables have turned and I find myself (now an avid collector) sharing the issues I love with him.
I think if I had to guess why I liked the Hulk so much as a kid it was because he was an outsider. I had sympathy for the way he was hunted down for being different. People assumed he was a monster because of how he looked. All these things led me to stop and think as a child about how people treat one another and the dangers of jumping to conclusions based on outward appearance alone. Of course as a kid, I wasn’t thinking in those kinds of analytical terms, but — I felt for the Hulk. The simple stories of a man trapped within a monster’s body really stuck with me.
Having had this Hulk connection with my own dad, you can imagine I was excited to hear that Marvel was starting a “Share Your Universe” campaign to encourage dads like me to share my love of comics and the lessons I’ve learned from them with my own kids. The folks at Marvel have made it really easy to do by launching an all-new line of kid-friendly comics, along with three new television series: Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man and, premiering this Sunday, August 11, Marvel’s Hulk and The Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Funny thing was my daughter heard about the television series Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. even before I did because she’s an avid Disney XD fan. We were lucky enough to have the chance to see the premiere episode (and invite a number of friends to watch with us!) The show has something for everyone — from the action you would expect in a Super Hero show, to the humorous bits that had us all laughing, to the moments of concern when things weren’t going our hero’s way. For dads like me who grew up on the Hulk there were plenty of “Easter eggs” thrown in, too, like Smilin’ Stan’s Used Cars (an homage to creator Stan Lee) with Stan’s trademark “Excelsior!” coming from the lot’s speakers in the background. Or Hulk’s familiar proclamations during battle like “Hulk SMASH!” and “I’m the strongest one there is!” For me, the show offered plenty of throwbacks to my lifelong fascination with Hulk.
What I really appreciated were the strong family connections in the show. I know, you’re thinking, “Really? In a superhero show?” But that’s one of the hallmark’s of Marvel’s long standing success. Although Marvel features superheroes, at the heart are stories about real life. Spider-Man has always been that teenager struggling to figure out who he is, the Avengers a group of people learning how to work with each other despite the fact that they all are different people with different gifts, and Hulk has always been that guy who doesn’t quite fit in. The cool thing is, now they’ve given Hulk a family.
As a father, it’s important to me to find things I can do with my kids, that connect me to them in a way that’s relevant and valuable at the same time. I’m always looking for common interests and things to talk about. So something like Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and the entire Share Your Universe line of comics and TV shows is a great opportunity to do exactly that – to not only share something with your kids you actually enjoy and make them a part of it, but also to share some life lessons along the way.