“GRAAAAA!” A Review of ‘World War Hulk’ and Its Various Tie-ins (Part 2)
I think Hulk wants to get the introductions out of the way. He's had a prologue and a comic with hardly any Hulk in it at all. He's ready to yell "GRAAAAA!" and punch Iron Man in the face. But then again, aren't we all?
While I'm still lagging a bit behind, today we get to the meat of the story, World War Hulk #1. Throw in the main Hulk book and a crossover and you get part two of my series of reviews of World War Hulk in its entirety:
WORLD WAR HULK #1
Let the smashing begin!
Actually, World War Hulk (WWH) #1 starts off with a little bit of backstory. Basically, everything that has happened to the Hulk in the last year is retold in two pages. The brevity is welcome. I find that recently, with a lot of weeklies, I can hardly make it past the initial word balloonery, growing bored by the fifth panel of exposition and eventually putting down what I'm reading. But not so with WWH #1. Eleven panels and ninety-three words let you know what you need to know. And after those two pages?
The Hulk punches an asteroid and makes it explode. Seriously. While that may be enough for most people, what follows is awesome in it's scope and brutality. Greg Pak proves here that he has the chops to pull a story like this off. Everything is big. There are buildings destroyed, cities evacuated and epic battles between heroes. Hulk fights half of the Illuminati in this issue and probably causes more collateral damage than I've ever seen in a 42-page book. It's in the huge moments that John Romita Jr.'s art takes center stage. The story moves from outer space to the moon to cities to New York to space again and it's all rendered with a sense of scale that many artists attempt, but few achieve. Also, if you've been itching to see Iron Man get a beat-down since the end of Civil War, look no further. I believe the Hulk even attempts to throw a cradle piledriver at one point. Amazing. World War Hulk #1 is easily the most satisfying mainstream superhero comic I've read in a long time and is sure to send Seacord over the edge if he ever gets his hands on it.
INCREDIBLE HULK #107
It's hard to believe the same writer wrote both of these issues. The approach in the WWH issues of Incredible Hulk is so completely different than in the mini. Instead of focusing on the overall events (Hulk smashing, things exploding), Hulk #107 focuses on a small band of humans who want to help the Hulk in various ways. Some want to stop him from doing something he might regret. Others (including Goliath's nephew) just want to see him destroy Iron Man. By telling smaller stories that run parallel to the huge events in this crossover, Pak makes Hulk's return to earth loom that much larger. In the same sense, where John Romita's art tells the story through big summer action movie set pieces, Gary Frank's art is more personal. Even as the Hulk destroys New York, most of the storytelling remains at ground level. I'm still not sure where it's going, but for now Hulk's own relatively Hulk-less title holds my attention.
HEROES FOR HIRE #11
Well, that was the least World War Hulk-y thing I've read all day. Really. And I've been reading old Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. At least those guys are green! Not that this comic is particularly bad, it's actually a kind of fun story about the Brood from Hulk's "warbound" (crew) infesting NYC with Brood babies. Fair enough. The art's pretty good as well. Clay Mann has a good style for Marvel, floating somewhere between the Luna Bros and Alex Maleev. But Marvel's branding of this as a World War Hulk tie-in is just kind of low down.
In part three I'll check out Ghost Rider #12, Iron Man #19, WWH: X-Men #1 and WWH: Front Line #1.