Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Lee Weeks (p), Tom Palmer (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with the forces outside preparing themselves to face the Hulk, and we see the reason why they were so eager for Banner to change is because they wanted to see how their new prototype weapon would fair against a rampaging Hulk. However, we see the Hulk is able to keep out of this weapon's sights for long enough that he does an ungodly amount of damage, as we see him take out a squadron of police cars & topple an entire office building. When the weapon does strike him though we see that after a few moments the Hulk drops unconscious to the street. We then see Banner's body is pumped full of depressants to keep him from becoming the Hulk when he wakes up, and his unconscious body is loaded into the back of a jeep. However, Officer Sally Riker witnessed the rather ruthless behavior of the FBI agent who loaded Banner into the back of his vehicle and she sets out after the man, as she's figured out that it's very unlikely that the FBI would act the way this group did. As the book ends, we see Banner is awake, but his questions about where he's being taken go answered.
We finally get to see the weapon that is capable of taking down the Hulk in action, and I must say that it's a bit disappointing. I mean I knew a gun that small wouldn't produce a massive energy blast, but it would've been nice to see more of a visual display after the weapon made contact with the Hulk, as the way it played out all we see is the Hulk fall unconscious after being hit by the beam this gun generates. There's also something a bit disconcerting about the idea that an effective weapon like this is now kicking around in the Marvel Universe, as even if Banner’s mysterious pursuers don't share this technology with anyone else, now that they know this weapon works, the Hulk is pretty ineffectual against this group, as they can take him down with such ease that the mighty Hulk becomes a paper tiger. Now I can see the Hulk's body adjusting to this weapon, so that he would eventually become immune to its effects, but right now I can't say I'm a fan of this weapon, as its effect on the Hulk dull from a visual standpoint, and it makes the Hulk too easy to take down when he's unleashed upon his enemies.
For the fans who have been taking issue with Bruce Jones not using the Hulk, this issue should serve to placate this group, as half this issue is devoted to delivered a full-out Hulk rampage, that has the enraged monster tossing cars around like frisbees, and in an awesome display of raw power, we see him topple an entire building. Now given the pretense for this latest hunt for the Hulk was his role in the death of a single child, it's going to be a bit difficult for Bruce Jones to ask the reader to view the Hulk as an innocent victim who has been framed for a murder that was created solely to give this group reason to go after him. I mean there's police inside those cars being consumed by the explosion the Hulk sets off, and there was likely to be cleaning & security crews inside the building the Hulk knocks over. Then again the Hulk has been pulling off rampages like this for years and yet this mysterious group felt the need to frame him for a death that was supposed staged, so perhaps one is just supposed to toss logic out the window & accept that no one ever gets killed when the Hulk rampages through a populated city.
The Hulk's rampage is easily the highlight of this issue, as we see Lee Weeks cut loose with an over-the top display of the Hulk in action. Now the more critical fan in me feels that the Hulk's a bit too immense, as there are panels where he looks like he could give Giant Man a run for his money, but frankly it difficult to get overly worked up by this detail, when we get amazing panels of the Hulk in full rampage mode. I mean take the one-page shot of the Hulk's rain of police cars, or the page where we see the office building toppling over on it's side. The sequence where Pratt stands down the advancing Hulk was also a great bit of work, as Lee Weeks does a great job showing the man's various mood changes as the Hulk gets closer & closer. There's also a wonderfully chilling moment where Pratt guns down a man in cold blood, and an equally strong following page where we see Lieutenant Riker react to this action. There's also a nice scene later in the issue decides to head out after Pratt. The cover to this issue also does an impressive job capturing one's attention.
This issue does a pretty nice job reaffirming my newly found belief that Bruce Jones writes a far better story when the Hulk remains a largely unseen presence. On one hand it is nice to see the Hulk unleashed on this small town, and there's some impressive moments in this conflict that nicely present the idea that the Hulk is a regular engine of destruction. However, this rampage also acts to play against the idea established in the previous issues. I mean it's hard to view Banner as being unjustly hunted by this mysterious group, as one only has to look at the damage the Hulk managed to generate, and the idea of his capture doesn't seem quite so unjust. Still, the book also manages to hint that this group's motives for wanting to capture the Hulk aren't exactly altruistic, and that Banner is a greater danger to the world as a prisoner of this group, then he is as a free man. Still, this issue wasn't as intriguing as the earlier issues, but I imagine next issue will hold up better, as Banner is currently unable to turn into the Hulk.
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