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Incredible Hulk #57

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2003
By: David Kozlowski



"Hide in Plain Sight (part 3)"

Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Leandro Fernandez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Synopsis:
Carl Creel, the Absorbing Man, is locked away in a high-security research facility. But his mind is free to invade those around him. Creel has even found his way into the Hulk's subconscious and is wreaking havoc through him. Yet Creel remains imprisoned, even though he could use his mind-control to escape. Creel is keeping Bruce Banner on the run, forcing him to remain in Hulk form - though we don't yet know why.

Comments:
I gave up on writer Bruce Jones's last mega-opus-storyline six, maybe seven issues in. I had just lost interest. Jones is a television writer and he was spinning his tale like a 26-episode season. Difference is that one comic, about twenty minutes a month of reading, is the equivalent of four hours of episodic television - and Jones wasn't dealing that much story to make up for the gap. Yet, when artist Leandro Fernandez (Queen & Country) assumed art duties I was intrigued enough to try again.

Following on the heels of Ang Lee's Hulk movie Bruce Jones has brought back veteran adversary The Absorbing Man, but this is not the Nick Nolte version. Here the Absorbing Man is Carl Creel, held captive in a private research facility - we are told that he is a very bad man, but get very little insight into either how or why Creel was captured. But the fiendishly inventive Creel has found a way to take over the minds of anyone, anywhere at anytime, thus marks another failure for our criminal justice system. Jones has not yet explained how Creel is overpowering people's minds, but he apparently can share their intellect, which would make robbing banks or obtaining free coffee at Starbucks relatively easy. However, Creel simply jumps from host to host and causing mayhem just for the perverse joy of it. Even though he could easily use this power to escape his bonds Creel has stayed put.

I'm OK with Jones's premise, but it would help to get a little more background on Creel and his past relationship with the Hulk. I, like many new readers, need to be sold on the difference between Bruce Jones's Hulk and Ang Lee's - picking up this comic after seeing the movie would leave most folks scratching their heads.

Leandro Fernandez is a peculiar artist. He is a combination of Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) and Humberto Ramos (Spectacular Spider-Man). His storytelling is heavy on the black with a lot of emphasis on facial expression. Sure, his characters are extreme, but his Hulk, when we actually see him, is exceptional. Leandro can handle action scenes very well and he has a good sense of pacing. He can also convey a look of madness in character's faces better than anyone else I can recall.

Final Word:
My biggest issue with Bruce Jones's Incredible Hulk run is that he treats the Hulk like a plot device or a punch line. The Hulk has been deployed only once or twice in these last three issues and even then he's always under the control of Creel, which makes him a pretty passive protagonist. Meanwhile Bruce Banner is constantly on the run, reacting to the world around him, rather than making proactive decisions. Right now this is Carl Creel's book. Next issue had better see Hulk/Banner on the offensive or I might be checking out once again.



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