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Hulk: Gray #1

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2003
By: Tim Hartnett



Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale

Publisher: Marvel/MK

Hulk: Gray is the essence of "too little for too much." If you're going to tell a predictable story for only 22 pages at $3.50, the execution better be Claremontian. Unfortunately, Loeb's script comes off as average.

I had not yet arrived back in comics when the "color" books first started (Spider-Man: Blue and Daredevil: Yellow), so I really don't know what the point is, other than a quick cash-in for Marvel. It seems to be, from reading the first issue of Hulk: Gray, an extremely slow-paced retelling of Hulk's origin and early years in the Jeph Loeb manner. That means lots of overdramatic captions which are more funny than effective and a script which uses few words to tell a lot of content.

The story begins with Bruce Banner visiting a psychologist, who attempts, as all psychologists do, to set Mr. Banner's mind right. To make a longer story shorter, Banner ends up in flashbacks from the time he was struck with the "gamma bomb" to his first bout with the military. It's all stuff we've seen before, and Loeb makes it too dark, too slow and too uninteresting to make me come back for #2.

Tim Sale's artwork is 50/50 for me. Half his panels are clever bouts of realism, others are ridiculously cartoonish. In addition, the pens he uses for inking seem to shift, as faces possess more heavier lines in the start to more "Klaus Janson"-like lines toward the end. Matt Hollingsworth saves the art in this book with his very detailed coloring of the Hulk, and simple coloring elsewhere. Sale's work would look awful if over-colored.

It's not horrible (especially compared to Loeb's Superman/Batman) but I don't see the need to spend 64% more money for a predictable retelling of the Hulk story in the Jeph Loeb manner, which means six issues to tell ten minutes worth of an overdramatic, dark derivative.



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