Incredible Hulk #106
ďWarbound: Part 1Ē
Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal (i), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker
Writers: Peter David, Greg Pak
Artists: Al Rio, Lee Weeks, Sean Phillips, Takeshi Miyazawa (p), Scott Hanna, Lee Weeks, Tom Palmer (i), William Murai, Christina Strain (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
EDITORíS NOTE: Both Incredible Hulk #106 and World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker will appear in stores this Wednesday, May 2.
The Story So Far: The Hulk, shot into space by the Illuminati because they considered him a danger, crashed on the world of Sakaar and became a warrior then a rebel and then the Green King. Discovering what theyíd done to him and dealing with the loss of his Queen and his unborn child, the Hulk is on his way back to Earth... and heís angry. VERY angry.
Incredible Hulk #106 is a perfect way to set up an event of the size of World War Hulk (no pun intended, of course). She-Hulk (a.k.a. Jennifer Walters) takes center stage here, following her discovery of what theyíd done to her cousin. Depowered, courtesy of S.H.I.E.L.D. nanobots after a fight with Iron Man and abandoned in New Jersey, she tries to figure out just what sheís going to do. Enter Amadeus Cho, a.k.a. Mastermind Excello, who figures he owes it to the Hulk to help out where he can.
Greg Pak has really gotten the hang of writing these characters over the past year or so. With guest appearances by Doc Samson and Reed Richards, this issueís goal is obviously to set up the Hulkís return. The issue provides simple, straightforward storytelling and introduces the two major players (so far, anyways) who have a common goal: help the Hulk any way they can and find others who are sympathetic to their situation.
I just really enjoyed this issue. Itís a simple, done-in-one story with fantastic artwork as always by Gary Frank. The dialogue is sharp and easy to follow and gives you everything you need to jump right into World War Hulk without needing to read the previous series (although it helps).
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to jump on board World War Hulk, since it sets things up nicely.
But in order to launch an event like World War Hulk, it helps to give those who may not be familiar with the major players a more elaborate introduction to the story as itís occurred. I canít honestly think of anyone better suited for that task than Peter David, who in World Breaker provides a story told from both the perspective of She-Hulk and Doc Samson as well as The Hulk and his Warbound allies. See, Hulkís been having problems ever since he left Sakaar, and he has been seeing the face of his enemies (that would be the Illuminati) everywhere he looks. His Warbound allies fear this may make it difficult for him to keep control on the task ahead, so Hiroim volunteers to help deal with the situation. Meanwhile, She-Hulk and Doc Samson have a discussion on why the Illuminati launched the Hulk into space, and the ďproblemsĒ that have occurred over the years with him. I wonít go into detail here, but I will say this is an interesting way to provide a narrative - switching back and forth between the two stories and meshing them with small bits of dialogue so they flow seamlessly. In the hands of any other writer this would be a mess, but Peter David delivers. The art by Lee Weeks, Al Rio and Sean Phillips should be a mess as well, but it works. I had a hard time figuring out which one was illustrated by which (although I did discern the Philips piece pretty easily), so it didnít pull me out of the story at all.
The next tale, a Mini-Marvels story by Chris Giarusso, is a funny condensed version of the whole ďPlanet HulkĒ storyline. Itís cute but ultimately just filler and seems a bit out of place here.
The last story in World Breaker is the Mastermind Excello tale from Amazing Fantasy #15 (second series). I didnít read it when it originally appeared, but it is good to have it here so that those who didnít read it the first time can acquaint themselves with the character. I am not too fond of the art by Takeshi Miyazawa as it is a little too anime-influenced for my tastes, but itís a decent story nonetheless.
Overall, World Breaker is not a bad way to launch into a big event like this, but it suffers from material thatís a lot weaker than the main story.
Hereís why World War Hulk looks like it will be better than Civil War:
- Itís about what characters did instead of what theyíre supposed to be doing. Civil War was supposed to be a big metaphor about personal freedom vs. security. It was really Iron Man being a dick because heís afraid of his own power, and Captain America being too blinded by his misplaced faith in the public. World War Hulk has Green Ďn Mean avenging the deaths of his citizens, his wife, and unborn child. She-Hulk realizes sheís been manipulated by people she trusted. Amadeus Cho is striking up for a friend and striking a blow against people he canít trust. And it looks like the Hulkís other allies are getting revenge for passage of the SHRA. Which leads us to point 2;
- Greg Pak has been reading Marvel comics lately. She-Hulk acts and sounds exactly as she does in her Slott-penned series. Choís introduced with funny caption boxes as seen in his first appearance. Reed Richards and Doc Samson are well-meaning but manipulative. Theyíre blinded by their good intentions to how theyíre hurting good people.
- Peter David has been reading Marvel comics for years. The Hulkís story about how other heroes have always hated, used him, and kept him down sounds just like a hundred other speeches delivered by supervillains. But in Hulkís case, he has a point. Time and again, the Hulk has been treated like a threat, a monster, or a disease. But when has he ever been treated like a person? Whoís ever shown the patience to forgive Hulk and given him reason to control himself? I can only think of two people: Rick Jones and Betty Brant, his best friend and true love. David presents a compelling view of Earthís greatest heroes making the same mistake the army always made with the Hulk. They met the Hulk with violence instead of humanity. All attempts to control or destroy him failed. And thatís key to point 4.
- This is revenge for Civil War. The Hulk is exactly the kind of uncontrollable superhuman the SHRA was designed to combat. And now Iron Man, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Government will try to enforce it. Theyíll fail, or course, and everyone else knows this. Heroes who opposed the registration (like Hercules) or heroes who realized how registration screws them over (like She-Hulk) will join Hulk against their common enemies: Reed Richards and Iron Man. There will be people who use Hulk for their own purposes. And we all know how that ends.
- This is not written by Mark Millar. Thatís worth a bullet right there.
- This is not drawn by Steve McNiven. That means itíll ship on time. It also means we get art from Gary Frank (who draws people like real people) and Lee Weeks, Sean Philips, Scott Hanna, and Tom Palmer (who draw superheroes like superheroes).
- Iron Man will get punched in the face. Have I mentioned heís a dick?
- Front Line is coming back. The first Front Line series wasnít great, but I liked the anthology format and the ground-level perspective. Plus itís a lot shorter than the first series.
- Iím waiting for the trades. Having been burned buying every single Civil War tie-in, Iím wising up and getting this story just in TPB form. As much as I believe World War Hulk will be great, Iím going to wait and see how it ends before buying it in the cheapest format.
- Amadeus Cho. I like this kid. Heís Stephen Hawking and MacGyver with attitude. He may not be as smart as Richards, but heís more imaginative, more cunning, and more compassionate. Thatís enough to bring those other brains down.
When first announced, World War Hulk didnít especially capture my interest. Civil War was still in full swing, and it seemed a bit soon to be talking about doing another ďWarĒ event. Also, Iíve never really been all that interested in the Hulk. He has been a good antagonist at times or fun as part of a team, but Iíve never picked up an issue of his solo title. Well, Civil War is no finally over, and ďWWHĒ can now come to the forefront of the Marvel Universe. I still feel itís a bit soon to be launching into another crossover event, but after reading these two prologues, Iím definitely intrigued.
First, in chronological order, is Incredible Hulk #106 written by Greg Pak. As Iíve not been following Incredible Hulk, the only stuff Iíve read of Pakís to date, that I can recall, is Phoenix: Endsong and Phoenix: Warsong. Endsong turned out to be surprisingly good; Warsong turned out to be surprisingly crap. Based on this, I went into this issue with no expectations one way or the other. And was pleasantly surprised.
Judging by the solicitations info, during WWH, Incredible Hulk will concentrate on those characters that have close ties to the jade goliath and Bruce Banner and have as its star Pakís own creation, the kid genius Amadeus Cho, a.k.a. Mastermind Excello. This issue gets the ball rolling with Jen Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk, and Doc Leonard Samson. Itís scheduled to ship before She-Hulk #18 and as such does spoil that issue and give away the ending. But having Jen on the Helicarrier, just having found out Tony Stark shot her cousin into space at the end of the previous issue, there really werenít many other ways this was going to play out. This issue is my first exposure to Mastermind Excello. Itís never easy to bring a brand new character into the Marvel Universe and make them credible (within the scope of superpowers) and someone you want to route for. However, Incredible Hulk #106 and the 8 page back-up story starring him in World Breaker go a long way to making Amadeus someone I want to read more about and get behind in his quest for justice for the Hulk. He thinks heís doing the right thing and being a hero and his vast intellect leads him to effortlessly manipulate people to suit his needs. Heís in for a rough awakening though when a war crazy Hulk finally makes it back.
In both issues, the discussion / argument between Jen Walters and Doc Samson serves the purpose of providing justification for both sides in the upcoming War. Just as in Civil War, there is no immediately apparent right or wrong side. The Hulk was a menace, but shooting him into space? The thing that makes the Illuminatiís actions almost inexcusable is their rigging of the ship to explode. Though I havenít read ďPlanet HulkĒ (which Iím now very tempted to do) and donít know the circumstances under which the ship detonated, it shattered the Hulkís newfound happiness, killed millions including his wife and unborn child. Not the kind of thing you forgive easily. As Peter David makes perfectly clear in World Breaker, the Hulk is not coming home wanting an explanation; heís coming home to Smash! But heís bringing with him his Warbound, his gladiatorial buddies, and when they get to Earth, things are not going to go well. Though the Hulk deserves some revenge, the wide scale devastation that will no doubt result from his brutal actions will likely tip the scales in the Illuminatiís favour and as, She-Hulk points out, Mastermind Excello and his posse are going to have to ask themselves some serious questions.
World Breaker is the real prologue to WWH and as such has the task of bringing the reader up to speed with the current situation and making the event accessible to those non-Hulk fans out there. It succeeds in this, but in places the writing lets the story down. Though Pak is writing both the core World War Hulk series and the Incredible Hulk tie-ins, Peter David draws writing duties for this. It makes sense given his past stints on the characterís title, but at times Davidís almost excessive use of caption boxes can distract from the story being told, explaining everything that is already perfectly obvious from the art. But itís not bad and does set the scene for this summerís upcoming smash-fest. The discussions between Jen Walters and Leonard Samson and Hulk and Hiroim are a good excuse to rehash a bit of Hulk history as viewed from two completely different perspectives and further reinforce the idea that there will be no pacific conclusion to the upcoming hostilities.
Gary Frank provides art for Incredible Hulk #106. I really like his style and as always, he does a great job on facial expressions, such as portraying a thoroughly pissed off She-Hulk. The only odd bit comes when Doc Samson is hit by an exploding car that leaves his superduds in tatters, but when it happens to She-Hulk in overstretched civvies she just ends up with a couple of small tears. The art for the main feature of World Breaker is provided by several artists whose styles all fit together well, but itís not over inspiring and lacks a certain dynamic feel in the opening action scenes. Finally, Takeshi Miyazawa draws the Mastermind Excello back-up feature. Itís heavily manga influenced whilst still not seeming out of place in a Marvel superhero book. I liked his fill-in stints on Runaways, and itís nice to see his stuff again.
In the other back-up feature of World Breaker, Chris Giarrusso provides a Mini Marvelsí retelling of the events that led to ďPlanet HulkĒ and back. As usual, this comes with a gag a panel. Some are quite good, some less so, but all in all it provides a couple of chuckles and, in its own bizarre way, an analysis of the Illuminatiís actions.
Though some people may feel a bit burnt out by the abundance of ďWarsĒ in superhero comics of late, World War Hulk could turn out to be worth a look. Itís only one issue, but Pak does a good job here. I had been planning to pick up the main mini series and pass on the Hulkís own title. Now Iím definitely going to give it a go. Though some will no doubt complain about another War between heroes so soon after the last, this one has far more potential for destruction and truly epic battles. So bring on the Hulk and let the Marvel Universe tremble!
My first introduction to the Hulk was from a green painted Lou Ferrigno. I preface this review with this fact to make it clear that I am not a Hulk scholar or lifelong fan. However, the Hulk has always held a certain fascination from me because his stories illustrate a heroic ideal; that even in the worst situations, our better nature can still come through.
I lost track of the Hulkís storyline in the mediocre miasma of the work coming out while I was growing up. I had lost complete interest when I (briefly) picked up The Ultimates, which transformed the Hulk into a nothing more than an unhinged id. As a reader, I had always understood that what kept the Hulkís incredible rage in check was the restraint of the latent psyche of Bruce Banner. In The Ultimates, that really doesnít mean anything as Banner has been reduced to a contemptible invertebrate.
My curiosity was peaked, though, with the recent ďPlanet HulkĒ storyline. Here was a book that seemed intent on restoring the Hulk to what he is at his best: a violent and misunderstood hero who manages to do the right thing in spite of himself. Judging by the reviewed material, World War Hulk has the potential of giving readers the best of both worlds: a Hulk who is a heroic and relatable character, but also give readers some of that famous ďHulk smash!Ē
The Incredible Hulk #106 and World War Hulk: World Breaker are mostly history lessons for readers who are looking to get in on Marvelís next big story arc but havenít been keeping up with ďPlanet Hulk.Ē Issue #106 is the more interesting of these as it deals with the earthbound machinations that are occurring while the Hulk travels back. The best of these is the return of the seldom seen Amadeus Cho, purportedly the seventh smartest person on Earth. The name may be a tribute to the late composer as Amadeus sees data the way Mozart saw music: as a three-dimensional construct that he can manipulate and process. Cho was previously saved by the Hulk and is determined to bring him back to Earth. Lately, he has been busy lining up some of the Hulkís old allies. His attempts to convince the She-Hulk to sign up on his side are what make up most of the content of Incredible Hulk #106. He makes a good case of it, pointing out how she has been manipulated and abused by Tony Stark and Doctor Sampson. Unfortunately for the She-Hulk, Choís method of doing this is exactly what Tony has done; he manipulates her. Cho is by far the most interesting player on the field. He is brave, scared, angry and a super-genius.
While Cho may be the seventh smartest person on the planet, he seems to have figured out what none of the other supra-geniuses have: most of the super-powered folks are working for the bad guys now. The likes of Tony Stark and Richard Reed, in what has been one protracted and painful metaphor, have become so convinced of their righteousness that they have betrayed their own principals in order to make the world a safer place. World Breaker, in addition to covering history vital to understanding the second coming of the Hulk, is also a roll call of past sins against him. Through a two pronged narrative, World Breaker reviews the rather rocky relationships that the Hulk has had with the worldís heroes, as well as the many reasons why the two have to dislike one another. While not always the most engaging read, World Breaker does a good job over covering a lot of territory, and bringing up details that even the most avid fan may have forgotten.
In a very brave editorial decision, World Breaker also contains a hilarious Mini-Marvels tale. This tiny tots version of the Marvel heroes pokes fun at just about everything thatís been happening in the MU lately. It is nearly worth the cost of admission just for this part of the book.
While Incredible Hulk #106 and World Breaker are mostly exposition to get everyone on the same page before the main event, both are easy reads. World War Hulk has the potential to be a great Marvel event that could cleanse the bad taste that was left by Civil War.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the authorís work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
Marvel E-I-C Joe Quesada has referred to World War Hulk on more than one occasion as ďthe delicious green sorbetĒ that will cleanse the collective palate of readers who have been exhausted in recent years by big involved crossover events like <>House of M and Civil War. Whilst thatís a candid assessment of what looks to be a far more straightforward and simple event, Incredible Hulk #106 and World War Hulk: World Breaker look to add a little depth to the conflict between Bruce Bannerís big green alter ego and the members of the Marvel Universeís ďIlluminati,Ē who were responsible for sending him off into space in the first place.
First up is Incredible Hulk #106, which kicks off the ďWarboundĒ storyline which builds up to the Hulkís return to Earth. Unusually, the green goliath barely appears in this issue, with writer Greg Pak choosing instead to concentrate on the recent activities of Jennifer Walters - She-Hulk - and the mysterious boy genius Amadeus Cho. To his credit, Pak makes the story accessible to new readers who might be joining the story for the first time, recapping the recent activities of She-Hulk in her own book and giving us a potted introduction to the boy who is apparently the seventh smartest human being on the planet. Gary Frankís artwork is superb and really worked to win me over. In addition to the fine detail and great grasp of character, heís got an excellent knack for integrating the traditional visual excesses of superhero storytelling with a very realistic world, and it really sells the story. Iíve been a fan of his since I read his work on Supreme Power, and itís good to see him turn in equally strong art here.
However, the premise of the event seems a little too reminiscent of the hero-against-hero dynamic that was such a central part of Civil War, with Reed Richards again cast in the role of antagonist as he engages in a battle of wits with Amadeus Cho. If anything is going to turn readers off World War Hulk, itís probably the fact that itís another story about in-fighting amongst Marvelís superhero community, and both Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic come out of this issue looking pretty underhanded and manipulative. Still, the main story of this issue is relatively engaging, giving the likeable She-Hulk a central role in the event and hinting at more complex developments with her young boy-genius accomplice further down the line. I donít know how much weíve seen of Cho elsewhere, as I havenít really been following the Hulk titles, but thereís definitely a sense that thereís more to the character than meets the eye, and itíll be interesting to see how his role develops.
With the World Breaker prologue, we get a slightly more even-handed approach to the conflict between the Illuminati and the Hulk, as well as a more detailed look at the Hulk himself. On one hand, Doc Samson - fresh from his guest-appearance in Incredible Hulk #106 - reflects on the Hulkís tumultuous history with many Marvel heroes in the past, to underline what a liability he can be. On the other, the Hulk puts his own slant on the stories, adding some emotional depth to his desire to get back to Earth and smash some heads together, and adding further fuel to his rage. I was reminded of the enjoyable Civil War one-shot in which Iron Man and Captain America met up and reflected on past events in the light of their current conflict, as the issue also draws heavily on past continuity to support the actions of the characters in the present day, whilst never making these references to past stories inaccessible or confusing for the uninitiated. Writer Peter David is perhaps the obvious choice to handle a story like this, as his long association with the Hulk gives him a strong sense of the characterís history and a good grasp of his place in the Marvel Universe. His Hulk seems to be a little more eloquent than usual here, but since I havenít been reading the Hulk books lately, thatís possibly in keeping with the previous issues of the ďPlanet HulkĒ storyline. Although the multiple pencillers donít make for the smoothest read, it doesnít affect the story too badly, and by the end of the issue weíre left with a strong sense that events are building to a head, and the Hulk is ready to start exacting his revenge. Itís a good set-up for the event, and gets a lot of the talking out of the way to allow the main story to get to the action sooner rather than later.
This issue also contains a reprint of Greg Pakís origin story of Amadeus Cho from the now-defunct Amazing Fantasy title, which ties in neatly with Hulk #106 and will be useful background knowledge for those of us who missed it the first time around. Most enjoyable, though, is a multiple-page story from Chris Giarrussoís ďMarvel Mini-Mates,Ē which deals with the Illuminatiís decision to send the Hulk into space. Iíve got a real fondness for these stories which lampoon Marvel storylines in a disarmingly charming and gentle way, but with a real sharpness and accuracy too. Giarrusso manages to get some huge laughs out of his mockery of the few Illuminati storylines that have been published so far (including a spot-on parody of Black Boltís mysterious hand signals from the original Illuminati one-shot), and itís good to see Marvel continuing to publish such self-effacing material to puncture their own pomposity every once in a while.
Taken altogether, these two issues provide a good grounding for the World War Hulk event, even if Iím not convinced that itís going to be anything more than an excuse to have heroes fight other heroes for a few issues. Some of the hangovers of characterisation from Civil War are still slightly distracting, but it seems as though thereís been a conscious effort to avoid the elements which deal with superhero registration in order to clear the path for a relatively straightforward revenge saga. Lovers of action might be disappointed with how little the Hulk actually smashes here, but I guess that Marvel doesnít want to jump the gun and take anything away from the miniseries itself. A solid start which works hard to make the event as accessible as possible for newcomers to the ďPlanet HulkĒ storyline, even if Iím not sure that itíll convert anyone who wasnít interested in World War Hulk already.
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