"Hulk Fu Hustle"
The Hulk, Rick and Monkey are teleported to a celestial arena from an opening situation that cleverly foreshadows the solution to the problem they face in the story.
Fredric Brown's "Arena" kicked off a small science fiction subgenre of duels pitting man against alien, usually for the sake of the planet. He, in fact, restructured his story for an episode of Star Trek in which Captain James T. Kirk faced the reptilian Gorn.
This issue of Marvel Adventures: Hulk follows the basic formula, but throws in a number of deviations that makes the story far more entertaining. Unexpectedly the Hulk is immediately disqualified from the battle because he lacks finesse. He's not so much a fighter as he is a brutalizer. You would think that the disqualification of the Hulk would end the book, but Benjamin lines up several familiar guest-stars caged for your admiration.
One of the guests is Benjamin J. Grimm. Paul Benjamin and Steve Scott perfectly characterize Benjy. His unperturbed attitude and body language in the cage is hilarious, as is his dialogue, and it's also emblematic of the FF's attitude. Quirky things happen to the FF all the time in the Marvel Adventures books, and Ben has come to expect an interesting life.
In battle, the creative team portray the Thing well. Ben is nothing more and nothing less than the toughest hombre in the Marvel universe. There are heroes that are stronger than he is. There are champions that have greater resistance to harm, but the Thing combines them all into one, ornery brick wall. You've got to beat him into submission, but give him a breather, and he'll get back up for more punishment. Benjamin and Scott do justice to the Thing.
It is ultimately the Hulk and Banner working in conjunction that save the planet from the Champion's, cheesily but wonderfully named, Omega Cannon, and it's at this point that Scott's art triumphs with unusual poses for the Green Goliath that nevertheless remain proportionate and decidedly Hulk-like, even when this behavior is clearly rare.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!