Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Scott Kolins
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with some shady characters discovering they've been ripped off, and in a bid to get their product back, a hired killer named Shredder is contacted, and dispatched to track down the drug thieves who attempted to hijack a plane in the previous issue. We then look in on the wreckage of the plane where we see Banner wakes up to find the craft empty, and while Banner attempts to figure out where everyone has gone, us readers learn that the fugitive drug thieves have kidnapped the pilot, who in turn demanded that they let her bring along the dying child so he can receive the medical attention that he desperately needs. Back with Banner we see he has himself a run-in with a hungry mountain lion, but before Banner is forced to unleash the Hulk, Wolverine arrives on the scene to chase off the creature. As the two men quickly come to the conclusion that they have to work together to rescue the dying child, we see Shredder is living up to his name as he slice & dices his way through various people after they offer up the information he needs to track down the drug thieves. As the issue ends we see Wolverine & Banner come across the grisly aftermath of one of Shedder's visits, and it would appear Wolverine has met Shredder before.
The idea that there's a ticking clock on this miniseries is used to pretty good effect, as the art manages to slip in a number of clocks to give the reader a heads up about how much time we have left. Now there's certain moments where the ticking clock does raise the eyebrows, like when the Shredder makes it from that church to the mountain cabin in roughly thirty minutes, when the only mode of transportation we see him driving is a motorcycle. However, since it's never established where the church is in relation to the cabin, I guess one can simply write it off that the drug dealers were extremely fortunate that one of their hired killers was relatively close to the site where the plane went down. The deadline should become an even greater factor as the 6:00 PM deadline should have the rest of the story picking up speed, as the issue ends with the clock at 4:36 PM, and with all the various players converging on site, I imagine the next two issues will get pretty intense. This issue does have quite a bit play out in the hour and forty minutes that it spans, but since all the players would be inclined to get things done in a hurry, I'm willing to ignore how quickly characters are getting from point A to point B.
As for the stars of this miniseries, this issue doesn't really offer up much for these two to do beyond hook up with each other, where after a brief & rather disappointing opening fight between the two, we see the two decide to join forces. Now I must confess a large part of the appeal between seeing the Hulk & Wolverine get together is that they are both highly volatile personalities, and as such the potential for conflict between the two is quite high. What's more both of them can get caught up in the heat of the battle, so when these two fight they are playing for keeps, and with both of them sporting top notch healing factors, a writer of a battle between these two can pull out all the stops. Now this issue, it would appear that Bruce Jones has once again defied the expectations of the reader, as not only does he not unleash the Hulk so Wolverine can cut loose on the raging engine of destruction that is the Hulk, but with relativity little turmoil the two heroes decide to work together to save the life of a child, which effectively ends the future potential of any fighting between the two. However, the book does introduce a fairly creepy villain who should make things interesting, even if we have been cheated out of the expected fight that the cover to the issue effectively promises.
With this issue coming out the same week as this month's issue of the "Flash", Scott Kolins comes across as one of the fastest artists this side of Mark Bagley, and given the amount of detail that Scott Kolins is able to put on the page, his roughly 20 issues of art a year pace is even more impressive. His art is always strong in its ability to deliver the action in a visually exciting fashion, and while the Hulk doesn't put in an appearance, we do get a wonderful entrance by Wolverine, as he slams his bike into a mountain lion that was about to make Banner its lunch. The largely unseen displays of violence that are committed by the super-villain of this story are also made to seem even more disturbing by what we are allowed to see. The art also does a nice job conveying the emotional states of its cast, as Banner's struggle to contain the Hulk is nicely detailed, and the look of determination when pilot decides to act against her kidnappers is well done. The crash that ends the issue is also pretty harrowing, and the final page does a wonderful job of creating a sense of concern for the fate of the sick boy & the pilot. Also while the cover is a bit misleading about the story we get inside, Simon Bisley delivers an absolutely wonderful looking piece of art.
There are elements to the miniseries where one simply has to ignore the high degree of coincidences that tie everything together, as Wolverine's involvement in this story has come about in a manner that can only be described as extremely unlikely, and when this is combined with the close proximity of a super-powered killer named Shredder, the story really struggles to maintain it's credibility. However, the simple fact of the matter is that the ticking time clock does a very nice job of cranking up the tension, and Banner & Wolverine make for an interesting duo, as there's always the potential for the two of them to be at each others throats when they should be working together. Bruce Jones also does a fairly nice job of making Shedder into a genuinely chilling figure, which is quite a feat considering the sheer number of clawed villains that were dumped upon the comic landscape in the 1990s, as writers attempted the create the next Wolverine.
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