Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Scott Kolins
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Wolverine taking on the hired assassin Shredder, while Banner attempts to save the life of the young child who is dying from a snake bite. However, during his swim in the lake, Banner managed to lose the anti-venom that had been prepared, and while Wolverine is able to make fairly quick work of Shredder, the situation with the dying child is looking rather grim. However, when Wolverine is able to track down a corral snake, we see they are able to jury-rig a method that involves having Banner getting himself bitten by the snake, followed a blood transfusion that presumably will create an anti-venom. However we see this procedure does have one fairly notable side effect, as the snakebite poison in his system acts to automatically trigger the change into the Hulk, and while the boy is able to get the treatment he needed, Wolverine finds himself up against the Hulk, who is royally pissed off & looking to smash the nearest available target. While Wolverine gets to play punching bag, we see the fight is brought to an end when the young child steps forward to reveal the cure worked, and this apparently enough to trigger the Hulk's transformation back into Banner. We then see the two heroes head off their separate ways, secure in the knowledge that they worked together to save a child's life.
The simple fact of the matter is that this miniseries really wasn't all that good. I mean it started off promising, and in theory the ticking countdown should have been enough to generate the mounting tension needed to drive the story to an exciting finish. However when the issue starts setting out to cure the dying child, Bruce Jones effectively tosses all the credibility right out the window, as one almost gets the sense that he was simply delivering a hodgepodge of every idea that came into his head, regardless of how well it fit into the bigger picture. I mean does one really want a transfusion from Banner & his gamma irradiated blood (I do believe this is how She-Hulk got her start), and what's more knowing the cursed life that he leads would Banner even be willing to risk it no matter how small the risk might've been. There's also the idea that the Hulk suddenly becomes a non-threat when he spot the child has been cured, as this displays a rather poor understanding of how the mind of an enraged Hulk works, which is a little worrisome considering Bruce Jones is the writer of the character's monthly series. The idea that Logan was able to find a corral snake in the wilds of Canada, let alone in the twelve minutes he was shown to have taken was also a bit much to ask.
This issue does provide some action to keep one interested, and presumably distracted from the idea that the book is offering up a tepid finish after its fairly harrowing buildup. However, I do have to question the idea of offering up a villain who is built up to be a fairly formidable threat, only to completely toss this out the window by delivering one of the most one-sided contests I've ever been treated to. I mean I get the idea that Wolverine is one mean little bastard, but is it too much to ask that when a miniseries spends so much time building toward the big showdown, that the villain actually be allowed to last a little longer in the ring. I mean this villain knows what Wolverine is capable of, but when Logan pops the claws our villain suddenly displays all the fighting prowess of a sack of potatoes. As for the big show involving the Hulk & Wolverine, I did like the fact that the Hulk was pretty much pounding Logan across the countryside, but the simple fact of the matter is that this fight lacks any real sense of drama, as one almost gets the sense that these characters are fighting because that's what the fans want to see, and to this end the battle doesn't even satisfy this need, as it offers up a very suspect finish, where the Hulk suddenly stops fighting when he learns the young child is back on his feet.
I am a little curious about the art on this issue, as the opening pages of this issue have an almost delicate look when it comes to the inking, but then the art suddenly gains a heavier inking style about halfway in. Still it's not a huge detail, and the bolder line work is a better fit for the fight between the Hulk & Wolverine. In fact I have to give Scott Kolins full marks for his work on this fight, as one can't help but cringe when Wolverine gets himself tagged by one of the Hulk's punches. There's also something to be said for the double page sequence where Wolverine cuts loose and manages to topple the Hulk. In fact my only real quibble with the art during the fight is that the claws are never really shown to have caused any damage, and given one scene calls for the Hulk screaming in pain it would've been nice to get some indication that damage had been done. Still, while the Hulk is left largely untouched, the art does manage to convey Wolverine's rather sorry state quite well, as his look of pain as the Hulk plays the human wishbone game was nicely done. I also have to make mention of the Simon Bisley cover, as he finally gets to deliver an image that is an actual preview at what one can expect to see inside, and it's certainly an eye-catching piece of art.
A miniseries that manages to follow in the footsteps of a large majority of Marvel's recent limited series offerings, in that one is left with the sense that the primary motivation for this project was to cash in on the popularity of its lead characters. I mean this is a book where one is left to wonder what exactly were readers suppose to walk away from this book with, as the book rates pretty low when it comes to simple entertainment value, and the pairing of Wolverine & the Hulk feels like it was done simply because the two happen to be popular properties at the moment. I mean this miniseries doesn't really expand upon the relationship that exists between these two characters, and one almost gets the sense that the story could've inserted any two heroes into this adventure, and one would've only had to make superficial changes. This is a pointless adventure, that is too dependent on random coincidence, and contrived plot devices to move the action forward.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!