Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Dougie Braithwaite and Bill Reinhold
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I don't know what's more irksome. The fact that fact that Bruce Jones offers up a scene that is sure to have every Hulk fan up at arms at the sudden glass jaw that the jade giant suddenly acquires, or the big reveal later in the issue that the entire fight was a staged affair and that the Hulk's easy take down was all an act. On one hand the latter should placate the fans as I imagine the poison pen letters were already being written in their heads, but the other hand it's rather disappointing to learn the big event that was supposed to reward the readers who sat through the three issues of build-up, waiting for the moment where these two heroes squared off, are essentially offered up a battle that is little better than a staged event in which neither character was in any real danger.
The issue also offers up a final solution that I found to be a bit manufactured, as all the plot threads are resolved by developments that took place off panel, and it's a little difficult to get overly engaged by a mystery when all the important ideas are kept off the table until it comes time for the writer to provide all the answers. Still, I do like the idea that the story was resolved within the confines of this arc, as Bruce Jones does have an annoying habit of resolving a story by offering up more questions, so this arc was a refreshing change of pace. I'll also credit this issue for coming up with a fairly compelling reason for why our heroes would fight each other, and it nicely plays off the underlying idea that gamma radiation poisoning serves to enhance the suppressed personality aspects of the character, so Tony's reckless, devil-may-care attitude takes centre stage.
Dougie Braitwaite is a pretty solid artist and he's been given a fine issue to showcase his ability to deliver large scale action, as Iron Man and the Hulk square off, and this results in several classic visuals, from the shot where the speeding Iron Man slams into the immovable object that is the Hulk, to the big impact scene where Iron Man delivers his punch. There's also a couple impressive impact shots where our heroes are caught up in the explosive wake of the gamma bombs tests, with the opening sequence being a great visual introduction to the issue. I also enjoyed the Mike Deodato Jr. cover, as it's a great looking action shot.
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