Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Gary Frank, Jon Sibal
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: A boy, his ďdog,Ē a faux angel and an actual demi-god continue to outwit S.H.I.E.L.D. and gather allies on Earth for the vengeful Hulk. The Warbound discuss possible respective opponents based on their ancestral history with Earthís heroes. A slugfest with brains and the unlikeliest of allies appear.
Commentary: Iíve always liked the Hulk. Maybe itís because my favorite color is green, and where the Hulkís concerned, it literally leaps off the page, or maybe itís the embodiment of all of our frustrations at times where we just want to be left alone and if not, the strength and power are there to do something about it. On a gut level we identify with the Hulk. We are all prone to throwing tantrums and things at times. Admittedly he can be a one note character and was for years. It was the fact that he was Marvelís Frankenstein monster and Jekyll and Hyde all rolled into one that gave him the steam he had for so many years. We all have the potential for the rage and destruction that bubbles and breaks to the surface. Where Bruce Banner is concerned it more often than not occurs in the pursuit of justice in an unjust world. But smashing and breaking things because lifeís not fair can only hold our attention for so long. Then along came Peter David.
David gave substance and reason to the incredible and unreasoning rampages of the Hulk. He also gave the Hulk a great supporting cast. Thatís when the Hulk works best: when there are clear cut lines of division. Heís such a big presence, youíve just got to choose a side. The tagline for Civil War was, "Whose side are you on?Ē Frankly, I think the whole thing was ill-conceived, and I really didnít find myself on anyoneís side. Hereís what it did though, much like the Distinguished Competition's Infinite Crisis: it provided the means of doing some great things in the comicsí lines, even though the event stories were hit and miss at best. Iím more apt to get psyched about whose side Iím on with this new war with the Hulk. I didnít even read Planet Hulk because a similar thing had been done years ago when Dr. Strange sent the Hulk to other dimensions to spare the world his rage. So to me it was "been there done that donít need to see it again."
Then Pak did the unthinkable. He destroyed everything the Hulk actually came to love. Think about that. The monster finally found love and maybe heíd even have been able to forgive those who banished him if this ďas good as life getsĒ (at least for the Hulk anyway) was allowed to continue. He could have become a force for good on the Universal scale with his rage now tempered by love. But it was all stripped from him in a matter of minutes and once again, it wasnít his fault. Think of the fury, the righteous indignation, the need for confrontation and closure. Once again, Pak, like David, has made us identify with the monster in all of us.
Also like David, Pak gives us humor where humor is due, lending some relief and liveliness to the otherwise grim proceedings. Great character moments abound in this issue. From Angelís response to Amadeusís theft and use of his money to Namorís succinct and totally in character recap of events past, present and future and the almost tear-jerking motivation for Herculesís siding with the Hulk and the unexpected way he engages the Hulk in battle. Itís not only the Hulk thatís given depth by Pak but the characters like Hercules too who, letís face it, in the past has been treated by and large like the uber-fratboy of the gods. Let me just say you have never seen a battle like this between the Hulk and someone of near equal power. It was well thought out and well executed, and the Prince or Power does not resort to bragging or brawn as in every other battle heís ever fought.
On to the art. Gary Frank and Jon Sibal have brought their A-game. Everyone looks fantastic, even the aforementioned unlikely allies that show up at the end of the story. This is all the more notable because these allies have nothing special or super about them yet their sympathy and resolve shines through their expressions as they fearlessly approach the snarling man-brute. Words literally cannot describe it, so there are no words from them. Thatís great comic art. Frank and Sibal run the gamut of emotions so well. Their Hulk is one of the most savage and awe-inspiring ever. This art team has the fantastic ability of giving us the super-heroic physiques that comics demand but in such a way that you go, ďYou know, it doesnít look cartoony or sketchy or out of proportion at all. In fact, if these characters stepped out of the page theyíd probably look just like that in the real world.Ē Finally, Chris Sotomayorís coloring is flawless and gives a nice gloss to the energetic and furious proceedings. I hope that Marvel can keep up the quality here and not fall into the pit of "started out good but failed miserably" that too many storylines suffer from these days. And please, please, please donít change the art team mid-stream or near the end! We hate when that happens.
Final Word: Greg Pak echoes the glory days of Peter Davidís run bringing yet another jolt of life to what can easily become a one dimensional flat character. A great supporting cast with realistic motivations and kinetic and emotional art from the team of Frank and Sibal make this a thoroughly enjoyable Summer Blockbuster comic.
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