Upon reviewing the second issue of Hulk by Jeph Loeb, I tended to go on about how much I love Jeph Loeb’s writing and how much I truly enjoy Ed McGuinness’ art. I didn’t delve too much into the current storyline, or give any real thoughts as to what I think is going on, or even comment on whether or not I liked it. Since that review, and since reading that second issue, I’ve developed my theories and thoughts and ideas. The real question is, “How is this book holding up as a Hulk book?”
As of issue number 3 of Hulk, I can say with some degree of confidence that this book is holding up well. Jeph Loeb knows how to craft a story and dangle the carrot in front of the reader just far enough away to keep us going after it. But, before we delve too much into that, let’s jump into a quick recap of the issue.
Spoilers are ever-present, so if you haven’t read this issue yet and you are planning to, you may want to wait and come back later.
The issue opens with Tony Stark surveying the damage done to the hellicarrier by the red Hulk. It’s a complete loss. She-Hulk wants to go after Big Red, and Quartermain, Ross and Doc Samson are missing. Agent Hill alerts Stark to a video feed he needs to see. Stark watches as Ross and Samson talk to Banner in his underground prison about this new Hulk. Banner asks Ross to stay a moment longer before he and Samson leave and tells Ross something inaudible to the recorders.
Out in Nevada, Red Hulk and A-Bomb (The Rick Jones [huh?] version of Abomination) are fighting. In fact, we are treated to a pretty amazing two page splash of the two tied up. The fight ends up taking place inside of gamma base. In a frustrating moment, the automated guard shack give Clifford the Big Red Hulk a retina scan and recognizes him as…that’s all we get. Red Hulk smashes the shack before it can complete the sentence.
The fight between Red and A-Bomb includes fists thrown, bodies thrown, and even a gun. (The gun doesn’t do much good.) Then, the Red Hulk jumps on top of A-Bomb and begins to pound his head into the ground. With each hit, the ground quakes and cracks. We see that the hits cause an tremor measuring 10.0 on the Richter Scale. Deep beneath the earth, Banner’s cell begins to be crushed as debris falls on it. Banner pleads to be let out, but contact with the walls of the cell cause him to be gassed. However, Banner can hold his breath.
In a page that got me super excited, Banner is pounding on the glass attempting to escape. We see his fist, as it repeatedly hits the glass, grow, turn green, and cause the cage to crack.
Back on the surface, a robot harpie fashioned in the likeness of the late Betty Ross Banner attacks both A-Bomb and The Big Red Machine. Red Hulk mentions how something like that would give Banner pause…but he’s not Banner. Both monsters make quick work of the harpie.
As Red(eye) destroys the harpie, he turns and says, “Ok Rick, let’s finish this.” To his pleasure though, it’s not Rick standing there….it’s the Green Hulk. Hulk is talking in classic Hulk speak. He says, “Hulk not Rick. Hulk is Hulk.” Red smiles and says he’s going to love this.
Whew! Ok, I’m gonna calm down a bit to explain my rating scale. I’ve stolen the method used by the guys over at Superman Homepage. The reviewers on that site give out-of-five ratings in three areas: story, art, and cover art. It works, so I am going with that way of rating comics as well.
Story – 5 out of 5.
I am on board with Loeb when it comes to this journey. This issue was exaclty what it was supposed to be. It was a slugfest. The first few pages were the calm before the storm, and they were used to give us a little information and introduced a few more questions.
The fight between fake Hulk and fake Abomination was outstanding. Red Hulk had the upper hand most of the time, and that can be attributed to his lack of concern for the consequences of his actions. He constantly referred to A-Bomb as Rick which leads me to suspect that my initial theory as to the identity of this Hulk may be off a bit. I thought it may end up being the Red King from the Planet Hulk storyline. We never actually SAW him die. However, his knowledge of people and events in Banner’s life kind of throw that theory out the window.
Basically, the story is the fight. But there are some deeper issues at play too. The Red Hulk’s retinal scans were in the Gammabase database. He admitted to being something completely different from Banner. Interesting.
Then there’s the return of ole Jade Jaws. I was literally giddy as Banner began to change. Then there was a panel where we see a green hand reaching up from a crack in the ground. And the final splash page of the two facing off is nothing short of exciting. Yeah, I’m on board. Thus far, Loeb is crafting an engaging, exciting tale.
Art – 5 out of 5
Ed McGuinness was born to draw the Hulk. His over the top musculature is perfectly suited to the character. But, the real success of the art in this issue was the perfect use of splash pages vs. paneled pages. McGuinness is as much a story teller as Loeb. The scenes of the ground cracking and Bruce changing were pretty powerful, and there is a lot to take in despite the apparent simple design of things.
Cover - 4 out of 5
I like the cover. It reflects the main happening of what’s inside the book. I knock off a point because I really don’t like the white background. I don’t have a problem that there’s nothing there, A-Bomb and Big Red take up most of the page, but instead of white, black and nothing would have looked better to me. I haven’t rated any of the variant covers because I don’t have any.
If you’re even remotely a fan of the Hulk, and have been wondering whether or not to pick up his book, do it. It’s an amazing story and it’s loads of fun too.