I came home from work today to find a happy little mailbox with a couple of comics in it. (I still say getting a comic book or two in your mailbox makes mail fun again.) Among the morsels of comicy goodness was Hulk #5. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I have enjoyed Jeph Loeb’s run on Hulk. The mystery of Red Hulk (or RULK, as he’s called in the previously on segment [I’m pretty sure they were ripping off Geek Out Loud by doing that]). The fun has to end at some point. Spoilers are about to abound, so if you haven’t picked the book up yet and you are planning on it, you may want to hold off on reading.
We last ended up with the real Hulk being thrown off of the Golden Gate Bridge by Rulk. As Rulk railed against Hulk and humanity, Lightning split the sky as Thor, The God of Thunder arrived on the scene ready to…uhm…(is “lay the smack down” out of date?) (oh well) lay the smack down on Rulk.
This issue picks up right where we left off. Rulk tells Thor that he thought he was dead, to which Thor responds, “And I thought you were green. Monster.” Neat comeback, one too many words. Thor smashes Rulk with his hammer and Rulk shakes it off no problem. Thor is obviously taken aback by this and a (can I use the word slobberknocker?) (Oh what the hay!) slobberknocker ensues between the two titanic…uhm…titans.
Try as he might, Thor cannot make a dent in Rulk. The blows of mighty Mjolnir don’t even face the Red Rage Machine. Suddenly, The Rulk does something unexpected. He grabs Mjolnir and leaps into the air. As he ascends into the heavens, he explains to Thor that he knows that no one can lift the hammer, but that means nothing when Thor is holding onto the other end…or if they are in the zero gravity of orbit. The panels pull back to reveal that Rulk has leapt into space where he uses Thor’s own hammer to beat the snot of him and then kicks him to the moon. Thor vows that not killing him will be Rulk’s last mistake.
On earth, Rulk lands hard. He triggers the San Andreas fault line and San Fransisco begins to shake and quake it’s way into the Pacific. We know this because of Commander Hill’s report to Tony Stark who has visited the Baxter Building to acquire Reed Richards help in decoding the sound from Banner’s conversation with Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson. Two words come through quite clear…Doctor Samson.
Underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, a blue hand swims in to help free The Hulk from the rubble under which he is trapped. It is, of course A-Bomb, and upon exiting the water he and Hulk talk. A Bomb tells Hulk that he is a friend and as the earthquakes ramp up, Hulk tells A Bomb to go help the people and he will take care of Red Hulk.
From behind him, Hulk is told he will need help. Hulk turns to see Iron Man with She-Hulk, Ares, The Human Torch, Namor, and The Thing all on a quinjet. Then, the promise, “To be concluded.”
One of my favorite comics in my collection is The Mighty Thor # 385. It is cover to cover on big fight between The Hulk and Thor. The two tear up a town as Thor accused Hulk of being a monster over and over again. The Hulk even goads Thor into fighting without his hammer. Thor throws Mjolnir away and the two go at it. As Mjolnir returns, Hulk gets disgusted with Thor and leaves. In the aftermath, Thor sees the destruction his lust for battle caused and realizes that he was just a step away from becoming a monster himself.
I mention this story because it is the Hulk vs. Thor battle by which I judge all other Hulk vs. Thor battles. It has all of the knock down drag out action a reader wants in a fight and some great insights into both characters.
That’s one of the differences between that story and the one I’m reviewing. The other difference is that it’s not technically a Hulk vs. Thor fight. Nevertheless, this issue of Hulk left me a little wanting.
Like all of the issues leading up to this one it’s a fast read. I think this is due in part to the fact that the story is primarily a fist fight with little dialogue, and in part to Ed McGuinness doing a couple of two page splashes, full-page splashes, and half-page panels.
While I enjoyed the issue, I am starting to get a little jaded to all of the action. Loeb is missing a real opportunity to delve into the mystery of the Red Hulk, and lay out a teensy bit of character development. Instead, we are getting either an obvious Doc Samson turned Hulk…uhm…Hulk or a huge red herring. I’m realy hoping for the latter. I would love to read the next issue and be completely surprised by the identity of the Red Hulk.
On the other hand, this series shows what was lacking in World War Hulk. I loved World War Hulk, but the fights seemed abbreviated and sometimes hard to follow. If I could take the awesome splashes, lack of dialogue, and boxing round like style of Loeb’s story and combine it with the story of World War Hulk, I would have the greatest Hulk story arc ever.
I do love the fact that The Hulk was concerned with helping the city. It shows that he is good at heart and he has other motives than simple smashing for wanting to go after Rulk.
If you go back and read my reviews of earlier Hulk issues, though, you will see that I have really enjoyed this story. I guess that just upped my expectations of what I thought would be an amazing issue.
All in all I think it’s a good chapter of a great story arc.
Story 3 out of 5 I really wanted to like this as much as I have liked the other stories, but this late in the game I feel like it’s time to inject a little character and motivation into Rulk beyond, “I want the world to see that I was the one who killed The Hulk.” I also would have liked to see Thor not handled quite so easily, because quite frankly, I don’t know if The Hulk and friends will be able to take him in the next issue. Not in any way I would believe now anyway.
Art 4 ouf of 5 McGuinness overused the splashes a bit in this issue. They are pretty, and I really like his character design, but I feel like the use of so many big panels and splash pages take away from what could have been a fight that should have been a bit more drawn out and a bit less one sided. (Maybe that’s my biggest issue with this …uhm…issue. After a not-too-lopsided fight with The Hulk, this one should have been a LOT less one-sided.)
Cover Art 5 out of 5 This is one of my favorite covers of the series so far. I like the colors, and I like scene. And hey, it is what the book is about. So good stuff.
In the end, I liked this book, but I was left wanting a little more. I would still recommend it and I am still on board for as long as Mr. Loeb wants to keep writing.