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Is There a Quip About Red and Thunder? – Hulk 5 REVIEWED

5

Aug

Posted by Steve

hulk5.jpgI 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Lightning split the sky as Thor, The God of Thunder arrived on the scene ready to…uhm…(is “lay the smack down” out of date?)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.”

thor_385.jpgOne 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.

One Hulk, Two Hulk
Red Hulk, Blue Hulk…err…GREEN Hulk
Hulk #4 Reviewed!!!

3

Jul

Posted by Steve

HULKcomposite.jpg

Two months ago, Jeph Loeb left us all hanging as the big green lug we all know as the ever-lovin’ Hulk showed up to face down his red counterpart.

This issue opens up…right before that? Maybe.

Uatu…the Watcher…shows up to explain how his noble race watches all of the important events in the multiverse. As he’s explaining this, Rock Reddy knocks him on his backside. This is a moment that fans have cheered across the board Me? I don’t know. It didn’t do anything for me.

BUT…what came next did.

Basically, what ensues is exactly what a fan of the Hulk would want to see happen. Red an Green go at it. There are punches, crotch shots, taunts, growls, broken bones, blood, and a clue to the identity of Big Red.

As the two fight, the real Hulk almost gets the upper hand, then the Red Hulk takes over. He breaks the Hulk’s arm and knocks him out. As the Hulk begins slipping into unconsciousness, Red-eye tells him to stay awake because he doesn’t want that “milksop” Banner to show his face…hmmm….milksop…now who uses that term?

We then cut to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the remains of the Helicarrier that Red Hulk attacked in issue #2.   Clay Quartermain is dead.  If you’ve been a reader of Marvel (especially the Hulk title) for a long time, this may make you a bit sad.  I know it made me sad to learn that this interesting peripheral character was gone.  He’s one of those supporting cast guys that you don’t miss until you know you won’t see him again.

Also, among the remains of the Helicarrier, Doc Samson’s jacket is found.  It’s highly irradiated with gamma and ripped to shreds…like he grew out of it…hmmmm.

Green Hulk wakes up in the clutches of Red Hulk on top of the Golden Gate bridge.  Red Hulk actually monologues a bit telling Hulk how the world will finally see him detroyed at his hands.  The Hulk tries to fight back a little but to no avail as he is promptly disposed of by  Red Foxx Hulk who proceeds to make the claim that he cannot be beaten.

….

With a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder someone speaks from behind the Red Monster. Looking angry and ready for a fight, Odin’s Son, The God Of Thunder, THE MIGHTY THOR stand ready to do battle.

Story 5 out of 5 – Jeph Loeb has done it again.  He has written a knock down drag out fight that is interesting and surprising.  Not only that, in the midst of all the action, Loeb drops more clues and hints as to the identity of the Red Hulk.  Which leads me to a call….it’s about a 150 pointer due to the obvious nature of the call coupled with a somewhat crazy idea.  I think the Red Hulk is somehow Ross and Samson merged.

My problem with my theory is  that Jeph Loeb is as a sneaky as Mr. Deeds butler.  These clues could be nothing more than red herrings meant to throw us off.  Red Hulk could be Zzzzaaxxxx for all we know.

I like the fact the Red Hulk is obviously not a nice guy.  He has no scruples, no sense of honor and he wants to see Banner and The real Hulk dead.

My only problem was the opening scene with the Watcher, it didn’t seem to fit.  It seemed like something Loeb threw in there because he wanted to see it.  Even with the explanation that this battle is so big it merits the Watcher’s attention, it just seemed a bit of a time waster and stuck in at an awkward moment.  But, it wasn’t awkward enought to dock any points.

Art 5 out of 5 – McGuinness does a great job of resisting the splash page in this issue.  They are there, but they are used very well.  The fight between the Hulk’s plays out well in multiple panels on pages, but when something big or surprising happens in the fight, McGuinness uses bigger images to drive it home.  The final splash of Thor and Red really works to make me hate the two month intervals between issues.

Cover Art 5 out of 5 - I just really like the way these covers interact.  The image above (photoshopped on the fly by my good friend Arkwulf – check the about the Geeks Section to find out more about him) is the two covers put together to form the image you see.  It was a great idea, I would love to see a third alternate of the two fighting, but I like the concept as it is.

So all in all good stuff, I continue to be entertained by Loeb and company and can’t wait for Thor v. Red…and you know Green vs. Red round 2 is coming somewhere down the line.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 2- The Incredible Hulk

21

May

Posted by Steve

colorsofhulkdom.jpg
The above image is from an article entitled The Many Colors of Hulkdom which you can read here.

As a kid, I sat down faithfully week to week with my family to tune in to the adventures of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno as David Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk.  I was hooked on the story of a man plagued by a metamorphisis that would take over whenever he became angry or outraged.   Unlike some friends of mine, I was never scared of the big green guy.  I never saw him as mean or unfriendly…unless it was to those who were mean and unfriendly.  In fact, The Incredible Hulk was my hero.  He was the savior of anyone who had been picked on, bullied, or backed into a corner and had no escape. 

303px_Hulk_003.jpgA lof of people have a hard time wrapping their head around the Hulk. In fact, most people prefer the Hulk in his gray, smart, “darker” incarnation. Not me. My Hulk is the big green, super-strong, albeit unintelligent Hulk. That is not to say that I don’t like the Hulk in any incarnation. I think all forms of The Incredible Hulk have their merit. Big, green, and dumb is my favorite though. Why? Because I believe that the green Hulk represents the core of who the character is supposed to be. The Hulk is the personified rage and passion of Robert Bruce Banner. The Hulk is that which Banner would never openly allow himself to be. In fact, I remember an issue of The Incredible Hulk where Banner found himself inside of his own psyche unable to think or speak coherently. The Hulk, however, was speaking intelligently and coherently. The reason for this was the two were in the emotional center of Banner’s brain, and when it comes to emotions, Banner is incapable of expressing himself. Erego, the gamma radiation that Banner was blasted with manifesting itself as Banner metamorphosing into a creature fueled by sheer emotion.

I’ve said before that I really enjoy the superheroes who have strength based super powers. Well, just ask him and the Hulk will tell you, “Hulk is the Strongest one there is!” And strong he is friends. secretwarsstrength.jpgIn fact, shown to the left is one of my favorite covers of all time.  It’s my favorite not because it’s full of color or has an incredibly epic splash of hundreds of heroes done up Georg Perez style.  It’s my one of my favorite’s not because it shows an iconic/epic battle that the reader will get to sit in on in the pages to follow.   Its my favorite because it is the Hulk…standing strong…UNDER A MOUNTAIN!  I remember reading Secret Wars #4 for the first time and being so stressed.  During the Secret Wars, Bruce Banner had control of the Hulk, so as he stood holding up the mountain, he was losing strength because he was so rational about the situation.  Reed Richards stepped in and started insulting the Hulk making him angrier and angrier…why?  To make him stronger.  For we all know that “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.”  Another thing I love about this cover is the fact that the only one standing in that picture is The Hulk, and not only is he standing, he’s holding UP THE FREAKING MOUNTAIN!  That’s strength.  And, as I’ve said repeatedly I enjoy the super power of super strength for some reason.

I also relate to the Hulk in that he has always been misunderstood.  Throughout the history of the Hulk, he has sought to be left alone while at the same time accepting friendship wherever and from whomever he can find it.  It seems a paradox that his mantra would be “Hulk wants to be left alone” while he ferociously clings to the friends he has made in his journey.  I guess to explain my connection to this aspect of the Hulk, I have to get somewhat personal.  I think everyone knows what it’s like to be picked on, or to feel like no one understands you.   Some people experience those feelings and move on.  Others, however, allow their lives to be shaped by feeling like an outsider or like they have no friends.  I’m not talking about being emo and lame.  Rather, the people who have had to deal with real wounds left by uncaring words tossed in their direction.  People who are genuinely nice and good, but just don’t fit the mold that other’s think they should fit into.  Again, I’m not talking about whiny kids who choose to be different, I’m talking about the chunky kids, the kids who didn’t grow fast enough, or grew too fast, the girls who blossomed too early or too late, the clumsy kids, the kids who had enough different about them from everyone else, that they were an easy target to get picked on.   We have that feeling of wanting to run away from everything, but at the same time we wish for just one good friend who will look past what makes us different and just hang out with us.  Being from that group of kids, I always understood the Hulk’s frustrationHulkJacket.gif with the army and those who hunted him down, and I understood his joy at finding a friend who liked him for who he was and tried to understand him.

I guess the main reason I appreciate the Hulk though (the green, dumb Hulk) is that he is a good guy. He looks out for the weak. The smashing he does is always in retaliation to someone attacking him. He doesn’t lash out for no reason. Is there collateral damage from the battles the Hulk goes through? Yes. Why are people always quick to point that out though and slow to mention how many people SHOULD have been hurt in an Avenger’s battle with Kang or the FF’s latest battle with Doctor Doom? I guess the point I come to is that The Hulk would never intentionally hurt someone who doesn’t first try to hurt him. In fact, given the choice, the Hulk will protect those who are in harm’s way when they are unable to protect themselves. That’s a hero. Plain and simple.

I’ve talked mostly about the green, dumb version of the Hulk that most people seem to dislike more than the other incarnations. It needs to be said that I enjoy the Hulk in any form. I like the gray Hulk, I like the big green smart (Professor) version of the Hulk that Peter David created. I enjoyed the Hulk of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. However, I feel all of those incarnations lacked the innocence of the Jade Giant. None of them lacked his heroism, though. I think World War Hulk was a morality tale of sorts that showed what happened when one’s rage goes unchecked. The Hulk allowed himself to be manipulated into hulk2.gifgoing on the attack against those who sent him off planet in the first place.  In the end, it was one of those he had chosen to trust who was responsible for the death of his wife and millions of others on Planet Hulk.  (I know the planet’s name wasn’t Planet Hulk…I just like calling it that.  It was Sakaar.) In the end of World War Hulk, though, the Hulk nearly sacrificed himself to save New York.   The gray version of the Hulk would never admit it, but he always winds up doing the right thing.  The “Professor” version of the Hulk, while still hunted and misunderstood, was the most blatantly heroic of the Hulk incarnations.  

The Hulk is an interesting look into the rawest most extreme parts of the human psyche.  He is also a reminder to try to look for the good in even the most different of people around us.  He is a warning to never let anger and rage go unchecked.  He is a good hearted soul who is driven by such raw emotion that he can be a most viscious foe or the fiercest friend a person has ever known.

I know for most the Hulk would never be considered in the top 2 of their favorite Super Heroes.  For me, that’s just another reason that he’s there.  I feel like I “get” the big guy…in any incarnation…except this red guy….who is that fella?   To read more about the Hulk, pick up some of the items below and help out the site.

Geek Out Loud Episode 11 – The Invincible Iron Podcast

17

May

Posted by Steve

In this episode the big topic of discussion is IRON MAN. (Three weeks late.) I also talk a very little bit about the new DARK KNIGHT and INCREDIBLE HULK trailers and TV spots. You can check out the new DARK KNIGHT trailer here and the new INCREDIBLE HULK TRAILER here.

Here is the latest INCREDIBLE HULK TV spot:

And you can watch the latest DARK KNIGHT trailer right here.

To catch up on your Iron Man reading check out these items over at Amazon and help support the site:

Seeing Red – Hulk #3 Reviewed

15

Apr

Posted by Steve

Hulk3.jpgUpon 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.