Sunday, March 21, 2010

_World War Hulk_ by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr.

Image from Amazon

World War Hulk is the story of a vengeful Hulk returned from weird adventures in space to wreak havoc on earth. It was an odd addition to the Hulk legend, but full of the sort of big action you expect in a Hulk story. A lot of the action panels were full of explosions and such, making it hard to follow the art much of the time. It's a graphic novel reprint of a limited series first published in 2008, so it's a relatively recent piece of the Hulk was interesting to see where they've taken the Hulk.

MINOR SPOILERS...the basic premise

Before this book starts, the Hulk got shot off into space by some of Earth's biggest names in superherodom...Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange. We get a precis of his weird adventures as the Green King, which sound very pulpy and interesting but run the risk of serious silliness. The idea, though, is that the Hulk, ejected from Earth, built a whole new life for himself, with a new love interest, and then somehow those same Earth heroes killed his whole planet, so he's returned for revenge.


The Hulk is, of course, initially unstoppable. Lots of scenes of heroes feeling guilty as they try to beat the distraught Hulk. This Hulk is not the "Hulk Smash" unreasoning brute...he seems to be in one of his smarter incarnations...but he is so angry that there is no reasoning with him.

This book takes Hulk-gets-angry-gets-stronger to near supernatural levels, and there's a lot of fun in that. I also like the appearance of the Sentry in this book.

The best part of this book are the hints of his weird adventures on the planet Sakaar. He even brings back a set of pals with him. I can't help but think that these weird adventures sound better in the brief retelling than they would if I read the originals. There's always a risk in the complete-reinvention-of-a-character that comics feel obliged to perpetrate periodically.

I'd like to say I'm totally open to these reinventions, but I think it actually depends on the character, how well I know their continuity, and of course how well the story is done.

In this case, I didn't read the actual reinvention. But I think they faltered in this story. At the end, I was sure they were going to kill the Hulk off. It would have been an appropriate turn of the story, given the Hulk's emotional situation. The Hulk basically begs for it, suggesting that he's too angry to stop fighting. But when he finally gets hit by the magic laser beam that Reed has been working on to stop him, it just turns him back into Bruce Banner.

If they'd killed him off, they could have played on the guilt of the top heroes for years. Also, they've already made Hulk weird and unHulky, what have they got to lose?

I might forgive all this if the main action of the book was better, but it wasn't. It was hard to follow. Plotting this thing must have been hard, but the way it's set up, one big hero after another takes a swipe at the Hulk. That's kinda stupid. As I mentioned, the action panels are hard to read, so this stuff isn't that interesting. Doctor Strange gets a little interesting, but he basically channels a demon and then faces off with the Hulk in fisticuffs, also kinda dumb.

I'd be interested to hear how someone who read the Green King adventures of the Hulk (that made him what he was when this story started) regarded this book.


  1. Yeah, the storylines where it just devolves into, "one at a time one juggernaut fights another juggernaut" aren't impressive or interesting in most cases. And the Hulk is just flat out not an entertaining character to me unless they play up the misunderstood monster side of the character as opposed to the rampaging machine of destruction aspect, which was boring to me when I was 12.

  2. Yeah, I shoulda known better really...I totally got sucked in by the cover art. Two swords! But think about it. Why does the Hulk need a sword? His fist is clearly stronger than any steel. :)

  3. Yeah, it's like Superman picking up a car to whack a villain. Throwing the car might make sense in some circumstances; using it as a club is ridiculous.

  4. So I think what we've discovered here is that when Supes hits you with a car, he's actually going easy on you. I mean, his fist would burst through the chest of most villains, even those who when smashed with a car would find the car deforming around them. :)