Best Shots Extra: Incredible Hulk #106, World War Hulk Prologue
The following was originally posted on Newsarama.com:
World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker
Writer: Peter David
Review by Steve Ekstrom
With the advent of Marvel’s World War Hulk on the horizon, a proper prologue was produced to set establish some undercurrents of plot that will be prevalent throughout this event involving not just the Hulk but the event’s supporting cast. Peter David commits a reader to three intersecting stories that establish an immediate status quo for the characters for the characters and how they will operate for the next several months to come.
Notably, the main thread of the prologue is a Hulk story—with the art chores handled by Al Rio. His story delves into this incarnation of the Hulk and his motivations. It also foreshadows a major potential seed for fans of Hulk’s “war bound” brethren. The immediacy of this story is nice; but the key element of my interest is the Hulk’s interaction with Hiroim aboard the stone spaceship; watch this relationship closely.
A second thread is embedded within the first as Peter David explores the mindscape of the Hulk—David’s work on the “inner mind” of the Hulk over the last 20 years is without peer. With artwork by Lee Weeks, readers view the Hulk’s feelings of betrayal and reflect back on the Hulk’s interaction with the various members of the Illuminati, the secret group of heroes that decided to shoot the Hulk off into space. The third thread segues nicely between the other two—like a braid—as Dr. Leonard Samson continues to confront Jennifer Walters, the powerless She-Hulk, on her decision to rebel against Iron Man and SHIELD and to try to reason with her after she has become aware of the Illuminati’s terrible deeds against her cousin, Bruce Banner. Closely following the events proceeding, Incredible Hulk #106, David works this piece in between the immediate story of Hulk’s final approach to Earth and the interior of the Hulk’s perceptions as a gauge for Walters’ rationale—indicating that the Hulk isn’t as alone as he assumes. She-Hulk’s role in this event is turning out to be crucial with emphasis placed on her role as Banner’s cousin—an interesting twist, in that for years, her role as Banner’s only family member was always downplayed. Sean Phillips adequately handles the artwork for the third sequence.
I really liked the interwoven element within this story—having one writer tell three stories with three different artists at the same time creates an odd sort of “juggling” that gives the overall World Breaker Prologue a really nice texture and depth without sacrificing any of the pacing or copious amounts of time. David’s prowess as a storyteller is precise—each of the character’s voices in his stories ring true—especially in the piece with Samson and Walters. Pound for pound, this economic gem is the meat of the book and definitely worth checking out.
Also included in the World Breaker Prologue are two back-ups, a reprint of a short from Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 #15, involving the introduction of Amadeus Cho to the supporting cast of the Hulk—written by Greg Pak with art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Having not read this story at the time of its release—I was pleased that this was included. I normally don’t advocate using reprints to fill up a double-sized book like this but the story gives readers a better understanding of what Cho is capable of during this upcoming event. It’s also not a bad little story—I enjoyed it. Also, there is a comical recap of Planet Hulk written and drawn by Chris Giarrusso. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this piece but by the end of it I was actually laughing out loud at the hilarity of this rendition of Pak’s epic 14 part storyline.
Overall, the World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker is a great source of information that covers crucial aspects of the upcoming events of World War Hulk and it examines how the Hulk and this story developed from within the Marvel Universe. Without this book, a reader won’t get as much depth—I can foresee this being a slight disadvantage for those readers that insist on only buying issues of books that are pertinent to them and I can see this as a Godsend for any “completists” of this type of event, like myself. For readers that are straddling the fence? I endorse going out and purchasing Hulk #106 and this book—read the Hulk #106 then World Breaker and see for yourself - this event is solid.
Incredible Hulk #106: Warbound Part One
Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Gary Frank and Jon Sibal
Review by Troy Brownfield
Let’s address this up top: Gary Frank draws the Hulk, and there is much rejoicing. I thoroughly enjoyed much of Peter David’s original run on the Hulk, and one of many bright spots was the turn of Frank on the art chores. He’s a great, clean-lined stylist with a knack for both motion and conversation, not to mention beautiful portrayals of rage (anyone with any doubt should witness his angry Jen on page 3). With him on board, it kicks an already critical chapter of the larger Hulk saga up a notch.
All praises due also to Greg Pak, who’s been steering this ship for going on two years with BIG. HUGE. EPIC. in mind. Considering what’s come before, this is a relatively quiet piece, but nonetheless essential. Our focus is on Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk, of course), Doc Samson, and boy genius Amadeus (reported herein to be the seventh smartest person in the Marvel Universe, making me wonder how he’d stack up against the DCU’s third smartest person, Mr. Terrific).
Much of what’s going on keys in from recent events in Planet Hulk, Civil War, The Initiative and The Illuminati, but Pak elegantly handles the exposition and makes it all easy to stand. In fact, this in effect now part of a larger, unspoken epic that I believe Marvel has been doing for a while; I call it “Iron Man: Paranoid Douchebag.” His remarkably consistent readiness to turn on friends at a moment’s notice is on full display in his handling of Jen, a situation that essentially garners him more enemies, rather than keeping one person in line. We also get to see more of the unseemly side of Reed Richards, as he tracks Amadeus (who does, himself, know that he’s being watched).
The truly crucial moments here come in the conversation (and intermittent action) between Jen, Amadeus and Doc Samson. Jen learns some sad truths about the extent of Samson’s involvement in recent activities, and Amadeus grows in likeability as he demonstrates his devotion to the Hulk. Pak plays this all well, letting the characters represent various ideals as easily as they represent phases of the Hulk’s life. A couple of last minute surprises and the arrival of some very familiar characters make this an extremely solid effort.
It’s an important part of the overall tapestry, but reads well if you’re just arriving. Pak continues to do a great job, and I’m very happy with the involvement of Frank. I know that we have a lot of epic to go, but if it all maintains the consistency and readability of these early chapters, we’ll be looking at one of the all-time definitive Hulk stories.