Hulk Trade Post: Red Hulk, Hulk Vs. X-Force & Fall Of The Hulks Prelude

Hulk: Red Hulk (Marvel)
Written by Jeph Loeb, drawn by Ed McGuinness
Collects Hulk #1-6, a story from Wolverine #50

Last week, I talked a bit about my history with the Hulk moving from Planet Hulk into World War Hulk. I loved the former, didn’t feel quite the same way about the latter and wasn’t thrilled about Jeph Loeb taking over the book. He’s a writer that doesn’t always hit with me, but I also wanted to read Greg Pak’s take on what happened after Hulk attacked Earth and it’s heroes. Instead he moved over to Incredible Hercules and Skaar, eventually coming back to the pages of Hulk and Incredible. I was also working at Wizard when this book came out and we were told pretty early on who the Red Hulk really was, so the mystery elements wasn’t there for me.

However, reading these books again with far less of an emotional connection to the comics, I really enjoyed these books. I think the key to really enjoying a Loeb comic book is to not be heavily invested in the continuity of the character he’s writing. He tends to bring on all the bad guys, throw them against the hero and we all get to enjoy the fireworks which are ALWAYS drawn by the best artists in the business. If you’re too steeped in continuity you’re thinking annoying little things like “Hey, Catwoman couldn’t be here, she’s stealing a cat statue in Egypt” or “Wait, which version of Clayface is that?” Nonsense like that that can stick in some of our craws when reading comics.

Since I know next to nothing about Hulk or his rogues, I could just sit back and enjoy this book which kills off a big deal villain right away, sorry Abomination. Here’s a quick list of the other awesome things that happen in this comic: She-Hulk punches a human bear, Red Hulk hits Iron Man with a plane, Red Hulk punches the Watcher, the Hulks fight, Red Hulk beats Thor then jumps form the moon to Earth and the Hulks fight again. All of these things might sound kind of goofy and some of them are, but that’s part of the fun of reading comic books. A green woman can punch a bear-person and it’s not that big of a deal. With Ed McGuinness drawing these things, they look all the better.

Hulk Vs. X-Force (Marvel)
Written by Jeph Loeb, drawn by Ian Churchill & Whilce Portacio
Collects Hulk #14-18

I forgot to mention above that I actually paid for these first two trades, which is something of a rarity. The books I reviewed last week and the one following this I got via Swap, but I found these two on Amazon for $8 a piece and couldn’t resist. For whatever reason the two books between these ones were not as cheap, so I skipped them in hopes that I’d get them somewhere down the road. I don’t think it mattered too much because this collection continues the blockbuster action movie style that Loeb put into the first one.

This time around, X-Force member Domino happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and discovers Red Hulk’s true identity. As this is very important to him, Rulk decides to put together his own color-coded team consisting of Elektra, Deadpool, Punisher, Thundra and Crimson Dynamo to kill Domino. This doesn’t sit well with either Dom or her teammates in X-Force, so lots of fighting and double crossing ensues. Oh, there’s also a Red She-Hulk that pops up to make matters a bit more confusing.

Like I said, the story is fun and well told, but the art bugged me a bit. There’s nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but I am actually a huge fan of Ian Churchill’s and seeing him try to fit in more with the McGuinness style kind of bums me out. If this was just some other artist, I’d have no problem with the mix of McGuinness bulk and Darwyn Cooke faces, but every panel I looked at made me wish he was doing that crazy detail I know and love.

There’s also an issue in here that (I believe) plays off of a previous Hulk story I haven’t read, but have heard about where Doc Sampson goes into Banner’s head and tries to straighten things out as well as an issue of X-Factor where Samson analyzes those team members. This time, though, it’s Doc who’s being analyzed and we find out why he’s been so crazy lately. This issue is drawn by Portacio who seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Good stuff.

Hulk: Fall Of The Hulks Prelude (Marvel)
Written by Jeph Loeb, Greg Pak, Jeff Parker & Fred Van Lente, drawn by Ed McGuinness, Ron Garney, Mitch Breitweiser, Takeshi Miyazawa, Frank Cho, Dan Panosian, Peter Vale, Gabriel Guzman, Michael Ryan, Ariel Olivetti & Ian Churchill
Collects Hulk #2, 9 & 16, Skaar #1, Hulk: Raging Thunder, Amazing Fantasy #15, Planet Skaar Prologue, All New Savage She-Hulk #4 & Incredible Hulk #600-601

Hodge podge trades like this can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, if you’re only reading one Hulk title they can be a good way of catching you up as to what’s going on. On the other hand, if you’ve read and collected a few different trades you can get a little burned by the contents. I’m still on the fence about how I feel about this one. I’ve already got Hulk #2 and 16, Amazing Fantasy #15 and Incredible #601 collected in other trades, so there’s not much value there.

At the same time, I don’t have the other issues and this is as good a place for them as any, though I do prefer having all my comics collected in a little better order. Also, if I read and like something like All New Savage She-Hulk #4 and want to get that trade, this trade served one purpose but because that much more unnecessary. It’s a real double edged sword, you guys.

At the end of the day, Hulk did something I wasn’t sure could happen anymore, it surprised me with how much I liked it. Being around comics as much and as long as I have gives me a pretty good radar for what I will like and what I won’t. I’ll try things I don’t think I’ll like just to give them a shot, but usually I’m pretty right on. I’m glad I liked this book and had so much fun with it. Now I’ve got to find out when they revealed Rulk’s true identity and how the went about explaining the roughly one million times those two characters were in the same room together. I’m guessing LMDs. It’s always LMDs…

Hulk Trade Post: Incredible Hulk Sons Of Banner & Fall Of The Hulks

The Incredible Hulk: Son Of Banner (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak, drawn by Ariel Olivetti, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Paul Pelletier & Ben Oliver
Collects Incredible Hulk #601-605, Dark Reign: The List – Hulk

Hulk is one of those characters I’ve kind of danced around with fan-wise. I’ve heard amazing things about Peter David’s epic run, but when I tried reading it, I was completely lost (he started in the middle of an arc, if memory serves). The only time I’ve ever really jumped in full boat is when Planet Hulk started. I was completely taken with that series, what a great way to turn a character who’s basically a plot point into an actual interesting person you want a read about (and in a way that hadn’t been done quite that way before). I wasn’t so into World War Hulk and fell away when the Red Hulk stuff started.

But I’ve heard good things about the tag team effort being put forth by Jeff Parker and Greg Pak on the two books and decided to give Incredible Hulk a shot when these two books came up on Thwipster. If you’re unfamiliar with the new M.O., this book sees a de-Hulked Bruce Banner palling around with his son Skaar (who was born on Planet Hulk, but Hulk didn’t know it). Skaar also hates Hulk and wants to kill him, which Banner actually likes because he knows/assumes he’s going to turn back into the Jade Giant eventually.

All kinds of machinations are going on in this comic as Banner manipulates everyone to figure out how Skaar will react when really bad things really happen. There’s also a lot of cool bleeding edge science going on with Banner playing action hero. It’s a cool dichotomy because you get both genius Banner, but also a warrior who gets to smash everyone from Juggernaut to Wolverine. There’s a lot of set-up in this first collection as well as cool tent poles for you to grab onto, which makes it kind of a perfect collection. It works on its own, but flows so well into the next.

My only problem? I’m not a big fan of Olivetti’s artwork. I know I used to, but there’s been a switch in style, I think. His characters and backgrounds just don’t look like they belong on the page together. I can’t necessarily explain why, maybe it’s a coloring or compositing thing (do some of the backgrounds look like they were Photoshopped?) but it’s disorienting to my eye. Even so, it’s not so distracting that I don’t want to read these comics again. They’re so fun I just can’t stay away.

The Incredible Hulk: Fall Of The Hulks (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak & Jeff Parker, drawn by Paul Pelletier
Collects Incredible Hulk #606-608, Fall Of The Hulks Alpha

Unlike its predecessor, Fall Of The Hulks mostly flows with the larger Hulk story that was going on at the time. Banener and Skaar have to deal with a cabal of brainy villains lead by the Leader who have been secretly working together for years (basically, a bad guy Illuminati). There are elements at play here that I didn’t directly understand because they refer to Hulk issues that are collected elsewhere, but overall, I really enjoyed this story too. It was like a crazy chess match, but, you know, which giant green guys punching the stuffing out of each other.

The art also greatly benefits from Pelletier’s pencils which are a lot more traditional and have a very big, iconic feel. He also gets to really stretch his wings and draw all kinds of characters from MODOK and the Eternals to Spider-Man and Hank Pym. Even though the book is very Hulk-centric, it’s also a great celebration of the Marvel Universe.

I had so much fun with these two books that I now want to go back and get all of Parker and Pak’s run to see where all this goes. I think I’m a Hulk fan now. Those guys make great comics.

Annihilation Trade Post: Books 1-3

ANNIHILATION BOOK ONE (Marvel)
Written by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, drawn by Mitch Breitweiser, Scot Kolins, Ariel Olivetti & Kev Walker
Collects Drax The Destroyer #1-4, Annihilation: Prologue & Annihilation: Nova #1-4
Back in my days at Wizard, I wound up being the go-to guy for Annihilation interviews. I had just read Infinity Gauntlet for the first time and was pretty high on the idea of Marvel’s space characters getting a jump start. With very few exceptions, I had very little experience with these characters, so it was kind of fun to just be thrown into the middle of all this craziness and see where it went. When these issues were coming out, I had trouble not comparing the Annihilation set-up with that of DC’s Infinite Crisis. Both had four four-issue minis leading up to a main series. At the time it felt like Marvel did the whole thing better because their minis lead into the main series better. I can’t say I necessarily feel the same way now, but at least we didn’t have to get four one-shots to actually cap those stories. But, as usual, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Continue reading Annihilation Trade Post: Books 1-3