WHAT was I thinking? I should’ve known better. Really, everyone understands that you don’t go the grocery store when you’re hungry, because you’ll end up getting some junky food you don’t need. Likewise, it’s unwise to go to the comic book store when your box is empty. I mean wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I chanced on the abysmal Avengers #1 when my box was light? Never one to learn his lesson the first time, I picked up The Incredible Hulk #610 last week.
Now to be fair, I was jumping into the middle or latter part of a mini-“big event” with multiple Hulk titles. I had followed Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, but dropped off the Skarr bandwagon after the first issue and I hadn’t been back. I’ve flipped through some of the titles over the last couple of years, so I have a vague idea of what’s been happening. Anyway, this issue looked pretty exciting and possibly significant; plus, having Greg Pak as the writer and Paul Pelletier as the artist (who I always like) was certainly an influencing factor.
Well, it turns out I needed a bit more than just a vague idea as I was quite lost. The first page synopsis was woefully inadequate (for me) and I was a bit peeved when they said “Previously ON the Incredible Hulk”, instead of “IN”. I mean, it’s NOT a TV show (anymore). Given the “old school” look to the book, I thought it might be easy to just pick up the issue and enjoy the ride as if I had just seen it on the spinner rack at the local 7-11. Maybe it would have worked if I could’ve gotten past some of the ridiculous aspects of the story:
-- Rick Jones is now a blue Abomination with armadillo skin
-- Betty Banner is ALIVE and is now the Red She-Hulk.
-- Thunderbolt Ross is really the RULK (Thankfully, he doesn’t appear in this issue).
-- Amadeus Cho looks like a red Gargoyle (from issue #1) with a HUGE mutated noggin
-- Doc Samson is now bad (and he has two eyes again – I thought he lost one back in Bruce Jones’ run).
-- The Hulk/Banner has almost as many kids as I do (Well, maybe half as many.)
-- A whole bunch of heroes have been Hulked out ala “Maximum Hulkage”
Betty is dying (Skarr just stabbed her) and won’t turn into She-Rulk to save herself, until Samson shows up to make her mad enough to change. She beats him to a pulp, since he worked with the Leader to turn her into this mostly naked savage. Cho interrupts her to read Samson’s mind to discover that all the Hulked-out heroes will die in 24-hours due to the Leader using “protomatter” (or something like it) to make Samson’s cathexis ray unstable after ratcheting it up to “eleven” (what is this Spinal Tap?). Good thing Bruce saved four smart guys to help: Hank McCoy, T’Challa, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards – not only are they smart, but they work super-fast too to come up with a device to draw off the Hulk energy from the heroes.
Skarr and Shrulk jump down into the melee to keep the Hulk heroes out of the White House (I suppose their battle is covered in a related mini-series). Oh, they’re all floating around in…something, I’m going to call it the Shield Helicarrier, but I really have no clue. The Leader and M.O.D.O.K. are still on board and sic some Humanoids on them. Cho easily stops them by “reconfiguring the laws of physics within a ten-foot radius of his person” -- turns out Cho was always one of the eight smartest men on Earth. While Cho and M.O.D.O.K brain blast each other, Banner starts beating up the Leader and is about to murder him with some sort of ray gun, when the Leader teleports away when Banner is momentarily distracted.
Cho recovers and turns M.O.D.O.K back into a regular human being, right before he gets de-Hulked himself. Bruce steps into the device (made by Reed and Co.) and is going to suck up all the Hulk energy from everyone. Reed worries about what the Hulk will do when he returns (ya’know he might be a tad angry). Cho points out that Banner has an “app for that”, because he’s been training Skarr to take down the Hulk when he reappears. The device is working, but not quite fast enough and the helicarrier is about to plummet to Earth. So Samson steps in to redeem himself at the end and loses his power, his long green hair, and then loses his life (We’re talking Germans after the Ark is opened kinda dead). Banner is now regammified 100 percent and he tells everyone to run as his glasses break from the power oozing out of him.
The helicarrier crashes and the shockwaves are heard from D.C. to Connecticut. Then the Hulk steps out of the wreckage. He’s so mad that he can’t even use words to describe it, just radial lines (sort of like Black Bolt). Skarr is now crackling with Old Power energy with his sword up… “Finally”, he says with a wicked smile on his face (see my version of the scene below).
There is also a Son of Hulk backup with Hiro-Kala. I REALLY don’t know what’s going on with THAT character. Were Skarr and him actually twins when it looked like one was changing into the other? I guess I don’t really care. I suppose if you’re going to pad the book with a few extra pages to get it to $4, then this is a reasonable backup.
Even while I was reviewing the issue again to write this post, I was struck by the art. It’s amazing. I love it, but it really is a LOT better than the story itself. I can’t even fault Pak either, since he’s trying to pick up the pieces from Rulk to get back to a regular Hulk series (I hope). You’ve got to resolve all of this mess somehow. I am interested in the next issue, since it should be a really awesome fight between father and son. I’m also glad that Betty is back, since it was always left open-ended that she could be revived one day (that was another pull for me getting the book). I might even get the Rulk origin issue (Hulk #23), because of all the classic Hulk artists involved. [I was all set to get that issue this week, but it was 5 DOLLARS!!!!! -- OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!]
I’m going to follow Jim’s example and not give a letter grade this time around. I had problems with the issue, but most of the problems stemmed from what’s been going on since World War Hulk. However, I’m hopeful that this is the turning point, we’ve all been waiting for to get back into a Hulk series. Although, I’m also a little concerned that the Hulk is now so mega-powerful that he won’t really fit on Earth anymore. After all, that’s why he was sent off into space to begin with.