Well, this week seemed to be all about pumping up the comic geeks worldwide (at least in two of the books I read). We have Astonishing X-Men #15, Ultimates 2 #11, and a Giant Size Hulk. And would you believe it, the Hulk book got shuffled to the bottom of my pile (for non-comic fans out there many readers put their comics in a pile as to the order they're looking forward to reading their books for the week... top of the pile is the book you most want to read). But I'll talk more about the Hulk book in the reviews. It was a toss up between X-Men and Ultimates but as a Whedon fan, I had to put Astonishing X-Men to the top. So here goes...
Astonishing X-Men #15: So this is the X-Men disassembled. In pure Hellfire fashion they simply destroy each of the core members. I won't go into the details but it is actually quite the little game they seem to be playing. Of course from Whedon's love affair with Shadowcat (and me reading that one X-Men would be left standing) I knew a little bit of what was going to happen (plus their elimination of Shadowcat was a little weak... and was Emma really counting on that?). But I got a good chuckle from that last page, an homage to the classic Wolverine in the sewer picture from the Dark Phoenix Saga (the one after the X-Men get pummelled by the Hellfire club back then). That scene is where the pumping up of comic geeks happens here. Still no idea on who the mystery member of the Hellfire Club is or which mutant Ord will want dead. With all that and the Danger Room (in that robot body), Ord, the Hellfire club all in the picture, and Wolverine thinking he's a little girl I just gotta read more. I really should buy one of those "Joss Whedon is my master now" shirts 'cause I just can't seem to get enough of his writing. Oh, and the art was good too. :)
Ultimates 2 #11: You know it had to happen. Everything seemed to point to this issue ending with Thor making is triumphant return, after all he did disappear from his cell (appearantly with a little help from Odin) or maybe Iron Man (shooting off into space to get his new armour). But nope. Of course, the presence of the Abomination was a big clue. Plus, he just had to come back. So when a man in a ball cap appears on the streets of Washington telling a giant armoured suit that he didn't travel 5000 miles to come home and be pushed around you know that blood of Hulk fans worldwide starting pumping that much quicker. And just as the rampage starts (with an intelligent Hulk so it must be after the Ultiamte Wolverine versus Hulk series) we end with the Hulk's line of "Bring it on!" Oh, and a bunch of cool stuff happened with Captain America, Henry Pym is still siding with the bad guys but he's also worried about the innocents, and Air Force One (including President Bush) was captured. Sometimes darker heroes or real world stuff doesn't work in comics and sometimes you just love seeing superheroes kick some serious arse. And right off the bat I wanted to hate this series. My whole life I've been reading stories about these comic characters and to twist them into these versions just seemed wrong on so many levels. Yet for some reason, I just can't get enough. I can't wait until the next issue. I gotta be honest, this book may have deserved top of the pile status. Oh, and the art work was good too.
Giant Sized Hulk: As I told Carl, I was upset by this book. Reasons I had to buy this book: It's the Hulk. It's got a Hulk story written by Peter David (albeit one that takes place a long time ago). It's got a Hulk story written by Greg Pak (current Hulk writer) that takes place in the current "Planet Hulk" setting. The major downside: Half the book was taken up with a reprint of the Hulk: The End special. Now I absolutely loved the End special. It had Peter David writing it (although the short story that he wrote originally seemed better somehow) and Dale Keown drawing it (big Dale Keown fan here) but I don't want to pay for it again. I know, stores under-ordered it and sold out. Fans couldn't get copies of it. Ok, do a second printing on its own, don't force it upon fans who got it already and now want these other two stories. But enough of that, the reviews. The Peter David story was pretty much your classic "Annual" story. No real advancements to the character and a moral that slaps you across the face (the Champions learn that if they had just taken a minute to talk to the Hulk they would have known he was trying to get his cousin, pre-She-Hulk Jennifer Walters, to the hospital). And the second story we see what Banner's up to inside the Hulk's brain while he's off world. We see Banner trying to convince the Hulk to leave and dealing with the Hulk's dreams which have quite a few humourous moments like when all the heroes are laughing we have BlackBolt thinking "Hee hee" (funny if you know BlackBolt's powers), Doc Strange's laughter, Wolverine's reaction to Iron Man being ripped in half ("better him than me..." which is funny considering the somewhat well known picture of the Ultimate Hulk doing the same thing to the Ultimate Wolverine), and all the heroes reacting differently to getting their butts kicked. And Banner does get his momentary appearance on Planet Hulk but in the end, the Hulk is the strongest one there is. So overall, if you don't own Hulk: The End then this is a good buy and much better than I was expecting given past Hulk annuals and specials. If you do own it, then you'll either be spending more than you should for two stories or you'll miss out on two good stories. And the art was good which is surprising considering how many Hulk annuals they've done where they seem to drag some guy off the street to draw them.
So there we have it. It was very good week for me in terms of comics but a somewhat bad day other than that. But that is another story.
Oh, and no pain in my tooth yet so my fingers are still crossed. :D