A rather slow week for me yet again. I really seem to be saying that a lot don't I. Anyways, the one book that came out for me was the Incredible Hulk but I also picked up the first 2 Runaways digests (I guess that's what they're called as they aren't full Trade Paperbacks, they're smaller like manga books). I was also looking to pick up the "Pride of Baghdad" book but I was too late. I had kinda ignored all the hype of this book until it got overwhelming and unfortunately my shop had sold out before I could pick one up. Fortunately, they've got some on re-order and hopefully I'll be picking it up in two weeks. So on to the reviews:
Incredible Hulk #98 -- So the Planet Hulk storyline continues to move along. We get two quick fights (both of which are interrupted), some back story for the Red King and the Lieutenant (which is a good thing), a glimpse at the "old power", and the usual comic book cliffhanger. I haven't been this happy about the Hulk book in quite a while. Even Peter David's return didn't feel as good to me as this does (though it did have its moments). But yet again, there's the "flow" issue. Maybe I'm the only one who feels it but it seems like every issue there's at least one place where I have to go back and forth to see if I'd missed something. Here, it's when the Hulk goes from leaving with the refugees to leading the army into the war. Miek's comment about the Hulk being made to fight (or whatever it was he said) seemed to be hanging and then poof, the Hulk's ready for battle. The reader gets no more motivation or thought process from the Hulk himself. So I kept going back to see if I'd missed something. But it's a minor issue considering how good this book has been.
Runaways (the first two digests) -- So after it was announced that Joss Whedon will be taking over this series I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. Plus, I'm thinking it will help to know the characters and such before I start picking up Whedon's run on it (yeah, I'm becoming more and more obsessed with Whedon's work). And I can see why Whedon seems to be the perfect choice for this book. It's almost too perfect. I mean you have a team of super kids coming to terms with life, their parents and their powers. You definitely don't need to use up the 6-degrees of separation to make the obvious connection. But enough about the future, let's get to the review. I really didn't think I'd enjoy this book as much as I did. When I first heard the premise I thought it was sort of interesting but could come off really cheesy and stupid if not done right. By the end of the first "issue" (by issue I mean actually comic issue, each digest contains 6 of them I think) I wasn't "hooked" but I was "interested". But when I got to the end of the first digest I caught myself actually feeling emotion when... well, I won't spoil it but there was a "No, tell me it's not true" moment. It was at that moment that I realized I was sucked in and didn't even realize it. I had made a connection to the characters. So I dove right into the second digest and by the end, I was cursing Vaughan (the writer) for playing with my emotions in this way. And as much as I want to know what happens next I have to avoid any spoilers because I want to read it for myself. So yes, this book deserves the hype storywise.
As for the art of Runaways, I was really worried. The first digest has a manga cover and I'm not a big manga fan. Fortunately (for me at least) although the art in the first digest is "simple" or "cartoonish" to some degree (for lack of a better way of describing it) it worked for the story and added to it instead of detracting from it. Even with what I refer to as "simple" or "caroonish" art you can see these kids in the real world and they'd fit right in. It wasn't until the last two issues in the second digest that the manga art came up and it became a little tougher for me. People's hair became even more cartoony, their faces began to get the dash effect (a bunch of lines going across their face) when they got mad, and such (fortunately nobody turned into a cartoon character though). Fortunately (again, for me) the original artist comes back for volume 3. I only wish I had picked it up already as I really want to read what happens next.
Edit: Almost forgot, the digest format of the Runaways is ok I guess. It's smaller but in a book like this it doesn't really hurt it much to be smaller (whereas something like Ultimates with their big battles would be hurt by it). The downside I found was that you had to really spread the book open (possibly breaking the spine) in order to read some of the dialogue that's put on the edge of the page. That was a little annoying.