Not a bad week for me, I picked up three books. Incredible Hulk #99, American Splendor #2, and Elephantmen #3. So lets get right to it.
Incredible Hulk #99 -- The story is good, the art is nice looking, and the Hulk is the Hulk (Pak definitely seems to have a good grasp of the character) but (and I hate saying "but" here), there are some things that could be better. I'm sounding like a broken record here but the flow is off. Yet again I find myself going back and forth in the book trying to figure out what I missed. One minute the Hulk is standing with his ragtag team and the next he's a mile off in the middle of a field getting bombs dropped all around him. Fortunately, one of the characters actually points out that he's in the middle of the bombs or I'd never know it. Which leads me to the other example, sometimes the cheesy (and somewhat "classic" sounding) dialogue where a character describes what is happening can help. Having a character say "Wow! The Hulk has created a fissure big enough to swallow the spikes!" would have clarified things (although allowing for the scene to take up more than a small panel might have helped as well). As well, even though the story is good it almost seems to be moving too slowly. Part of this is because so far it's been very predictable. You knew the Red King would do something evil (like releasing the spikes on his own people) and the Lieutenant would turn on him when he did it. I kinda wish Banner would appear from time to time just to shake things up and make this a real Hulk story. So although Planet Hulk has been a nice little excursion for the Hulk, I won't be too sad to see it end.
Elephantmen #3 -- There are two stories in this book so I'll split the review a bit before coming back to the issue as a whole. First up, the Elephant in the Room storyline. It gives a bit more of a glimpse into the world, where animal poachers who are having a tougher time hunting endangered animals are taking it out on the "Elephantmen" (and one actual Elephant-man in particular in this storyline). I'm not a big fan of the art style in this story (reminds me of an exaggerated Jack Kirby style) but it gets the story across pretty well. And the story is pretty good and gives you a bit more insight into the Elephantmen and the issues they have to face (not only from outside but from inside themselves). So that story was good. The second story, titled A Good Look, has Hip (the hippo guy) unconscious and being looked after by a young woman after the fight from the last issue. And that's pretty much it. She babbles a bit, gets a little curious about Hip's ... size and tries to sneak a peek. Hip wakes up at this point and after a moment of embarrassment (which is drawn in a horrible almost anime style that looked totally out of place) she makes a few jokes to lighten up the mood. So yeah, there didn't really seem to be much there except an introduction to the woman. So it seemed to miss the mark slightly. Which brings me to the book as a whole. It's continuing to present two stories in each issue and leaving them entirely disjoint. The story that continues from the previous issue seems to be an afterthought while the other story actually seems to go somewhere (although it does resolve itself to some degree). I just wish this book was presented in a different format. Buying issue after issue of these appearant short stories just isn't my cup of tea even if it is an interesting idea in the big picture.
American Splendor #2 -- I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up issue 1 of this book and issue 2 was about the same. I mean, if someone had told me that this book was just a bunch of short stories about a guy fixing his toilet, picking up his step-daughter or signing an autograph for a fan at a convention I'd wonder what the point was. Yet somehow, it becomes an adventure more enthralling than many of the superhero stories I've read. Part of it is the way it's written and presented (the art isn't over the top stuff and it's done by several different artists, but for each artist it's simple and it works for the story) but the other part is Harvey. If these events were to happen in anyone else's life they'd be a footnote at best. With Harvey, the simplest things in life become something almost monumental. With the convention story, you're almost screaming at the autograph seeker to just take the bag he was offered. But I'm on the fence as to whether I'll be adding this to my list. As fun as it is to read I just have to watch how many books I'm buying. It'll be a tough decision.
So that's it for me. And unless my copy of Marvel Zombies shows up tonight I won't be having any "surprise" reviews.