Thursday, July 19, 2007

Weekly Comic Reviews for July 18th, 2007 -- SPOILERS

This week was all Hulk for me with World War Hulk #2, World War Hulk: X-Men #2, and Marvel Adventures Hulk #1. So let's get down to business...

World War Hulk #2 -- In World War Hulk we have a series that correctly (in my mind) identifies the Hulk as a much more complex character than the simple one-dimensional "Hulk smash!" that so many people seem to see him as while at the same time, having a whole lot of Hulk smash! And I mean a whole lot. So let's get into the writing. This book actually features quite a few things that I had hoped would be touched upon in the first issue. The confirmation that Tony gave She-Hulk her powers back temporarily for this and others suspecting she may just be on the Hulk's side. She-Hulk attempting to talk to the Hulk and reasoning that if they don't throw the first punch then maybe they can avoid the typical fight. Pak is obviously a writer respects the Hulk's history and character and acknowledges it unlike some who I will not name who twist the Hulk around for their own reasons. The Hulk's eventual response to Jen shows just how much things are different this time though. So yeah, the writing is pretty darn good. Pak's pacing seems to be on (which is something I complained about in Planet Hulk) and everyone seems to be hitting on just the right note. As for the art, for the most part I marvel at Romita's work. The intensity, the emotion, the action,... he captures it all. Maybe it's not as detailed as some other big name artists out there but it's what comic book art is all about. But there are the odd panels that just shake me loose. I'm thinking of two in particular, one had Invisible Woman's arms so weirdly bent that it looked like maybe she absorbed Reed's powers and the other had the Invisible Woman turned in an awkward way and I was left wondering how her leg seemed separated from her body. I guess these kinds of things will happen considering but it was jarring nonetheless. And now, we move on to the ending. I've read a few posts and reviews where people felt let down by the end. I guess in some ways I can see what they're saying. The Hulk and his crew have taken out Black Bolt, Iron Man, the Avengers (Mighty and New), the Fantastic Four, and a bunch more so what are a bunch of puny humans going to do? But maybe it's just my Hulk fanatic side that says, this is General Ross. A man not to be taken lightly. And this is an army that should be equipped with weapons beyond anything we see in the real world. Heck, if you think about it, for most of his career Tony Stark has been a genius in a walking tank. Well the army has their own tanks and a lot of them. And Tony, Reed, and several others have all at one time or another provided technology to them. I guess what I'm saying is that the United States military shouldn't be taken so lightly. Heck, in many situations I'd put them up against SHIELD. SHIELD may have a lot of high tech stuff and a lot of trained agents but they still aren't really built for war, this is what the Army is all about. But maybe I'm just a Hulk fan trying to justify why Ross is still as relevant today as he was in the beginning. But I digress in order to get back to the review at hand. This is a series I recommend wholeheartedly. Though it also seems to be a series created for those who thought Civil War went too far with what they did with Tony, Reed, et al. Heck, I don't know how many times characters have admitted that the civil rights violations and such that Tony has been responsible for crossed the line from hero to something else. It makes me wonder where they're going to end up with all this. But again, I digress. :)

World War Hulk: X-Men #2 -- Well it's even more Hulk smash. And just like in World War Hulk, the Hulk is treated with respect in this issue. They don't turn him into a mindless brute. His desire to bring in Xavier even though Xavier wasn't directly involved in sending him into space is questionable, but what the Hulk has planned for the perpetrators is still only known to him so perhaps it's justified (at least in his mind). Despite Xavier's decision that what he and Illuminati did was wrong and that he should surrender and answer for it, this book still promised to have some real slobberknockers as the Hulk takes on some the elite X-Men who refuse to let Xavier surrender, from the Astonishing team to Juggernaut himself (albeit a much less powerful Juggernaut). And some X-fans may be disappointed as the Hulk makes his way through them all. But I liked it. Not only as a Hulk fan, but as a reader. To have the Hulk struggle too much against Wolverine would lessen the impact of his current rampage. If he made his way through Black Bolt, Iron Man, and whomever else only to be slowed down by Wolverine you'd start to wonder why the other heroes are having so much trouble with him. So having the Hulk pound his way through was probably the only way to go. And boy, does he pound his way through. He is more vicious than he's ever been as Colossus, Wolverine, and Juggernaut all now know. And as someone who has been getting a little tired of Wolverine (though not in Astonishing), it was a guilty pleasure to see him get absolutely pummelled. And for Juggernaut fans, well he hasn't been at his previous power levels for a while so at least you have that. :) But enough fan boy ranting, the writing is pretty spot on. The characters are well done. And the art is pretty darn good. It may have a weak panel or two but over all it's very solid. But you have to come in knowing that this isn't going to end well for the X-Men. The Hulk can't be stopped in a tie-in series after all. That has to wait until issue 5 of World War Hulk. It's not required reading for World War Hulk but it does make my recommended reading list. At least for those looking for a little more Hulk smash.

Marvel Adventures Hulk #1 -- It's Hulk for the kiddies. Marvel Adventures is Marvel's latest attempt at a kid friendly line (Marvel Age was their previous). And this book works for me. The art isn't stellar but it really doesn't have to be. It's solid enough even if the Hulk's appearance does seem to change a bit throughout the book. And even though it sometimes suffers from the same problems that the She-Hulk art does (characters kinda look like squished 2-D cardboard cutouts or something, which makes me wonder if the colouring or something else has a hand in it) it's decent enough for a kids book. And it fits as you don't really want the hyper-detailed over the top stuff. As for the story, it's just the Hulk origin with a bit of a twist. They take Peter David's idea for the bomb (having Banner create a bomb that will wipe out the weapons and such of an opposing army while leaving the people unharmed) and make Rick Jones an assistant. Nothing too out there. Oh, and they add a monkey (it was the test subject taht Rick decides to try and save). Overall, I think it was a decent attempt at a kid's friendly book and I hope it does well. So many comics of today are so geared towards the older audience and I think that's a bit of a shame as I'd like kids of today to have the opportunity to enjoy comics just as I did when I was young. And besides which, as the older generation gets older and moves on the comic companies will need someone to take their place. Though I guess there's also Manga. :) So yeah, for the younger audience or someone just looking to check out some simple comics, I'd recommend the Marvel Adventures books and Marvel Adventures Hulk in particular. For the older readers looking for something more mature, I'd say stay away.

So that's it for another week. And just in case anyone is curious for a Divine Leap update (which may be one person), I'm making progress. Don't ask for benchmarks ;) but it's moving along. I've posted 11 pages of Chapter 2 issue 1 (plus the cover) to drunkduck and that's really all I have "completed" at the moment. But I have up to page 7 (or maybe 8) of issue 2 drawn and inked so I just need to clean them up (erase the pencils), scan them in, do some touch ups (which I'm starting to do with the Tablet to get myself more accustomed to it), and letter them. I've been doing all that one page at a time as I post them. I keep looking back at the early stuff and thinking how crappy it looks. Though I'm also not 100% happy with how the recent stuff is turning out and I'm sure I'll look back some day and think of how crappy these pages look. But there is progress there as well.

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