Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Indestructible Hulk Vol. 2: Gods and Monster

That's a great page, the final one of one issue of the Mark Waid-written Indestructible Hulk title, a cliffhanger that leads into the very next issue. As any Marvel comics reader can tell you, no one can pick up Thor's magic hammer, no matter how strong they are—and The Hulk is, as he likes to remind everyone, the strongest one there is—unless they are deemed worthy of doing so, which pretty much means "just Thor" (I think both Wonder Woman and Superman picked it up during DC Vs. Marvel and JLA/Avengers,  respectively though, and that Storm and Captain America were among the Marvel Universe folks to be able to lift it).

That sort of cliffhanger, in which Hulk is seemingly violating the firmly and long-established rules in a comic written by Mark Waid—a writer, if ever there was one, who knows all the old superhero rules—is of the sort that I bet it drove a lot of readers a little crazy, as Jeph Loeb regularly did when he was writing (Red) Hulk. And, had you read the issues serially, that's 30 days of wondering how on earth Hulk picked up Thor's hammer (For me, reading in trade, it was a few minutes).

When the next issue/chapter opens, we see Hulk flying through the air with mjolnir, smashing apart Frost Giants. It's not until a few pages in that it becomes clear what's what: Hulk just so happened to reach for the hammer at the exact same time Thor was calling his enchanted weapon back to him, so Hulk didn't pick it up so much as it picked him up, and took him for a giant-smashing ride on its way back to its master's hand.

That was pretty cool. (The only way that scene could have been improved? If, perhaps instead of "HRRAAARGH!", Waid had Hulk say "WHEEEEEE!")

The Thor team-up that gives the second collected volume of Indestructible Hulk its sub-title accounts for 3/5ths of the book, the rest of it being a team-up with Daredevil, a hero Waid is writing in his other (and better) Marvel monthly. For the first team-up, Marvel was lucky enough to get Walter Simonson, probably the artist most associated with the character after creator Jack Kirby, to draw it, and a quirk of the plotting even allows Simonson to draw a Thor with the costume he used to draw him in, rather than the newer, closer-to-the-film-version costume he wears.

See, Bruce Banner's team of super-scientists invent a portal to the dimension of the Frost Giants in order to search for exotic metals that could potentially be mined, but it's also something of a time machine, so when they end up in Eiderdurm, not only do they find themselves facing angry, giant ogres made of sentient ice, they also find a Thor who has not yet met Bruce Banner or The Hulk (though Banner is familiar with Thor). It allows for a more classic Marvel style team-up, as the characters are more-or-less meeting for the first time (The Hulk's relationship with Thor isn't exactly too terribly nuanced, you know?).

Chris Eliopoulos gets the only lettering credit in the collection, so I'm assuming John Workman did not letter the Thor story, but I think it worth noting that some panels of Simonson art without Workman art look wrong, and some look as if Workman had indeed lettered them, so I wonder if Eliopoulos perhaps was imitating Workman through some of the story, or if Simonson himself had not drawn his own KAKAROOMs and SKRAKOOMs into the panels himself.

The Daredevil team-up features nice covers by Paolo Rivera and nice artwork by Matteo Scalera. It too is a pretty straightforward team-up, although not quite as straightforward as the Thor storyline. The plot is pretty simple: SHIELD is using The Hulk as a battering ram in a raid to secure some super-science weapons on a ship outside New York City, and Daredevil shows up to help. When one of the weapons goes missing, the pair go looking for it, and find it about to be sold to Baron Zemo, who has a whole arsenal of super-weapons, including a few of the Hulk-hurting variety.

Beyond the action, the story is devoted to explaining Bruce Banner's usage of Matt Murdock as his lawyer, a layer of insurance against SHIELD ever screwing him, as Murdock also has whatever dirt on them that Banner has.

It actually reads more like an issue of Daredevil than one of Hulk, perhaps because Waid has been writing the former longer than the latter (and I'm more used to his DD than his Hulk), and perhaps because his Hulk run hasn't had a consistent artistic partner or visual style the way his Daredevil has.

It lacks a scene as awesome as his Hulk picks up Mjolnir—or does he?! scene from the first arc, but I enjoyed the one where Ol' Hornhead walks into a bar full of tough guys, and, instead of having to beat the hell out of them until he's able to intimidate them into providing information, The Hulk does the heavy-lifting by simply being there:
The collection includes 22 whole pages of not-terribly-interesting process material, which seems to be the Marvel collection-putter-together's solution to not having to put six issues' worth of comics in collections, but having them end up being about the same size as they would have been if they did.


Akilles said...

Frankly, pretty much every hero should be able to lift the hammer. Nobody wants it to get stale, though.

A Hulk-like villain called Madman did shout WHEEEEEEE when Hulk threw him, in the 1980`s. But...I suppose Hulk enjoying the ride woulda been a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Dude, picturing Hulk shouting "WHEEEE" as Thor's Hammer took him for a ride literally made me LOL.

I'm loving Mark Waid on Indestructible. The Agent of T.I.M.E. story (I think just after the Thor & Daredevil team-ups) is one of my favorites:

Eric Lee said...

Regarding the Daredevil story, I thought it was interesting and clever that Waid actually has been foreshadowing their team up in both the Hulk AND Daredevil comic. Like there would be a scene where Banner is calling some mysterious person or in Daredevil, Murdock would make a reference to an important client he has.

Anonymous said...

Simonson always does his own SFX. It's what makes him the most metal.