Friday, 10 December 2010

Review; The Incredible Hulk 601 – 605 & Dark Reign The List


Continuing my reading of The Hulk in Bulk: In this run of comics, Bruce Banner, thanks to the Red Hulk and Jeff Loeb, no longer transforms into his green alter-ego but instead is attempting to provide some fatherly guidance to his ‘I’ve-grown-quickly-but-now-stopped’ son, Skaar. This means manoeuvring him into conflicts with more endearing Marvel characters such as The Juggernaut, The Mole Man and The Fantastic Four. I know I’ve said before that one of the things I admire about writer Greg Pak is his contribution of new concepts to this world but it’s greatly satisfying to see a new character I’ve grown to like sparing with others I’ve known since childhood.

Pak portrays Banner as dynamic which is at odds with how I feel the character should behave although not necessarily with how he’s appeared in the past. Often, he appears as heroic although burdened by his uncontrollable physical change. In these issues he no longer has this problem, although he doesn’t believe it himself, which is refreshing. It’s like Pak is winking at the reader and saying, ‘we all know Banner being cured has been forced upon us by somebody else and isn’t permanent, but trust me; we’re going to have fun in the meantime.’ The dynamic between Banner and Skaar, super smart guy and slow witted strong man, is similar to the one Pak utilises in Hercules and so, I suppose, couldn’t stay here for long anyway.

Ariel Olivetti is the main artist. He looks like, for these issues, to have produced fully painted characters dropped onto a computer generated backgrounds or actual photographs. Although his use of photography isn’t as strong as Terry Wiley’s in Verity Fair, the result feels fresh and bold just the same. Other artists such as Giuseppe Camuncoli and Paul Pelletier provide more traditionally produced sequences which, at first, are jarring but still look great.

These comics retailed for a shocking $3.99 each, although I got them from a dealer at a comic event for 50p each, and so come with a compensatory All New Savage She-Hulk backup story. This is a third She-Hulk character currently in existence along with the original and the red one, although this one looks like the missing link between the two of them with her green skin and bright red hair. As it happens, creators Fred Van Lente, Michael Ryan and Sergio Arino sell this latest version to me quite well thanks to their story featuring all of the drama and action a superhero comic strip should have.

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