Catching Up With…

So… by tomorrow I obviously meant in a few days.  It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed, well, pretty much anything – so this might be a bit long (that’s what she said) buckle up and enjoy the ride here, folks!  There is a lot of ground to cover!  Let’s begin with:

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Hulk #4

W: Mark Waid
A: Mark Bagley

What can I say that hasn’t already been said (by me) with this swan song from the ultimately cut short Hulk saga from the ultra-talented Mark Waid?  Well, he left us with quite the doozy – extremis not only saves Bruce Banner but also gives us a mysterious future with Banner being maybe even more brilliant than before – who knows?  I liked the last issue – the Abomination returning (even a clone) is still a great thing to me – I just wish since the recently launched Savage Hulk also has the Green Goliath battling the age-old foe that we could have had a different baddie.  It almost seemed redundant reading the Savage Hulk.  Over all, I will miss Waid and will forever be bummed we didn’t get to see his ultimate vision come to fruition.  Grade: A-

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Thunderbolts

W: Soule, and then the Bens
A: Diaz Luque and then Barberi

What can I say abou… wait, that’s how I started out the last issue review – nevermind.  I have enjoyed the Thunderbolts and thought it hit its real stride with the Infinity tie-ins.  Bringing back Madman and the Leader (even though he was turned red – big mistake in my opinion) was fun to start things out but when Red turned the deciding missions over to the rest of the group that’s when the real fun began!  Watching these personalities clash with each other and how they never seemed to agree but still made winning a possibility was entertaining as heck.  Too bad it didn’t last.  Soule’s final issues seemed rushed and sloppy.  What began as a haunted ride down a murky swamp in search of a mystical treasure quickly turned into a “Crystal Skull” type ending.  Unsatisfactory and unfair.  Unfair to all the readers who were following this unconventional team of super-mercenaries with questionable morals and even more questionable methods.  This book made me even tolerate Deadpool – which says a lot!  The art was even getting better with each issue!  Overall, I think dwindling sales turned this series on its belly and it will end its run at issue #32.

So far the Punisher vs Thunderbolts story line has delivered some great moments but nothing worth real mention – the magic seems to have been dropped from the book – and they are even recycling earlier events back into the fray.  The Punisher shot the Leader… again.  Haven’t we been here before?  I liked when the Leader allowed Red to berate him all the while plotting to take the entire team down – but even that has become tiresome since nothing ever comes of it.  Soule had a real knack for making these characters interesting – but we’re seeing more clichés of these characters rather than the hilarious “Odd Couple” scenarios that made the earlier issues so much better.  Grade: C-

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Original Sin:

W: Aaron
A: Deodato

Everyone said to read other Aaron works – to just turn a blind eye to his ill-suited Hulk run and read his other stories – and I did.  I read his Wolverine Omnibus – fantastic, I read some of his Punisher – great stuff.  This Marvel event, though, takes the cake. It’s fast paced, exciting and the best part – thus far it actually makes sense.  Every issue delivers a great “What the-?” moment that makes you want to pick up the next issue!  Not to mention, I have not picked up every variant, only the Hulk ones and the “Eye” variants, but there are two sets that actually look really decent together!  The Art Adam’s variants combine to create a huge mural type scene and the “Eye” variants look amazing displayed together!

Grade so far: A-

This mini may fizzle in the end – but with two issues left and the story still going strong – I have high hopes for a “blow me away” kind of ending.  I can’t even tell you how refreshing it is to read an event comic that isn’t making me roll my eyes.  It’s been a while – I loved AvX but even that one had its moments that didn’t keep my attention.  Age of Ultron was a disaster from the get-go – and I didn’t mind Infinity but it really crapped the bed with the “homage” ending.  Even World War Hulk, coming off of one of the greatest Hulk stories of recent memory, was a bit of a let down.  We all knew the ending before it even began.  Original Sin, on the other hand, has even served up a pretty thrilling tie-in series with:

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Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man

Let me begin with the idea that I never usually enjoy the idea of going back to origin and changing status quo.  Hell, it usually opens a can of continuity worms that the writers explain by saying “It’s just a fun story – don’t worry about the history” and that never sits well with people.  When this series was announced I was immediately thrown back to the Hulk: Gray moment when Iron Man showed up when everyone knows the first time the two powerhouses met was Avengers #1.  Of course, Loeb has never been one for continuity – it takes a more skilled writer to care about such things (let’s face it, he’s no Jeff Parker) – but I was worried that this was just another Marvel moment.  You know, just write a story and see if people have a god memory or not.

With all of that in mind this new (awkwardly numbered) mini-series promises to serve up an interesting take on what went down that fateful day the green Goliath was created.  So far all we know is that Stark was acting like his pompous self and, thinking he knew best, let his clouded judgement take president over what Banner’s ultimate vision was for the gamma-bomb.  Stark knew how to make it into a more destructive weapon which is exactly what Ross always wanted.  This series still hasn’t let the car out of the bag just yet of what Stark actually did – but it is shaping up nicely.  Grade: B+

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Savage Hulk

W: Alan Davis
A: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer

For all the people who have griping that Waid didn’t bring back the classic Hulk stories that they thought he would – I give you – Alan Davis.  There is only one Hulk guest-spot issue that I had a terrible time finding.  eBay not withstanding, I’ve only seen this issue once – The Uncanny X-Men #66 – and it’s the one in my collection.  With Xaiver is real trouble he needs Banner to help him heal.  The X-Men go to retrieve Banner but have to deal with the Hulk first.  It’s a fun issue with Banner coming out victorious in saving the Professor.

Davis brings us back to that point of time and we re-examine the super-hero battle and it is truly a blast from the past.  The classic Hulk that graced the comics (and television to a lesser extent) is back in full form here.  For everyone hoping for that 80’s child-like Hulk back in action – it’s finally here!  The follow up issue gives us a wild gamma-romp with the real Abomination tearing up the desert in a classic tussle with our favorite Jade Jaws!  This is an entertaining series so far – let’s hope they can keep this train chugging along at a great speed!  Hell, they ended the second issue with the Leader in his original color!  What a refreshing sight!  If only current times were the same!  Grade: B+

I’ve also been asked what my opinion is on the recent news that Thor is being turned into a woman.  Well, it turns out that he isn’t.  Thor isn’t worthy of Mjolnir anymore – and this new chick is.  Thor now battles with an axe.  If you’re wondering what I think about that – well, I haven’t read it.  In fact, no one has – because it’s not out yet – and I remember not too long ago that people were freaking out because Doc Ock was going to inhabit Peter Parker’s body – and look how all of that turned out.  So, let’s be patient – it may turn out kind of cool.  If not, no worries, these are comics – nothing lasts for ever.

Reviews Tomorrow!

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I have a whole set of reviews already to post – as well as my thoughts on the current proposed Marvel story lines – make sure to check back tomorrow.  Mostly I have to upload photos to go along with the post… until then – enjoy Hulk trying to get his zipper zippered!

Can Someone Explain Why…

FF #7

The Hulk is on the cover to Fantastic Four #7 – and not even a small shot – he’s pretty prominent on the cover – but does not appear anywhere in the actual comic?  WTH?  What kind of ruse is this Marvel?  I feel duped!

Avengers Hulk Wall Crawler (2014)

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I have a ton of these.  I really think I may have a problem – I bought one for me and one for my daughter (she had, of course, Captain America) and when she busted it open to play with it, well, let’s just say I don’t think I’ve ever seen her laugh out loud the way she did for this toy!  It’s one of those simple toys that you think is sort of a throw away gift but the way she reacts when it crawls down the wall is absolutely priceless!  The gooey ends of the tentacles stick to the wall and then it falls down slowly.  When I saw her reaction I had to go and buy more of these… then I found myself buying out Toys R Us of them… like I said, I might have a problem!

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Read This/Avoid This! Volume 1

Here’s something I meant to get into a while ago – especially when Aaron was writing the Hulk into the ground and there was nothing new worth reading of our favorite jade mass of muscles!  Basically I am going to highlight two books – One you should totally read – like, right now, and the other is one to avoid like the plague!  Let’s get started!

Avoid This!

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Over the Edge Guest Starring The Incredible Hulk (1996)

W: Ralph Macchio
P: Stephen B Jones
I: Mike Witherby

Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about silver-age Hulk characters!  I loves the ingenuity and imagination of them all – so one would think that seeing the villains who graced the 2nd issue ever of the Incredible Hulk series would make me jump for joy – but they would be dead wrong.  Especially when they are written this way.  This issue reminds me of the Ron Howard epic “Cocoon”.  That feel good movie where old people willingly go live on another planet full of beings who glow and make it with each other by shooting light from their bodies.  Except, in this version, pretend Arnold Schwarzenegger comes in at the end and beats the aliens to hell and forces Wilfred Brimley to stay here on Earth to make diabetes commercials for the rest of his days.

Everything about this comic is embarrassing, including the way they write Betty as a nagging, out of touch, non observant ditz who badgers the Hulk into helping a town of people who aren’t looking for it. Not to mention, this is at the stage when the merged Hulk would sometimes bandage himself up (a la The Invisible Man) to disguise himself from the locals.  Because seeing an 8 foot tall man bandaged head to toe is not curious at all. The worst offense of this comic might just be when they had a gigantic Toad Man, that looks like a rejected cereal box mascot, come out to battle the Incredible Hulk and this exchange happened:

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There isn’t a whole lot of information about what Over The Edge titles were supposed to be exactly – more family friendly comics, maybe?  I have no idea as I’ve only read the Hulk one and it isn’t very good so I didn’t bother seeking out anymore.  Grade: D-

Read This Instead!

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The Incredible Hulk (Volume 1) #255 (1981)

W:Bill Mantlo
A: Sal Buscema

There is a reason when people refer to the Hulk most people still think of the Hulk as the brutish, child-like, rage-filled monster that he was for most of the 70’s and 80’s.  It was a fantastic time to be a Hulk fan.  This issue pits a very angry Hulk against a somewhat butthurt Thor.  Thor, as Donald Blake just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time to see the Hulk causing a disturbance in a train yard.  Thinking he had to intervene (as so many heroes do) he confronted the Hulk while thinking back about their previous encounters.  In fact, Thor thinks about having a re-match pitting strength against strength:

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and this happens a few panels later:

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Mantlo was a genius when it came to writing a savage and sympathetic Hulk.  If you’re looking for some good Hulk stories – it’s time to pick through those back issues and snag yourself a copy of this one!  Grade: A

Shake and Smash Hulk (2014)

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I guess I should just admit it now that I am still watching Hulk and the Agents of SMASH.  I am not totally proud of it – but not completely ashamed either.  The show is far from good – but the truth, as much as it hurts sometimes, is that my daughter loves it and we watch it together.  She asks me questions about the characters on the show and I have a grand time answering.  Fin Fang Foom?  Yeah – my daughter knows who that is now… all due to this terrible cartoon.  So, I don’t totally hate it.  Either way though, this new Hulk figure came out with hollow, rubbery arms.  When you shake him he says “No one shakes the Hulk!” even though you literally just shook the hell out of him.  This figure was found at a Target near me – but have not seen anything else from this show on the shelves here.

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Great Article!

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A friend of mine named Jameson has one of the best sites on the interwebs – I have mentioned it before and here I am doing it again – it’s called Daily POP.  You should visit every hour – or at least every day – but let’s stick with every hour for now… anyways, he has posted a few write ups by a guy named Mark Ricard who has been reviewing the Hulk in book form.  Check it out and then read it again to a spouse or homeless person.  Let’s face it – they have nothing better to do.

As always, click on the image for the link!