Catching Up Thursdays – and Happy New Year!

Wow – the beginning of a new year!  Let’s catch up with a few new issues – annuals of my favorite comics to be exact:

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Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 (2013)

W: Jeff Parker
I: Mahmud Asar

Parker has a real knack for writing interesting and fun stories that intertwine perfectly with continuity.  History is as important to the fan boy as costume preciseness and power accuracy – a fact that some new writers (and even a few veterans) miss out on.  That being said, I am still not sure where to place The Indestructible Hulk.  I mean, I know he has the where with all of decimating city blocks and destroying small towns as the Hulk – fighting heroes over the year – being shot into space, etc.  But which parts of history should remain – and what is being asked to be forgotten?  Here we have Stark and Banner tracking down an old Professor named Zadian who has an entire island that he has turned into a living, breathing weapon.  Everything is susceptible to destroying anything that he views as his enemy – including his former students – everything including the sand on the beach and the air that they breathe.  Watching Stark and Banner’s personalities bounce off each other, seeing them prodding each other over who has the superior intellect, is like watching old friends banter over long standing feuds about ex-girlfriends.

The only thing that bothers me, still to this day, is how Banner (and the Hulk, for that matter) don’t mention Stark’s part in the idea to shoot the Hulk into space.  We can all see that they had plenty of chances in the chattering amidst the two about “turning space travel into a weapon”.  Over all though, watching Banner and Stark facing a foe who can match, and sometimes defeat, their mental prowess was a real thrill.  Overall, Parker shows that he could be handling the Hulk’s monthlies without a problem.

Grade: A-

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Thunderbolts Annual #1

W: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
I: Matteo Lolli

Not sure why this didn’t hit me right away – I think I will chalk it up to the fact that I just don’t pay attention sometimes – but I found it pretty hilarious when I linked the fact that this new version of the Thunderbolts are called that because they are lead by… General “Thunderbolt” Ross.  Again, I know that I am probably really late to the party on this one but I still found it funny.  So, I wish this Annual was just as fun and entertaining as the regular series but I am sorry to report that this issue, which features the team collecting mystical items to battle a troll posing as Dr. Strange, falls pretty flat.  The only real joy was the somewhat predictable ending where Castle saves the day when he can’t be cheered up.  It’s still worth the read if you’re following the series – but don’t let this be your first exposure to the usually more entertaining team.

Grade: B-

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