A Lot of Catching Up to Do!

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I think I could put comic readers on par with the most of the historians out there.  Every week we burn through a stack of books – some of us geeks tackle an easy 15-30 titles a month.  Each of them somehow, in some way, connecting to each other.  When asked about certain events we pull out tid-bits of knowledge that would make any comic writer’s jaw drop (especially Loeb who is notorious at this point for ignoring Marvel continuity).  So let’s be in awe of ourselves here for a moment as we delve into the newest (and some over due) titles that I’ve been reading.

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Savage Hulk
W: Alan Davis
P: Alan Davis
I: Mark Farmer

This second monthly title has brought back the classic Hulk that most of the purists love and pretty much all of the non-comic readers know.  The child-like, angry “Hulk Smash”  Hulk.  While it’s good to have a title to read that celebrates the most revered Hulk incarnations and actually uses his time-honored rouges gallery.  First, the Abomination (the REAL Abomination) had a slug fest while also battling the X-Men in issue #2.  Then, the real enemy waiting in the wings, the Leader came out while Professor X and Banner were caught in Banner’s subconscious in issue #3.  Issue #4 begins with the Leader having quickly subdued and neutralized the X-Men and strapped Banner to his device that is slowly draining the gamma power out of him.

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The great thing about a second series is being able to tell Savage Hulk type stories without sacrificing the evolution of the Hulk we have in the main title.  To just turn Hulk back into a mindless engine of destruction without any real reason to do so (much like Loeb did)* is like taking a step backwards.  Here Davis has taken a classic issue and just expanded on the ideas that were already present.  Sort of a Director’s Cut of the Hulk guest spot in X-Men.  True to classic Silver-Age storytelling too – it turns out the battle between the Leader and the Hulk will have to wait for another issue – as it was never the Leader’s body there in the first place and another Hulk cure is lost to destruction.  Nothing compares to seeing a great Leader story with the Humanoids in tow taking on the Green Goliath and the reluctant passengers on his wild ride.  Even better is that Davis was able to tell a 4 issue story arc without changing the outcome of the original tale.

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The art by Davis and Farmer is top-notch – really fun and exciting panel after panel Hulk action.  If I had to suggest a negative it would be that the story arc could have been simplified a bit more to only be 2-3 issues, but I digress.  It’s not like the story felt unusually over drawn, like Age of Ultron did, and seems to be a Marvel staple these days.  I am intrigued by the next story arc coming our way with Dr Strange.  Grade: B

*I only fit two Loeb burns in there – I must be getting soft!

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Hulk
W: Gerry Duggan
A: Mark Bagley

Next up is the follow up issue to Gerry Duggan’s bang-up of a premiere issue which introduced us to the latest Hulk incarnation “Doc Green”.  A savage and brilliant type who is hell bent on destroying the Hulk Family.  A ill conceived brain child from the head of Marvel thinking it would be a blast to see a whole bunch of Hulk’s running around.  Sticking his most over-hyped writer on the case they set out to destroy the simple but ingenious rules of the Gamma-Powered creatures that roamed the Marvel U.  Simple because it was pretty much one rule… gamma radiation effects everyone differently.  That’s why the Leader was made incredibly smart and the Abomination was turned into a reptilian monstrosity.  But in a span of just a couple years they threw the folk-lore aside and we had not two, three, or even four – but six new new Hulks offered to us.

Duggan, in what seemed to be screaming out for other writers to do, decided to answer all the prayers of the Gammabros and is out to destroy the Hulk family. *sigh of relief* In issue #6 he begins with the easiest target – a reluctant Rick Jones.  Of course, A-Bomb (a terrible name that will hopefully stay dead) is no match for the brute strength of the Hulk and is pretty easily dispatched.  After the cure is injected Jones seems a bit ruffled but Doc Green assures him that he was doing this for Rick’s best interest.  Rick was cursed – not handed a gamma-powered gift.  We also get a quick and hilarious scene where the Hulk seems to have given his notice to SHIELD – or at least let them know he is not on their agenda any more – and in the same breath teaches MODOK a lesson about messing with the Jade Giant and any of his loved ones.

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I am curious though, while I would love to think that they will “cure” the whole lot of Gamma-Powered beasts, as they did with A-Bomb, I don’t see this being an easy task.  Sure, Betty can be reverted back – that’s an easy target.  Red She Hulk has topped out the charts of asinine creations on a mountain of already bad-ideas.  She really serves no purpose as her title was cancelled – proving that even a skilled writer like Jeff Parker can’t polish a turd – and she has no real use in the MU with another, better She-Hulk already running around.  Red Hulk himself… well, actually let’s save him for last.  The real trouble begins with Skaar and Lyra – these two were not created by MODOK and the Leader – they were BORN from Hulk DNA.  What would they revert to?  I’m sure Duggan has something up his sleeve – but for the life of me I can’t see what he could possibly do.  They weren’t human to begin with.  Is Thundra going to stand by and let the Hulk de-power their love child?  How would that even all work?  They are certainly on the list – but to what end I am not sure.  Hiro, of course, is not even a factor as he is still somewhere in space hopefully never to be heard from again.

Now the real red herring… or Red Hulk as it may be.  I have gone on record as to saying that the idea for a Red Hulk was not bad – the execution is what destroyed what could have been a great story (damn you, Loeb).  While the Red Hulk has certainly shown unable to hold a title – or even a team book (which was still a great read – until Soule left) he has still been pretty much imbued into the MU.  He’s been an Avenger for goodness sake!  As much as I would love to see the Red Hulk erased… I just don’t see it happening.  We are made aware that Ross knows what Doc Green is up to though, and he is not going to wait around for his “turn”.  Should be interesting.

As far as the name Doc Green goes, let me just say this: there have been a lot worse in the past.  Truly, the name Doc Green may not be the greatest name (like Joe Fixit) but it’s not so bad that it distracts me from the fantastic story being told.  Grade: A

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Hulk Annual
W: Monty Nero
A: Luke Ross & Le Beau L Underwood

Man, it was a good week to be a Hulk fan this week!  The Indestructible Hulk Annual last year found Stark and Banner teaming up to take down an old professor who, for the lack of a better term, turned himself into a living island.  Following that tale we get another dose of a living plant taking over the every inhabitant of a small city.  This time it’s the Hulk’s employee, Patty Wolman, a dying, crazy woman who is infesting the plants, animals and people with a self made plant artificial intelligence named Vista she tested on herself.  With Zadian’s research and her brains and desperation – with a little help from Hulk DNA captured when Banner and Stark ate the fruit on Zadian’s island – the bio-virus grows and heals at a rapid rate.

Of course this would be an issue for any other hero – but not Doc Green who distracts Wolman long enough to get a gamma-pesticide ready.  He saves the city – but does he rid the world of Vista completely? Read it and find out yourself!

I give major props to the writer for linking the last annual with this one and continuing what was an interesting idea. This is certainly worth the read. It seems that all the loose ends that Waid left when he abruptly left the Hulk duties are being wrapped up in due time. It gives me faith that we will be exploring all of the lingering queries, such as “Who the hell shot Bruce Banner?” That’s a doozy of an unanswered question – but hopefully we will find out in a timely manner. For now? Just enjoy the ride, man! Grade: B-

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18 responses to “A Lot of Catching Up to Do!

  1. I just really hate the “Doc Green” name. I hope that part changes soon.

  2. It seems I’ve fallen behind in my Hulk reading. Was not sure about picking the Savage Hulk series but from what you said it sounds good. Is Monty Nero the writer’s real name?

    By the way has anyone noticed the drawing for the preview of Savage Hulk,which takes place in the Crossroads dimension. It looks like the state of Florida. One thing in terms of continuity I have wondered about is how the Crossroads is connected the nexus of all realities that is in Florida. Technically does that mean there are two nexus or is the Crossroads merely a part of the former? Does anyone know Marvel’s policy on this?

  3. That’s the name on the credits.

    It’s a fun series thus far – and it looks like a series that creators will use to tell quick but more expanded stories from the Hulk’s history

  4. I disagree that Red Hulk is imbued into the Marvel Universe. To me this is a character that really has to go as with all the other gammas with exception of Skaar and Lyra. I know all of this will not really happen but that is just what I would wish to read. She-Hulk, Leader and Abomination included to be gone.

    As I have expressed many times, all comics just bore an disappoint and enrage me with a lack of originality. All the Hulks, Mutants, Thors, Iron Men, Captain Americas, Bats, Supers, Lanterns, what have you.

    These extra characters just suck, to me, and I really love the Doc Green persona and agenda, tho I agree, not the name,

    The whole thing and everything about Hulk’s blood irks me too and I think is an easy way out for Marvel to create or cure these lame gamma other characters. But….. whatever it takes to even have the possibility of eliminating these gammas, ….. I am with it. I have been against Abomination, She-Hulk and the Leader characters from the the beginning,

    It is funny…to me…that Doc Green would refer to Rick like he is a drug addict to the Gamma when Rick screams he wants to kill him after being cured. “That is the Gamma talking” Love this persona of Hulk!!! again.

    That being said, Doc Green is super arrogant and is bound to be brought down…….. I hope not. This is a great direction. I love the Hulk, and he should be the only Hulk, other than his children.

    The dialogue and art are very entertaining

    I would wish “Doc Green” rips the Red to pieces or something to make Ross a real enemy and kicks Betty to the curb, finally. God I hate Betty. I know Duggan is referring to Betty as the “her”. C’mon Duggan Hulk has more game than to be caught up with that lame, evil, tramp.

    Again, it would be great to bring back Caiera. Have him get it on with Thundra some more….

    In an interview I read with Duggan he refers to Red as Ross in the new story line, so I have hope.

    No more Gammas *&^$#%! Cure them and myself of their existence. PLEEAASE?! My Christmas wish…wont happen, I know…:(

    Hulk vs Thanos is coming and….we shall see…

    • I’ve come to accept, and even love, the other Hulks. Skaar and Lyra have especially won over a lot of fans since their individual appearances. And just to make it clear, I am not in favor of depowering any of the Hulks. However, as a storyline, it does prove interesting. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that the culling of the Hulks will not last and everyone that does get depowered will return.

      As I’ve been saying: Hulk is the Strongest One of All and one of the most powerful heroic beings in all of comics. But he’s still only one being. He can’t be everywhere to handle every threat to the planet, the galaxy, or the Marvel Universe. Sooner or later, the Marvel Universe is gonna need Doc Green and the other Hulks in order to stop of powerful threat that only their combine might can stop.

      But if I had to make a choice as to who remains a Hulk and who gets depowered, I would say that Red Hulk, A-Bomb and Red She-Hulk should be depowered while Skaar, Lyra and Jen remained Hulks.

      But I would not be against seeing Red Hulk/General Ross getting killed, as I originally wanted that to happen a long time ago when Jeph Loeb brought/forced the character into Hulk Mythology. As for the “her” Doc Green mention in Hulk #6, it could easily be Marlo Jones, who was also transformed into Harpy by Leader & MODOK during Fall of the Hulks/World War Hulks. They never did state if she was cured or not. So it is possible that she might appear.

      As for love interests, I believe that Kate Waynesboro would be a solid choice. Unless they bring back Caiera the Oldstrong. Then again, there’s other lovely females heroines of the MU that could work well with Hulk/Doc Green. What about the new Female Thor?

  5. I agree with most of what you say,Jeff. Especially regarding Betty. Caiera is a better for the Hulk through I prefer Katherine Waynesbouro as you probably guessed.

    Does anyone think that the Doc Green persona could become the Maestro? Or is this just reading into things?

    • Waynesboro would be WAY cooler….Just anyone but Betty…..Meastro …well I can only hope.. Just want all these hulks gone….And Banner panics in the mind of Doc Green for a long while….

      • Come to think of do not both Caiera and Waynesboro have the ‘old power’? Or did in Caiera’s case.

      • Hopefully they will officially remove Jason Aaron’s run from continuity. It is never referenced so it is almost erased now but they should make it official in case someone would try to use the characters or reference something from that year. Those comics should never have been published.

  6. An OK issue I thought, and given the last few years of rubbish, thats good enough (dont agree with your A though Ratchet!). I like Duggan’s general plotline but I think the execution in some way lacks sophistication. It reminds me of a Marvel Adventures title or a 60’s / 70’s comic. Its a bit like the comic equivalent of painting by numbers. I like Doc Green, and the whilst the name isnt a classic like Joe Fixit, I imagine it cant be easy to come up with a name for a Hulk persona. So at the minute Im happy enough and there is definitely potential. I hope that with time Duggan will settle into the role and we will see some truly great issues.

  7. Forgot to mention the cover – I thought it was great artwork and looked closer to see who drew it………. Gary Frank! I havent seen any of his work for a while but this seems completely different to his old style. What a great artist he has turned out to be (and he was pretty great to start with!). Doesnt it make you wish he was doing the interiors too? Bagely is OK – he’s reliable and has certain talents (some of the best fight scenes Ive seen for a long while) but for me his art is nothing to get excited about. Now Gary Frank, what a treat that would be. I think I would even prefer him over Keown (cant believe I just wrote that!). Frank seems to have either developed his style or is more versatile – whereas Keown is still drawing the same stuff as 20 years ago and whilst very good his work seems a bit stale now. Bring back Gary!

  8. “She really serves no purpose as her title was cancelled – proving that even a skilled writer like Jeff Parker can’t polish a turd”

    Priceless

  9. I just have to say, although it may be a bit off topic, and that I love this page to be able to express my opinions with intelligent,serious Hulk and sci-fi literature fans, that the Marvel Universe needs a complete re-vamp….

    For me it would be great to read Doctor Green taking down all of the other gammas……that being said, I feel the whole current MU should be destroyed and started over….

    Look at Captain America……Why does he not simply lift Mjolnir and become a new Thor and not be a weak elderly man…..for example…

    All of these Wolverines???? Ridiculous.

    Marvel is really losing me.

    Doc Green is cool….I hope he lives up to my expectations. Even then, I wish the very idea of all of these offshoot characters would go away.

  10. Nick Fury has the Watcher’s power and whispers something to Thor to make him unworthy…then Thor gets his arm chopped off by Frost Giants and Malekith ??!!!! NO WAY

    I do not think I can bear this Original Sin Storyline….Kluh is just a copy of Doomsday….

    Positive energy….. I love my heroes..

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