Hulk 14/15/16 (2015) – The Review

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Talk about letting time get away from me!  I have lots to catch up on from these past few months!  First off, let me just say to all of you out there who have been reading the Hulk issues and cared enough about what I thought about the issues to email me – thanks!  I know I have been slacking lately with keeping this blog up to date but also I am very thankful that this blog has enough dedicated fans to not desert it all together!  That being said, let’s just dive right into what Mr. Duggan has been serving us with.

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In 2008, we in the Hulk community we introduced to a new Hulk villain, one that rivaled even the his toughest foe, The Abomination!  This new addition to the rouges gallery is the Hulk’s worst nightmare… another, more powerful Hulk!  A mysterious figure whose first act was killing off the Abomination himself!  This new series worked like gangbusters as copies flew out of the stores and catapulted the Hulk to the top of the sales charts!  This was all good news – but, come to find out, short lived.  The series itself was not well thought out and the character, whose personality and powers were so undefined, didn’t even have his own name.  The Red Hulk’s origin, slated for a mere 6 issues, could have been epic – but money spoke louder than well intended story arcs and, with sales at an all time high, they told Loeb to keep on writing without giving the readers what they strived for and were promised the most: the identity of the Red Hulk.

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There is something to be said for patience… something about good things coming to those who wait… but this isn’t true for all things and that series was proof of that.  Sure enough, no one cared when the Red Hulk was finally “unmasked” as Thunderbolt Ross – with his daughter being dragged into this ruby mess along the way.  Soon, the Red Hulk series went to the wayside – but not before he had joined the Avengers in an ill fated attempt to keep people interested.  Without anyone left to care about him and Marvel scratching their heads about what happened to their brilliant plan to cash in on a seemingly new character they gave the Red Hulk a new title.  The Thunderbolts was born straight from the pages of the Red Hulk series at a time when the Hulk still sold like gangbusters!  Of course, this too didn’t last as the Red Hulk was truly revealed to be what he always was… a flash in the pan.

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He continued to stick around the MU though – like a piece of corn stuck in your teeth that you just can’t seem to release – the Red Hulk continued to be a presence that would stick out like the impostor he was.  Until Duggan came along, that is.  Did Marvel realize their folly and ask Duggan to come aboard to dispatch of the crimson mistake – or was this all his idea?  I don’t know for sure but I can tell you that, what ever the reason, Duggan came along at the right time to clean up the whole Hulk corner of the Marvel world.  Get rid of the wanna be’s and return the classics to their former glory.  Every issue presented to us was a welcoming relief that every Hulk fan has been asking for!  No more A-Bomb, instead we have classic Rick Jones back!  Red Leader – no thank you – Classic Leader?  I actually stood up and cheered!  Red She Hulk – GONE!  Skaar?  Out of business!  It was like a knock out punch with every issue.  It was glorious.  We all knew what was coming next… the Red Hulk.  Everything was leading up to a showdown where the Hulk (the good doctor) was either going to “cure” Ross or go down trying.

I won’t go into gruesome details – but the battle was bloody, brutal and ended with Ross (the CURED Ross) being taken away to answer for his crimes.  Everything about this issue was great – including the masterful way Ron Garney has handled the art in this book.  It harkens back to the days of McGuiness’ skilled pencils and his uncanny way of making battling monsters look like a true art form.  I have always stated that if the Red Hulk was handled with a more serious tone – in a way that was not laughable and inconsistent – we could have had an epic new era of Hulk stories.  Loeb ruined what could have been a new turning point for the Hulk after the masterful Planet Hulk and the underwhelming but still entertaining WWH.  But he mishandled the plots, the mystery and ruined his own reputation with the silly drivel he handed us.  Thank you to Duggan for making the series exciting again!

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This comes years after other writers have tried their hands at making the Hulk a readable character.  Aaron’s disaster of a series gave us nothing of value, Waid’s take on the Hulk was a misunderstood love letter to the character.  Of course, the fan reaction didn’t help.  I even heard that Waid had admitted to writing things into the Hulk just to piss off the “super fans”.  But it took Duggan to bring back the real fun to reading the Hulk – it took Duggan to undo the disastrous Hulk Family to really make me enjoy these monthly issues once again.

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How do you top Omega Hulk?  Well, you bookend it with the Hulk seeking help from the only other Hulk that people consider worthy of the title.  Jen Walters.  The issue is an eye opening conversation about the future of Doc Green and where the Hulk maybe heading.  Bookending the series with a cameo by Betty Banner who even let it slip out to Bruce that she had him shot.  It’s so beautifully handled that the disruption of Secret Wars is a really unwelcome distraction.  I notice that we don’t have a Hulk book on the horizon for the summer – except the Planet Hulk book – which is actually a Steve Rogers book in disguise.  I hope when we return to a Hulk series it’s a continuation of what they’ve been doing and not another re-launch.   Grade: A

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4 responses to “Hulk 14/15/16 (2015) – The Review

  1. Good to have you back….. I got a little worry there. I just loved this series and give it an A also. Duggan is a great writer for the Hulk and would welcome him back in the new Marvel universe….whatever that is. By the way it’s Mark Bagley who drew all those beautiful issues and not Ron Garney who by the way is also an awesome artist. By the way I really would like your opinion on Avengers: Age of Ultron Hulk? I was kinda disappointed with this version of Hulk in this film. Marvel Studios have no clue how to handle Hulk on film…shame.

  2. Thank you for the reviews…seems to be faith returning here…when the Red Hulk was introduced, I only stuck around for a few issues and departed. When Aaron was on it – I didn’t even bother…I would’ve picked up Waid, but with the controversy around that whole time, it wasn’t worth my money to bother with it. This looks worthwhile….

  3. GreenScar1990

    My thoughts on Hulk #14

    While the fight was decent, I thought it was kinda… meh.

    All the hype and training from Iron Fist? It just felt like it was a wasted opportunity in my book. I mean, Doc Green does only what, 2-3 moves and that’s it? And they’re moves that most people can do with minimum training. Doc Green had more than that. Disappointing in my opinion.

    And I still don’t like that Doc Green actually needed Deadpool’s aid and a bullet to help him defeat Red Hulk. It cheapens the chance of victory that Doc Green could have gotten, as it is unknown if he’ll triumph in the next issue. I also don’t get why Hulk & Rulk weren’t both amping from the excess radiation (it’s also a mystery as to why Rulk hasn’t actually been shown absorbing/amping in battle) from the site. Over all, I believe Doc Green to be more on par with Fixit/Gray Hulk and a calm Merged/Professor Hulk in terms of power/strength.

    However, I don’t get why it seemed like Red Hulk was amping from rage. He should have gotten hotter and nearly passed out from the intense heat his body was emitting. Also, why did Doc Green antagonize Rulk when it seemed he had the fight won? It just didn’t make sense, much like Doc Green reverting to Banner in mid-air. Just like when it happened in Waid’s run on several occasions, it just doesn’t make sense at all. Unless… Doc Green is doing it to taunt Banner. But that doesn’t seem logical at all, especially during a fight.

    It also irks me that Duggan made out Doc Green to be that he was the most powerful being on the planet and possibly the smartest there is only to not deliver at all. I don’t mind a weaker Hulk, but you shouldn’t false advertise like that. Doc Green had immense potential, but it just seems like it has been wasted. Unlike the other Hulk incarnations, he lacks that savagery and power to be the Hulk. It almost feels like I’m reading a totally different character, one that isn’t the Hulk or Banner… but not in a cool way like Fixit or Merged.

    In all honesty, I miss when Hulk was a warrior. Both in body and mind. Powerful and cunning. I wish the writer would have had Hulk’s savagery be exploited and utilized. Intellect in a fight alone is useless. Let Banner be the Smartest there is, and let Hulk be the Strongest One of All.

    My thoughts on Hulk #15

    Along with issues 5 & 9, this was one of the better issues of the whole “Omega Hulk” arch. I liked that we finally got to see Doc Green get angry and outright overwhelm Red Hulk, effortlessly snapping his arm in a similar manner to how Phoenix Namor did to Rulk in AvX. It’s just a shame he didn’t outright kill Rulk. I’m also a bit disappointed that the other fights were not this intense, as Skaar is more than capable of doing just as well if not far better than Red Hulk. It also doesn’t help matters that Doc Green’s victory seems cheapened by having Deadpool’s aid, martial arts knowledge, and a special bullet that deprives Rulk of his absorption powers.

    I was also disappointed as the assembly of Avengers on the last page. I mean, do they seriously think that Sue Richards, She-Hulk, Captain America, She-Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and a bunch of puny SHIELD agents are going to be able to defeat Doc Green, who’s still able make the entire U.S. continent tremble from his blows and tank Rulk’s best hits before getting angry and brutalizing him? Only She-Thor & She-Hulk would be capable of holding their own.

    Where was Blue Marvel, Hyperion, Spectrum, Thor Odinson, Starbrand, and all the other members of the various teams of Avengers? I just expected something more along the lines of the heroes gathering from Incredible Hulk #601 when Banner showed up in NYC. Guess I just want to see more heroes show some respect for the Strongest One there is.

    However, I can determine that it’s highly unlikely for Gerry Duggan to resolve all the plot-threads of this arch in the next issue. It’s simply impossible to do it in a coherent and effective manner. We’ve got Gammon, The Leader, Kang the Conqueror, the other coding and purpose in the nanites of the cure, the fate of Lyra, Doc Green seemingly dying/fading away due to the Extremis Virus slowly extinguishing from his brain, Doc Green’s plans and fate in store for She-Hulk, the supposed coming of the Maestro, and a few other plot-threads I didn’t mention.

    Anyway, yes I enjoyed this issue. I liked the fight and the art. It actually felt like an actual Hulk issue. If only the rest of the battles and scenarios could have been handled in this manner. If Doc Green were portrayed as powerful and dangerous as in this issue from the get-go, I might have been able to believe his boasts of being the most powerful being on the planet and the smartest one there is.

    That’s all I’ve really got to say.

    My thought on Hulk #16 and my Overall Rating of Omega Hulk

    The best part of an underwhelming Hulk #16 besides Doc Green’s chat with She-Hulk/Jen?

    The two-page spread of the Maestro.

    Now, I’m going to give my full thoughts on the entire issue after having read it a few times. I believe I’ll start with the Lyra story, which was… weird and just horrible… I don’t even know how to describe it. It had some elements of the character, but it… it just didn’t feel like Lyra at all, at least to me. And I’ve read everything involving her. What happened to the heroic Lyra that wanted to follow in Jen’s footsteps and be a hero?

    Also, I’m very ticked off about the massive feminist/chauvinistic reverse-sexism vibe the issue had with that particular story. I mean, seriously? She-Hulk and Lyra get to remain Hulks, yet they freaking take away Skaar’s heritage?! WTF?! It’s okay to have 2 She-Hulks, but it isn’t okay to have one other male Hulk that isn’t the Hulk? I smell some major feminist favoritism here. And I absolutely don’t like it, just as I greatly disapprove of the depowerment of Hulks… especially Skaar.

    Okay, got that out of the way. Now, onto the main story.

    We had some nice moments between Doc Green/Hulk & Jen/She-Hulk, though it’s not surprising that they’re close. I mean, after all they’re the tree-house trio. The best of friends, the closest of relatives, more like brother & sister than cousins. This has always been true regarding Jen/She-Hulk & Banner/Hulk. So, it was nice to see them converse with one another again.

    But I can’t help but feel that Marvel & Duggan is trying really hard to is trying to simplify Hulk/Banner, thus ignoring all the other personas that exist. We hear Doc Green talking about how he was liberated by the Extremis, that Banner never gave him a chance, and that he was only brought out to finish Banner’s fights or to save his life. And I couldn’t help but think… what about the other Hulk personas that took the mantle and were out for extended periods of time like Savage, Fixit, Professor, and Gravage/Green Scar? Are we to assume that those don’t count? Or is Marvel/Duggan trying very hard, and not succeeding, in their attempt to cover up all the times that different personas/incarnations of Hulk took control (like when Hulk remained Hulk for over a year on Sakaar before revealing himself to Caiera) and remained?

    And if you think about, all Doc Green is is an Extremis enhanced Savage Hulk. That’s about right, wouldn’t you say? And was Duggan trying to imply that any Hulk with intellect on Gravage/Green Scar level or higher has the potential to become the Maestro?

    I mean, yeah, we all know Hulk & Banner are the same person. They’re the same, yet different. The same being, yet at the same time two different entities (or more if you wish to include the other Hulk personas). That’s nothing new. It’s just a part of their Jekyll and Hyde/Frankenstein and his Monster complex. Not complaining, but I just thought I should point this matter out.

    We also receive knowledge that Doc Green can cure and retain his Extremis-enhanced intellect, but is frightened to do so for various reasons. The main one being that he may become the powerful Maestro and slaughter every major hero & villain in the Marvel Universe. We also learn that that part of him, his hatred and desire to remove rivals Hulks, may have influenced his intentions that he originally thought were good. Thus leading him to a change of perspective/heart.

    Personally, I never seen Doc Green becoming the Maestro. He lacks the power and guts to be someone as ruthless as the Maestro. Because I sure as hell know for a fact that any Hulk incarnation that is to become the Maestro would not have needed a bullet & Deadpool’s aid to defeat someone like Red Hulk. That is for sure.

    Personally, I would have loved a storyline involving all of the Hulks being the only beings left in the Marvel Universe who are capable of challenging the Maestro. Alone they’d be of no match against the Maestro, but together they’d be able to bring all of their skills in challenging him… though even together Skaar, She-Hulk, Red She-Hulk, Lyra, A-Bomb and Red Hulk would be the underdogs against such a terrifyingly powerful, ruthless, intelligent, calculating foe as the Maestro.

    Come on, I know I can’t be the only one who’d actually love to see a story of that type. We could even have the other Hulks baring savage wounds/scars/damage from their previous encounters with the Maestro. Examples: Red Hulk having half of his face/skull replaced (kinda like DC’s Cyborg) with a metallic construct and a missing arm replaced with a adamantium/vibranium one; Skaar having massive scars on his chest similar to those marking his arm/shoulder and a diagonal scar across his cheek much like the one his father possessed on Sakaar; A-Bomb having a leg and his two arms placed with mechanical adamantium constructs; Lyra’s one arm having a construct and missing an eye; She-Hulk possessing three, large scars across her face; Red She-Hulk having scars all over her body that Maestro inflicted on her when she was in & out of her Hulk form.

    Anyway, back on topic.

    Doc Green gives Jen something to use against him. It’s not a cure, as Doc Green stated he couldn’t cure himself and had no intentions of curing Jen. He states that whatever is in the vile, it won’t kill him but that it’d make him wish he was dead. I can only assume that it is a very lethal and painful toxin similar to the one Carmilla Black utilized on Hulk during World War Hulk, as Doc Green states that it would allow the heroes of Earth enough time to formulate plans and have a chance at stopping him if he were to go rogue. Jen & Doc Green depart on good terms. All was missing was a hug.

    Then we have the return of Betty and her reuniting with Banner. And it would appear that Banner & Hulk/Doc Green are working together to stop Gammon. That being said, I can’t help but feel I’ve seen this all before. Hulk/Banner cooperating and reuniting with Betty?Oh, yeah. It was at the end of Greg Pak’s Incredible Hulk: Heart of the Monster. It’s almost like watching a repeat. The only difference? Heart of the Monster was more enjoyable and had better execution than Omega Hulk, especially in regards to both of their finale’s that involve Hulk/Banner cooperating together and getting back with Betty.

    All in all, an underwhelming finale to an underwhelming 12-issue story arch that had an infinite amount of potential… but in the end it failed to deliver on that potential.

    However, we did manage to get some good things out of this arch.

    *The return of the Green Leader

    *A new enemy/foe in the form of Gammon

    *All the ties to SHIELD, including the lab assistants, are finally out of the picture

    *The possible foreshadowing of the Maestro killing all the heroes & villains of the Marvel Universe

    *The Elimination of Red Hulk

    That’s about it. Or at least all the good points that I can actually think of regarding the whole arch.

    My over all rating of Omega Hulk: C+

    Far better than Waid & Aaron’s previous runs? Yes, but still lacking in areas and did not live up to its true potential. That’s my opinion on the matter. Agree with it or not. It is what it is.

    Your thoughts on my opinion/rating of Omega Hulk?

  4. Glad to have you back Ratchet. Ive been looking forward to reading your thoughts on the series end. Its been a while since I read them and I really need to re-read the series as I cant quite recall everything. Here’s a quick resume of what I liked / didnt like (as far as I remember!).

    Good
    Return of the Leader
    “Saving” Lyra – very amusing.
    Return of Rick and Betty.

    Bad
    The Deadpool bullet to defeat Red Hulk
    Getting rid of Skaar (I thought he had potential as a character).
    “Gammon” – worst ever name for a great concept. A nemesis that had the potential to join Hulk’s villains gallery.

    Very Bad
    No Maestro

    I also think its a shame that Doc Green mellowed over the series. It was great see an evil hulk for once, even more so with the spectre of the Maestro looming in the background. As the effect of extremis wore off Doc Green became less and less evil and the character became less interesting to me. Whilst I enjoyed Duggan’s run and actually looked forward to reading the Hulk for the first time in a decade I do feel he missed an opportunity here. With the Secret Wars reset coming up, it looks to me like writers had carte blanche to write “blue sky” stories for once eg She-Thor, Black Captain America. Its a shame we didnt get see Doc Green go really evil and become Maestro. That would have been an interesting story. Marvel/Disney obviously couldnt allow that staus quo to last long for one of their major characters and I understand that, but isnt that what the Secret Wars reboot is for?

    Im not sure if in the future I will look back on this run as a classic or not – time will tell on that one. All in all I am just really glad that I am enjoying Hulk again. Thank you Mr Duggan.

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