Or – “Hulk No Care About Political Infrastructure!”

WWH14.jpg

Though every comic company uses the hype machine, Marvel is often considered to be the pinnacle of pre-release hyperbole, dating back to the heady days of Stan Lee. The House of Ideas has been telling the Fearless Front Facers for months that World War Hulk is going to be huge, and that nothing will ever be the same again. Even granted their overuse of that particular turn of phrase, after reading this issue, I’m starting to believe it.
Previously, on World War Hulk: Robert Bruce Banner created the Gamma Bomb, but was bathed in radiation when he tried to save teenager Rick Jones, who had entered the WWH1.jpgtesting site on a dare, from being blown to smithereens. He walked the earth and had adventures, met Batman, stole the Rocketeer’s girlfriend, was revealed to have had a terrible childhood, and developed a love of beans. When the Illuminazis Illuminati, a group consisting of Marvel’s driving forces (the leaders of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, Inhumans, and a guy who looks like Spock with winged ankles) decided that he was a threat, their alliance shattered. Unfortunately, some of their number succeeded into rocketing him into space, in the hopes that he would find another world upon which to live. This NIMBY reasoning failed, however, when the spacecraft they built suffered damage upon landing, and later exploded, destroying the planet that Hulk had made his own. Now, he’s back, and he’s madder than he’s EVER been… and there’s a proverb about what he’s like when he’s angry that you may have heard. As he approaches Earth, The Hulk remembers how he got here in a brilliant, concise sequence that tells you everything you need to know, and also clearly delineates who his targets are…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

As his ship enters Earth’s star system, it passes through some sort of asteroid belt. This is actually good for the Hulk, as he has held in his rage for some time now, courtesy of the training and assistance of his warbound allies. But as he is no longer holding back, he actually stands ON THE HULL of the craft and dealing with the asteroids with his BARE HANDS. Hulk no need oxygen! Hulk grow gills and breathe like a fish!!

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

That is simply breathtaking. John Romita done brung his A-Game, and every panel is a joy to read. Back on Earth, a tracking station picks up a blip as the ship enters lunar space, but then it disappears. “Are you getting this?” asks one techno. “Yeah, I’m picking that up. We call it THE MOON,” replies he co-worker, returning to his story and sandwich. Heh. I love that line, for some reason. The blip is gone because the ship has landed, and the Hulk’s massive boots thunder onto the lunar surface. He is confronted by King Black Bolt and Queen Medusa of the Inhumans, and Medusa tells him in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want this fight. “Black Bolt’s master blow can shatter your bones. And his merest whisper will blow your broken body into the sun.” Charming imagery there, Maddy. Confronted with the first of his intended victims, the Hulk doesn’t hear anything but the boiling of his blood. “You shot me into space. Killed my world.” She orders him to stop, but he raises his fist, and Black Bolt whispers a barely audible “Enough.”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“…I want to hear you SCREAM!” bellows the Green Scar as he leaps back at the king of the Inhumans, his face a mask of rage. The Earth stations may have missed the ship, but the explosions and debris this fight kicks up on the moon are clearly visible, and the nations of Earth try to prepare for anything. Tony Stark is called into action as the Gruppenfuhrer of SHIELD, but by this time it’s too late. The Hulk’s ship appears in the sky over New York City, panicking the citizenry ala Independence Day and broadcasting a hologram to Times Square (and, apparently, the entire planet.) “Puny humans,” echoes the voice of the Hulk. “I’ve come to smash. And you should know who’s to blame. You call them heroes. I call them MONSTERS. Listen to what they told me before they tried to kill me…”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“But I survived,” continues the Hulk, “with my Warbound. Korg. Miek. Ellor. Brood. Hiroim.” I like very much the way they tell us exactly what has happened in the last year of Hulk without slowing everything to a crawl. The recap is a seamless part of the story, and the telling of it is used to great dramatic effect (though I have to admit to not reading Planet Hulk, so it may be different if you already know the players and have a scorecard…)

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“…I’ll do this to your WHOLE STINKING PLANET.” The hologram holds up the battered and defeated form of Black Bolt, and my jaw hits the floor. If he can defeat one who holds the Power Kirby, what chance does an autocrat in a tinkertoy suit have? Tony knows he needs to find out what’s going on now, and Iron Man takes to the skies. “Norad. This is Iron Man. I’m taking over satellites Baker David five, six, and nine… I’m tapping into the satellites’ mainframes, rewriting the code, rerouting and antivirusing on the fly.” He uses his Deux Ex Machina Extremis power and links into the satellites. Unfortunately for him, in so doing, he makes himself vulnerable to the Hulk and his cybernetic ally (whose name escapes me.) They hit him with another electromagnetic pulse, like the one that disabled the satellites in the first place, and Tony is knocked for a loop. But as much as that shakes him up, he’s even more stunned by the appearance of an old friend…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I like this… It’s good to see Anthony finally acting like the hero I remember, even if it’s only for a second. But you have to think he’s absolutely desperate to offer blanket amnesty like that, especially after all the recriminations and the horror that came out of the heroes refusing to register in the first place. Tony heads back to Earth and joins Reed Richards in finding Bob Reynolds (The Sentry) to convince him to power up and stand by their side. Bob is nearly paralyzed by this decision, remembering that the Hulk is a dear friend and even worse, the last time he saw The Hulk, he got every bone in the big guy’s body broken. But a little cajoling from Reed (“The Hulk needs you.”) and he turns into his golden alter-ego. As they start to leave, Sentry interrupts them… “Tony… A word please?” Whatever he says isn’t for us to know yet, as we cut to the evacuation of the city, with New and Mighty Avengers standing side by side. When a few tough guys won’t go, claiming that the Illuminati want to steal their homes, (because Tony Stark always wanted a Long Island crackerbox to go with his two castles, seventeen chalets, and Manhattan high-rise) and Spider-Man tries to talk to them. When that fails, a loud smashing noise is heard, and the sidewalk buckles. “It’s the Hulk!” cry the panicked citizens…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Not that surprisingly, everyone starts cooperating after that display. For my part, I was confused by the appearance of Jennifer here. She apparently gets her powers back from the “permanent loss” in She-Hulk #14, but I don’t know when it happened, or if it has even been shown on panel yet. Iron Man arrives in his sooper-duper ‘Optimus-Prime-had-sex-with-a-battleship’ Hulkbuster armor, and Spider-Man comments that he thought we waiting for Superman the Sentry. “He’ll be here when the time is right,” replies the Iron Dictator. There’s real venom (no black suit pun intended) between them but suddenly, a spider-sense buzz nearly knocks Pete over. The dreaded battle cruiser appears in the sky over Manhattan, and Hulk… JUMPS OUT. From like, 10,000 feet! Hardcore, indeed. Iron Man takes off, ordering the strongest to stay ready and in reserve in case they’re needed. Immovable object? May I introduce you to Irresistible Force?

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I think *I* felt that one… As he engages the Hulk, Iron Man also sends out a transmission on all frequencies. “This is Tony Stark, Iron Man, Director of SHIELD. And yes, I fired the Hulk into space. So if you need to blame someone for his return, blame me.” This sounds remarkably like the last words of a man who believes he’s going to die. I’m strangely moved as the broadcast continues. “But everything I’ve done… everything I do today… everything I’ve EVER done… I do to protect the world. Someone once told me that with great power, comes great responsibility. That’s usually thought of as a lesson for children, a simple injunction to do the right thing. When I put on this armor, I took on more power than any human was intended to have… and maybe more responsibility than my heart can bear. But today…”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“No matter what it takes.” This is definitely meant to be his epitaph. I suppose it’s better than “Here lies the Iron Dictator. The first syllable of that last word says it all.” I have to admit, I felt for Tony here, maybe as strongly as I have since he beat the bottle and defeated Obadiah Stane all those years ago. It’s a flash of the hero I remember from my youth, and I totally marked out for it. The Hulk goes down in a heap, and lies still for a moment. Around the world, video cameras record the incident, and in a certain Vegas casino, someone intones “Well, I guess that’s it, then.” A man that I’m dead certain is Rick Jones looks at the monitor with a grave face, and responds “Don’t bet on it.” Air Force jets rush in, firing their missiles, but in the heart of the explosion, The Hulk rises… “CAIERA!” he screams, remembering his lost bride, and their unborn child, remembering the horror of her last seconds of life, the death of an entire planet, and exactly WHO was responsible.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

It’s INCREDIBLY impressive to me that I feel as strongly for Hulk’s position as I do for Iron Man, especially over the loss of Hulk’s family. The artist formerly known as Bruce Banner leaps, hitting Iron Man at tremendous speed, and carrying both of them through the air like a bullet. They slam into (and more than halfway through) Stark Tower, and Hulk repeatedly hammers Iron Man with blows that could shatter a moon, not letting up for a moment. The force of their battle, the sheer power being exerted, does the unthinkable…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I’m not sure how I feel about this sequence. I can’t help but remember (and the guys who wrote this work and probably live in New York, so they damn well intended it) waking up on a Tuesday morning and seeing the same thing over and over on every single channel. This moment really crystallizes the sheer extent of the damage being wrought, and it certainly hits it’s mark. I’m just not sure if that mark is below the belt or not… Six years isn’t THAT long, is it? Either way, as the heroes the police and fire department rush in, they’re obviously thinking the battle is over. They… are… WRONG.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I know he’s not, but part of me is absolutely sure that Iron Man should be dead. Or, if not dead, rendered into a puddle of jelly, like Thor was after killing Jormungand. This… is extremely bad. We’re talking, “Egon, define bad?” kind of dangerous, here. This is obviously not the same Hulk we’ve come to know and love, and he’s playing for stakes well beyond anything the Marvel universe has seen before, Civil War included. In his mind, Iron Man has wantonly and intentionally killed an ENTIRE PLANET. To the Hulk, this is justice… capital punishment for a mass-murderer on a scale unheard of.

Marvel is really pulling out all the stops with this one, and Romita has cracked open a cinematic vision that’ll really ‘knock your dick in the dirt,’ to steal a line from Joe Lansdale. You won’t find a missed beat in the whole issue, artistically speaking… Greg Pak is telling an awesome widescreen story, but his writing doesn’t skimp on the character moments, with Spider-Man’s near cameo still interesting, as well as nice turns by Sentry and Iron Man. Even if it’s all downhill from here, this issue is quite an achievement, causing me to mark out for BOTH sides of the same fight, and showing us how terrifying it can be when the man who gets stronger when he gets angry gets angrier than anyone has ever gotten before. This is the “shot heard round the world,” the moment that will probably define most of our memory of this crossover, and it’s damn good, folks. World War Hulk #1 is well worth all 5 out of 5 stars, and enough to wipe away nearly any preconceived notions or reservations I may have had…

5stars.jpg

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Marvel Sneak Peek: Wolverine: Origins Annual #1

Next post

Mark Waid Returns to the Flash

22 Comments

  1. quelonio
    June 15, 2007 at 12:07 pm — Reply

    Whoa…

    Iron Man is still alive, but his ego is seriously wounded (which is good)

    Great review!

  2. Josh
    June 15, 2007 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    She-Hulk powered back up is the only thing that bothered me about this issue. Other than that, amazing.

  3. Sean Curley
    June 15, 2007 at 12:47 pm — Reply

    Quite apart from the fact that I think the Hulk beating Black Bolt is complete horse puckey (even if he can’t unleash his voice at maximum, he’s got all kinds of other powers that should stop the Hulk dead in his tracks), I was annoyed that they made Black Bolt the opening credits kill. Black Bolt has never, in his forty-year-history, lost a fight, and now he loses off-screen?

    Otherwise, a great issue.

    Pak actually does a great job with Iron Man, who is, contrary to what myself and most people probably expected, the first line of defence against the Hulk.

  4. Everan
    June 15, 2007 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    Seriously, I don’t know. Maybe I’m too gullible, but what if Stark is crippled, or even fatally wounded? Of course, it would be shocking to do away with such a well-known hero again, but wouldn’t it be suitable? A kind of symmetry, if you follow my thoughts, and almost a redemption for his previous deeds (well… almost-almost.)

    Definitely, I would like him to die now. Or even, not to be so drastic, to retire. His actions, his speech… Memorable and chilling at the same time.

    I have to read the whole thing, I know it already.

  5. Brent F.
    June 15, 2007 at 1:04 pm — Reply

    The fact that Iron Man isn’t very bothered by the fact that he destroyed an entire world and wiped out countless lives bothers me.

    I’m not convinced that Black Bolt was defeated. The man has his own vendetta against the humans, so I suspect he may have formed an alliance with the Hulk off-panel.

  6. June 15, 2007 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    Quite apart from the fact that I think the Hulk beating Black Bolt is complete horse puckey (even if he can’t unleash his voice at maximum, he’s got all kinds of other powers that should stop the Hulk dead in his tracks), I was annoyed that they made Black Bolt the opening credits kill. Black Bolt has never, in his forty-year-history, lost a fight, and now he loses off-screen?

    Strangely, that worked for me. If I were to postulate what they were thinking when they did that, I would say that they were trying to avoid the cliche of working your way up through your enemies in terms of power, like you were playing Metroid. Instead, he started at the top, and really gave the rest of the Illuminazis something to think about when he utterly thrashed the man who was the most powerful among them (by about an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE!)

    It was done for effect, and I don’t think that losing to the Hulk like that really did any damage to the myth of Black Bolt… If anything, it underlines his courage in stepping up to be first, even not knowing the full extent of Hulk’s fury. Honestly, I think what defeated Black Bolt more than anything was his restraint in not wanting to unleash his full power on an old ally…

  7. NorthernLizard
    June 15, 2007 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    Wow…nice review. I’ve mostly lost interest in the Marvel titles over the last couple of years, but I’m definitely going to have to pick up this series. The Hulk going on a full out rampage – with damn good reason – is not something to miss.

    I wonder though…could it be Sentry in the Iron Man suit rather than Tony? I don’t see him in any of the splash panels you have up, and it would be a convenient out for keeping Tony alive. He does like to think ahead after all, and he had to know there was no way he could take the Hulk himself.

    And where is his anti-Hulk serum?

  8. Sean Curley
    June 15, 2007 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    Honestly, I think what defeated Black Bolt more than anything was his restraint in not wanting to unleash his full power on an old ally…

    There’s also that his wife was about four feet away.

  9. Mark I.
    June 15, 2007 at 1:31 pm — Reply

    Yeah, look…Black Bolt, powerful as he’s supposed to be, is just not a superstar. It’s very fitting to get him out of the way now so a big name can take (or talk) the Hulk down. I mean, you can’t send Gladiator, Champion, and The Forgotten One in to take the Hulk down…it’s just not flashy enough. I like what they’re doing though. Isn’t it great to LIKE Tony Stark again?

  10. June 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    That Proverb…would it be Ezekiel 25:17?

    “And You Will KNOW My Name Is The LORD, When I LAY MY VENGEANCE UPON THEE!”

  11. Matt
    June 15, 2007 at 2:14 pm — Reply

    “KRAKKABA-THROOM!!!”

    I very much liked this book. It’s the “Comes Around” following the better part of a decade of “Goes Around.”

  12. Brother129
    June 15, 2007 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    We’ve all been giving Marvel a lot of well-deserved crap over the past few months. But let’s face it true believers, somebody knew what the hell they were doing by releasing WW Hulk and New Avengers #31 in the same week. I even have hope for Spider-Man again….

  13. June 15, 2007 at 2:53 pm — Reply

    We’ve all been giving Marvel a lot of well-deserved crap over the past few months. But let’s face it true believers, somebody knew what the hell they were doing by releasing WW Hulk and New Avengers #31 in the same week. I even have hope for Spider-Man again….

    They say even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

  14. June 15, 2007 at 3:37 pm — Reply

    A great work of JrJr and Janson !

  15. Kienan
    June 15, 2007 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    “I didn’t come here for a whisper, I want to hear you scream”. That may be the best line I’ve heard since “I pulled him inside out and saved the universe. What have you done lately Tony”.

    His rage, and by association his power, is officially unfathomable.

  16. Brent F.
    June 15, 2007 at 5:57 pm — Reply

    What would make this interesting is if the Hulk knows about the Skrull invasion and knows who some of the impostors are.

  17. Randall W
    June 15, 2007 at 9:40 pm — Reply

    Looks good. I didn’t follow Planet Hulk but it is clearly layed out. I have one problem though and I may be wrong. It says they are on the lunar surface and in one panel the sky is black with perhaps a hint of stars. Hulk, Medusa and Black Bolt are on the surface of the moon then. No atmosphere. How can they talk without any air to convey sound waves……and how can Black Bolt use his power, for the same reason……..and how are Black Bolt and Medusa breathing, we already gathered Hulk doesn’t need to….no,no,no this doesn’t add up at all :). I know, it’s a comic and we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief but still it’s a plot flaw. I can understand the Hulk, he’s the Hulk, but the other things? Perhaps the blue area of the moon, the inhumans home, has an atmosphere I’m not aware of.

  18. The Dave
    June 15, 2007 at 10:45 pm — Reply

    I think this is what happens when Bruce Banner is just as pissed as the Hulk is… completely unstoppable.

  19. Hiya
    June 16, 2007 at 7:26 am — Reply

    Please don’t smash, I know it’s a comic book and not the Documentary Channel, but these guys can talk… on the moon?

  20. June 16, 2007 at 8:44 am — Reply

    How can they talk without any air to convey sound waves……and how can Black Bolt use his power, for the same reason……..and how are Black Bolt and Medusa breathing, we already gathered Hulk doesn’t need to….no,no,no this doesn’t add up at all :). I know, it’s a comic and we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief but still it’s a plot flaw. I can understand the Hulk, he’s the Hulk, but the other things? Perhaps the blue area of the moon, the inhumans home, has an atmosphere I’m not aware of.

    Got it in one. The Inhumans home city of Attilan is in the Blue Area of the moon (also the home of Uatu the Watcher, and although the gravity is much less, there is an atmosphere. It was also the site of the final battle in X-Men #137, where you might recall Phoenix killing herself to save the universe…

    Knowing is half the battle! PORKCHOP SANDWICHES!!!

  21. Maximus Rift
    June 16, 2007 at 10:01 am — Reply

    Now this is more like it. I finally have a sliver of hope for 616.

    As for the Skrulls, There is no Skrull empire since Annihilation. I say there’s a alien alliance trying to destroy Earth.

  22. Andrewsmash
    June 29, 2007 at 1:35 am — Reply

    Brood on Earth – that fact could actually justify all the militarization occurring right now.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section