Or – “Is He Man… Or Monster? And Will He Figure Out Which Before It’s Too Late?”

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One of the fascinating things about World War Hulk to me is the underlying justification of the Hulk’s actions. He is acting out of vengeance for his wife, his unborn child, and his subjects on Sakaar, all of whom counted on him for protection. His reasoning, while brutal, is sound, and he pointed out to the Invisible Woman that she would be doing the same thing if HE killed Reed and her children, and she couldn’t really argue with him. Really, the whole thing boils down to lack of trust between the heroes and an almost chronic inability by the Illuminati to imagine that anybody is as smart as they are. With Black Bolt and Iron Man down, and Mr. Fantastic about to be in his sights (this issue takes place between pages of World War Hulk #2) it’s easy to forget about the other players on the field, but two of them are about to have a little tete-a-tete of their own…

Previously, on Incredible Hulk: The Illuminati blah blah blee rocketed into space blah bWWH.jpglah Hulk finds friends blah de blah dang ol’ BOOM blah blah returns with a vengeance. New York has been evacuated, save for the Warbound, the Avengers, and those few crazy folk who’ve come to support Hulk in his actions. Amadeus Cho has assembled a few heroes (Hercules, The Angel, and Namora of Atlantis) who he thinks are willing to help the Hulk, but the big guy doesn’t think he needs any sort of assistance. Hercules (who lost a wife and family centuries ago and knows exactly where the Hulk stands) stands up to the brute, taking an awesome beating while trying to convince Hulk that he just wants to talk. Moments before (though two weeks later in another book entirely) Rick Jones, the boy who essentially made the Hulk, confronted him and actually calmed him down for a few seconds before Doctor Strange used the distraction to attack the Hulk’s mind. Now, Rick Jones watches to see how the Hulk will react…

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But Rick isn’t the only observer, as Miek of the Warbound also gauges the situation from a distance, waiting for the Hulk to act. Both human and insect have similar views of the creature called Hulk, having been both his friend and the target of his rage in their interactions with him. They both look at Amadeus Cho, his face full of hope and trust, and wonder how the boy can be so very dense as to think that an angry Hulk is anything but a recipe for a full-body cast. “Don’t they know?” thinks Miek. “He’ll learn, soon enough…”

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“…and I figure I’ve got about ten seconds to get down there before…” Rick hasn’t seen the Hulk in a while, though, and his estimate is wrong, as Hulk stomps the ground, sending all his erstwhile allies flying. Both Miek and Rick are knocked back, and both of them remember how their first interactions with Hulk ended up with the two of them flat on their @$$es like this. “But he wasn’t trying to hurt me,” thinks Rick. “He was saving my life,” finishes Miek. Their experiences mirror each other, and not just the Hulk-related ones…

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Both orphans, both mocked and attacked, they both found the existence of the Hulk in their lives to be a sign that they can be MORE than just the beaten-down outcast. “Then, everything changed,” thinks Rick, and Miek’s thoughts agree. “I met the Hulk…” “And I started to see,” says Rick, and Miek finishes, “…what I could be.” The twin narrative is interesting, but not entirely effective for me. The sheer alien-ness of Miek the unhived makes it hard for me to accept that he has motives and thoughts that are so perfectly ‘human.’ Their shared experience continues…

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But Rick’s freedom didn’t last, as he found himself responsible for the Hulk, trapped in the underground cavern, keeping watch over the reinforced concrete cell Bruce Banner built to cage his other half. “I was sixteen years old, and Bruce Banner made me responsible for restraining the most powerful creature on the planet,” he thinks. But things quickly went downhill, as Rick’s belief that Hulk was a hero soured a bit when he saw Captain America fighting his big gray pal. “But when I tried to stop the Hulk, he nearly KILLED me. Feels like old times.” He thinks back over all the times the Hulk came close to destroying him, including the broken back that left him paralyzed from the waist down for a time. Overcoming his resentment, Rick resolves to act…

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Miek, too, has vowed to stand by the monster that saved his life, but rather than trying to calm him down, Miek wants to keep him enraged. “Because, every once in a while, you start to think that it may be time to stop. That all you want is to be left alone…” Miek recalls. “But every time you almost gave up, Miek was there, reminding you of who you are.” Miek is proud that he continually reminds the Hulk that he is “made for vengeance.” As the battle continues, Rick is nearly knocked down by a barrage of SHIELD bullets and bombs.

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With these words, Miek sweeps in, taking the agents out with a few quick shots from his many arms. Rick yells that he’s trying to help the Hulk, but Miek isn’t interested. “You’re trying to STOP him,” he accuses, and Rick agrees. “But he HAS to stop, or someone is going to get hurt!” Rick grabs a SHIELD blaster, and shoots past Miek, but as the bug laughs, a building falls on the both of them. Rick dodges, but is quickly confronted by another insect warrior, this one named Mung, who threatens to rip the SHIELD agents apart unless Rick cooperates. When a smaller bug-man says that they’re only allowed to kill the Illuminati, Mung strikes him down, demanding that he tell them the lesson the Hulk has taught them all. Miek suddenly rises, saying “Never stop making them PAY.”

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Miek’s rage simply makes Mung more angry, and the big yellow bug leaps into the midst of the hivelings, tearing them limb from limb, killing everyone he can find. Rick and Miek watch, horrified, and Mung turns, covered in ichor, with a terrible smile on his face. It’s an obviously challenge to Miek’s dominance in the hive, as he croaks his challenge… “Do you remember, Brother Miek?”

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“…our rage gives us the strength to take THE WORLD down with us. THAT is the lesson of the Hulk.” Mung stands, but Miek the Unhived has all he can stands, and he can’t stands no more, attacking his hive-brother with all the strength at his disposal. He slashes at Mung, pinning him down, and raising his sword for a killing blow.

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“Fine,” says Miek. “You help him your way, and I’ll help him mine.” The two best friends that a giant gamma-irradiated monster who became an alien king could have turn and walk away from each other, and Rick Jones thinks, “God help us if I can’t…” For what it’s worth, I understand both positions, and mighty even be leaning towards Miek. At least his beliefs are based on more current information, whereas Rick is going on the memory of a man he hasn’t seen in years…

Overall, it’s an interesting issue, but one that I can see causing consternation among the readership. The parallels between the characters (the lynchpin of the story, in my estimation) came across as a bit forced, but it was interesting to see how similar Hulk’s associates are. Leonard Kirk’s art is good, but veered a bit too much into an exaggerated Erik Larson-esque territory for me. Once again, we have a continuity question, with part of #107 taking place during WWH #1, part during WWH #2, and this issue picking up immediately after the last. I suppose it’s nice if you only read Incredible Hulk to see that your story continues like that, but from a continuity cop perspective, it’s a nightmare. And don’t even get me started on World War Hulk: X-Men, and where that thing takes place. This is a quiet little story, in it’s own way, and while I understand what Pak & company are going for, I don’t think it quite hit the target. The pluses and minuses even out to a 2.5 out of 5 star rating. By no means is it a fiasco, but this issue wasn’t as successful as it could have been.

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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.

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3 Comments

  1. Sean Curley
    July 25, 2007 at 4:49 pm — Reply

    All of WWH: X-Men takes place between the Hulk’s appearance to deliver his ultimatum and the expiry of time given to evacuate New York.

  2. July 25, 2007 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    It was a daunting read for those readers who may be turning into Hulk for the first time due to WWH. This was the first Hulk issue in a long while that just didn’t do it for me. Granted, it was a great parallel between Miek & Rick Jones … but I think it was a stretch. A so-so issue indeed. I’ll let Pak slide this time around.

  3. Brother129
    July 26, 2007 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    When did the “Editor’s Note” become extinct like the thought balloon. One of things I always loved about Marvel Comics was that little caption that told me what I needed to know. You would think paying $3.00 as opposed to 50 cents for a book would necessitate a little upgrade in info!

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