Or – “I Believe That It’s Time To Smash…”


The Hulk has engaged the forces of the Marvel Universe, to their eternal dismay, and now a new and different Hulkbuster force is moving towards their date with destiny. The entire Marvel Universe is holding it’s breath in anticipation of what happens next… My prediction? Afternoon tea and reasoned discussion.

Previously, on World War Hulk: The four members of the Illuminati who sent Hulk into space (Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Black Bolt) were surprised to find him returning to Earth. Though Iron Man suspected that he might, and even made plans to deal with his anger when he did, no one suspected that his rage would burn so hot, or that he would find such powerful allies. Hulk tore through Black Bolt as though he were made of cardboard, and devastated Iron Man, even destroying Avengers Tower, the symbol of Tony Stark’s new order. Mr. Fantastic tried to trick the Hulk, but failed miserably, and the entire force of New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, and Fantastic Four were beaten down as well. The Hulk’s oldest nemesis, Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross has taken over where the heroes left off, but is once again amazed that anyone sympathizes with the behemoth…


Ross remembers how the country built a statue of the Hulk out of pure adamantium, but mere months later, an even more savage version of the Hulk uses that very same statue as a weapon before being teleported entirely out of this reality by Doctor Strange. “People make excuse for him. Hell, *I* made excuses!” growls Ross, but those days are over. Blaming the Hulk for countless deaths, including his own daughter, Ross orders his troops to attack. “So, you’re telling me those fools down there still say he’s a hero? Fine. Tell ’em we’re bringing their pal a brand-new ten ton Adamantium tribute… and I hope he CHOKES on it!”


Whomever made the prediction that General Ross would cause more destruction than the Warbound, give yourself a pat on the head and a Brass Blok award for precognition. The soldiers hammer Hulk with rockets, missiles, bullets and the kitchen sink, while Rick Jones protests that all they’re doing is feeding Hulk’s anger. He seems to be right, but luckily, a few of Earth’s defenders (note that word) are still standing. The attack gives Doctor Strange the edge he needs to pull off the spell that failed last issue, and Hulk flails for a few moments before his mind is drawn out of his body, leaving his physical form punching at thin air…


“Get out of my head!” roars the Hulk, “or I’ll tear you in half!” As the military lays on the heavy artillery, Hulk’s threats do something that I’ve seldom seen in all my years of reading Marvel comics. The staid, calm, ever-in-control Master of the Mystic Arts flexes his muscles. “Hear me well, Bruce…”


Holy crap. Doesn’t THAT put the Doc in a whole new light? You never think about the kind of power he must be holding back when he’s providing support for the Avengers, or floating around saying enigmatic things… Strange continues, “but I am also your friend.” Calling on their years of comradery from the Defenders, Strange succeeds in calming the Hulk where nothing else could, asking him to show his true face. “That’s what SHE said,” murmurs the Hulk, shrinking back down to Robert Bruce Banner. Strange prompts him to talk, and Banner tells the whole story, how he met Caeira, how they fell in love, how she was pregnant with his child when Sakaar exploded. Worst of all, he relives the final moments, when the warp core of his ship killed her before his very eyes. Strange takes a moment to try to explain to his old friend…


Banner collapses, sobbing, and my warning light starts going off. Stephen comforts his old friend, reminding him that he body is under fire in the real world, and offering him a hand up. Banner grabs his hand, as Strange says, “Easy, Bruce… I’ve got you.” A shadow grows across Strange, and the deep voice of the Hulk responds, “Yeah… and I’ve got YOU.” The Hulk grabs Strange’s psychic hands and CRUSHES them, and the pain forces the Doc back to his physical form, the Hulk’s will so strong, that the damage becomes REAL. As Doctor Strange falls, The Hulk leaps into action again, destroying tanks, helicopters and soldiers in rage, the pain of Caeira once again fresh in his mind. General Ross leaps in, and can’t resist taking a shot at his former son-in-law..


Hulk grabs Ross, and tears him loose of the copter, and they both crash back to Earth. I wonder if Thunderbolt just got squished, as we cut to SHIELD’s Maria Hill, meeting with the President. She reports that events are going less-than-stunningly, and the President replies that it’s time to submit to a higher power. Rather than praying, they activate a special radio set and contact… Robert Reynolds, The Sentry. “Mr Reynolds… This is your president speaking. And I’ve got a job for you.” IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Heh. I’m a little surprised that they’d take a shot at a sitting President like that, but it’s still funny. The Sentry doesn’t respond (again!) and the Hulk and his Warbound proceed with the next phase of the plan: Taking over Madison Square Garden. Korg of the Stone Men takes a moment to gently remind the Hulk that they can call it a win right now, but The Hulk isn’t interested. As the crowds of Hulk supporters cheer, he prepares to give them “a show.” This isn’t going to be good, I just know it. “Listen to them, Korg! They get it. NEVER stop making them pay.” Oh, god… Hulk has finally crossed the line from Angry Man to Complete Monster if this is going where I suspect it’s going. Rick Jones, for his part, has found his way to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum, only to find that he’s been followed by Hiroim and Elloe of the Warbound. They accuse him of trying to entrap Hulk, but he denies it. Hiroim easily sees through Strange’s illusion (he can DO that?) but Doctor Strange isn’t without protection…


Go, Danny! Fist slows Hiroim down for a second, but Elloe makes short work of Ronin and Echo, snapping their swords, and ignoring the former Hawkeye’s banter. Iron Fist’s shot actually injured him, and he steps back from Hiroim, who is prepared to honor a valiant foe. Asking his name, Hiroim says “I will pray for you, Iron Fist. Now… may he who dies, die well.” Iron Fist’s body collides with the door, and the Hiroim enters, as their associates mark the fallen Avengers with the control discs for the battle arenas of Sakaar. Rick tries to implore Hiroim to stop, appealing to his former life as a priest. “You know this is wrong!” Hiroim replies, “Of course it is, Rick Jones. And some day the Warbound will pay for the rage in our hearts.” It’s obvious now that Hulk IS doing what I hoped he wasn’t, but,thankfully, all is not lost. Strange orders Wong to retrieve a mysterious box. “Zom must live again,” he says ominously, and turns to face Hiroim. Some time later, back at Madison Square Garden, Rick Jones and Miek the Unhived once again argue about whose Hulk is the real one. Rick is horrified at the thought of the gladiatorial games that seem to be planned, and his mouth finally convinces Miek it’s time to kill him. But just as the insect goes for the kill, the body of Hiroim smashes to the ground next to them. “Not just yet…” echoes a horrible voice. “First…”


Okay… that’s bad, in both senses of the world. Those things around his head seem to be the Flames of Faltine (notable for lighting up the dome of the Dread Dormammu all these years, which might tell you what a bad idea it is for someone to wear them) and the power of Zom is probably a greater threat to humanity than the Hulk himself. Seriously, that’s a HOLY @&$ING $#!+ moment, if I ever saw one, folks.

This issue is awesome… Hell Yeah moments abound, for Iron Fist, for Hiroim, TWO for Doctor Strange, even one for Thunderbolt Ross! Greg Pak is writing a tale with an energy that makes every scene feel like that moment where the rollercoaster drops out from under you and your stomach suddenly leaps into your neck. The art by John Romita is absolutely breathtaking, rendering the incredible pain in the face of Bruce Banner as he thinks about his lost queen as well as the scenes of mass destruction (WOO WOO! MAAAASSS DESTRUCTION!!) and carnage with equal flair. I can honestly say that I didn’t see most of the issue coming (a mean feat in itself) and unlike some summer blockbusters *coughcivilwarcough* nothing leaves me scratching my head wondering who could have thought it was cool. I hadn’t intended to pick up this title, but I admit now that not doing so would have been a mistake. It’s just plain fun and exciting, and well worth 5 out of 5 stars. It’s just too bad that Stephen Strange can’t have a monthly comic that makes him seem this cool…



About Author

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.


  1. If Dr. Strange is really that strong … than how come he could stop that plane from crashing in New Avengers? You can’t stop a plane crash, which is like super heroics 101 but you’re gonna beat the hulk with a mere hand gesture? I think he’s gotten high off of one his funny spells …

  2. That last panel was a great “Oh Shit” moment. Up until that point, it seemed impossible for WWH to continue past Issue #4. The gravity of this situation was underscored for me as Iron Fist, Ronin, and Echo were lead away by the Warbound with their compliance collars in place. Can’t wait for next month.

  3. Zom?!? Damn! I tip my hat to Greg for his knowledge of arcane Marvel history. And if you know who Zom is, that “oh shit!!” gets dialed up a couple of notches. And considering Zom’s foes consist of guys like Eternity and the Living Tribunal, maybe make that a couple of hundred notches…

    Props to the Hulk for being able to eat a few hundred thousand rounds of adamantium bullets and explosive shells. Seeing Ross plug away shots right into the Hulk’s eye at point-blank range – ouch. Finally seeing Banner again was nice, if brief. At least we know who’s side he’s on now. :)

    Hiroim getting more exposure here which is good, and seeing some more of his shadow powers at work was interesting. I suspect he’ll be the guy to save the day when Dr. Strangezom inevitably starts to turn to the dark(er) side.

    It’s going to be a loooong wait for the next issue.

  4. Was I the only one who DIDN’T like this issue? I honestly preferered the latest Countdown and Marvel Tarot. This smashing stuff was great in the first issue but it’s like listening to Evanescence follow ups to their first hit: Yes, it’s the same high quality but it’s basically the same damn song! Part of it has to be the art, which looks less and less finished with every issue but if they gave JRJr more to work with I bet they would have gotten more back. I give it two stars at most.

  5. i liked almost all of world war hulk 3 what i didnt like is the way they make doctor strange seam like a god in this issue powerful and all knowing but in any other issue he is just an ass who talks the talk if they make the doc strange impresive here why cant he be imppersive an every other book that he is in instead of a guy just floating around i never new he had it in him

  6. Doctor Strange’s powers levels seem to fluctuate based on who is writing him. He’s one of the harder Marvel characters to nail down.

  7. I’m really not a fan of doctor strange for many of the reasons involved. They should just call him “Doctor Plot Device”.

  8. Steven R. Stahl on

    I bought WWH #3 out of curiosity about how Dr. Strange would be handled. He was handled very badly.

    I suppose that Pak modeled his Strange-Hulk encounter on telepathic battles fought by Xavier (and others?) in the X-books, but he chose the wrong models. Strange’s ectoplasmic astral form is not Xavier’s telepathic projection; the astral plane that mystics travel on is not a stage for psionic energy constructs; the soul is not the mind.

    As neat as the Hulk’s “crushing” of Strange’s hands might have appeared, that would have had no effect on Strange’s body. There was no telepathic battle occurring. Pak made things worse by claiming that the injury to Strange’s hands would interfere with spell casting, ignoring the injury when the time came to turn Strange into a giant, and casually having Strange’s concealment spells negated.

    A telepathic battle really isn’t suited for comics, because of the abstract nature of the conflict–psionic energy aimed at each other’s brain. Non-violent telepathic encounters aren’t much different. Because the interaction has to be pictured, the writer will go for striking images that have nothing to do with the mundane transmission of psionic energy from cell to cell, or from brain to brain.

    I can appreciate the problem writers for WWH and the tie-ins face by having a character whose only powers are being really, really strong and invulnerable, but they created their own problem by bringing Dr. Strange onto the scene. He never should have been part of the Illuminati–chalk that up to Bendis’s ignorance regarding the character–and was particularly unsuited for a battle with the Hulk.

    Pak got into a situation, in WWH #3, that was certain to make him look bad.


  9. Matthew Peterson on

    My only point regarding the questions about Strange’s spells:

    I didn’t have any problem with the effect being physically shown on the Doc, mostly because it was a tool to an end, to show that Hulk is formidable, even for a mystic.

    Essentially, it was a McGuffin to give us a story. The mechanics honestly didn’t matter to me because it didn’t matter to the story, it was just a way to get Stephen and Bruce a moment to talk, and for Bruce to show that he has as much emotional pain staked on Caeira’s death as the Hulk did.

    Your mileage may vary. I liked the book.

  10. Matthew Peterson on

    If Dr. Strange is really that strong … than how come he could stop that plane from crashing in New Avengers? You can’t stop a plane crash, which is like super heroics 101 but you’re gonna beat the hulk with a mere hand gesture? I think he’s gotten high off of one his funny spells …

    Well, the obvious answer is one of preparation. Strange has spent three issues preparing for the Hulk’s fight. He was blind-sided in mid-air by the New Avengers plane crash… Either way, the real answer is “because somebody wrote him that way” and whether the plot points work for you depends mostly on how much you like the story.

    I didn’t care for his weakness in New Avengers. I very much enjoyed his moment here, even if some would say he was overpowered.

  11. Hell Yes. HELL YES. Rob Liefeld drawing the next issue in conjunction with Greg Land with writing by Frank Miller (the same way he’s working on ASBAR) could not ruin the next issue.

    P.S. Thanks for the shoutout, Matt.

  12. Steven R. Stahl on

    The basic problem with the Hulk vs. Dr. Strange is that, if written correctly, Strange will always win. Remember the DEFENDERS stories, when Strange would invoke Cyttorak to keep the Hulk imprisoned inside a crimson sphere for a while, until he calmed down? Strange could also, if forced, banish the Hulk to another dimension. The Hulk couldn’t get back without effort and some time.

    Story-wise, there simply isn’t any point to writing Strange vs. the Hulk unless it’s to show that there are situations that brute strength can’t handle.


  13. Matthew Peterson on

    Story-wise, there simply isn’t any point to writing Strange vs. the Hulk unless it’s to show that there are situations that brute strength can’t handle.

    I completely disagree. I liked the use of the long friendship between Strange and Banner/Hulk, and the fact that only Doctor Strange had the rapport with him to get close enough to make the Hulk question himself, even for a moment. From a character perspective, it answers one of the most important issues behind Planet/World War Hulk: the status of Bruce Banner.

    Banner’s split personalities are united by their rage, and he’s subsumed himself into the Hulk (who actually comes across as a composite of the “Professor” and “Mr. Fixit” personas) to find revenge. It’s a nice moment, for me.

  14. Matthew Peterson on

    MAJOR SPOILERS DICTIONARY: “I’m the Goddamn (Insert Hero Name Here)!”

    An exhortation indicating that a character is exhibiting a powerful and dangerous persona, using a piece of dialogue (“I’m the Goddamn Batman!”) used in Frank Miller’s Batman parody work “All-Star Batman and Robin.” Can be used to indicate dismay at a certain character arc (“I’m the Goddamn Mary Marvel!”) or to show that one is impressed by a rare display of badassery (“I’m The Goddamn Sorceror Supreme!”) or also just to show contrast between a gonzo, over-the-top character and one who is equally interesting in a different oeuvre (“I’m The Goddamn Booster Gold!”)

    See also: Bat-Dickness, Levels Of.

  15. Strange Smash….it’s really been a long time since we last saw (or did we ever) Dr. Strange that furious or cocky, like his underpants are on fire. While on many levels we can say that was coming (otherwise, how will you justify other characters nod to what ever he says–he got to be freaking powerful to make others cower before him!), it’s also rather a sticky position to put him into. If that somehow equates Strange with god, then I think it’s the last we’ll see of him. Though I can be wrong (remember Superman!).

    Ok, all in all, here’s my synopsis: Strange is angry beyond bounds and will beat the crap out of Hulk, and their previous friendships will stop Strange to resist himself from giving the final blow. Seizing that moment either Hulk or his new found buddies will turn the tables on the doctor.

    By the looks of it, Strange is all set to go down the Captain America way.

  16. Hey…all I can say is that this series not only kicks major @$$, it also makes sense considering the events in Planet Hulk/Illuminati/Civil War. Amazingly, they didn’t go for the Sentry as the first line of defense – of course, that battle’s being saved for issue #5, but here’s the rub – since Reed tried masquerading as the Sentry, will the calming effect exuded by the Golden Guardian Of Good not work anymore? I know, I know…we haven’t come to these issues as of yet, and he still has to survive the Zom-possessed Strange, but I think that he’ll persevere with a little help from his Warbound.

    Consider this: Hiroim the Shamed acted as a true friend, in performing the ritual that allows the Hulk to take out his anger and rage only on those who deserve such a response…and his ol’ pal, Stephen Strange, never thought to try such a thing? How sad is that, huh? I guess Hulk was right, all of those years, when he railed against the Defenders – he was a useful idiot to be aimed like a cannon at their problems, to be ignored when he was no longer useful.

    Now – in regards to Hulk damaging Strange’s hands while in ectoplasmic form…remember that Hulk can see astral projections – why would it be such a stretch that he could interact with them? Now, I’ll grant that what I posited is a bit of a stretch, but consider also that Hulk’s strength is so incredible (!), and clearly, Strange understands the depths of power the Hulk can summon, Strange could be suffering from psychosomatic pain.

    What can I say? I enjoyed House Of M (the main series, hardly any of the individual series); Civil War kept me on the edge of my seat; Planet Hulk was a great parallel series and excellent character development for the Hulk (as was Annihilation for Nova); but WORLD WAR HULK just makes sense. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t see what would be the ultimate Hulk/Juggernaut battle, or the Hulk/Super-Thing war (Englehart & Simonson’s run on FF).

    I’m also SO pleased that there aren’t any delays in this series (considering that JRjr drew the 9/11 WTC issue of Spider-Man in a matter of days, and excellently so, really warms my heart), I think that we should all relate that to the torture of waiting in between issues of CW. Steve McNiven did a kick-@$$ job, but man…that wait made me nutty – especially since he was kind enough to make it clear that Thor wasn’t actually Thor – but no one would believe me until #4! Whoa…get me off of that beaten horse…anyway, thanks again to Greg, Johnny, Klaus and Christina! And kudos to Joe for taking the chance on the House of Ideas. You have my continued support.

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