Or – “It Goes Too Far…”

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The Illuminati took it upon themselves to rid the world of the Hulk… and it was a mistake.

The Red King of Sakaar believed he could kill the Green Goliath… and it was a mistake.

The heroes of Earth thought they could stop the Hulk with force… and it was a mistake.

Doctor Strange chose to channel Zom to end the fighting… and it was a mistake.

Hulk’s up to bat… Who wants to bet on how well it’s going to go?

WWH1.jpgPreviously, on World War Hulk: Arrogance led four of Marvel’s most upstanding heroes to make a very bad decision, rocketing the Incredible Hulk into space, where he found a life as a slave in the warpits of Sakaar. Fighting his way through any and all comers, he was heralded as their savior, even defeating their king and finding a wife. Unfortunately, the ship that sent him malfunctioned, and the resulting explosion destroyed Sakaar, with the exception of the Hulk and his Warbound allies. Coming to Earth, they’ve cut a swath through the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Illuminati, and co-opted Madison Square Garden as their own arena of death. A series of bad decisions has led us here, and now one GOOD decision by Doctor Banner could change the entire complexion of this war… Unfortunately, he’s going to have a hard time making any such decisions with a faceful of possessed Doctor Strange. Even the Warbound, every man as strong as the Hulk himself cannot stand against the sorcerer supreme empowered by Zom.

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“…just you!” Strange quickly deals with all the Warbound, smacking-down Korg of the Stone Men with a back hand (bearing in mind that Korg’s people were a match for the Thunder God himself) and smacking Elloe away. His fists encased in spiked flails of mystic force, Doc doesn’t seem to see the Hulk sneaking up on him, and the Green King takes his best shot, from behind. This fight, it seems, will be as short as the ones that came before…

IT DOESN’T WORK.

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Strange smash, indeed. The Doc hammers the Hulk with multiple blows, mocking him. “Stupid monsters… I’ve just begun.” Halfway across town, the Hulk’s peanut gallery tries to break through a line of police and firemen to get to the Garden, the better to enjoy Hulk’s bread and circuses, forgetting about what happens to those who forget history. Suddenly, the Hulk flies into their midst, crashing into the pavement and leaving a crater worthy of a meteorite, and Zom-tor Strange quickly follows. The crowd cheers that their hero is there to save them, but watch as Hulk is repeatedly hammered by mystic blasts and hammering fists. This is bad, folks. There’s no way in hell Zom is going to just let Doc walk away after having this much freedom… Worst of all, the last punch knocks Hulk into and through a building, which then proceeds to collapse.

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Strange suddenly regains a bit of himself, racing to the rubble and flinging it aside to try and save the innocents. Ironic, really, that Hulk’s rampages in the previous four issues apparently didn’t cause any fatalities, but Doc’s did… Well, scratch that. It COULD have…

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…if it weren’t for the Hulk. “Tell you what,” replies the Hulk to Strange… “I’ll give you a lesson.” Demonstrating his own control of power, Hulk smashes Strange through a car, into a wall, and proceeds to pepper him with punches that would not only kill a man, they’d reach back in time and retroactively kill his grandpa. Each blow releases a burst of mystical energy, but the lights get dimmer and dimmer, and I recall the death of the Human Bomb at the hands of Bizarro. “No more pretty lights…” Suddenly, Hulk’s fury is broken by a tiny piece of rock striking him in the face.

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Hulk hoists Doctor Strange up, punching him in the gut with bone-breaking force, pretty much just to be a prick, and snarls. “No. Banner is ME.” Ordering Miek to put the disk on Strange (proving that this takes place BEFORE Amadeus Cho breaks into the underground stockade in the last issue of Incredible Hulk) Hulk returns home, with Rick accompanying him, and Hulk finally takes the last step that seals his fate. Gathering all the heroes and soldiers in the Garden, he prepares to make the Illuminati face the horror that he faced on Sakaar. But first, he wants to make them understand what they’ve done, with the help of the people they claim to have been helping…

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Hulk turns on his captives, asking them “Don’t like it, do you? It’s not fair. Not the whole story. You have excuses. Explanations. You’re innocent. These people don’t know what really happened. They don’t know what’s in your heart… Now you know how it feels.” He releases a giant alien monster on them, forcing the assembled Illuminati to fight for their lives. As they scramble to find a way to deal with the creature, Hulk reminisces on his Sakaar experiences… “The day I landed on Sakaar… I was weakened. Captured. Enslaved. Thrown into an arena to fight monsters like those…”

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Tony Stark, of all people, manages to get the better of the creature, stabbing it through the skull and killing it, but the horror doesn’t end here. “On my second day on Sakaar, they took me to the Maw. A gladiatorial school. They threw me into a pit with other slaves, and told us to kill each other.” Elloe opens a cache of weapons, and orders the Illuminati to fight to the death. They refuse, but a shot from the obedience disks makes them pick up weapons. Doctor Strange tells Hiroim the shadow-priest that this time, it is HE who goes too far, and Hiroim replies, “Aye, Strange. May the prophet embrace and forgive us all.” Meanwhile, in a small town called Deus Ex Machina…

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Sentry thinks back, remembering the conversation with Tony, which ends in a typically Tony fashion. “No matter what you do or don’t do, billions could die. You HAVE the responsibility, whether you want it or not. I know you’re not ready to hear this, Robert. NO sane person is. But it’s time to play God.” While the Golden Guardian of Gaga tries to actually, y’know, MOVE, Doctor Strange and Black Bolt are fighting to the death in front of a mob of cheering fans.

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“Never stop making them pay.” Dammit, Elloe! Stop egging him on! When Korg realizes that it’s gone too far, the situation is beyond reclamation anyway. Reed and Tony fight their way to the center, and Iron Man takes over the Death’s Head guards to get Reed away from him. A shot from the obedience disk, and Tony is forced to make them all shoot to kill… Reed replies with killing blows, and stands ready to crush Iron Man’s skull, as the Hulk smiles. “How about that, Tony? Looks like we’re all monsters now.” Oh, man… It’s over. Hulk has chosen his side, and now, sadly, whatever happens is due to his OWN hubris and brutality. As the crowd cries for blood, Hulk stands, and prepares to give the order… Kill him or spare him? Thumbs up, or thumbs down?

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The moment stretches out, aired on all the networks, including a television in the living room of Bob Reynolds. As the Sentry stands motionless, unable to decide, The Hulk has a similar dilemma. Slowly, he raises his fist, and prepares to answer, while the Sentry raises his own hand, energies building in his hand. Both men move as one, and two more bad decisions are made.

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And it’s one. The moment that most of us knew was coming (and some of us really wanted to see) is now irrevocable. The only question is: will Sentry be fast enough to save Iron Man? There’s only one answer, and we know that, but it’s going to be an interesting ride getting where we have to go.

This issue is a powerful one, and there’s a palpable sense of dread as every step moves us closer to the moment where Hulk screws it up forever. For all the things Iron Man has done, for all the arrogance of Reed Richards, the obnoxiousness of the very EXISTANCE of the Illuminati (and believe me, it’s an arrogant and terrible organization from top to bottom) they at least tried to SAVE lives. Hulk has now chosen the path of vengeance, and that road leads only to more disappointment and death. I am now rabidly curious as to what will happen to the Hulk after WWH, ’cause things can’t be the same. Hopefully, they won’t just sweep it under the rug like Spider-Man’s unmasking (which, nearly a year later, hasn’t amounted to much at all.) It’s another shot out of the park by Pak, Romita and company, and it’s a solid 4.5 star out 5 effort. I’m actually stunned, even if I did suspect that this was where it was going.

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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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27 Comments

  1. Chris
    September 19, 2007 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    I was halfway expecting Strange to be flung into some hellish dimension for breaking all the cosmic laws in the book

  2. September 19, 2007 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    Funnily enough, Blonde-Headband-Girl is so freaky that I think she’s secretly Mephisto. Certainly her argument – ‘I wasn’t expecting to risk my life in an aliens vs magic War Zone’ is a bit suspect…

  3. Kienan
    September 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    It all comes down to Hulk Smash or Hulk Kill.

  4. September 19, 2007 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    When I actually read the trade of WWH, I hope I like it as much as these reviews….

  5. Ben
    September 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    Personally, I’m just glad they gave us the fights. For a moment there…I thought Hulk wasn’t going to go through with the games.

  6. Everan
    September 19, 2007 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    What’s best about WWH is probably the characters’ motivation. I mean, you’re really able to understand the reasons behind their actions… And the line between hero and villain is extremely blurred. I find myself cheering for both sides at the same time, even after the events of this issue. Well, Hulk can’t just throw a few punches, level some buildings and declare “OK, guys, I think we’re even now.” He demands deaths. That’s brutal, that’s low, but so is any revenge. Wife and a child? One cannot lose more than that. Well, maybe only an entire world… Oh.

    I’d really like to see something bad happening to Stark. Something that would affect him permanently. I still think that it would be a very elegant symmetry to Cap’s death.

    Can anyone recommend me a title, after reading which I’ll start to like Sentry? Maybe I don’t have enough background on him, but I can’t shake off the feeling that he is only an Aryan Superman clone, with some weirdness thrown in just for the heck of it. He’a a plot device, not a character. Please, tell me that I am horribly wrong!

    And again, sorry for any possible linguistic errors ;)

  7. quelonio
    September 19, 2007 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the review, I really want to see Hulk smashing Sentry VERY hard.

  8. Brother129
    September 19, 2007 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    Unlike trying to decipher the actions and of Reed and Tony (and Peter Parker) over the past few months, the Hulk’s actions and struggles are completely understandable. The fact that he makes a bad decision to go thumbs down only shows me the reader how much he has gone through his entire life. The way I feel at the end of the day these guys still owe HIM the apology.

  9. September 19, 2007 at 5:41 pm — Reply

    Typical Marvel. The most powerful being known to man and he is afraid to go outside. But I guess that is why we read comics right. Remember when Superman became too powerful. They killed him to reset things. Maybe the Hulk and Sentry are headed for the same fate. I doubt that because they already killed Cap this year. Of course he is showing up in more comics than he did when he was alive.

  10. Wirehead26
    September 19, 2007 at 6:46 pm — Reply

    My guess is that Sentry will die at the end. I don’t know what will happen to Hulk after that but I just had a feeling when reading that “time to play God” line that he will pay a huge price for saying that. I even wouldn’t mind him being resurrected in the future(probably by Bendis).

  11. Sean Curley
    September 19, 2007 at 7:10 pm — Reply

    I’m still squarely with the Illuminati here. The Hulk is way over the line, from the start.

  12. mosdef
    September 19, 2007 at 7:12 pm — Reply

    oh man i actually have goosebumps, i was on on hulks side for awhile, but when one of his Warbound actually say its enough…its enough. I hope Sentry pounds his green hide, save the iron dictator bob.

  13. September 19, 2007 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    Disappointed with the way Doctor Strange has been portrayed. Either he is to powerful (WWH) or not powerful enough (New Avengers). Hulk crushed Stranges hands? Well, that could really be serious, seeing as how he had major surgery just to make his hands work again.

    Yeah, I know this story is about Hulk, but does anyone else notice how Doc has been written completly differently everytime he makes an apperance in a book?

  14. Roy
    September 19, 2007 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    I can see several different outcomes where the Hulk is redeemed, and isn’t the “bad guy” after this is all said and done.

    1.) Hulk and the Warbound are not who we think they are. The big green guy could go all Skrully on us (although this wouldn’t happen until after Secret Invasion begins), or one of his compatriots could be the one with the ridge-chin. Elloe maybe? If Hulk is a Skrull, that would “explain” all of his actions from a storyline standpoint, and at sometime during Secret Invasion we would find out that Hulk is not Hulk but rather Skrulk. Then the real Hulk comes back, kicks ass, and “dies” heroically taking out the Skrull armada singlehandedly, just before they turn Earth into an intergalactic parking lot. Or…..

    2.) Hulk is Hulk, but is being controlled by….wait for it…..wait for it…..SOMEONE OTHER THAN BANNER. Maybe telepathically, maybe magically (delicious), maybe technologically, but somehow, someway, someone has gained control over the big green wrecking machine, and is using him to further their own aims (see: SECRET INVASION). Then, of course, Hulk breaks the mental chains, and proceeds to:
    a.) kick ass;
    b.) smash Skrull ships;
    c.) save the day before “dying” heroically.

    Of course, in both of these scenarios, he “dies”. Only to be resurrected just before the new Hulk movie comes out, I believe, in 2009.

  15. Kurt Fenreer
    September 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    I have this fear that the entire World War Hulk event will end up being yet another attempt to jam Sentry down our throats and demand that we all love him and cry out for more.

  16. jman
    September 19, 2007 at 8:23 pm — Reply

    I’d say that Sentry is a Deus ex Machina, and hardly a character…he’s more or less the Superman for Marvel right now(a title that was held by Thor since forever). His fragile mind is supposed to make him more of a tragic character, but he hasn’t done much but throw (Insert random character name/object) into the Sun. If Marvel would do more to make us care about him, instead of act like Rain Man and save the day at the last second, he might be interesting. I suppose to offset the Hulk’s justifiable cruelty, Sentry will throw him back into deep space so hard he’ll land right in the middle of the Sinestro Corp War.

  17. Steviecool
    September 19, 2007 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    If the rule is “Never stop making them pay” then clearly the enslaved Warbound would want to destroy Sakaar completly.

    Also love how they give the Warbound more of a spotlight in the other titles instead of WWH. That’s proper use of crossover titles.

    Could the man with the power of a billion suns go back in time and space and save the queen, only for the Warbound to kill her (again)? That would make me see red.

  18. J'osh
    September 20, 2007 at 12:27 am — Reply

    I’ve always felt the Sentry’s weakness is his weaknesses. Most Marvel characters thrive on their personal issues. It defines them. But Sentry is a shadow of an ideal – Superman. For some reason the Marvel formula can’t be applied to him. Superman is someone to look up to, when his type hides in a corner he’s just a sissy. I always felt that the Sentry should have been played as a guy with his powers who didn’t want use them. Truly play him as a regular guy, who just couldn’t be bothered. Kinda like we would be – have his doubts slow him down but make them reasonable. Imagine not knowing if your powers were gonna just stop. As a rationale person you would wonder hmm should I fly in space? What if this stuff stops working. Its still crappy but at least it makes sense.

    Oh and this is all Meik’s fault, somehow. He’s absent from the Warbound mini cover so something must happen to him.

  19. SpiderPiers101
    September 20, 2007 at 6:48 am — Reply

    Seriously this is a good series so far, but i think
    A. Hulk is really Hulk and Sakarr did get blown up . or..
    B. Hulk is a Skrull like Titanius in Marvel Team-Up. or ;….
    C. Hulk is in alliance with the Skrulls or last but not least…
    D. Hulk is hulk but the skrulls made the whole Sakarr thing up to get him pissed so he would kill the Illuminati.
    Personally i think Reed Richards is a skrull.

    Sorry the last one got mucked up so heres the actual one!

  20. September 20, 2007 at 7:24 am — Reply

    Elloe doesn’t really seem threatening to me because of her ridiculous name. I just keep thinking that the Warbound must greet her with cries of ” ‘Ello Elloe!”

  21. Seeker
    September 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm — Reply

    Disappointed with this issue. For all the build up with Dr. Strange he went down way to easily. In the past there have been accusations of the Hulk’s opponents being dumbed down to play his game of fisticuffs. That is what happened here.
    The trial was a joke. The complaints against Reed and Stark make sense though I wonder what Bill Foster would think of his nephew having the two of them punished in this way.
    Black Bolt’s accuser doesn’t even care if he didn’t give the order.
    They had nothing on Strange so they made something up for this story. Especially considering the chances of him actually risking unleashing something as dangerous as Zom makes no sense at all.
    I don’t see what the Sentry can do to the hulk thanks to his uberhealing factor.

    Overall a disappointing issue to an increasingly disappointing series.

  22. Happenstance
    September 23, 2007 at 4:26 am — Reply

    So “Silent War” is official continuity and occurs before WWH. Huh. I wish we knew what happened between that final black page and Hulk’s moon landing…

    Oh, I do hope the cheering crowd gets what’s coming to them. If it were up to me, I’d send the Warbound off in their ship with all their adoring Earth-fans. The second these gits realized what Brood had in mind, they’d be screaming for the Illuminati and Co. to save them.

  23. jman
    September 24, 2007 at 2:59 pm — Reply

    Doc Strange’s power level has more ups and downs than an eleveator depending on the story. Well, in all fairness: for Doc Strange, if sombody was strong enough to squeeze both of my hands like twinkies in an astral pojection, I’d be in a shitload of pain and ala-kazamming ol’ jade jaws would be the last thing on my mind.

  24. Rocket-man
    September 26, 2007 at 8:17 am — Reply

    I thinkit was black bolt who killed the creature–and Kor of the stone men is not at the thindergods level–look at the issue again–thye pull out their most powerful war machine and thor totals it before knocking the crap out of a bunch of them.

    I get the warbound are supposed to be superhumanly strong etc—but I’m opposed to Sakaar being krypton.

  25. BadBad
    September 27, 2007 at 3:57 am — Reply

    Am I in the minority when I say that this series is crap? To believe the mary sue character Amadeus Cho, a reader has to accept the premise that Hulk is completely innocent throughout his entire non mind-controlled Hulk life.

    To believe this series, Hulk never injured or killed anyone because he subconsciously was a genius who knew how to throw tanks around in just the manner to disable equipment and not hurt anyone inside. Hulk can break buildings but somehow know that it either won’t be occupied or there is just enough room inside to protect anyone inside. Hulk is not only a super-genius but a super-AWARE genius. This without even the excuse of Captain Marvel’s Cosmic Awareness?

    In the last issue of Civil War it was claimed that people were killed in the fight. It sounds like Captain America should have just asked the Hulk to help him and then noone would be hurt.

  26. Steven R. Stahl
    September 28, 2007 at 4:08 pm — Reply

    WWH #4 is interesting, in that it’s an example of a story, nominally for teens and older readers, that’s actually a picture book.

    There’s no point to the Strange/Hulk conflict (which WWH #3 was devoted to setting up). Strange could deal with the Hulk by transforming him, banishing him, or, if necessary, killing him. The Hulk, like Superman, has no innate resistance to magic. The plot, as such, is an example of a writer artificially constructing a way for Strange and Hulk to fight, as if he were a kid with two action figures. Hulk wins because he *has* to win, for the sake of the story, as is practically always the case with his “high as it needs to be” strength level.

    The material with the Illuminati is hardly worth reading, since the Avengers/Defenders War invalidates the concept. Bendis and Reed have notably avoided the topic in the ILLUMINATI miniseries; I doubt that Brevoort or anyone else at Marvel could deal with the conflict without resorting to absurd contrivances. It’s apparent why Bendis liked the Illuminati concept, since it’s related to crime fiction, conspiracies, and secret councils with hidden agendas, but the concept is only valid for a superhero universe made to order for it.

    The lack of actual story material is obvious in other issues, such as THOR #3, which exists solely to depict the conflict between Iron Man and Thor, and Stark’s humiliation. The plot material (New Orleans; the “diplomatic” solution to handling Asgard) seems to be aimed at preteens.

    The storytelling, in the Marvel Heroes titles I see, has declined to the point that the professionalism (level of effort) of the people associated with the stories can seriously be questioned. A person could write at length about how unfavorable comparisons between the Marvel of the ‘70s and ‘80s and the current Marvel are. The “illusion of change” policy in force back then encouraged some shoddy plotting, but there were writers who wrote well, and even the shoddy stories actually were structured as, and functioned as, stories. Too many current Marvel issues are just glorified picture books; if one reads an issue for plot content, there’s hardly anything there.

    Short of a massive change in Marvel’s editorial regime, I don’t see prospect for improvement in the situation. The writers have to be motivated to write stories, in the traditional storytelling sense) to do well, but the emphasis placed on aiming stories at new and short-term readers, and the employment of writers who don’t know the characters (screenwriters), or who don’t want to write superhero stories (Bendis is the prime example). . . Marvel could be described as an animated corpse who rarely speaks intelligibly and intelligently.

    SRS

  27. thegreenlama
    October 1, 2007 at 8:31 am — Reply

    regardless of who will win in the end of the ish, they have to reveal who blew up sakaar and put the hulk on a collision course with earth in the first place – which means simply asking, who has the most to gain from the hulk laying waste to earth’s most powerful heroes? chin-ridges right? also, since they’re not going to canx the hulk, he needs to be redeemed for the thumbs down. so here’s my forecast for #5 – hulk and sentry fight and after pounding on each other, collateral damage and the inability to hurt each other gets old after a while so they pause, one of the warbound suddenly freaks out and demands the hulk kill sentry – sentry does his glow thing and reveals the skrull masking itself as one of the warbound. hulk and sentry team-up, free the heroes, fight back the invasion…yadda yadda yadda.

    bottom line: marvel won’t take the revenge storyline to it’s ultimate conclusion, which is either, the wronged gets their revenge (which for the hulk clearly means the death of the illuminati) or the wronged learns to forgive and gets on with their life.

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