Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 10.20.2010 – Hulk #26

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

350
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.4
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 4.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
WRITER: JEFF PARKER
PENCILS: GABRIEL HARDMAN
INKS: GABRIEL HARDMAN
COLORED BY: ELIZABETH BREITWEISER
COVER BY: ED MCGUINNESS

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

There is a reason people like the things about big superhero comics that they like, and this Hulk #26 is a prime example of it.  What you've got here is Hulk, punching a lot of things, and also getting punched.  The thing is, if that was all it was, I wouldn't be interested.  One of the things I really enjoyed about the best part of Loeb's Red Hulk is that there was a real sense of impending conflict.  Red Hulk had his mission, and even thought he was doing the right thing, but in doing so, he was stepping on every toe imaginable, and these stories don't exist independently, so a good storyteller is going have to, and would likely want to, resolve those issues.  But there were a lot of them.  Red Hulk ran riot over a good portion of the Marvel Universe, especially with Iron Man and Thor.  Now, Red Hulk's working for Cap'n Steve, but there are some outstanding issues to be dealt with. 

The thing I like most about Jeff Parker's Red Hulk is that the tone is 100% different than Jeph Loeb's before him.  That's because the Red Hulk's status has changed completely.  Previously, he was all high-status.  He spent a year running around the Marvel Universe beating everyone who came against him. He was unstoppable.  His attitude, not unlike that of George Lucas, became unbearable.  He thought he could do no wrong.  But he was eventually beaten, and now we find him stuck in a low status role.  Steve Rogers is his superior, and he's able to accept that because he's used to military hierarchy.  That doesn't mean he has to like it though.  Still, he knows that Steve is right, and it seems like he genuinely wants to atone for what he did.  But again, he isn't going to enjoy it.  Watching Red Hulk act a supplicant is oddly enjoyable.  He's playing good soldier, because he wants to be a good soldier, yet I'm not sure that under all that thick, red skin that he actually is a good soldier.  The tension created by that contradiction is really fun to read.  Red Hulk has to stay in line while everyone just craps on him.  He not only does what Iron Man says, but then has to submit to insults about his character.  Thor sees him, and, as promised, goes berserk.  It's sorted, but only because Red Hulk actually takes the high ground in a way.  It's not because he doesn't think he can beat Thor, not at all.  It's because he's decided the way he wants to proceed is to dedicate himself to the mission, and the mission is whatever his commanding officer, Steve Rogers, says it is.  It also happens that Red Hulk's got to listen to Banner, who's working closely with Steve.  That's got to sting, and it sure makes for compelling reading.

Then, at the same time, it really is a lot of fun to watch Hulk and Thor wail on each other for five pages.  If you're a superhero fan, this is sort of the apex of Jack Kirby's legacy.  The ultimate question about who would win doesn't really get resolved (and it never will), because Red Hulk spells out what would happen: "Are you going to drop your grudge with me? Or do we wreck the world ourselves?"  And he's right.  There's a world-threatening situation to be dealt with, and their fighting can't end in any good way. 

Even after all that wonderful story and characterization, the real reason to buy tickets to this rodeo is the work of Gabriel Hardman.  Ever since I've been doing the Weekly Sketch-Up here at iFanboy, I've seen his work week after week, and grew more and more impressed.  As Hardman himself painfully pointed out in last week's video show, I didn't read Atlas, so I hadn't actually seen much of his sequential work, but he blew the doors off Hulk #25, and I was hooked.  This issue was more of the same and then some, with some wonderful sequences, mixed with exceptional acting and character work.  My absolute favorite moment of the book was right after Thor goes after Red Hulk, and Steve yells for them to stop.  The next panel shows the most amazing smug faced look on Bruce Banner, who is eating it up with a spoon.  It was a skillful piece of storytelling and character work to say the least.  In the same issue, we've got a sequence where Red Hulk and Thor are hurled through a dimensional portal to destroy a comet, and we see a couple of pages of wordless space-rock punching action.  Never for one second in the issue do you lose sight of what's happening, and where things are.  There's no doubt that Hardman's experience as a feature film storyboard artist have informed his exceptional storytelling, and we're just seeing the beginnings of a brilliant career.  But on top of that, the work just looks damn good. 

Some credit for that goes to Elizabeth Breitweiser, who really produced excellent colors for the last 2 issues. I love the contrast to the McGuinness version, where this is much more subtle and washed out, just like the character is.  Yet the pages crackle with energy as they characters journey from technological nightmares, to fights with Gods, to fake Galactus, to outer space.  As I said about Loeb's Red Hulk, there's just something about a big dude colored bright red.  It attracts the eye, perhaps even more than the green version, but Breitweiser gave her issues their own spin and flavor, and it's just working perfectly.

Never in the history of my time reading comics have I enjoyed a Hulk story the way I've enjoyed these 2 issues.  I'm no kind of Hulk fan, but there's something very pure about how this particular superhero comic book is being handled.  All the parts work together in harmony, and there's an intangible something that makes it all work, and I'm so glad I got on for the ride.

Josh Flanagan
I will say, the covers don't fit the new tone so much.
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. @Josh so will you go back and read those Atlas issues?

  2. I don’t know. I read a bunch of the Agents of Atlas issues before, and they didn’t grab me. But anyway, how about that Hulk?

  3. Always nice to see a nice George Lucas dig and Star Wars no where around.

  4. Yep I think I’m on board, and I agree that it’s the art/production team that puts this book over the edge.  However, Josh you’re also right that these covers have absolutely no bearing on the interior style.

  5. Saw the Hardman pages for this book @NYCC… absolutely gorgeous!

     

    the Tiki 

  6. I’m glad I picked this up with last month’s issue.  I’m totally pumped to read them.

  7. Man i need to pick up the trade of this when it comes out

  8. That was fast. Waayy fast.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Nice! Really digging this as well. Loved seeing Thor show up. 

  10. Wow, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience.  I finally lived to see the day when one of my beloved Hulk books is POTW.  I cant wait to get off work and swoop by my shop to pick this up.

  11. But Josh doesn’t like fun!

  12. Isn’t this Tom Kater’s week to pick?

     

    Just kidding. I think I will pick this up. 

  13. Regarding his last few picks I’d say that these days Josh is the funnest there is.

  14. Gabriel Hardman’s Red Hulk is scary because he doesn’t look as comic book cartoony. He seems more monster than super hero.

    Haven’t read this yet, but I can’t wait to read what beat out the Walking Dead.

  15. My pow is Walking Dead #78.

     Matthew

  16. Yeah, I’m thinking I need to start reading this.

  17. Nice Lucas slam there. I feel bad cause I haven’t yet to read the first issue by Parker/Hardman yet…..LCS is always sold out! Gonna have to order them.

    My Potw though was Vertigo Resurrected. Seriously and truly, the best single issue I’ve read all year.

  18. Haven’t read Hulk yet, but I absolutely loved the last issue, and this one is at the bottom of my stack (ordered from least to most anticipated)

    But my question is: Yes, Hulk is an amazing book right now, but what about Incredible Hulk? I’m not really hearing any buzz about it.

  19. I read this . . . I think it might be my pick of the week too.

    It is almost like Parker is doing a more sophisticated retelling of Loeb’s run with the Marvel powerhouses versus Red Hulk an issue thing. I complained that I didn’t want to see this happen in the thread for the book, but now we got the Watcher set up at the end of this issue and I think Parker is going to redeem the silliness of their first encounter in the next installment.

    This was a really good issue and the review was great.

  20. That confrontation between Thor and Red Hulk was epic…and the look on Banner’s face made me laugh out loud.

    @Slockhart – about the Incredible Hulk series, it’s a great read too.  The first two issues of the Dark Son story arc is mainly set up though.  It’s more of a team book, even though it’s mainly focusing on Hulk and his sons.  I think once Paul Pelletier is back on pencils, it will be fantastic. 

  21. Hmmmmm… all I can say is I’ll give it a look in my LCS — something I wouldn’t normally do with the HULK

  22. If you like Jeff Parker’s writing or have never read anything from Parker, then I’d try it out.

  23. Hulk and this book has been great.

  24. In the past Josh had never really cared about The Hulk much. This book MUST be good for him to make it POW. I Used to love Hulk before World War Hulk, I’m going to get this right now. 

  25. I realize that Red Hulk and Thor are both big bulky dudes, and that filling the area is what McGuiness is good at with big bulky dudes like that, but part of me can’t help but think, with the way these two are positioned on the cover that right before this scene they were spooning, Rulk got fresh, and Thor didn’t appreciate it.

  26. after reading some of the red hulk stuff at borders I started picking this comic up with the last issue and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. there were so many laugh out loud moments in this book as I was reading it last night my girlfriend started to look at me funny.

  27. Wow.  I didn’t expect this (though I probably should have, given the amount of positive attention Hulk has received recently.)  Interesting.

  28. Excellent assessment of a really compelling issue.  I like the comment about Red Hulk taking the high ground, somewhat, and in fact that sense is enhanced by Thor being a bit of a dick.  The counterpoint to the smug smile on Banner’s face is Thor’s admission to Banner (sotto voce, so Cap’n Steve doesn’t know) that he knew what was going on.  There was no "misunderstanding leads to a fight leads to a teamup" but Thor basically taking advantage of that cliche to pick a fight and then giggling about it with Bruce.  These are the ‘heroes’ in the book, but it’s kind of a "mean kids" move, yet in a very subtle way that I think is intentional by the creative team.  

  29. Totally loved this issue and the last one.  Hardman is rocking this book visually.  Parker is penning an interesting story and the back-up is a ton of fun.  Still, I had to go with Hellblazer this week as my POW.  I loved that issue.

  30. Loved this also.  I notice Parker is pacing it so far like he did the new Thunderbolts.  An introduction, a mission, then cliffhanger in the first issue.  Then a resolution, a mission and a new cliffhanger the second issue.  I appreciate that type of storytelling.  It makes every issue exciting, worthwhile and also part of a greater whole.

  31. Spoiler. But I laughed my ass off when the Watcher showed up at the end. He is so going to fuck with Red for getting punched. A+ writing by Parker and Hardman is the three or four best guys doing art on a major book today.

  32. knocking spoiler off home page.

  33. Great review josh, but I thought the George Lucas comment was a bit of a low blow.

  34. Are you kidding me?

  35. I am sorry Josh, but no I am not kidding. I don’t understand how you can find him unbearable, but that’s ok. It’s your own point of view. I just like how he keeps making Star Wars stuff. Not all the stuff he is making is the best, but I like it. It’s not unlike Marvel with Spider-man, but Stan Lee isn’t writing the comics, making movies, or coming up a TV show. Both are trying to make money because the funs want more. Lucas made Star wars so it is his right to make more stuff. I hope you can understand were I am coming from. I am not trying to start a flame war here.

  36. Wait until you hear what I think of Kevin Smith.

  37. SamIAm has to be kidding. Has to be. 

    I mean, if we can’t shit on Lucas, who can we shit on? 

  38. @NawidA: Like I said to Josh, I am not kidding. I like the stuff he has been coming out with and I agree that not every has my pont of view. I understand people not liking some things he has been putting out, but stiil don’t understand why some find him unbearable. Listen I am not trying to make the case that everyone should or should not like him. I was just giving my comment on josh’s review and josh wanted to know why. Let’s not derail Josh’s great review on some George Lucas slamming thing. By the way Josh, I will give Hulk a try after reading your review.

  39. I am very curious what Josh thinks about Kevin Smith now.

  40. Ah, the perils of Discount Comic Book Service! I dropped "Hulk" when I saw the Loeb/McGuinness run was coming to an end. While I was impressed by what they did for a majority of the series, they lost me with all the Hulked-out Heroes minis and other extraneous minis. The fact that they couldn’t confine the story to the two Hulk books was really annoying. That said, I did enjoy Parker’s mini where he explained the motivations for the members of the Intelligentsia. Now I’m afraid to sign back on to Hulk, because the earliest I can get an issue from DCBS is December, and by then it might have turned to crap, and then I’ll be stuck with 3 issues on the way before I can stop ordering. Perhaps I’ll wait for the trade.

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