26 March 2006

Comics Roundup 3/27 (CS)

There was stiff competition for my pick of the week this time around. I'd of course go with Vol. 2 of Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby*, but I try to keep with the floppies instead of trades or hardcovers. And Brubeck's latest offering of Captain America had Cap not only giddy, but proving to us all what a real hero is like. But the ever so coveted honor of the book I was most looking forward to AND had the most fun reading goes to this month's installment of The Incredible Hulk.

That's right. I'm loving this Planet Hulk arc. Everyone else out there is busy heaping praises on Daredevil, X-Factor or the One Year Later titles. And at least you'll hear people talk about New Avengers or Legion of Superheroes (even if it isn't always nice talk). But nobody out there is talking about big green these days. What's the deal?

This story has been filled with so much ass kicking goodness so far that it was almost impossible to decide on a picture to use to illustrate that. For now, just settle for a brooding Hulk in gladiator gear.

Yes, I do consider the Hulk running around with axes and having gladiator fights a huge bonus. The story is shaping up a little bit like Spartacus in that respect, with Hulk in the Kirk Douglas role. In merely capable hands I would find this entertaining, but this Greg Pak guy has the chops to do more than just that. He's managed to give some decent characterization to the players surrounding Hulkie. In the span of two issues he's given more life to an overgrown ant and a big lump of rock than Judd Winnick could to the entire Green Arrow family in three separate story arcs (I'm sorry, one of these days I'll be able to make it through a comics article without taking a shot at Winnick.... Well, maybe not).
Pak has thrust the reader onto an alien world with absolutely no familiar characters (save the titular one). Space, bizarre new races of beings, the seeds of revolution within a society, and hardly a thread connecting things to the cozy Marvel Universe.... It's a recipe for narrative disaster rivaled only by time travel. Pak proves an adept guide though and rarely if ever do all these elements become frustrating. It's just fun.

Of course, part of why it's turning out to be a great story is because Pak knows how to put a character through pain. Winnick tried it with Green Arrow (sorry to pick on him again.... No, not really) and at what was supposed to be the big emotional turn, you couldn't care less about Ollie's suffering. In Incredible Hulk, however, you can feel just how pissed offed the big green guy is with every page. He's been launched into space by his best friends like some disease they just wanted to get rid of. And now he gets the pleasure of being lit on fire and called an idiot. He doesn't like that.
There's every indication that there's a ton more ass-kickery to come in this first section of Planet Hulk. You also figure that with the way he's been treated, if/when Hulk gets back to Earth, there's gonna be hell to pay. Big Green has made indications (subtly, thank you Mr Pak) that things WILL get messy if/when that happens.

Game On.

*With the luck of prolonged time at a scanner, I will be able to give an in depth look at the glory that is Kirby's Dr. Doom............ ON A SURFBOARD.


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