Thursday, September 4, 2014

Knock Yourself Out

Since Thor was recently shown to be soundly walloped by the Red Hulk, the time has come for a little payback--not just from Thor, but also from the green Hulk, who returns in the next issue of Hulk after having been decisively defeated by his crimson foe before Thor made the scene.

I don't know how many readers are rooting for the green Hulk at this point--or even any Hulk, since writer Jeph Loeb has inundated this comic recently with enough hulking characters and guest-stars to make you wonder if the simple-minded Hulk would ever be able to reclaim his own mag. Assuming that's still even feasible. World War Hulk may have taken us to the point of no return in that respect, having Bruce Banner (as the Hulk) assert his place in the world and burning a lot of bridges in the process. Can this title and its main character go back to the way they were--and would readers want them to? With the extent this story focuses on the green Hulk and portrays him as the "last Hulk standing" when the dust settles, you would think that's where we're headed. But you'd have to invest in many more issues and wade through many more guest-stars before finding out for sure.

For now, Iron Man (along with others present) has offered the Hulk assistance in battling the Red Hulk, though the Hulk is reacting as if he's being confronted because of all the damage done to the area. And Ares, as Namor notes, isn't helping matters:

I'm not entirely up on these issues of Hulk, since World War Hulk soured me on reading anything further having to do with this character--but it seems here that either something has happened to downgrade the Hulk's former hatred of Bruce Banner to mere annoyance, or Loeb is working to veer us in that direction for reasons yet to be revealed. Even She-Hulk seems to think that it's highly unusual for the Hulk to think of himself as only the Hulk:

Eventually, though, the Hulk leaps off to find his red target, leaving everyone else to deal with damage control in San Francisco. And it doesn't take long for Loeb to bring us to this issue's main event:

The Hulk--er, the green Hulk--doesn't really have a plan here beyond simple retribution, so there's no reason to expect this fight not to go the same route as before. And that's indeed looking to be the case, as the Red Hulk is well on his way to pummeling his opponent to another defeat. But the Hulk gets a breather, thanks to someone else who has a score to settle with the Red Hulk:

While Thor keeps the Red Hulk busy (and that's putting it mildly), A-Bomb has arrived (better known as Rick Jones, but, in the name of mercy, let's not get into all that now) and reminded the green Hulk of the differences between himself and the Red Hulk--specifically, what happens when each becomes angrier. In the Red Hulk's case, his increased rage leads to an increase in body temperature, which in some way makes him more vulnerable. And now armed with that knowledge, the Hulk re-enters the fight, this time with a plan:

Thor, of course, isn't one to sit out a fight--and this new Thor gets peeved when his battles are interrupted. But A-Bomb convinces him to give the Hulk his chance to get a little of his own back:

From here, it becomes a matter of whether the Hulk can survive the Red Hulk's assault long enough for his plan to reach fruition. In a way, the Red Hulk's taunts remind me of the gray Hulk (yet another color added to the mix, sorry), especially during the time when he was one of my favorite characters, Joe Fixit--brash, confident, aggressive, cocky. To see the two types of Hulks head-to-head like this, the character I'm finding more interesting probably isn't the one Loeb had in mind. But Loeb's choice is nevertheless the one who's slated to win this fight.

The Hulk, of course, wouldn't think to make a big deal of the fact that he's green, not even to breast-beat in front of a Hulk who's a different skin tone. It seems more of a device Loeb uses to raise the Hulk's arm in victory over a foe who seemed to be on his way to elbowing the original into obscurity. And just for good measure, let's have the Hulk in a "put 'er there" gesture with his old sparring partner:

For all intents and purposes, the Hulk then exits as the main character for this book. Instead, Loeb shuffles a number of characters and plots together in succeeding issues--all focusing in one way or another on the continuing mystery of the Red Hulk, who eventually takes over center stage. To be honest, it's beginning to look like that's where he belongs.

Hulk #6

Script: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed McGuinness
Inks: Dexter Vines
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne

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