Monday, April 5, 2010

Rayboy's Review: Incredible Hulk #607 (Marvel)

The popular "Fall of the Hulks" continues in Incredible Hulk #607, as the Leader and M.O.D.O.K. observe Victor Von Doom’s futile efforts to strike back at the Intelligentsia who hit him last issue with a neural anesthetizer, leaving him dumber than dirt. The pair then contemplates how best to deal with their biggest threat – Bruce Banner – as their nefarious master scheme unfolds. The Intel seeks to abduct the other eight smartest people on the planet, and they already hold Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.

Henry Pym (aka The Wasp) disrupts their evil reverie by temporally phasing into their headquarters, after he discovers certain elements of the Intel’s machinations. The trio of Super-Scientific minds, banter back-and-forth, before the Leader reveals to Pym that his Avenger teammates are currently withering under assault of the Red She-Hulk.

Pym/Wasp pops in just in time to aid the Avengers in escaping from the Red She-Hulk, then witnesses the timely arrival of Bruce Banner and Skaar (aka Son of the Hulk). As Skaar engages the Red She-Hulk in battle, Banner attempts to forcibly teleport Hank Pym to safety, knowing that as scientist-supreme Pym is the next likely target of the Intelligentsia. Pym's not on board with that idea, and a sequence of technical one-up-man-ship between Banner, Pym and the Leaders ensues which suddenly leaves Pym lingering at deaths door. [If you're having difficulty following some of the components of Fall of the Hulks, you aren't in the minority.]

As the mighty Avengers arrive in force and in response to Pym's s.o.s. (Has this title become the Incredible Wasp?), a temporary situational alliance is formed to save Pym, who is then immediately abducted just as had been planned all along by the Leader. Afterwards Banner is left somewhat at odds with the Avengers who he blames for interfering and for their part, they doubt that they can really trust old Bruce.

This issue closes out with Banner having to finally come clean about his true motives - to save Betty Ross no matter what the cost - and Banner pulls together a strong coalition of heroes including Skaar, A-Bomb, Korg of the Warbound, Amadeus Cho, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner and Wolverine to make that attempt.

Based on some of the other reviews that I've read online of this very issue, I would have to say that plenty of folks seem a bit confused by this storyline, but the answer lies less with lack of clarity and more along the lines of event overkill.

Writer Greg Pak does make a valiant effort given that he is working within an editorially mandated crossover, that fed out of the earlier Planet Hulk, World War Hulk and Civil War events. This kind of publisher inbreeding has usurped ongoing story development and characterization within individual series to the detriment of editorial cohesion. No wonder things are a bit muddied, and reader preferences be damned. Still, some of Pak's dialogue is downright hilarious and fun to read!

Look, I can enjoy over-arching stories, and the Marvel Universe was truly built upon stuff like this, but the branding that separates stuff out from a series simply to foment cross-pollination and also the way that these types of marketing efforts actually drag on endlessly, is going to do nothing but alienate loyal fans - at some point. Lest you think otherwise, and before I forget, let me mention how outstanding Paul Pelletier's artwork is on this book. If nothing else, pick this book up for Paul Pelletier. His efforts on this title are rocking it out of the park, in fact the original pencils to page #22 (pictured above; top) will soon be hanging in a prime location within the Catacombs. There are dual original art pages for the entire issue, as the inks were applied to separate scans of the pencils. I'm picking up the pencils only version for this page.

I do recommend Incredible Hulk #607, and have high hopes that its conclusion will be satisfying enough to me as a reader that I won't really care that all this does is set up yet another "event".

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