Short Pamphlet Reviews

Make mine Marvel...or not

Incredible Hulk #602: Hulk defeats the Juggernaut
Incredible Hulk #601-602 by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Ariel Olivetti, Michael Ryan, Guru-eFX, Simon Bowland

Greg Pak returns to writing the Incredible Hulk, but only after Jeph Loeb has his way with him and leaves him a de-powered shell of his former self. The experienced fan should already know that's not going to last. Even the characters are genre-savvy enough to know this. In the meantime, Hulk's ingrate of a son is going to fill his big shoes. Skaar wants to kill his father, but settles for being trained by Bruce Banner until he can Hulk Out again. Just to prove that he's up to the task, Banner has him fight the Earth's biggest human punching bag, the Juggernaut. Once again, the fight demonstrates that the Juggernaut is literally an unstoppable moving object, but he's a bad guy so of course he's beatable when the plot demands it.

Bruce Banner uncharacteristically starts becoming more proactive. In one subplot he intervenes in a child abuse situation by creepily keeping tabs on the father, Big Brother style. How long is he going to keep that up? But what bugged me was this scene were Bruce picks up the Hulk's giant sword like it was nothing. What's this, anime? The digitally painted art is too stiff and the backgrounds too generic for my tastes. There's also a backup story about a She Hulk from one of Marvel's many alternate timelines that leaves me feeling indifferent.

Spider-Woman #1: Jessica Drew's origin
Spider-Woman #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Cory Petit

The first from Marvel's motion comics initiative. The story is sandwiched between crossover events Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, making it a bit behind other serials, and a terrible jumping on point for a first issue. Jessica Drew sulks in her apartment, then gets recruited by secret organization S.W.O.R.D. to exterminate Skrull agents and other hostile aliens. I know it's standard operating procedure for Marvel characters to whine endlessly like teenagers in a high school drama, but when a 4th-string character tries to out-angst an A-lister like Wolverine, I stop taking the character seriously (That's not really true. The cover, complete with boob sock, immediately eroded my confidence in the title). Alex Maleev's photo referencing isn't too egregious and his style is appropriate to the morally ambiguous spy milieu. But he often sacrifices clarity for mood and atmosphere.

Thor Annual #1 by Peter Milligan, Tom Grindberg, Mico Suayan, Tom Grindberg, Edgar Delgado, Chris Sotomayor, Joe Caramagna, Marko Djurdjevic

This is a throwaway story about how Egyptian god Seth tries to kill Thor. If the Marvel Universe pantheon were like high school, then the Asgardians (minus Loki) are the handsome, mostly blond, jocks, while the Egyptians are the freaks and suspicious looking foreign exchange students called by weird names. Seth senses weakness from Thor since he killed his grandfather Bor a few issues back. But a pep talk from Donald Blake sets Thor straight, and he bashes the Egyptians back to the underworld.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 by Warren Ellis, Steve Kurth, Jeffrey Huet, Guru-eFX, Joe Sabino, Brandon Peterson

The Armor Wars story arc is updated for the Ultimate Universe by Warren Ellis, which means that Tony Stark is an even bigger asshole when drunk than he ever was, at least at the beginning. After the events of Ultimatum, Stark Enterprises is in shambles, and the corporation's technology is being stolen by as of yet unrevealed enemies. That doesn't stop Stark from podcasting about his woes, tech savvy entrepreneur that he is. But a damsel in distress situation reawakens just enough altruism to get him behaving like a hero again. Not that saving the world from rogue organizations using his technology won't help his reputation and credit rating. This is the only Ultimate title I've read were New York still looks like it's still recovering from the Ultimate Wave.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #2 by Mark Millar, Carlos Pacheco, Danny Miki, Justin Ponsor, Cory Petit

The origin of the Ultimate Universe Red Skull. Marvel is populated by characters who wallow in self pity, bemoaning their terrible childhoods or how their dads didn't love them, so it's okay to kill them. I don't buy it. It feels like a short cut to characterization, especially in this series. The Red Skull, like the rest of the world, presumably thought that his father Steve Rogers is dead. But after he learns that he's alive he suddenly wants to kill him? That makes sense. What the reader does get is catty dialogue between Carol Danvers and Nick Fury, and a lot of ass-kicking from Captain America and Red Skull.