Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hulk: World War Hulk by Greg Pak and John Romita, Jr.

The Hulk is pissed, and he has every right to be. Banished from the earth by people he thought were his friends: Reed Richards, Doctor Stephen Strange, Black Bolt- leader of the Inhumans, and Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, the Hulk was sent to a strange world where he ended up as a slave before rebelling against those who would be his masters and becoming Warlord over the entire world. But just when he had settled down, found love and his wife was about to give birth to his child, the ship he had been sent to the world in blew up, robbing him of wife and child, and devastating the people he had freed.

Thinking that this was the plan for him all along... to blow him up somewhere in outer space, the Hulk has returned to Earth to take revenge on those who sent him away to begin with. But though he may have come alone from earth, he hasn't returned alone. Instead, members of his Warbond have returned with him. Elloim, Brood, Korg, Miek and Hiroim have all come to help the Hulk take his revenge for the planet called Sakkar and his Queen, Caiera the Oldstrong.

After first visiting the Moon and defeating Black Bolt, the Hulk demands that the city of New York be evacuated. He also shows the people of Earth why he wants his revenge, showing them his history on Sakkar. Then, he starts going after the heroes who sent him there.

Tony Stark goes first, in his armored suit, fighting the Hulk head to head, but he is no match for the Hulk, especially in the fury he's worked himself up into, and the Hulk smashes him, armor and all.

His cousin Jennifer tries to talk sense into him, but even with a crowd of heroes backing her up, she is no match for her cousin, or his Warbond. Next, the Hulk goes after the Fanastic Four's Reed Richards. But even though Reed tries to trick the Hulk using his super-science, the Hulk sees through it, and ends up defeating him as well.

Lastly, the Hulk goes after Doctor Strange, who also tries to trick him, but this time by getting Bruce Banner's longtime friend Rick Jones to let him get his mental guard down, then attacking him mind to mind. But even here, the Hulk is simply too strong for him, and he must resort to channelling a particularly nasty demon to try and defeat the Hulk. But he fails again, and the Hulk takes all of them prisoner.

At this point, some humans are actually backing the Hulk. When the Hulk brings them all to a massive gladatorial arena he has built, the Humans get to tell their side of the stories. A woman whose husband, finally retired, was killed by Black Bolt's people when they invaded Earth, a man whose hero uncle was on the wrong side of the registration battle and was killed by a cloned Thor created by Iron Man and Reed Richards, a young woman who was nearly killed when Doctor Strange was possessed by a demon.

Sue Storm pleads with the Warbond to let her husband speak, but Elloim says that her husband didn't let the Hulk speak before he banished him. The Hulk, using capture disks, makes Reed and Strange fight, and nearly forces Reed to kill him. At the last minute, though, he prevents the capture disk from doing so, and tells them that he and his warbrood have come for justice, not revenge. None of the Earth humans have been killed, and none will be. But the humans will know them for what they are: Liars, traitors and killers

Tony gives the Hulk one last chance to surrender, and the hero called Sentry shows up and gets into a Titanic fight with him. Sentry has finally lost all control, and he and the Hulk beat each other until both of them are bruised, reeling, and without their powers. The Hulk's Warbond wonders where he has gone, and when the heroes reveal that the strange human standing there *is* the Hulk, Miek goes crazy and pleads with the Hulk to return so that he can continue to fight the humans. The Hulk must keep fighting, just as Miek forced him to when he blew up the ship on Sakkar. He did it because the Hulk had stopped fighting and was settling down when he should have kept fighting.

Bruce turns back into Hulk and attacks Miek, along with the rest of the Warbond. But just as they have defeated Miek, Tony pulls one last trick and has the Hulk shot with all the lasers on the outer space sattellites and platforms, and the Hulk goes down, thinking of Caiera as he does so.

The ending reveals him in a coffin-like chamber, filled with drugs, and settling down to sleep three miles below the Mojave Desert. While back on Sakkar, Hiroim seems to have transformed into a Hulk-like figure.

I have to say that this was one of the few Hulk comics I have read where my sympathies were with the Hulk the entire time. The other one being "Planet Hulk". Yes the four "heroes" were afraid for the Earth if the Hulk was left on it, but sending him away to be the problem of another planet was a little too much, and I had a hard time forgiving them for it. Especially when we, the audience, is led to believe that the explosion of the ship was the fault of Reed, Stark, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange, as we are for most of the book.

I was wondering what sort of ass-pull justification they were going to come up with for why the heroes weren't actually responsible, and I was rather surprised with how not "ass-pull" it seemed. New York is in flames at the end of the book, but as another comic I read recently reminded me, the heroes have only themselves to blame for the entire situation, because they started it. I wonder if they will see it that way.

The possibility is raised, in the comics, of sending the Hulk away again, but Dr. Strange doesn't see the point, as he feels that the Hulk will be coming back, regardless. But, we know the Hulk will be back as soon as he gets enraged again, or one of his old enemies decides to take revenge on him and somehow lets him out of his coffin in the desert. Of course, having had combat training, the Hulk is much stronger and a better fighter now. We'll see if his enemies can keep up with him.

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