Posted tagged ‘Hulk’

Review: Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules

January 11, 2010

Will this latest volume, the Incredible Hercules has become my favorite comic currently published by Marvel.  It’s clever and may very well be the most enjoyable book on the stands at the moment.

Which brings me to the two stories in this volume, which alternate issues throughout the book.  The main story here concerns Hercules being forced to disguise himself as Thor in order to infiltrate a band of Dark Elves.  The story quickly turns to the absurd as Thor later disguises himself as Hercules and they inevitably wind up engaging in perhaps the most ridiculous fight in the history of superhero comics.  It also contains what is maybe the best comedic acting I’ve seen in a comic thanks to artist Reilly Brown.

The b-story is quite different in tone, telling the story of my new favorite character Amadeus Cho (the 7th smartest person in the world) attempting to make peace with his origins.  It’s a great counterpoint to Hercules’ story, being every bit as fun while maintaining a far more serious tone, and its especially nice to see Amadeus given a lead role.  He’s a fantastic character, and Asian-American teen brainiac who is never written like a nerd and who is regularly able to hold his own against the adults.

Writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente have worked wonders in this book, taking a cast off character in a Hulk spin-off and turning it into a must read each month that keeps improving.

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Review: Essential Incredible Hulk Vol.4

November 15, 2008

Of all the superheroes out there, the Hulk is probably the one I like the least.  The concept of the character is decent, Mr. Hyde essentially, but it’s not one that I’ve ever felt could support a series for the last 46 years.  The writer’s involved with the series at various times seem to struggle with the same basic issues, which is why the character has never had a firm status quo.  From month to month he’s grey, or green, or red; smart or stupid; unwilling to hurt a fly or working for the mob in Vegas.  

He’s also too damn powerful to be interesting.  Every fight he has ever been in has amounted to waiting for the Hulk to get angry enough that he becomes invincible.  Thus his battles are never very interesting (and let’s face it all the Hulk is good for is hitting things) and his enemies come off looking completely incompetent (which is doubly awful when his arch foe is the US army).

So by that standard vol. 4 of the Essential Hulk is actually decent.  Of particular not is when Steve Englehart takes over the book and starts a long running sub plot in which Betty Ross finally gives up on Bruce Banner and marries someone else.  Of course this being a comic she swiftly gets widowed, institutionalized due to her grief, brainwashed by everyone’s favorite giant head M.O.D.O.K., and turned into giant, green harpy that shoots “Hellbolts”.  And this was nearly 20 years prior to the women in refridgerators debacle.  

There’s also one of my favoite bits of science gone wrong in a comic, the Infra-world of Captain Omen.  Omen is a mad scientist who decides to claim the ocean floor as a soverign nation.  His plan hinges on breeding a race of men adapted to life at 5,000 fathoms (somehow accomplished through evolution in a single generation) and using them to plant underwater flags across the world.  Omen himself seems to take the underwater pressure fine, simply developing a hunchback.  The Hulk gets involved, inspires Omen’s undersea race to rebel, and then everyone goes to the surface where the swiftly explode due to their incredibly high blood pressure.  Oh and this all occurs in the course of a single issue.  Gotta love 70’s comics.

I’m not sure I can really recommend this collection besides as a decent representation of what the Hulk was like for his first 20 or so years.  During that era it’s probably one of the better runs, but it’s still suffers the same faults as nearly every Hulk comic, there’s not much that can be done with the character.

Review: The Eternals Vol. 2

October 18, 2008

The second volume of the Eternals marks the abrupt end of the series, and the end of Jack Kirby’s second stint at Marvel (and pretty much his career as well).  The book itself, is not very good.  Volume 1 was typical (albeit recycled from the Fourth World) Kirby, epic in scope and gorgeous to look out.

But everything falls apart in volume 2.  Nothing of any significance happens in this book, unless you count a pointless 3 issue fight with a Hulk robot.  And then the book just stops.  I can’t even complain about it not having a satisfactory ending, as it didn’t actually feel like there was much of a story to be concluded.

Lycanthropes Need Subject Headings Too!

October 8, 2008

Finally! A perfect to defend my byline.  My favorite call number 001.942, is a catch all for the paranormal, including UFOs and cryptids.  Which brings me to the best autocat discussion in ages, “subject headings for shape shifters, lycanthropes, and other were-whatevers”.  The majority of the discussion has focused on a need for headings for lycanthropes (including were-jaguars and were-horses) and therianthropes, with one person pointing out the Changelings of DS9 fame and another the Pod People (who I’d classify as shape stealers, but not shifters as they remain in the one form once they settle on it).

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Shape shifting is such a common ability after all, and it takes many different forms.  The Changelings are a great example as they can shift into just about anything at will.  But then you’ve also got your Dr. Jekyll and Incredible Hulk type shifters (who change from a person to a larger person).  There’s the Thing, another shape-stealer, but one that isn’t locked into one identity.  Vampires can usually shape shift, but I guess vampirism trumps that ability.  There are the truly odd ones, such as the Quiz from the Brotherhood of Dada (who can do anything you haven’t thought of).  And then there’s John McCain (thank you Jacob for that joke).

So this is a really complex subject, and I think we need a proper taxonomic breakdown done before it can be laid to rest and we can move on to subject headings for kaiju.

Spotlight On Jack Kirby

June 21, 2008

The collection development bug has bitten me thanks to my getting to help spend down the last of our yearly book budget.  I loved that I was actually asked to help because of of geek credentials.  In the end I orderd a ton of graphic novels, filled in the significant f&sf books from the last year, put together a small collection of noir classics on dvd, and even got to order a bunch of art books.  And now it’s time to share my expertise in what I think is going to be a regular feature here.

There’s only one person I could think of to start off a creator spotlight, and that is Jack “the King” Kirby.  Kirby is probably the single most important artist in the history of American comics.  He’s credited with co-creating Captain America, Thor, The X-Men, the Fantastic Four and too many others to bother naming here.  As an artist he revolutionized the field, as a writer he was decades ahead of his time (just not his dialogue).

The reason Kirby’s been on my mind recently is that DC has been releasing his 70’s works for them in some beautiful new editions, with meticulously restored art.  The Fourth World, OMAC, and the Demon are major works of pop art.  The only problem with them is that they were all cancelled and so they all remain unfinished.  OMAC is probably the worst for this, considering that at the end of issue 8 everyone explodes in order to tie up the loose ends.  But the imagination on display in all of these puts every writer to have come since to shame.

However, I would only recommend these to a library with a sizable graphic novel collection.  For more modest ones I would stick with Kirby’s work at Marvel in the 60’s, particularly his runs on the Fantastic Four and Thor.  I actually really like the black and white essential editions Marvel has put out of these, Kirby’s pencils look really good uncolored, just be warned that these copies are cheaply made so you can expect to reglue pages periodically.  Full color, hardcover editions exist as well, but they are marketed as collector’s items, and carry much higher price tags because of that.