All right, I admit it, I have to give Marvel credit. When I’d heard that Ed McGuinness was leaving “Hulk” (at least temporarily) after #6, I thought that surely something about the book would have to finally change. Up until now, it’s been an excuse for Jeph Loeb to just make each issue deliberately bigger, dumber, and more brainless than the previous one. But then Marvel proved me wrong by taking the only two artists who could somehow spur Loeb on even more, and gave each of them half of the book. I refer to, of course, Arthur Adams and Frank Cho.
Having these two artists on board seems to have made Loeb write specifically for his co-creators. When Adams draws his half of the book, I can see Loeb wanting to bring in a lot of monsters, what with Adams well-known for his skills in that arena. So how about an army of Wendigos trashing Las Vegas, huh? If that isn’t a perfect Adams vehicle, I don’t know what is. And likewise, if you’ve got Cho drawing one of your stories, why not take advantage of his skills in drawing strong women to get a team-up of She-Hulk, Thundra, and Valkyrie?
The writing, though, feels like Loeb’s sticking rigidly to the same formula, with the Hulk going up against a combination of A- and C-list characters from the Marvel Universe. After seven issues, it’s time for something different; I was hoping that Adams and Cho coming on board might help push the book into a new direction, but instead it’s just more of the same. No new characters, no new situations, just the same predictable road that so many people use when writing “Hulk.” The only real difference is that instead of Loeb coming up with characters that play to McGuinness’ strengths, it’s characters that play to Cho’s and Adams’s strengths.
Mind you, those are some beautiful strengths, so to speak. When She-Hulk, Thundra, and Valkyrie are suited up and ready to attack, you can just see the sheer power in their huge biceps and tree-trunk thighs. (Sure, all three of them seem to have the same face, but Cho knows what is audience is really looking at.) Adams’s drawings of Las Vegas are absolutely gorgeous, from the detailed statuary and fountain outside the casino, to the little details like a beautiful pattern of tiles on the ground. Honestly, all the good will this book can muster is entirely due to the art, and I have to give Loeb credit for really coming up with situations that suit both Adams and Cho as artists.
This book is as dumb as a bag of rocks, but it sure is pretty. Those looking for something starring a slightly dumb if strong guy that’s also surprising and clever should absolutely seek out “The Incredible Hercules.” (Trust me, it’s fantastic.) For those who just want something pretty but same as it ever was, well, you’ve just hit the jackpot.