This is one of the most difficult comics to rate on the five-star scale. On the one hand, the artwork by Art Adams and Frank Cho is beautiful, and Jeph Loeb gives each artist a story which perfectly suits their style. So, the look of the comic is five-star, definitely. And by the standards of the quintessential “Hulk” comic, issue #8 ranks pretty high. It’s swiftly-paced, bombastic fun, perfect for a comic about a giant monster smashing stuff. But a sophisticated look at the Hulk mythos, it is not. Nor does it seem intended to be. It’s a simple romp of a Hulk tale — two different Hulk tales, actually — and that’s all it is. It’s not going to change the world, or reinvent graphic narrative, or challenge anyone’s assumptions about the character or the genre. It’s a lot of punching and smashing, drawn with meticulous beauty.
So I’ll go ahead and give it three stars, with the following clarification: if you’re looking for narrative complexity, this is not for you, and if you’re looking for big, dumb fun, this may be one of your favorite comics ever. Me, I’m looking for both, depending on my mood, and I seem to be in the mood for Jeph Loeb’s “Hulk” a lot lately.
Issue #8 is part two of a three-part story that is divided evenly between a Green Hulk story drawn by Art Adams and a Red Hulk story drawn by Frank Cho. Each story runs 11 pages per issue, like the old “Tales to Astonish” series from Marvel’s early days. Basically, these are two 33-page stories, serialized over three issues, and there seems to be no connection between them as the Green Hulk does his thing in Las Vegas while the Red Hulk faces off at Mt. Rushmore against the Lady Liberators.
The Green Hulk story actually should be called the Gray/Green Hulk story, as Joe Fixit makes a brief appearance before getting punched and turning angrier, and greener. There’s not much more logic to it than that: Joe Fixit shows up, Ms. Marvel punches him, he turns bigger and greenish. The Sentry punches him, Moon Knight (!) gives him a headache, and it all reads a lot like a Heroclix battle. Until the horde of Wendigos shows up, that is. But who better to draw a whole bunch of monsters and superheroes than Art Adams? (Answer: maybe no one.)
And the Red Hulk story is all about Frank Cho drawing beautiful women in battle with the malicious and sinister Hulk of redness. She-Hulk, Valkyrie, and Thundra are out to teach Red Hulk a lesson, with their fists, and swords, and chains, and flying horsies. The dialogue goes like this: “This is gonna leave a mark.” “Grroarrr!” “Die!” (That’s just from one page, though you can extrapolate from there.)
But as silly as it all is, it’s perfectly silly for a comic about a big smashy monster. Or a comic with two, color-coded big smashy monster. It’s a three-star comic that tends to be one of the books I read most eagerly each month.
If it’s primal, savage, beautifully-illustrated fisticuff fun you’re looking for, “Hulk” #8 might be just what you need.