To the amusement of my closest friends, I have always been a fan of Jeph Loeb’s run on the “Hulk” comic. I appreciate it for what it is: a lavish spectacle, with no trappings of melodrama. It’s just gorgeously rendered fight scenes, barely strung together with plot and mystery.
When Ed McGuinness left the book, it split into halves, with Art Adams drawing the story of Bruce in Las Vegas (and the honestly thrilling return of Joe Fixit) and Frank Cho drawing the story of She-Hulk’s quest for vengeance against “Rulk” (their words). The action still looks fantastic, and Loeb still manages to find new and interesting things for great artists to draw (I’ll just say it: Wendihulk),
The mystery of who exactly “Rulk” is still lingers, but at this point it’s little more than a placeholder for manufactured drama. “Will they or won’t they?” rarely factors into the discussion, because if this was the issue of the reveal, it would be plastered all over the cover. “Hulk” is just that kind of book. And, honestly, that’s what I love about it. It’s big, silly fun. Just like its lumbering subject matter.
But this is, sadly, the first issue where Loeb allows himself the luxury of one of those really overwinded monologue pages. Upon leaving Las Vegas, Bruce Banner pontificates on the similarity between the plight of the Wendigo and his own curse of the Hulk. This would be sort of interesting if it wasn’t directly implicit in the Wendigo’s existence in Hulk comics for decades. It’s like, we get it. Can’t this just be a big, luxurious punching book? With tons of guest stars?
Can’t it just be fun?
Anyway, most of it is. “Hulk” is always a fast, light reading book. But there’s nothing wrong with that when it looks this phenomenal. But it is what it is. You can’t try and shoehorn in drama when you’ve taken away all the motivation that drove the Hulk through Greg Pak’s epic run on the book. You’ve brought it back to basics. We shouldn’t have to wade through anything else that doesn’t belong there anymore.