As Greg Pak wraps up the story he had to tell featuring the Hulk, Marvel similarly has decided to wrap up this run of “Incredible Hulk,” as well. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Marvel up-sized this issue, providing a ten page back-up story, an afterword by Greg Pak, an interview with Pak conducted by CBR’s very own Kiel Phegley, and a cover gallery spotlighting Pak’s Hulk-centric adventures.
The biggest challenge to a character like the Hulk is to find a foe worthy enough to fight what is, essentially, an unstoppable, violently powerful creature issue after issue — and then make it interesting while upping the ante from the conflicts the character has faced before. Shooting the Hulk into space, replacing him with Hercules, returning Hulk to Earth and looking to settle the score with the people he felt wronged him, then letting Bruce Banner – puny Banner! – take the center stage were all ways that Greg Pak entertained readers of “The Incredible Hulk”/”Incredible Hulks” for the past five-plus years.
Through it all, Pak made the Hulk a much deeper character that fans wanted to read about. Pak strengthened the character so much that readers didn’t just pick up the book to see Hulk smash, though we do still enjoy that immensely. This is still The Hulk, after all.
In that time, there have been a myriad of artists that have helped tell that tale. None of those artists, in my opinion, have matched their visuals as completely to the imagery generated by Pak’s story than Paul Pelletier. Pelletier filled the pages of “Incredible Hulk” with characters that ran the gamut of emotion, body type, expression, and power. Only Pelletier could depict the smugness of Bruce Banner through the expression on the Hulk’s face. Furthermore, Pelletier’s art oozes detail, and this issue is no exception. It ranges from the Dark Dimension to a gamma bomb containment facility in Yuma, Arizona and back again. Pelletier draws a cool Fin Fang Foom, a sultry Umar, boiling gamma radiation, and luminescent astral projections one right after the next. Through it all, there’s Kirby-inspired technology and visual effects, miniscule detail, and riveting storytelling.
Morry Hollowell seizes Pelletier’s work and colors the daylights out of it, with electric greens, piercing oranges, and brutal reds. The combination of line and color make this a book that fits the violent nature of the lead character in a picture-perfect manner.
Pak wraps up his “Wishing War” story, letting Red Betty Hulk and the original Bruce Banner Hulk slug it out in the Dark Dimension, both of them finally able to fight unrestrained and absolutely having the time of their lives doing it. Like all wishes, however, this one has to end, and Pak ends it all right here in this issue, making the twenty-two page lead story feel like a more rewarding forty pages. As an added bonus, Pak writes a Tom Grummett-drawn epilogue to officially close out this chapter of the Hulk’s story.
Pak’s mastery of the Hulk, his evolution of Bruce Banner, and his voices for the range of characters brought into and through this title are all masterfully on display in this issue, which serves as not only a finale to the series, but also an encapsulation of everything that Pak brought to this book.
Admittedly, I would not have been anywhere near as interested in this story had Pak not brought Hercules into the title and Marvel not used the brilliant artwork of Paul Pelletier. Thankfully, both of those things happened, and this book is the better for it. Pak and Pelletier provided some benchmark stories for the Hulk and for us readers, and there is nothing to keep any of us from coming back to this one time and again.