While the first issue of this new story arc didn’t exactly blow me away, this issue isn’t much of an improvement with the introduction of the first Hulk — Bruce Banner’s mentor — as it focuses more on action and, eventually, gets to the point of this arc. Like the first issue, this one feels drawn out and needlessly singly focused on the recruitment of one character when the amount of story content doesn’t quite warrant it.
Here, War Machine confronts Leonard Williams, now going by Tyrone Cash, in South America, near the house of a criminal that Williams has killed and taken over from. Williams was once a professor at Cambridge, physically limited by disease, and mentor to Banner. Upon turning himself into his own version of the Hulk, he disappeared, becoming a violent mercenary only out for money, women, and slaughter. It’s easy to see why Nick Fury would want him for his black ops group.
There’s not much to this issue beyond Williams and War Machine going at it until War Machine does the one thing to convince Williams to do what Fury wants. Still, there are worse things to see in a comic book than Leinil Francis Yu drawing an angry, muscle-bound freak fighting a guy in a heavily-armed robot suit. In fact, it’s pretty cool. Yu’s art is looser here than in the first issue, swept up in the frenzy of violence and action. He carries the issue, providing the best parts, like somehow making War Machine look desperate at one point despite it just being the same mask.
Or watching as Williams smashes a plane into his opponent.
Yu’s art is wild and unleashed during the battle, not worrying about it getting too messy. Also, despite Williams’s selfish, unrestrained behavior, Yu usually makes him seem more thoughtful in appearance. On the second page, in the final panel, there’s a thoughtfulness in his eyes as he walks the beach. That look shows up again and again throughout the issue, yet, oddly, not on the pages before he became the first Hulk.
The idea of a man whose body was weak and feeble finding such liberation in the Hulk formula is an interesting one, but it’s barely tossed out here before subsiding to action. Like the first issue with the Punisher, there isn’t a whole lot here that necessarily warrants a whole issue. The action is fun, but it’s drawn out along with Williams’ origin, which is somewhat obvious and tedious in its telling. Thankfully, the end of the issue finally reveals the mission for the Avengers in this arc, so maybe next issue will have things move past the recruitment stage.