Sometimes, titles can be deceiving. Take “World War Hulks” #1, the follow-up to “Fall of the Hulks.” If you’re thinking, “This must be the next chapter in the storyline,” you’ll be a little disappointed. On the other hand, if you know going into it that it’s an anthology showing off some of the supporting cast members, well, you might still be happy with it.
The book starts off with the strongest piece, “Game Face” by Jeff Parker and Zach Howard. It’s nice to see Rick Jones (now the A-Bomb) and Marlo Chandler palling around together again; they’ve got a good rapport that Parker brings to life here, and I think he hits both of their voices well. The story itself is ok; it’s clearly designed to get their relationship from point A to B for what’s still to come, but it was entertaining enough. Howard’s pencils do a good job of following Ed McGuinness’ character design for A-Bomb, and he has that smooth look to his pencils that lets him pull it off.
Next up are Harrison Wilcox and Ben Oliver with a story about Glenn Talbot and a surprise superhero, set in the past. It’s an odd story, because while it seems like it’s supposed to flesh out Talbot and make him more interesting (I think it’s safe to say that a lot of current readers of “Hulk” have never encountered him before his recent revival), it actually made me less interested in the character. Talbot just comes across too one-dimensional here, and slightly dull to boot. The saving grace is Oliver’s art which, along with Veronica Gandini’s colors, looks beautifully painted and energetic despite the script.
I still can’t figure out the purpose of Scott Reed and Aluir Amancio’s story, with Betty Ross and Glenn Talbot getting attacked by a robotic Hulk. It’s drawn in a strangely old-fashioned style that doesn’t match the script, and the story itself lacks any real direction or lure for the reader. Fortunately, the next two entries have a bit more oomph to them. First Paul Tobin and Ramon Rosanas, and then Wilcox and Ryan Stegman start getting into the nastiness of the Intelligentsia, with the manipulations of Doc Samson and the Leader, as well as the capturing of the original She-Hulk. They’re both good stories; Tobin tells his from Samson’s perspective, giving a little bit of humanity to this good guy gone bad. Wilcox, on the other hand, uses Red She-Hulk as his main character and lets Samson and the Leader go back into full-on nasty mode. I was also impressed with Stegman who, like Howard earlier, manages to capture the look of McGuinness’ “Hulk” with this short story. Red She-Hulk in particular has that lithe, animation-influenced look that McGuinness brings to the character, and it’s nice to see someone else capturing that so well.
The book unfortunately ends with a Deadpool story, because if there is one character that is ludicrously overexposed at Marvel these days, it’s him. Parker and Ig Guara try their best, but not even the lure of “Hulkpool” was enough to rouse my interest. This story leads directly into “Hulked-Out Heroes” #1, which means that it’s also an incomplete piece, but as an attempt to make me interested in that other title it fails miserably. Can Deadpool go away for a while, please? This story actually feels inappropriate.
At the end of the day, “World War Hulks” #1 is an uneven anthology; there are some good pieces, and also some for which you’ll question their inclusion. If you’re a die-hard “Hulk” fan you’ll probably want to get this, but if you’re just a casual reader, don’t worry if you skip it. There’s nothing so game-changing that you’ll end up lost if you just wait for the main storyline issues down the road.