This is the beginning of the end. Greg Pak has proclaimed that he is leaving this title, and Marvel countered that move by saying the title would end following the conclusion of “Heart of the Monster,” a storyline that starts right here. To help him conclude the tale of the Hulks, Pak is joined by Paul Pelletier. Pelletier’s work is stunning in its detailed simplicity. I find his work to be reminiscent (in spirit) to classic John Byrne work, with a similar economy of line and shadow, a deceptive simplicity in composition and anatomy. Pelletier makes this book look amazing.
With Paul Pelletier drawing the pictures to match Greg Pak’s words, this book can do no wrong. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of the Hulk. I’ve often felt that the character (or is it the concept) was a little too one-note. “Hulk smash!” That really didn’t seem worthy of my time or my dimes. By and large, I ignored it. Sure, there were moments in the Hulk’s robust history that I picked the book up: David and McFarlane, Keown, or even the first go around with Pelletier, but it was always a book I let go of quickly when finances demanded that dead weight be cut.
With the volume of books I purchase, read, and/or review each month, “Incredible Hulks” has been a book that I tend to sample more than read, buy, or collect. With notable exceptions. Those exceptions are the issues crafted by Pak with Pelletier. Pak’s deft understanding of the facets of the Hulk – both Banner and beast – and his ability to convey compelling stories for both sides of that coin make this book a much deeper title than a one-note character would normally carry. Pak continues to tell the tale of Betty and Bruce, their tumultuous relationship, and their Hulking out with and against each other.
This issue puts Betty alongside Hulk’s old foe, Tyrannus, lord of Subterranea (which conveniently enough has some really cool monsters for Pelletier to draw). As the Red She-Hulk, Betty’s inhibitions are lowered and her dalliances with Tyrannus leads to a jaw-dropping cliffhanger threat for the rest of the Hulk clan, but not before Pelletier delivers some incredible monsters attacking Team Hulk. Those monsters are acting upon Betty’s bidding. That provides an interesting twist on the Hulk concept. Instead of Banner fight Hulk, (Banner-smart) Hulk is fighting (Red She-) Hulk. Not directly as of yet, mind you, but it is a subdued fight that powers the visible fight.
Whether fandom looks back on this book and remembers Pak and Pelletier or just Pak, make no mistake, this era of this book will be fondly remembered. It is action-packed, brilliantly written, and wonderfully drawn. It’s everything any comic should be, right here in “Incredible Hulks.” This issue gives you a great spot to join in on the going away party.