Tuesday, April 16, 2013

365 Comics...106: King Size Hulk #1 (2008)

Hard to believe that this who Red Hulk bullstuff is now 5 years going, and also that, outside of an episode of the Avengers cartoon my kid was watching recently, I've managed to avoid it altogether.  It's not that I've been especially curious about it at all, either, as the Hulk typically ranks fairly low on my comic book superhero interests.  I've had only minimal interest in the character over the years, the odd episode of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV series, a dalliance with an episode or two of the cartoon(s), the occasional peek at a comic in the 90's and then again during the Planet Hulk..oh, and the movies.  I quite like the movies.  It's telling about my lack of Hulk fandom that my favourite Hulk story is still probably the largely maligned Ang Lee's Hulk, and that's as much for stylistic reasons as for story or character.  Anywho, yeah, I don't really have much interest in Hulk, so of course he's become one of my daughter's favourite superheroes, sigh.

On the flipside, I love Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk.  Love her.  She's fantastic, so I noticed her on the cover of this King-Sized Hulk collection set during the early days of the Red Hulk storyline by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGinnis, so I thought I'd at least give it a shot.

The collection is three short stories written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Art Adams, Frank Cho and Herb Trimpe, and, Jesus, if this wasn't some of the most dire storytelling from a modern writer I've read ever.  Three stories are also included, Incredible Hulk 180 and 181 (which introduced Wolverine) and (inexplicably) Avengers #83 (a women's lib-inspired tale in which Valkyrie forms a new all-female group of heroes called The Liberators to go beat the crap out of those male chauvinist pigs the Avengers for no other reason than they're kinda dicks, I guess).  Storytelling in classic comics is pretty dire, frequently painful, occasionally impossible stuff to read, and Jeph Loeb's stories match the reprinted material toe-to-toe in its awfulness.

The first story has Bruce Banner contained in a special cell on a military base, where he's given a legal pad and a pencil and a box of files on the Red Hulk and I guess he's supposed to be, I dunno, analysing the photos and forensics?  Instead, Bruce starts narrating a tale, stuffing it full of details he couldn't possibly know, even from the files provided. The new Red Hulk gets attacked by a Wendigo, and shoots him all up.  Yes, you read right, the Red Hulk uses a gun, because that makes sense.  Also, unlike Green Hulk who gets stronger the angrier he is, Red Hulk gets hotter (as in temperature wise, not physical attractiveness).  Also, this Red Hulk seems like a total dick which leads into the second story, in which the Red Hulk attacks She-Hulk high in the sky right in front of the Avengers on a Shield helicarrier.  How'd he get there? *shrug* Not important.  The important part is he kicks the living daylights out of She-Hulk, because I really believe that could happen the way it plays out here.  No way Shulkie goes down and out like she does, no way, except as a whim of the writer.  This story made me sad, angry and kind of disgusted.  Loeb barely even made an effort to capture Jen's voice, and Frank Cho... well, everything doesn't always have to be sexy Frank, seriously.  The final story was another narration fail, as General Ross writes a thoroughly unprofessional report on the history of the Abomination, and how much he hates the Abomination, as much as the Hulk.  It's truly awful, awful writing.

I've never read the first appearance of Wolverine before, not that I can think of anyway, but then again I may have and put the traumatic experience out of my mind.  It's really, really dumb stuff, winding the introduction of this Canadian "Weapon X" into the tale of a sister turning to magic to save her brother, now a cannibalistic Wendigo and squaring off against the Hulk, for whatever reason.  Did the Hulk always talk like a mentally challenged 9-year-old?  Was it really like this for 180+ issues?  It's really, really difficult to read lines like "Funny, Hulk was sure somebody called.  Must be bugs in Hulk's ear.  Hull will fix ear, make voice go away." or "Oh, Hulk is still in Animal-Girl's house.  Must have fallen asleep. Hulk will go tell Animal-Girl that Hulk is awake again... and see if Animal-Girl has any more food" or "Hulk doesn't understand. First Little Man fights Hulk... and now he fights Hulk's enemy?  But if Hulk's enemy is Little Man's Enemy... then Little Man is Hulk's friend!"  BAH.  Hulk narrative so terrible, driving Graig into Hulk-like rage.  Graig smash Galaxy Note II.  SMASH.  Graig sad.  Graig sorry.  Graig miss Galaxy Note II.

But that Avengers #83... what the effing eff?  Seriously.  It's a total piece of anti-feminism bullshit wrapped in bullshit pro-feminism clothing.  It's truly insulting stuff that should be shamefully buried (if not for the lovely John Buscema art) like Disney buried the Song of the South.  This stuff shouldn't be reprinted in a 2008 comic book.  If anyone wants to relive this awfully misguided venture, they can seek out an original copy or an expensive treasury edition which are for posterity purposes.  Worst of all, what possible context is there for including this story in this collection?  There's no Hulk, no General Ross or She-Hulk or Abomination or Wendigo, no character cross-over at all.. unless to say "remember earlier in the issue She-Hulk getting the piss kicked out of her for seemingly no reason, well get a load of this..."
Man, this was some miserable reading.  Marvel shouldn't be offering this in their Marvel #1 freebie promotion, it's not even worth that much.

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