by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
World War Hulk: Gamma Corps
Written by Frank Tieri, Art by Carlos Ferreira
Published: November 2007
As we continue on with World War Hulk: Gamma Corps, part three of four remains flashback-heavy, but this time it isn’t our titular team that’s getting their backstory revealed. Instead, that honor goes to the villainous General Ryker, whose relationship with his wife gets explored while the team of gamma soldiers takes on the Hulk.
Fans from Paul Jenkins’ run on the Hulk in the early 2000s know that Ryker tormented our hero as a means of finding a cure to his wife’s cancer. Now, as the Gamma Corps take on the Hulk one at a time (a poor military tactic, but one that works here), we see the development of Ryker’s career, from government secret agent to almost-retiree to obsessed Ahab-like general once his wife falls ill. Ryker’s
story might have been compelling if this were the early 90s, back before shows like the X-Files made men in black with villainous yet sympathetic pasts something of a cliché. Instead, there’s nothing that really separates Ryker’s past from many other Cigarette-Smoking Man-style characters. We know all the beats – guy is involved in secret black ops for the good of America, has a woman he loves, chooses to retire to be with her, then becomes a full-fledged villain once she falls ill.
If Ryker’s story is too familiar, at least the main story’s fights involve something we haven’t really seen before in World War Hulk: the Hulk losing. Each team member focuses their attacks on the Hulk’s neck, and with the help of some tech that temporarily devolves him to his weaker gray form, they manage to break his neck at the end of the issue. The Hulk has seemed an unstoppable force throughout this crossover, so it’s jarring to see him taken down by characters who have never appeared outside this series. At the same time, a little bit of the drama is taken away by the fact that this story happens between the pages of World War Hulk #1, meaning that we already know the Hulk will be back to form and pulverizing Iron Man in under 24 hours. (As a matter of fact, shouldn’t the Hulk be fighting the X- Men right now in their crossover? Comics are confusing sometimes.)
On the continuity side of things, there are a couple of gaffes here that only the most diehard of fanboys will really bother with. For example, we see Ryker called to the site of the first Hulk/Wolverine battle, where they find some blood from the Hulk, but Wolverine wasn’t able to cut the Hulk during that battle. (Or, if you prefer, Peter David’s later retcon was that Wolverine did cut the Hulk, but the Hulk healed the wounds almost instantly. Either way, no blood was really spilled.) This shouldn’t bother most fans, but being a nitpicky and obsessive Hulk fan myself, I feel compelled to bring it up.
The art remains at the same level we’ve had throughout this story – good, but lacking a certain explosiveness in the action. And I think that’s pretty much a way to summarize the story in general. It’s not a bad story so far, but there’s nothing yet that really jumps off the page and makes this something that somebody should hunt down while searching for interesting back issues. World War Hulk: Gamma Corps has one issue left, and it’s going to need to be great in order to make this series a must-have.