by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound
Written by Greg Pak, Art by Leonard Kirk
Published: May 2008
World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound is getting into full swing with issue #4 as we see the Leader’s plan unfold and, more importantly, witness the building of a major relationship between Korg and Hiroim. Greg Pak continues developing these characters that he’s worked on diligently since Planet Hulk, and artists Leonard Kirk and Rafa Sandoval deliver art-wise on their respective parts of the story.
We’ve got two major battles this time around. First, Kate, Elloe, and No-Name the Brood continue taking the battle to the Leader, who explains the out-of-nowhere plot bomb that last issue dropped regarding him dying. It turns out that the constant cycle of death and resurrection have taken their toll on the Leader, forcing him to take more drastic measures to keep himself alive. That doesn’t explain how Kate figured this out, but it does provide a sort of retroactive explanation as to why the Leader’s appearance has changed so often over the years – his body is continuing to mutate every time he returns to life. The art here shows off the Leader’s major changes over the years, but also shows his time as a brain in a jar during Bruce Jones’ run in the early 2000s – a run that I had thought was now out of continuity.
The bigger fight is between Korg and Hiroim. Hiroim’s Old Power is keeping the Leader’s gamma dome up, meaning that he has to die to keep it up. He fight Korg and ultimately forces the stone man to deliver what seems to be a fatal blow. Hiroim doesn’t really die, but for a moment it looks like it does. That moment is enough for Korg to basically profess his love for Hiroim, giving a hint of Kronan physiology at the same time. Are there stone women from Saturn as well? No. The Kronans gather together and hold hands and fast for days on end, until the rocks fall from their skin and create newborns. The scene where Korg explains this while Hiroim descends into the earth is surprisingly touching – something you wouldn’t normally expect from a tale about an asexual stone person and his would-be alien warrior-priest lover. Big kudos to Greg Pak for making this part compelling rather than just silly.
We’ve got one more issue here, so naturally there is a cliffhanger of more things to fight, this time giant robots apparently sent by SHIELD. But before that, we get another tale from Miek about the Warbound in the backup story, in which he tells of the Brood’s background. The Brood has quite the motherly instinct, fighting off even her spawn and her own biology to protect a child that calls her Mama. It’s a touching scene and one that concludes the background exposition about the Warbound. However, Miek has also been chemming with Kate during their conversation, and has one more story to tell her, which we will get to next issue.
Warbound #4 is the best and most compelling issue of this miniseries to date. It’s obvious that Greg Pak really loves these characters, as he spends a lot of time showing their backgrounds and personalities off. At the same time, he manages to do so without ever letting the action drag. The artists are good at the big scenes that Pak wrote into the scripts, and as a whole this issue is very satisfying. Barring a complete meltdown in the final issue, Warbound is definitely a miniseries worth looking into.