by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Jeph Loeb, Art by Arthur Adams
Published: February 2009
Hulk #9 ends the experiment of splitting the book into two stories, and that’s a good thing. Jeph Loeb’s stories are little more than poorly-written picture books anyway, and cutting down the page count shows their weakness all the more. Luckily, if you don’t go in expecting something well-written, you’ll get some good art and a couple of chuckles.
On the green side of things, the Las Vegas story arc wraps up with some nonsense and a deus ex-machina. Now that the heroes have stopped fighting the Hulk and gone after the cannibalistic monsters, things actually get worse. Loeb has apparently forgotten that the Canadian wendigo is not a werewolf, because now the bites of the monsters cause other people to become wendigos. That includes the Hulk, who becomes “Wendihulk.” Luckily, Ms. Marvel is on top of things by calling Brother Voodoo, who literally teleports in, solves the problem in a few panels, and then teleports away. The only saving grace to the entire storyline has been a bit of humor here and there, such as in this issue where we get to see two of Marvel’s most insane heroes, Sentry and Moon Knight, talk about their therapists. If you want something well-plotted, though, this story is a waste of time.
The red Hulk’s tale is a bit more interesting because it hints at Rulk’s larger plan. Unfortunately, it also involves most of the female heroes in the Marvel Universe acting like idiots for plot purposes. The Lady Liberators are able to knock out Rulk, but instead of bringing him in, they wait around for hours (literally hours) waiting for Rulk to turn back into his secret identity. You’d think that could be better accomplished by holding him in SHIELD custody while they wait, but no, they decide that Mount Rushmore is the ideal place to wait for the change while they discuss “girl things” such as having sex with Tony Stark. Gee, I wonder why more women don’t read comics.
Naturally, Rulk was playing the ladies, letting them fall into a false sense of security. He escapes and kidnaps Thundra, but doesn’t kill her – instead, he gives her a job offer. We don’t find out what exactly the offer is, but unlike Bruce Banner’s conversation with General Ross back in Hulk #3, this plot point will be resolved in the future. Moreover, it hints that Rulk has a larger plan, which will eventually lead us into the Fall of the Hulks storyline.
Both of these stories are poorly paced, poorly written, and accomplish very little. However, they do have some merits. The Las Vegas storyline is good for a chuckle here and there, and the Rulk’s battle with the ladies leads into a larger storyline down the road. On the other hand, the Hulk’s story is terribly plotted, with the resolution being a deus ex machina that is downright insulting to the reader’s intelligence. As to the red Hulk’s story, I can’t imagine female readers seeing much merit at all in it, since in addition to the constant objectification of their bodies (i.e., artist Frank Cho and his butt shots), it makes women look downright stupid. Admittedly, though, women aren’t the only victims of this when the red Hulk is around – everybody’s IQ seems to drop by about 20 points.
Overall, it’s the same old refrain – good art, don’t think too much about the story. It’s going to be a while before the Rulk storyline becomes tolerable, but if you’re the type of person who buys comics mostly for the art, then there are worse purchases to make.