by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
Son of Hulk
Written by Greg Pak, Art by Ron Garney
Published: January 2009
Skaar: Son of Hulk #5 presents us with some very interesting developments in the saga of the son of the Hulk. The story deals with a battle between Skaar and Hiro-Amin, a blind shadow priest and the first enemy to really give Skaar a run for his money. Hiro-Amin fights Skaar because he believes that nobody should wield the Old Power, and as we find out at the end, his fears might be justified when it comes to Skaar.
The art flows much better in this issue than the last, with the progression of action clear from one panel to the next. The fight is effectively one of magic versus martial skill, with Hiro-Amin wielding the Old Power and Skaar fighting with sword and fist. Hiro-Amin dominates the fight for the most part, but Skaar gets a little help from an unexpected ally: his mother.
Throughout the series so far, Caiera has been speaking to her son through narrative boxes. It has been assumed that these boxes were mostly for the reader’s benefit, framing the themes of the story as Skaar progresses through his adventures. In fact, the boxes are Caiera speaking to Skaar through the Old Power, a fact which Skaar acknowledges this issue by speaking back to her. Caiera, well-versed in the Old Power, knows that the secret to defeating Hiro-Amin is to separate him from the ground. Once Skaar does that, he ends the fight convincingly.
The destruction caused by Hiro-Amin’s Old Power shook the world and brought an eruption of magma from Sakaar’s crust. Seeing the destruction it can cause, Skaar’s followers begin to have second thoughts about helping the son of the Hulk to unlock his full potential. Skaar refuses to acknowledge those doubts, though. Now that he has seen what the Old Power can do, he is determined to have it for himself. The last panel is somewhat frightening, with Skaar standing knee-deep in lava, wielding his bloody sword and threatening those who has followed him as a savior. This is the first indication we’ve had that maybe, just maybe, Skaar is not the hero his father is. Considering how the Marvel Universe felt the Hulk’s wrath in World War Hulk, the idea of a Hulk without morals and wielding earth-powered magic is a frightening one.
The backup story continues the adventures of a nameless slave who has been following Skaar. This is the slave who chose not to kill Axeman Bone when he had the chance and who heard the words of Hiro-Amin last issue. This time he finds Hiro-Amin badly wounded from his encounter with Skaar and asks him for the Old Power as a way of dealing with the son of the Hulk himself. In order to obtain this power, the slave must kill Hiro-Amin, a task he carries through at the urging of Axeman Bone. In doing so, the slave earns his freedom and a name. He is now Hiro-Kala, a member of Axeman Bone’s elite guard. Why has Hiro-Kala been such a prominent figure in these backup stories? That remains to be seen, but let’s remember that last issue revealed that he was discovered in the desert seven days after Crown City was destroyed, which puts his origin remarkably close to the birth of Skaar.
Skaar: Son of Hulk #5 is the point where this series kicks it up a notch. For the first four issues, we’ve been following the journey of the son of the Hulk and wondering about who this character is. Now we have an idea of his personality and motives. We know now that Caiera is watching over from him even after her own death. The action is improved here, with Skaar facing the first opponent that he can’t just mindlessly smash his way through and with Hiro-Kala on the horizon as a potential new antagonist. Overall, this issue marks a boost in quality for the series and a sign of good things to come.