by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Greg Pak, Art by Paul Pelletier
Published: December 2010
The Incredible Hulks #618 kicks off this title’s crossover with the Chaos War event. Since Greg Pak is the writer of Chaos War and of this title, it’s not surprising that there is a crossover. It is surprising, however, that Pak does a remarkable job of keeping the stories somewhat separate, which means that if you don’t want to read Chaos War, you don’t have to.
The Hulk is fresh off the tragic ending of the Dark Son storyline and in space when the Chaos War starts, which means that when Doctor Strange reaches out to him for help he’s sort of thrust right in the middle of things. This is a good way to introduce readers who haven’t really been following the goings-on of Hercules and company that led up to this event – like the Hulk himself, we’re thrown into the center of chaos.
There’s a bit of family conflict here, particularly between the Hulk and the red She-Hulk, who wants him to just get over the loss of a son in the last issue, but for the most part the character conflict is pushed to the sideline so we can get into the fighting. There are a lot of balls in the air in this one, and the nature of the current Hulk title as a team book is emphasized. With the dead walking the world, the Hulk has to face off against a new and powered up Abomination. At the same time, Rick finds out that his wife Marlo is the key to solving the current problem, since way back when Marlo became linked to Death.
In our backup story, we have more of Banner reflecting on his team-building process, this time regarding Rick. You’ve got to wonder where Banner found the time for all this stuff, since the comics have been going at a breakneck pace and he’s also been busy over in the pages of Hulk. That point aside, this is a nice little vignette that really emphasizes an important part of Rick’s character – he may act like a goofball, but when the chips are down he’ll put his own life at risk to save others.
Overall, this story makes for some good action, but it lacks the character pathos that the Dark Son storyline had. Things might be a little too busy here – the return of the Abomination alone could make for a big issue, but because there is just so much going on it almost gets lost in the shuffle. For what it is, though, this story is strong on the writing side. The art is nothing short of remarkable, with Paul Pelletier knocking it out of the park despite having to deal with a lot of business on page after page. As a whole, the first part of the Chaos War doesn’t come across as quite as personal and interesting as Dark Son, but it does jump right into the action quickly and gives us some Hulk family-centric storytelling despite the issue being a crossover with a larger event.