by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Greg Pak, Art by Paul Pelletier
Published: January 2011
The power of love saving the day is a pretty tired cliché. So how is it that The Incredible Hulks #620 is actually good despite employing that cliché? Because it applies to the Hulk, and nobody in the Marvel Universe is deserving of a little bit of love more than this guy.
This issue features a showdown we’ve been waiting to see for a while – the Hulk versus his own abusive father. Since Brian Banner never had any superpowers, you’d think that this would end with a quick punch and a splat. Not so here – Brian is fueled by the Hulk’s hatred for him, which is as boundless as the Hulk’s own rage. This leads to the Hulk getting a rare beatdown of his own.
Fortunately, not all is lost. Jarella steps up to give us a moment of awesome as she invokes her love for the Hulk against Brian. This is the part that would normally be a bit cheesy, but in this situation it works. Jarella is joined by Bruce Banner’s mother, his old allies, and the entire Hulk family. This turns the once-formidable Brian Banner into something that the Hulk can simply blow away. The reason this works is because we’ve been through half a century of the Hulk being tortured, hunted, and hounded. He’s always wanted to be left alone, and whenever he gets a friend it always ends in tragedy. However, he’s also accumulated quite a few allies and affected many lives in his time as the Hulk. This is him finally getting a chance to see that he’s not alone and that he is in fact well-loved by many. The scene could have been eye-rolling, but instead it’s a bit of a tear-jerker.
Our backup story deals with Korg and his relationship to the Hulk. The art in the backup is only so-so and the story itself is a bit of filler, but at least it provides some insight as to why Korg is with the Hulks and why the rest of the Warbound are not.
Overall, this issue is another top-notch story that wraps up the Hulks’ involvement with the Chaos War storyline (except in the Chaos War finale itself, where the Hulks play a role in the story’s resolution). The writing is grandiose when it needs to be and clever when it needs to be – it’s especially amusing to see the reaction of Bruce’s mother to his two former wives. She dislikes Betty, who is the red She-Hulk here, but is quite fond of Jarella. Too bad for her that Jarella is the one who will be returning to the land of the dead along with the Chaos King’s minions.
The art, as always is excellent. An extra kudos goes to Paul Pelletier this time around as he manages to render the monstrous version of Brian Banner very much as he appeared in the Hulk’s dreamscape way back in The Incredible Hulk #377, giving a long-term sense of continuity to the story that doesn’t make it inaccessible to younger fans.
As a whole, this story is a good example of how to do an event tie-in properly. While the final scene of the Hulks’ battle against the Chaos King takes place over in the Chaos War miniseries, you can read this book and get a very good feel for what’s going on without having to go out and buy another book as a road map. It’s also not just a cheap tie-in – the appearance of Bruce Banner’s parents make it significantly relevant to the book’s main character, which is something that a lot of event tie-ins lack. The bottom line is that these tie-in issues are done well and are must-haves for Hulk fans, even if you aren’t following the Chaos War event.