5 Aug 2011

Cover To Cover: HULK #38

HULK #38
Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Elena Casagrande, Bettie Breitweiser & Jim Charalampidis
Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: There are times when a lead character takes a lesser role in their own comic for one reason or another and that comic then takes a dip in quality or loses impetus as a result. Thankfully there are also times when a writer moves that main character aside for a little while in order to slap a big old smile upon your face with what they’ve come up with. The latter is certainly the case with Hulk #38 this week!

While the big, gruff, red behemoth is in attendance this week, the focus falls again on the somewhat unsavoury characters that have been plotting away and working in the background. Rather than have Thunderbolt Ross, as the Red Hulk, wade through wave after wave of any throwaway enemies that turn up, offer a satisfactory level of threat and then are ultimately crushed (possibly never to return again), Jeff Parker is in the midst of crafting one of the most detailed and broad ‘rogue’s galleries’ I think I’ve seen appear in such a short space of time. And these fiendish creations are literally hounding the Hulk, studying him, poking, jabbing and torturing him as he tries to establish himself as a superhero and atone for his past actions. Zero/One and the new M.O.D.O.K. are brilliantly unpredictable characters who are cut from very different cloth compared to your usual villainous comic antagonists.

Parker uses this Fear Itself tie-in to highlight that their aims and motives are fluid, ever-changing and adaptive, and may even cause them to take actions that no-one - not hero or reader - could have predicted through the course of each issue. Continuing the story of the part that M.O.D.O.K. and Zero/One play during the invasion of New York and the brutal confrontation between Ross and the transformed Thing, Parker sets up the first meeting between the two parties and it’s a pure ego-fest to start off with as both posture that the Hulk’s fate is theirs to control.

This gives Elena Casagrande - an artist that Marvel should employ on a regular basis from this point onwards (please?) - opportunity to cut loose with M.O.D.O.K.’s firepower and the Black Fog’s deadly stealth skills as well as depicting the crumbling and burning ruins of the famous American cityscape. She gets M.O.D.O.K. spot on with that huge, grotesque and malformed head carrying a very expressive face which she uses to its full potential. There are all of the frowns, grimaces and malevolent grins that we’ve come to expect but also some terrific looks of surprise and concern when his physical weaknesses and miscalculations are exposed. There’s a wide range of panel layouts on show, along with the odd spread page for good measure, and I really can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

What then follows is a truly surprising turn of events that reminds me just why I insist on reading comics as my hobby of choice. To go in to detail would ruin the fun but I certainly chuckled out loud thanks to how much this issue surprised me. It’s thanks to the expansive and high concept battlefield that the Fear Itself event has produced that such a moment could be captured in a tie-in like this. While the main event title may not quite be living up to expectations, it seems that some of the creative teams at Marvel’s disposal are having great fun with the idea and, certainly in the case of Mr Parker, are adding some really worthwhile layers to their individual titles while keeping the interest levels very high indeed. My comic of the week right here! 9/10


j.swift said...

reviews, do we really take any interest in them, speaking for myself I've never brought a comic from someone else's review, I go with what interests me,and is there any real need to dissect a comic and analyse it,after all it's just a comic or a funny paper as we called it in the old days,it seem's to me that some of us take comics a little to seriously,but that's just my opinion and please not jump down my throat thinking I'm being disrespectful to reviewers but a comic to me is just that a comic [words,pictures,paper]but I will say this I do love losing myself in one, I just don't take them that seriously.

sewa mobil said...

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

Matt Clark said...

Er, if you're not passionate about your hobby, what's the point? why shouldn't comics be taken seriously? All you're doing is playing into the hands of the literary snobs who dismiss comics as a trashy medium by essentially agreeing with them.

If you think there's nothing more to comics than words, pictures and paper, and you don't think the combination of those three things can ever produce something thrilling or inspiring or moving or enlightening, than perhaps another hobby should be the order of the day. Like football.

Ed Morgan said...

Screw the fact that he might not take comics seriously as a medium, if he doesn't take any interest in reviews why's he reading this blog?


j.swift said...

seem's I've hit a sore point and Matt I am very passionate about my hobby and have been since the early 70's,and I do agree with you on what comics can be,comics have helped me through some very low times in my life, I just don't take them that seriously and I can't see what's wrong in that as I do believe I'm entitled to my opinion and I don't play into anyone's hands,and as for football I find that boring I find one to one combat more enjoyable.

Tom P said...

I for one love reviews they have lead me to discover many great comics, movies, books.. In short a lot of stuff that I otherwise might have missed. Take some one like Mark Kermode his reviews have entertained me time and time again. Mark is paid to review, these guys are not. The fact they take the time from there increasingly busy life's to provide us with an entertaining and interesting blog should be comended. They clearly do influence you or you would not commment.

I leave you with a quote about criticism I allways liked from Anton Ego (Ratatouille) :

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

j.swift said...

nice quote Tom,but I'm still entitled to my own opinion even if some people don't like it or understand it.