The Incredible Hulk #94 Review
Greg Pak sure has himself a story, here, doesn’t he?
Using the Warren Ellis-patented (unless you count Morrison’s Justice League) “every story arc should be like a blockbuster movie” technique, Pak has made the first story arc of Planet Hulk the equivalent of “Planet Hulk I – Exile,” and it really works. The story is crisp, the action is enjoyable and the characterizations are solid. I was very impressed by Pak’s Warlock mini-series (nee series), but was greatly disappointed by his X-Men follow-up. Luckily, he is back to form with Planet Hulk. This is an awfully fun comic book.
The basic plot of the comic consists of the Hulk and his team of fellow gladiators basically just trying to stay alive while the emperor of the world Hulk landed on tries desperately to kill them without losing any face to the public. Each battle SHOULD be the end, but Hulk won’t allow it to be the end, a point punctuated in this issue in quite an explosive manner.
Meanwhile, an impressive job of Pak has been both to A. PICK the team members of Hulk’s gladiator crew (one of them taken from an old Thor story and another one taken from the X-Men enemy, the Brood) and B. Actually give the characters real, defined personalities. This is not just the Hulk show. He is the clear star, but his supporting characters get real personalities and stories (as seen by a noble sacrifice in this issue). In fact, an especially neat (and perhaps a time-saver for artist Carlo Pagulayan) aspect of this issue comes towards the end, where an all-star cast of artists draw an “origin” of sorts for each of the members of the crew. Alex Nino, Mike Avon Oeming, Marshall Rogers and Mike Allred – not a slotch among them, and the scenes are handled quite well, in particular Oeming’s revisiting of one of the team member’s debut in an OLD OLD Thor story and the Allred Hulk origin, where Pak manages to do a one-page Hulk origin that All-Star Superman could be proud of.
Speaking of Pagulayan, I have never been a big fan of his work, but at the same time, I can certainly appreciate his appeal as an artist, so I was always surprised that he was never given a “big” comic to draw (I mean, before this storyline, he was drawing Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four, for crying out loud!). This comic is the one that I think has ended that streak – I doubt we’ll see him on a minor book again.
Ladronn’s cover? Woah. He’s amazing, isn’t he?
In any event, if you are looking for a fun, action-packed adventure story that manages to create interesting characterizations as well, then you will enjoy Incredible Hulk. I happen to think that most people would enjoy a comic like that, so I feel no problem in recommending this comic without reservation.