Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 28: This week... the Hulk kicks some butt!!!

If you think about it, more than any other comic-book character, the Hulk is a thematically one-note creature.

With Batman, you can focus on his detective abilities, or his whole "criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot and I'm scary as hell" persona, or you can play the tragic "his parents were killed in front of him" card.

Superman is most often simply "the best hero of them all." You see him being good and kind-hearted and all the other heroes looking up to him. But he can also be the tragic "last son of Krypton" who will always be the last of his kind (well, kind of), the ultimate immigrant, etc.

But Hulk?

He's all about the rage, baby...

Pure, cathartic rage.

Juicy, mouth-watering rage. Zesty.

Think about it. Here's the plot of pretty much every Hulk story ever told...

Bruce Banner doesn't want to lose his temper, because if he gets angry he'll lose control.

So, for the first chunk o' story, he tries to hold his temper while various forces provoke him. He'll be attacked, insulted, beaten, chased around the country, imprisoned, poked in the eye, etc.

His mother will be insulted.

The waiter will deliberately drop his burrito on the floor.

Verizon will put him on hold for over an hour before simply disconnecting him.

The fat lady will sit next to him on the Greyhound Bus and pull out her photo album.

Jet Blue will make him miss his conference at the Harvard Business School.
[No, wait... that was me!!!]

Bush will decide to revoke Libby's prison sentence for no good reason at all. And not even feel bad about it.

Battlestar Galactica will get cancelled, despite being one of the best TV programs in the entire galaxy.

But still, Bruce'll keep holding it back...

"Not gonna lose my temper. Not gonna lose my temper."

And then, finally, inevitably, someone will push him one step too far and BOOM!!!

The Hulk!!!

And what does the Hulk then do? He smashes.

That's his whole schtick.

Especially when some bratty kid is sticking his hand in the Hulk's eye while the Hulk is trying to enjoy a leisurely day of floating around in the pool...

The Hulk is all about the mindless rampage, the throwing around of tanks and crushing of enemies. He's not necessarily stupid, although he has been written that way at times. Really, though, he's savage. That's different than stupid.

The Hulk isn't interested in discussing his source of frustration. He doesn't worry about social niceties.

He doesn't even care if you're the Easter Bunny!!
He'll still give you a whuppin' if he thinks you've got it coming...
All of which brings us to World War Hulk...

World War Hulk was prefaced with a set-up that lasted over a year. The basic premise is that a bunch of super-heroes (Iron Man, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange and Reed Richards, to be precise) decided to shoot the Hulk into outer space because he's a menace.

For a year, he fought a lot on some faraway planet and slowly found new allies, fell in love, and became a leader.

And then, after a year of this, everything he cared about got destroyed, his wife and unborn child were killed, and the waiter dropped his burrito on the floor and then stepped on it!!!

And so now the Hulk is going back to Earth to do some smashin'.

Clearly, Greg Pak (the writer of this storyline) understands what makes the Hulk so great. I mean, to spend an entire year just to establish that the Hulk is more pissed off than he has ever been before...? That's quite a build-up.

But now it all pays off, as we get to watch the Hulk beat the crap out of all our favorite Marvel heroes.

The reader realizes, of course, that the Hulk has gotten some of his facts mixed up. It seems very unlikely that Iron Man and Richards and those guys set up the bomb that killed the Hulk's wife and destroyed most of his planet. Probably someone else did that.

But, you know what? It doesn't really matter.

The Hulk is going to kick some serious butt. And that's all that really matters.

Go, Hulk, go!!!

Favorite scene from World War Hulk #1...?

The Hulk goes to the moon to visit Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans. As soon as he arrives, Black Bolt and Medusa show up to 'welcome' him. Now, Black Bolt can't actually say anything, because his super-power is that if he does speak, it'll have roughly the effect of several nuclear bombs. And Medusa, acting as his translator, points this out to the very angry Hulk.

"You cannot want this fight," she tells him. "Black Bolt's master blow can shatter your bones. And his merest whisper will blow your broken body into the sun."

And the whole time, Black Bolt is just standing there, staring at the Hulk as if to say, "I hope you're hearing this, girlfriend. I will swat you down like a big, green bug. Just give me a reason..."

Hulk expresses a lack of interest in what Medusa says and moves forward, at which time Black Bolt opens his mouth and whispers... "Enough."

And the Hulk is blown away... shattering the surface of the moon as he's propelled back far, far away.

End of fight, right?


Because as Medusa and Black Bolt turn around and start heading back home, Hulk comes up from behind and says, "I didn't come here for a whisper."

[Full-page shot of Hulk.]

"I wanna hear you scream."

End of scene.

Yeeeeeeeaaahhh, baby!!!
That's what I'm talking about!!!

World War Hulk... that's some good, good stuff.

In next week's column, I'm going to talk about some new stuff that's coming up, but I wanted to hit a couple of highlights before signing off...

I really love the solicitation for Booster Gold #3...

Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz

Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

This is it! The DEATH of BOOSTER GOLD!! And nothing will ever be the same aga...wait. We already tried to kill him? Really? Well, in this issue Booster Gold heads back to the Old West and runs into Jonah Hex. You know, that crazy looking gunfighter! But what does Jonah Hex have that Booster desperately needs? Plus: the Death of Jonah Hex!! What? We can't kill him either? Well, someone’s going to fall off a horse at least!*

(*Warning: This issue may not contain a scene of anyone falling off a horse.)

On sale October 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I actually thought there was a strict rule prohibiting any kind of humor or levity at DC these days, as they oh-so-merrily go about killing off all their characters in gruesome and strangely uninteresting ways. I wonder if there's any chance of them getting whoever wrote the above solicitation and making him/her the new editor-in-chief?

And then there's this cover for Action Comics #857...


Written by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner

Art and cover by Eric Powell

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and master illustrator Eric Powell conclude “Escape From Bizarro World”! On the run from the population of Bizarro World, Superman comes face-to-face with Bizarro's most horrific allies. But what unexpected turn of events will save the day? And whose day is being saved?

On sale October 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Here's a little math formula for you... Eric Powell + Bizarro Superman = Happy Me!

And then, finally, there's this...


Written by Geoff Johns & Alex Ross

Art by Dale Eaglesham & Ruy Jose

Cover by Alex Ross

Alex Ross joins Geoff Johns as co-writer for Part 1 of “Thy Kingdom Come,” the epic story years in the making, springing from KINGDOM COME! Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Welcome the newest member to the Justice Society of America: the Kingdom Come Superman! Coming from an Earth plagued by heroes-gone-extreme, how will this Superman react to an incarnation of the Justice Society he never knew? This Superman’s world needed better heroes. So does ours.

Forgive me for saying so, but that looks so good I want to eat it up for dinner.

And I don't say that lightly. I like dinner. A lot.

Yes, yes... there's the very real danger that the story will devolve into some overly-convuluted continuity Countdown spin-off, but I am strangely optimistic that this is going to be good.

I'm fancy that way.

Anyway, until next time, here's hoping that all your days are full of four-color magic comic-book-y goodness and that no one steps on your burrito!!!

- Paul


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M said...

I hate spammers, I really do. If only Bruce Banner would turn his attention to spam, then we'd see some mean green spam cleaning action.