The Revolution has found the Hulk to be a bit lacking in substance. I dig McGuinness’ artwork, but the writing has been unimpressive. Even though I wasn’t all that thrilled with much of the last issue, I have to admit that the ending totally hooked me. Seeing Rick Jones alive was a shock, but that was nothing compared to how stunned I was when Rick transformed into the new Abomination. With that ending, Loeb immediately grabbed my attention and got me excited for Hulk #3. With that said, let’s go ahead and hit this review for Hulk #3.
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed McGuinness
Inks: Dexter Vines
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Iron Man and She-Hulk standing next to the wreckage of the SHIELD Hellicarrier. Mariah Hill informs Iron Man that Agent Clay, Quartermain, Dr. Leonard Samson and General Thaddeus Ross were all together when the ship went down and that they are all missing. Iron Man orders Hill to find them immediately.
Hill then tells Iron Man to look at a transmission they received a couple of days ago from a security camera playback from Gamma Base where SHIELD is housing Bruce Banner. Iron Man orders Hill to prepare the playback.
We cut to the video being turned on. We see General Ross and Doc Samson in Banner’s cell. Ross and Samson tell Banner about the second Hulk. Ross says that Banner needs to help them answer why this new Hulk would kill Abomination, what is with the radiation emitted by the second Hulk and why does he use a gun.
Banner answers that if the red Hulk is emitting radiation it stands to reason that it is someone who has had previous experience with gamma exposure like an overloaded battery cell. Banner then asks to have a word with Ross alone. Samson backs away and Ross stands in-between the security camera and Banner. This muffles the sound of the security video and we cannot hear what Banner says. On the way out, Samson asks Ross what Banner said. Ross snaps that it was nothing.
Iron Man orders Maria Hill to find someone who can manipulate the sound of the video so they can learn what Banner told Ross.
We then cut to Gamma Base where the new Abomination (I am not going to call him A-bomb.) and the red Hulk are brawling. Abomination says that he hates Rick. That Rick keeps Abomination in a dark place. During the brawl, the red Hulk smashes into the entrance gate. The retinal scan device at the gate kicks in and scans the red Hulk’s eye and says scan complete. Subject’s I.D. confirmed as…but the red Hulk smashes it before it can finish the sentence.
Red Hulk and Abomination continue to brawl. The red Hulk gets on top of Abomination and hits him so hard that the ground under them splits open and causes a massive earthquake. The blows split the ground open all the way down to the underground cell where Banner is being kept.
Banner begins to freak because he thinks he is about to die in an earthquake. Banner touches the glass of his cell which triggers the knock out gas. Banner holds his breath. He then transforms into the Hulk and hits the glass.
We cut to red Hulk and Abomination being attacked by robot harpies that sport Betty Ross’ face. The red Hulk chuckles that the use of Betty’s face on these robots was meant to rattle Banner if he ever escaped. Red Hulk says that he isn’t Banner. That he is his own monster. The red Hulk then destroys one of the harpies. Abomination destroys the other harpy.
Suddenly, we see Hulk crawling out of the ground. The Hulk and the red Hulk then come face to face. The red Hulk says that he is going to love this. End of issue.
The Good: Hulk #3 was a serviceable read. Loeb certainly unveils a fast paced issue. And the story was actually clearly and logically plotted. That is a real break from the unfocused and spasmodically plotted Ultimates 3 that Loeb gives us each month. Loeb has a definite purpose with this title and is quite focused as he moves the story along in a pleasantly direct and methodical manner.
Loeb definitely dishes out plenty of action. No, make that a ton of action. Hulk #3 is a very fast read and should satisfy even the most hard-core action junkie. We get plenty of gamma radiation fueled monsters wreaking havoc.
I have to admit that I am digging both the red Hulk and the new Abomination. Loeb teases the reader with some interesting tidbits about the red Hulk. We learn from Banner that the red Hulk is emanating radiation because he has been exposed to gamma radiation before. Also we learn that whoever is the red Hulk also has security clearance at the Gamma base. This immediately makes Doc Samson the number one suspect as the new red Hulk. That also goes along with the fact that the red Hulk is much smarter than both Hulk and the new Abomination.
Of course, Doc Samson is such an obvious choice that I feel that this is probably a red herring thrown out there by Loeb. We learn that all the characters connected to the Hulk are missing after the red Hulk’s attack on the SHIELD helicarrier. It is possible that the red Hulk is one of the people from the missing group of characters that includes Doc Samson, General Ross, Agent Clay and Quartermain.
I’m also rather curious to learn what Banner whispered to Ross. It is interesting to note that Ross played it off and didn’t bother to tell Doc Samson what Banner said. Again, having Banner whisper something to Ross and keeping Samson out of the loop has to be designed to make the reader think that Samson is not to be trusted and is the red Hulk. Which makes me think even more so that Loeb cannot be going with such an obvious choice in Samson.
I’m glad that Loeb wasted no time freeing Banner from his cell. I like how Banner scoffed at the use of gas as an attempt to stop him from breaking out of his cell. And the Hulk’s escape set up for a fantastic hook ending as we see the two Hulks square off against each other. We are sure to be treated to one massive rumble in the next issue. If both Hulks are in the same power category then the red Hulk’s intellect may give him the edge.
Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines crank out some wonderful looking artwork. McGuinness was born to draw a title like the Hulk. McGuinness does a wonderful job bringing to life these gamma powered monsters. And McGuinness can definitely serve up some dynamic fight scenes.
The Bad: The dialogue on Hulk #3 left a lot to be desired. The external voices are fairly generic. Some of the dialogue was totally cringe inducing. Loeb has no feel at all for any of the personalities of the various characters on this title. Loeb’s dialogue for Iron Man was particularly poor. Having Tony utter the phrase “Thank tech” instead of “Thank God” was just stupid. Tony has never talked in such a fashion.
The character work on Hulk #3 is practically non-existent. All of the characters are fairly flat and one-dimensional. The story itself is not terribly deep or complex. The characters simply proceed from scene to scene in a rather lifeless fashion.
Hulk #3 is a fast read partly due to being mostly fight scenes and partly due to the fact that this is a thin story without much substance for the reader to chew on. This issue is definitely the comic book equivalent of cotton candy.
Overall: Hulk #3 was an average read. This is an action title first and foremost and in that category Loeb has delivered in spades. If you are an action fan then you will probably enjoy Hulk. If you are a reader who prefers substance and texture to your stories with finely crafted dialogue and compelling character work then you will definitely not like this title.