Comic Book Review: World War Hulk #4

The Revolution has been less than impressed with Marvel’s smashfest known as World War Hulk. Now, I dig a brawlfest as much as the next person, but this one in World War Hulk isn’t even a good brawl. It has been one-sided and incredibly predictable. I’m sure that we will get plenty more of the same with World War Hulk #4. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: John Romita, Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Dr. Strange powered by the demon Zom opening up a massive can of whoop-ass on the Hulk. During the serious beat-down of the Hulk, Strange punches the Hulk into a building that causes it to collapse over top of some innocent bystanders. The Hulk uses his body to brace the impact of the building and save the innocent bystanders. Strange is totally unable to control the anger and rage of Zom.

Strange finally has a moment of sanity as he realizes what he almost did. That moment of weakness gives Hulk the opening to pound away at Strange. Hulk ends up easily dispatching Strange just like we knew he would.

Hulk fits Strange with an obedience disk and places him with the other heroes in the Hulk’s arena. Hulk assembles all the captured heroes in the arena and has them listen to citizens complain about their actions. Some woman steps up and speaks about how her husband was killed when Black Bolt declared war on America.

Bill Foster’s nephew gets up and talks about how Tony Stark and Reed Richards created Clor who killed Goliath. (Thanks, Millar. You really thought ahead when creating that stinker of a plotline.) Then some wacky chick gets up and rambles on about how magic is evil and Dr. Strange nearly killed everyone while he was powered by Zom.

Hulk then releases a big space alien monster on our heroes. Strange can’t use his magic since his hands are broken. Tony has no armor. Black Bolt’s powers don’t work. But, thank god Reed can still stretch! Our valiant heroes quickly take down the alien monster using their gladiator weapons.

The Hulk then orders the heroes to fight each other in gladiator battles. The obedience disks force the heroes to pick up weapons and attack each other.

We cut to the President arriving outside of the Sentry’s house. We see the Sentry thinking about his conversation with Tony. The Sentry says that his agoraphobia is preventing him from leaving the house and that he can’t help them with stopping the Hulk. Tony says that without the Sentry they will lose. The Sentry says he is afraid that he might lose control of his powers while fighting the Hulk and that it could cause so much damage.

Tony says that he is scared about Sentry’s power, too. Tony then says that every day Tony has to choose courses of action that could affect millions, even billions of lives. With stakes that high, how dare Tony decide? But, doing nothing is a decision in and of itself. That billions could die no matter what Tony does or doesn’t do. That he has to take the responsibility whether he wants it or not. Tony says that he knows the Sentry isn’t ready to hear this, but it is time to play God.

We cut back to Tony, Reed, Strange and Black Bolt in their gladiator fight beating each other up. The other captive heroes cry out for Hulk to stop the madness. The crowd in the arena chants for death.

Reed and Tony are locked in combat. Tony refuses to fight Reed and just hides behind his shield. Tony then manages to overwhelm the obedience disk for a moment to control a nearby robot guard to shoot at Hulk. Unfortunately, the obedience disk kicks back in. Reed then takes out Tony and stands over Tony waiting for Hulk to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

The crowd chants for Hulk to give the thumbs down so Reed will kill Tony. We then cut to Sentry watching the events in the Hulk’s arena on the TV. The Sentry stands in front of his door and looks outside. The Sentry then says “You hear that, Bruce?”

We then see the Hulk give the thumbs down. The Sentry then blasts off into the air and says “It’s time to play God.” (Hell yeah!!) End of issue.

The Good: World War Hulk #4 definitely provides the reader with tons of action. We get brawling all over the place. This issue is fast paced and makes for a fun quick read. Pak gives us some enjoyable popcorn for the brain.

Pak continues to impress me with his handling of Tony’s character. This is by far the best job writing Tony’s character outside of what the Knaufs have given us on Iron Man. Pak actually delivers a Tony Stark that is consistent with Tony’s forty plus year history in the Marvel Universe. I know, what a novel concept, huh? Maybe Pak can give JMS lessons on how to do this.

At any rate, Pak gives us a heroic Tony Stark that is true to his character. Tony displays his heart of a lion by being the only hero in the arena who is capable of overpowering the obedience disk and refusing to attack Reed and then actually managing to take control of one of Hulk’s robots and use it to attack the Hulk. Pak displays Tony’s grit and unwillingness to surrender to the enemy even while saddled with an obedience disk and stripped of his armor.

Pak also delivers a fantastic scene between Sentry and Iron Man. This scene had by far and away the most depth to it out of any other scene in this issue. Pak also crafted his strongest dialogue in this scene compared to the rest of the issue. Pak deftly shows how Tony has assumed a thankless job that your average person could never handle. Tony remains strong and resolute making hard decisions knowing that he has to. That running away and avoiding tough decisions are just as bad as not always making the right decisions. Pak shows Tony’s convictions and Tony’s ability to withstand the enormous pressures of his job that would make your average person wilt.

Pak serves up one incredibly kick-ass ending. Basically, the scene with Iron Man and Sentry and this fantastic ending are what saved World War Hulk #4 for me. I love how Pak spliced together the scene with Hulk giving the thumbs down in the arena and the Sentry finally accepting his role in this entire matter and blasting off to take care of the Hulk. That was a wonderfully framed final sequence that left a powerful impression on the reader. If this doesn’t get you excited for the next issue, then I don’t know what will.

Even though this ending was painfully predictable, it was still totally enjoyable. Pak knows that this ending was obvious and uses that to his advantage by finally giving the reader what we have so desperately wanted to see: a fired up Sentry ready to whip ass on the Hulk.

I have really enjoyed Pak’s unexpected twist of having the Hulk play the role of the villain in this story. I thought that the Hulk was going to be presented as the sympathetic protagonist. Instead, Pak has the Hulk come off as a monster villain and has the reader anxiously waiting and rooting for the Sentry to kick the Hulk’s ass.

The Bad: World War Hulk #4 continues what has been a plodding story. This mini-series has been rather mindless all together. It has also suffered from the fact that it is mind numbingly predictable. You knew that Strange wouldn’t be able to handle Zom’s powers. You knew Hulk would defeat Strange. You knew from the first issue that there would be gladiator fights between the captured heroes. You knew that Hulk was going to give a thumbs down at the end of this issue. And above all, the reader has known since the first issue that the Sentry was going to come racing to the rescue.

This entire mini-series has been nothing but a collection of terribly transparent scenes stretched out over four issues in order to kill time for the inevitable arrival of the Sentry. The predictability of this story has led to it failing to create any tension or sense of wonder in the reader. It comes across more like killing time until the inevitable showdown between the Sentry and the Hulk.

Now, I definitely am excited to see the brawl between the Sentry and the Hulk, but this mini-series really didn’t need to be five issues long. I think three would have been more appropriate and would have made it a much more enjoyable and less tedious read.

And I understand that World War Hulk was supposed to be a giant smashfest. That is exactly what Marvel’s goal was. However, the fact that the vast majority of the fights have been so one-sided and that all the results of the fights have been completely predictable all makes World War Hulk a pretty dull smashfest.

Romita and Jansen are certainly two talented artists. However, I’m just not crazy about their style of art. It looks a bit too sloppy and muddy for my taste.

Overall: World War Hulk #4 was a dependable read that gave the reader a fast paced issue with plenty of action. It also served as a great set-up issue with a sweet hook ending that gets the reader pumped up for the final issue of World War Hulk. If you are a fan of rampant destruction then you will certainly enjoy this issue.

4 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: World War Hulk #4

  1. I found WWH#4 to be very disappointing. It felt rushed and sloppy in my opinion. Dr Strange manhandles Hulk with his new Zom powers, but for some reason Hulk just punches him 3 or 4 times and the fight ends, just like that. The gladiator stuff just went by so fast, it didnt even compare to the Planet Hulk saga Hulk went through and was barely memorable. It seemed like Pak just wanted to get to his big Sentry vs Hulk fight next issue and wrapped up all the Illuminati stuff here as quickly as possible.

  2. Yes, the match-up between Hulk and Zom-Strange was a let-down, but the build-up to Sentry’s grand entrance was captivating. As a reader of the Incredible Hulk for the past 20 years, I can vouchsafe for Greg Pak’s fantastic handle of the title character, not to mention his treatment of the other heroes as well. Here’s hoping Sentry doesn’t come off as a chump in the final issue, nor will the Hulk be tamed (or thrown into the sun). I predict some stalemate will occur, say, the identity of the culprit behind the bomb on the ship is finally revealed and the no-holds barred fight between Hulk and Sentry end in a draw. Pak won’t chicken out, as far as I can tell.

  3. I have really enjoyed Pak’s unexpected twist of having the Hulk play the role of the villain in this story. I thought that the Hulk was going to be presented as the sympathetic protagonist. Instead, Pak has the Hulk come off as a monster villain and has the reader anxiously waiting and rooting for the Sentry to kick the Hulk’s ass.

    Not this reader! That is, I’ve found the series careful to avoid Hulk being just a monster. Especially when read alongside the main Hulk series and WWH: X-Men, WWH keeps reminding us: Hulk is cruel to the Illuminati crowd but saves innocent lives, while the Illuminati have carelessly killed over and over again. Up until he gave the thumbs down, it seemed as much as anything like Hulk was trying to teach the Illuminati to doubt themselves, to stop being so damn sure of themselves and their actions that they’re willing to endanger or kill bystanders.

    The civilians testifying against the Illuminati are hard to reconcile with your reading, aren’t they?

    I’m finding Hulk either a mighty sympathetic villain or a somewhat unattractive hero– certainly not a “monster villain” who I’m just eager to see get beaten up!

  4. I’m withholding judgment until we see part 5. So far, this series has been pretty dull to me. With each issue you are just waiting to see how whichever hero will bite the dust because “the Hulk is madder and stronger than ever before.” They pretty much lost me the minute Black Bolt was taken down so easily. It would have been nice to really see the Hulk and the warbound challenged by the heroes. This hasn’t been a “war” but a complete jobbing of every hero in the marvel universe.

    But I must admit, the last scene of this issue with the Sentry rocketing in to finally kick some ass (I hope) was pretty nice. If Hulk takes out the Sentry by punching him two or three times I’m gonna be pretty pissed.

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