Comic Book Review: World War Hulk #1

The Revolution has decided to hop onto Marvel’s big summer blockbuster in World War Hulk. I always am a sucker for any comic book company’s big event. I will readily disclose that I am by no means a Hulk expert. I haven’t read an issue of the Hulk since I was 10 years old. But, it appears that Marvel has done their best to make World War Hulk very new reader friendly. Let’s go ahead and hit the review for World War Hulk #1.

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

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Hulk thinking about the villainous humans in Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic who blasted him into space. We see Hulk on top of his space ship on his way back to Earth for some serious payback.

We see the Hulk arriving on the Moon outside the Inhuman’s home city. Black Bolt and Medusa are there to inform the Hulk that he is not welcome here. Black Bolt and Hulk begin to brawl. With one whisper, Black Bolt takes down Hulk. Hulk gets up and says that he didn’t come here for a whisper. That he came to hear Black Bolt scream. Hulk then attacks Black Bolt again.

We cut to SHIELD picking up the battled between Hulk and Black Bolt via satellites. We then see Hulk’s space ship appear over New York City. A hologram of Hulk appears in the sky. The Hulk informs the populace that he has come to smash and that they should know who is to blame. The message is also broadcast in cities around the world including Los Angeles, Tokyo and London.

The Hulk re-tells the story of how Black Bolt, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Strange shot him into space. The Hulk re-tells the events of Planet Hulk including how the four heroes planted a bomb on Hulk’s ship that blew up and killed a million people on Sakaar including Hulk’s wife.

Hulk says that New York City will fall. That they have twenty-four hours to evacuate. That when he emerges from his ship next he expects to see Iron Man, Dr. Strange and Mr. Fantastic before him. The Hulk then hold up the beaten body of Black Bolt and says that if the other three “heroes” don’t show up then Hulk will destroy the entire planet.

Iron Man goes into space to try and get back control of the satellites that Hulk’s army has taken over. Unfortunately, Hulk’s army uses a modified EMP to take out the satellites once again. Dr. Strange then appears to Iron Man. Iron Man asks Stephen if he can send Hulk somewhere. Dr. Strange refuses to do so since that would simply doom whatever world they would send Hulk to and that he would just come back again even angrier. Dr. Strange says that they have to prepare to take down the Hulk.

Dr. Strange tells Iron Man that if he won’t arrest Strange’s unregistered colleagues then they will help Iron Man evacuate New York. Iron Man comments that he will give a pardon to any unregistered hero who helps with the evacuation and turns themselves in once all of this is over. Dr. Strange sarcastically comments what a nice sentiment that is by Iron Man.

We then cut to Iron Man and Reed Richards asking the Sentry to help them stop the Hulk. The Sentry is hesitant since the Hulk is his best friend. The Sentry eventually agrees and then asks to have a word with Iron Man in private.

We shift to Spider-Man and She-Hulk helping to evacuate New York City. Spider-Man comments how surprised he was that Hulk soundly beat the second most powerful guy in the galaxy in Black Bolt. However, Spider-Man says there is nothing to worry about since the most powerful guy in the galaxy is on his way. We see a figure come streaking in and Spider-Man thinks it is the Sentry. However, it is actually Iron Man in his Hulk Buster armor.

Iron Man says that the Sentry will be here when the time is right. Iron Man tells all the heroes to back away. That this is Iron Man’s fight. So, they shouldn’t attack until either he is done with the Hulk or the Hulk is done with him.

The Hulk exits his spaceship and begins brawling with Iron Man. Iron Man then broadcasts a transmission to all the media outlets. Tony Stark says that if people need to blame someone for the Hulk’s return then they can blame Tony. However, everything Tony has done and will do he does to protect this world. That someone once told him that with great power comes great responsibility. That when Tony put on his armor he took on more power than any human was ever intended to have and maybe more responsibility that his heart can truly beat. But today, Tony will do his job and protect the world no matter what it takes.

Iron Man then injects the Hulk with nanobots designed to suppress his powers. Fighter planes then fire their rockets at the Hulk. The Hulk then thinks about his pregnant wife. And then the explosion that killed her. Hulk then bellows that Iron Man killed his wife.

Hulk then charges at Iron Man. The Hulk proceeds to beat the hell out of Iron Man. Their fight ends up taking them to the Sentry’s base on top of Avengers Tower. The Sentry’s base crumbles and falls to the ground during the fight.

The Avengers and the Secret Avengers run to Iron Man’s aide and see a pissed off Hulk emerging from the wreckage.

The Good: World War Hulk #1 was a solid debut issue. Pak certainly wasted no time at all getting this story off to a rocking fast start. I appreciate that Pak dispensed with a long build up to this mini-series. This is the Hulk. It doesn’t have to be anything deep or philosophic. It just needs plenty of mindless smashing. And do we ever get plenty of that!

Pak gives a huge helping of mayhem and destruction in World War Hulk #1. If you dig tons of action then you will love this issue. We get to see Hulk kicking all sorts of ass. This rage fueled engine of destruction is going to be nearly impossible to stop. Hulk easily dispatches with two of Marvel’s more powerful characters in Iron Man and Black Bolt. That means that the biggest hope in stopping the Hulk is going to hinge on one of the most psychologically unbalanced heroes in the Marvel Universe: The Sentry.

The inevitable showdown between the two old friends in The Sentry and the Hulk should be wildly entertaining. We will be seeing the two strongest characters in the Marvel Universe clashing and it should get nasty. But, what makes it so juicy and intriguing is the deep relationship between these two characters.

The Sentry is the only person who is capable of calming the raging Hulk. The Sentry is the only person on Earth who the Hulk truly cares for and the Hulk would do anything for the Sentry. The Sentry has a fragile psyche and simply is not the bloodthirsty berserker that the Hulk is. So, while the Sentry may hold a slight power advantage over the Hulk, the berserker mentality of the Hulk may give him an edge over the Sentry in an all out brawl.

I’m curious to find out just what the Sentry wanted to say to Iron Man in private. Clearly, the Sentry is uneasy having to fight his old friend. Maybe the Sentry wants to hang back and wait to see if either Tony, Dr. Strange or Reed Richards can stop the Hulk before the Sentry has to get involved.

Pak delivered some nicely constructed dialogue in this issue. I was rather impressed with how Pak handled Tony’s character in this issue. Unlike almost every Marvel writer outside of the Knaufs, Pak actually tries to present Tony in an honest manner. Pak scripts a wonderful speech by Tony in which Tony readily accepts any and all responsibility for launching Hulk into space.

Pak then goes on and shows what a true hero Tony is by pointing out that everything Tony has ever done has been done so to protect the Earth and that Tony will always be here to sacrifice himself in order to protect the Earth. That was a great speech Tony and a real rarity to see in any title outside of Iron Man’s own title.

I really admire Pak for actually trying to deliver a complex and well developed Tony Stark that shows that the Registration Act and Hulk situations are various shades of grey rather than black and white situations. Pak manages to engage the reader and get them to think much more than your black and white approach that most Marvel writers take when delivering an easy to hate and dick-headed Iron Man.

Pak does an excellent job tapping into the fury that is motivating the Hulk to attack the Earth. The reader finds himself sympathizing for the Hulk and the sense of betrayal and loss that the events of Planet Hulk have cultivated inside of him. The Hulk’s raw emotions are conveyed well to the reader. Pak certainly gets the reader eager to see Hulk enact some serious retribution.

The Bad: I found John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Jansen’s artwork to be rather average. It just looked a little too rushed for my taste. I also thought that Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor was truly awful. That is one of the worst designed Iron Man armors that I have ever seen.

I definitely think that the Black Bolt went down too easy. I have a real tough time believing that the Hulk could take down the Black Bolt. Of course, we pretty much knew that the Hulk was going to be practically unstoppable during his rampage on World War Hulk. And since this is the Hulk’s big moment to shine, I guess I will give Marvel a pass for jobbing Black Bolt to the Hulk.

Overall: World War Hulk #1 was a fun start to what should be a wild paced and action packed mini-series. I’m not expecting anything profoundly deep. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the Hulk’s rage fueled rampage through the Marvel Universe. If you are an action freak then definitely give World War Hulk a try.

2 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: World War Hulk #1

  1. Romita tends to draw the Iron Man armour as much boxier and mechanical than other artists (both here and in Fallen Son: Captain America); for normal armour, the sleek look is better, but I can appreciate the bulkier appearance for a “Hulkbuster” type of armour.

    I tend to agree about Hulk vs. Black Bolt (although to hear some Hulk fanboys, he can easily defeat anyone). Even writer Greg Pak, in Newsarama interviews, is fairly equivocating about that; he said in interviews that Black Bolt was unable to unleash his full power because of the proximity of Attilan, and, due to Medusa’s presence nearby, may have hesitated to strike with his full force at a critical moment.

    One other thing I’ll mention is the way the odds are stacked in this story. Normally, the heroes are set up as the underdogs; in this story, by the writer’s own admission, the Hulk is meant to be so powerful that it’s a mystery how the Illuminati could ever beat him. Many readers want to set this up with the Hulk as an unquestioned good guy, but, even forgetting about some of the things he does in this issue (like threatening to kill everyone on Earth), the fact that the Illuminati are the underdogs in this story quite frankly makes them closer to the traditional heroes of an Event (ie, less powerful than their opponent, and must find a creative way to stop him, if they can).

    Pak also does a good job of subverting how most people (including me) thought this would go; most stories would have Iron Man, by far Marvel’s most-hated character at the moment, as the (to use video game terminology) end boss, but instead Tony is the first line of defence (and is portrayed pretty heroically).

  2. Actually, given the result of Civil War, Iron Man is now the villain. Matching up against the Hulk, who himself has taken a villainous turn, makes World War Hulk a villain vs villain book, contra Civil War (hero vs hero).

    As for Black Bolt, it could be something as simple as the Hulk grabbing BB and leaping outside the artificial atmosphere of Attilan, neutralizing BB’s abilities.

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