by Greg Pak, John Romita, and Klaus Janson
reviewed by Dan Morris
I haven't been a die hard fan of superhero comics in a while, let alone superhero "event" comics. It takes a lot to really get me excited and feel like something is a genuine event, as many of them feel very manufactured. In fact, I haven't been really excited about a Marvel Comics event book in a really long time. Then World War Hulk came around and well I got excited for it after that first issue. Why did I get excited for this book? This is the kind of superhero comic that I've wanted read for quite some time and didn't realize I wanted to read.
This is the culmination of a lot of storylines that have been going on in the Marvel Universe lately but luckily you don't have to have read any of them to know what's going on (also a big plus). The basic gist is this: The Hulk was sent into space by a group of heroes (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Namor) who thought the Hulk was going to eventually kill us all. Due to a computer glitch, the Hulk landed on a planet where he spent a year fighting an evil alien empire and eventually became king. However, the spaceship that transported him to that planet blew up killing the Hulk's new wife and unborn child, as well as most of the planet's inhabitants and destroyed most of the planet itself. This of course doesn't sit well with the Hulk who had finally found peace. So what does the Hulk decide to do? Take revenge on the group of heroes that he blames for the destruction and murder of innocent people by smashing everything in sight!
This is a comic that really feels like an event. Characters from throughout the Hulk's past show up at one point or another (i.e. Rick Jones and General Thunderbolt Ross) while a whole lot of Marvel superheroes. The Hulk destroys what's arguably the center of Marvel Comics--New York City--in pretty epic fashion. There are some serious beat downs of Marvel heavyweights by the Hulk. All of this is rendered by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson. Now I know that some people aren't huge Romita fans, but after reading this series, I'm convinced Romita was the only artist that could have drawn this book and made it look that way. Very few artists can pull off Kirby-esque dynamism and do it well, but thankfully Romita is one of those artists and that skill is used to great effect on this book.
That of course is in no way to slight writer Greg Pak, who takes what could have been a very simple action story and makes it into something that has some substance, though is completely enjoyable as a piece of enteratainment. I should take time to point out that this is truly a Marvel book in the sense there really aren't any heroes in the story but mostly anti-heroes. The Hulk, while a sympathetic figure, doesn't exactly go about things in a constructive manner. The other Marvel heroes are as concerned about making sure they survive and fix their mistake as as they are concerned about making sure the Hulk doesn't kill everyone. The book constantly asks the reader to determine whether or not the Hulk's actions are justified and never really comes up with a clear answer. The heroes who sent the Hulk into space constantly ask themselves "Did we do the right thing? Does this attack prove our reasons for sending him into space in the first place?" The book also asks if beings like the Hulk or the Sentry, with as much destructive power as they have, should exist--and should we not have means to stop them if they went out of control? It's questions like these that make this book more interesting than it might normally have been had it just been an action book. However Pak doesn't really get bogged down too much in the more weighty aspects of the plot as he constantly keeps things focused on the action since this is a superhero comic. These kinds of comics should be exciting and fun which Pak does a fine job in this story.
This is the kind of superhero comic more event comics should be like. It's both accessbile for people who don't normally read alot of superhero comics (like myself) and it's rewarding for long time readers wrapping up several plot threads while pushing things into new and interesting directions. This is a comic full of genuinely exciting and well executed action sequences and character moments. Most importantly, this book is a lot of fun. Seriously, who doesn't like seeing the Hulk smash things and beat people up?