Posted - October 21, 2016

Selected Tales from The Incredible Hulk

World War Hulk
World War Hulk Prologue, Incredible Hulk 106, World War Hulk 1

World War Hulk Prologue Incredible Hulk 106 World War Hulk 1

Welcome to the Hulk at his maddest, strongest, and baddest. Welcome to World War Hulk. Enough of the staid, depressing, and dismal world we know. It's time to open the comicbooks, de-stress, relax, have an adventure, and have fun . . .

World War Hulk is the third of three parts. The first was shown in the pages of The Illuminati, the second in Planet Hulk. And this is the third. That being so, we drop into an ongoing storyline.

We happen upon the Hulk in his usual enraged mood and the warleader of a star-spanning civilization. He is on a mission to return to Earth and get his revenge against the Illuminati, leaders of the Earth's super groups. Yes, it's Hulk against everybody.

First we have the novelty of a starship - looking very much like an Imperial Star Destroyer - that is made not of metal but of stone.

a stone starship

The Hulk is so eager to get to Earth and get his revenge that he actually stands on top of the ship rather than inside it. We are given a taste of the power of the Hulk when the ship is attacked by, well, pirates, space pirates.

Hulk fighting aliens

This action-packed panel is a mini-introduction to what iteration of the Hulk we can expect. He's had several transitions if you recall. Mr. Fixit. The classic green brute. The version with the Banner intellect melded to the Hulk body. This Hulk is intelligent, just look at the face. Also, look at the garb. The Hulk isn't famous for being so 'well dressed', so to speak. He belongs to an alien civilization now and is garbed in their war gear. One thing about the panel baffles me though: How can the Hulk survive the depths of space without a breathing apparatus?

So angry is the Hulk that he doesn't even really see the aliens attacking him. He sees the Illuminati whom he blames for the death of his family.

The Illuminati

Back on Earth. It's been a long time since I've seen Doc Samson.

Doc Samson

Doc Samson, like Bruce Banner, is a recipient of gamma ray exposure. Gamma rays affect every person differently. It gave Doc Samson green tresses, the strength level of, say, the Submariner, and it left his mind and skin color intact. The costume was the Doc's idea. I like that costume. The girl he's in front of is a Marvel superstar: Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk.

Doc Samson is a pretty big guy as you can see in this panel where Jennifer is literally walking on him.

Jennifer Walters and Doc Samson

Inside the stone starship. This is the Warbound. The Hulk's commandos.

The Warbound

Holy crap. The creature on the far right. That's one of the Brood. Inspired by the movie Aliens, classic foes of the X-Men.

Look at this guy.

An alien who looks like the Thing

I don't like him immediately. What is this? A Thing-compatible? No, no, no. I demand that Benjamin J. Grimm beat the crap out of this guy immediately. That orange rocky skin belongs to one hero and he has blue eyes and an Aunt Petunia.

Here is a robotic member of the Warbound: Korg.

An alien robot

I'm beginning to warm to the interesting diversity of this group. Of course they are the enemy. Yes, dear reader, I am taking the side of Earth's heroes here; against the Hulk.

We can't leave the Warbound without looking at it's most gorgeous member: Elloe.

An alien Asian?

I've always wondered about the title of this issue: Casis Belli. Jennifer Walters is kind enough to clue us in on the Latin. The phrase means roughly: "the incident that is a reason for going to war". As Doc Samson and Jennifer talk, it is evident that everyone on Earth never expect the Hulk to return. Evidently these heroes don't know about Marvel Comics.

It's flashback time and we are shown the first Hulk-Thing fight.

The first Hulk vs Thing fight

I love Hulk-Thing fights because I like the Thing and I like to root for the underdog. So in Hulk-Thing fights these two things I like are one and the same thing. Pun intended.

Perish a Hulk story that doesn't have the Hulk unloading on his alter ego.

Hulk closeup

An old Iron-Man/Hulk fight is also shown.

Iron Man vs Hulk

Apparently the fight nearly killed Tony. I've never read that tale, I like Iron Man but I've got huge gaps in my knowledge of Iron Man history. Part of the fun of loving comicbooks is looking forward to filling in those gaps.

And of course, let's not forget that the Hulk was a founding member of the Avengers.

The founding members of the Avengers

Captain America is not a founding member I might add. Looking back at the bestial Hulk, he is such an unlikely member of any group. It's funny that the Hulk became both an Avengers founder and a Defenders founder while the more level-headed and reasonable Peter Parker was such a Marvel Universe loner for so long.

We also take a visit on the Avenger's run-in with the Space Phantom (Avengers 2, I believe).

the Hulk and the Space Phantom

As mentioned, Hulk among the ranks of the Defenders

The Defenders

As Hulk reminisces about the Defenders we find that at one point he was banished by Doctor Strange.

The Hulk banished to another dimension

The Hulk's musings move on to Black Bolt whose real name is the Marvel name that I love to hate. Are you ready? Blackagar Boltagon. Insane right? But I wouldn't have it any other way. Comicbooks are the perfect place to be doing this kind of 'fun' names. Anyway the Hulk has a revelation about ol' Blackagar.

The Hulk talking about Black Bolt

Check this out from Doc Samson.

Doc Samson talks about Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

Is this canon? Because I don't agree. Bruce is the real person and the Hulk is a manifestation of his past trauma combined with the physical effects of the gamma rays.

Okay people: Blagbult

A first target is named

Great. Blagbult the Urinator. Point of enlightenment: Blagbult = Black Bolt.

We move on now to Incredible Hulk 106. Take a close look at that cover - the Hulk's fingers crushingly digging into the Earth itself.

We begin with a narration from Jennifer Walters about what happened to her and why. Here's the visual summary.

What happened to She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, was on the Iron Man side of the Civil War. Until she found out that the Illuminati forcibly exiled the Hulk. Bruce Banner is Jen's cousin. As you can see in the top frame, She-Hulk did not take kindly to what they did. Tony with his contingencies wasn't unprepared. He used technology to revert She-Hulk back to Jen and left her to fend for herself. I guess it's safe to assume that Bruce's condition is unique and can't be handled by a simple dart formula. The Thing has the same situation. Reed Richards can figure out anything but he can't figure out Ben. If you're a major Marvel monster you're going to be incurable.

What really pisses me off is that Tony Stark dropped off Jennifer someplace barefoot.

Jennifer Walters barefoot in the countryside

What? S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn't spare a pair of shoes for a former operative? Being prepared for eventualities is one thing, Tony, but being inconsiderate and petty. This is why I am on Captain America's side of the Civil War.

It's Amadeus Cho to the rescue.

Amadeus Cho on his scooter

The mood just lightens when he comes in. I know that this guy is now a Hulk, but before that, Amadeus Cho was the quintessential hero for the computer age. His power? Information. Somehow Cho knows everything that he needs to know, and that's very powerful.

The appearance of Amadeus brings us to a nice substory I would like to call 'The War of the Smart Guys' (catchy). Reed is smart enough to track Cho and Cho is smart enough to know he is being tracked as can be seen below.

Amadeus Cho winking at Reed Richards

Reed refers to Cho as the seventh smartest person on the planet. Now, I'm curious. Where's the list? Who's number one?

Here's a great panel of Doc Samson flying on one component of the first version of the Fantasticar.

Doc Samson riding the Fantasticar

I'm not saying this because it's a Kirby design - which it is - but the minimalist design looks really good. It's from the same playbook as the Google search page and the iPhone before the Google search page and the iPhone.

Look at this.

Reed Richards does some sinister talk

I've never seen Reed so sinister. It is clear they're after Cho. I'm with the kid which really makes for an interesting read. I 'm against Hulk in this war, but with Cho, who is for Hulk. What? Not take sides? What's the fun in that?

This panel is worth showing because of the snarling coyote puppy.

A coyote pup snarling at Jennifer Walters

I love that the the pup started snarling when Jen threatened to turn Cho over to the cops because he was a fugitive.

More flashbacks to the days of the short-lived Champions. They had an encounter with the Hulk too, of which this panel is noteworthy.

The Hulk in a traffic jam

That's right. The Hulk trashing a DeLorean. At least it initially looked like he was trashing it. He was actually saving it's occupant, his cousin, Jennifer.

Oh, Doc Samson demonstrates his Gamma heritage.

Doc Samson does a thunderclap

Enough to lift people off their feet; and that car off to the right, it's flying too (bad day for the owner). Impressive. Until I find out that this little power demonstration kills the coyote pup. I feel for Doc Samson here as much as anyone. He didn't want this. One time, I was trying to help feed a baby bird who had, apparently fallen out of a tree. I meant well, but I fed it a chunk of fruit that got stuck in its throat and the baby bird died. I felt terrible. Doc Samson must be feeling the same.

As Cho and the Doc talk it out it is revealed that Doc Samson not only helped in exiling the Hulk he also had a hand in depowering She-Hulk. All this makes Jen really, really angry. You know what happens when a gamma-based metahuman get's angry? All together now: Hulk Smash! But what about Stark's depowering nanobot dope you ask? Amadeus Cho took care of that by adding a bit of something to Jen's drink. I told you - a hero for the information age.

The She-Hulk punching Doc Samson

And she's back!

Normally this would be a sexy shot.

A very mad She-Hulk

But the look on Jen's face is so unhinged that all I want to do is run away. Doc Samson doesn't get the opportunity. She-Hulk literally punches him out of this comicbook.

As a further testament to Cho's strategic approach (as opposed to the tactical approach of most heroes, strangely villains do 'strategic' more often), he informs Jen that the change is temporary - unless she sides with Team Hulk. Which of course she will after what the Doctor just did. At least I think so.

Okay, first of all Jen is out because she's 'law and order' and all that and Cho is a rebel. Next, Cho's coyote was just playing dead. And. And. Look at Amadeus' new allies.

Amadeus Cho, Hercules, and the Angel

Them old Champion hands: Hercules and Angel. Powerset assessment. Hercules is class 100, top of the line strength level. The Angel is reconnaissance, mobility, and if you harm him the X-Men will kick your ass.

The initial set pieces of the story are in place. The flashbacks have been flashed. Next up, let's dive into it World War Hulk 1.

In the World War Hulk Prologue the Hulk was shown fighting alien pirates on top of his stone starship. Here we get somewhat of the same scene but this time the artist is John Romita Jr.. The aliens depicted are stony ones not the insectoid ones in the Prologue though.

The Hulk fighting aliens

The Hulk's intended first target is Black Bolt. That would be New Attilan located in the dark side of the moon. It's high noon on the moon, get it?

The Hulk faces Black Bolt and Medusa

So Black Bolt's voice is pure destruction. Here, with the Hulk dangerously close (too close if you ask me, Black Bolt should never let the Hulk touch him), he tries out a whispher.

Black Bolt hits the Hulk with a whisper

The typeface is very small. Black Bolt said 'enough'. The result is impressive.

The Hulk flies off after being hit with the force of Black Bolt's voice

But not enough.

The Hulk attacks Black Bolt

I think it's chilling that after this panel the focus of the story changes direction. It's up to us to provide the next panel in our minds and the one that I got in my head has me closing my eyes because it is not a good result for Black Bolt.

So here's the Hulk announcing his arrival to the planet.

A huge Hulk hologram in New York City

So what place in the planet does he announce it from? New York City, of course. Some people call it the center of the world. It's more than that here. It's the center of the Marvel Universe.

I've always loved those panels were everyone is named. I even love them even if I'm familiar with everyone in the panel. In this case though, the Warbound are new to me so this is really helpful.

The Warbound with their names

And now we know what happened to Black Bolt.

The Hulk shows the defeated Black Bolt

I'm starting to really not like the Hulk. This is your planet too you sonofa-!

The enormity of the return of the Hulk can be seen in this discussion between Doctor Strange and Iron Man.

Doctor Strange and Iron Man in a discussion in space

Noteworthy is reference to the correlation between the Hulk's anger and the Hulk's strength. It has long since been suggested thet the Hulk's upper limit is, well, non-existent. The concept has made World War Hulk possible. Given enough anger, the Hulk can take on the world.

With the gauntlet cast and first blood to the Hulk, the brains start looking for a solution and this is the solution they're looking into.

The Sentry

Sentry has the powerset alright but we all know that this guy is not right in the head courtesy of Mastermind putting it (his psyche) in some sort of mental blender. It's like you have this gigantic, frothing-at-the-mouth razorback boar coming at you and you're holding a gun with enough power to stop him. You're finger is on the trigger but this gun is very unreliable. It could kill the boar, it could kick in your hand and miss, it could misfire, or it could explode in your face. That gun, that's the Sentry.

The Hulk has threatened to do something very bad to New York City so it's being evacuated. We have a gorgeous panel of that evacuation with the Spider in the foreground.

Spider-Man as New York evacuates

Oh look, a who's-the-most-powerful list.

Spider-Man's most powerful list

So Spider-Man's list starts out with Sentry, then Black Bolt. Now it's Sentry, Hulk, Black Bolt. My list starts with Hulk or Thor, then the Molecule Man, then Thanos, then Doctor Strange. Your list will be different I know. This makes for hours and hours of arguments among comicbook fans. Be sure to read as many comics as you can, documentary evidence counts for a lot.

And now, the Hulkbuster Armor.

Tony Stark in the Hulkbuster armor

Look closely. There are scratches, nicks and scars on this armor. Was it used before? And, if it was, why didn't Tony freshen it up, you know, re-smelted it or something?

Tony is arranging for a one-on-one with the Hulk and he assigns the strongest heroes to keep civilians safe. I agree with his choicest of the strongest heroes. Here they are.

Some of the strongers Avengers

Everybody is not only strong but tough too. Who's number one in this group in terms of sheer firepower? Ms. Marvel.

Here we go

The Hulk-Iron Man battle begins


Hulk and Iron Man crash into each other

Tony doesn't have a chance with that patch up job armor of his. He should have gone range weaponry. What kind of moron tries to arm wrestle with the Hulk?

Tony scores a hit with Hulkbuster

A powerful Hulkbuster punch hits the Hulk

Okay so Tony manages to stagger the Hulk and while the Hulk is down they have a window. They, meaning the government, take advantage of this window and hit the Hulk with missiles. Surely not nuclear but we're talking direct hits with missiles. My boy Benjamin J. Grimm won't be able to survive something like that.

No go.

The Hulk is angry

The fight has been epic and continues to be so. We have the Hulkbuster Armor busted.

The Hulkbuster armor cannot withstand the Hulk

More than that we have Avengers Tower utterly destroyed.

Avengers Tower collapses

I'm not exactly teary-eyed at this, it was always Avengers Mansion for me.

I've never considered the Hulk scary. impressive yes. Unstoppable, of course. Savage, yup. But scary? As this issue ends he becomes just that - the Hulk begins to scare me.

A really really angry Hulk

Next: Incredible Hulk 107, Iron Man 19, Ghost Rider 12