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From the Hoss’ Mouth 06/13/07

Hoss SMASH, well maybe not, but it does have a nice ring to it.  World War Hulk: The series everyone will be talking about until the next series that everyone will be talking about comes out… it’s here and I couldn’t help myself and had to give it the full review spot.  Coming in a distant second are the quick reviews that feature Sub-Mariner, Green Arrow, and Mystic Arcana: Magik.  Also on the table this week is Ultimate Phoenix’s review of Ultimate Extinction which mentions the word Ultimate with great frequency.  You’ll want to take note of this review because with Fantastic Four 2 out this week, it’s important to note that movie Galactus wasn’t the first Galactus redesign to have sucked. 


Full Review:

World War Hulk #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Pencils: John Romita Jr.

First page – recap. Second page – more recap. Third page – HULK SMASH!  No long drawn out setups or pretentious openings, just smashing.  It takes seven pages for Blackbolt to speak, and only two more for him to scream.  If the remaining four issues of this series can keep the pacing and action of this first issue, then I’ll go ahead and say that Marvel’s got another hit on their hands.  It’s a Hulk book filled with Hulk smashing and it’s awesome.

Another beautiful part of this book is that despite being the second part of a large three part story, this issue feels completely encompassed it’s own little bubble.  If you didn’t read Planet Hulk it’s no big deal.  Any pertinent details from that story are explained here clearly and concisely.  Newbies to this grand Hulk saga can jump in and enjoy this story just as much as anyone who’s been keeping up for years.

The offworld adventures of the Hulk were a great sight but I believe the expression is “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. With the Hulk missing out on the Civil War shenanigans, it just feels good to have him back.  The Marvel Universe just isn’t the same without him.  I’m not the only one who thinks so either.  After the Hulk sends out his “I’m back” message featuring one messed up Blackbolt, Iron Man decides to throw Hulk the biggest “Welcome Home” party he’s ever seen.  He invites all of the Hulk’s old friends, even the ones on the other side of the law.  With a party this big, the Hulk goes crazy with excitement and celebrates his return by punching Iron Man into Avengers HQ.  Yes, the Iron Man/Hulk fight happens in the very first issue complete with really great Iron Man monologue, people cheering, buildings collapsing, and all sorts of great moments.  For a moment there, I even found myself rooting for Iron Man as Pak setups a rather interesting sequence that displays just how much of a hero he is.  Despite how dickish he may have been during Civil War, to the everyday man in the Marvel Universe, Iron Man is a hero and not just any hero, he’s their hero.  Pak sets this all up beautifully. It’s one thing to just have the Hulk smash his way through everything in his path (which he does) it’s another entirely to make all that smashing actually mean something.  Pak not only shows us the stakes, he raises them.  This is an event, a battle, that’s going to affect everything in the world.  If the Hulk wins, the people lose.  Unfortunately, the Hulk’s the hero here, he was the one that was betrayed, abused, and abandoned.  That makes Tony Stark the villain.  Do we cheer for the villain or do we fuel the flames of the Hulk’s righteous fury? Who knows if there’s even a right answer here. That’s the kind of storytelling a fan can really get excited about and I love every nuanced detail of it.

JRJR, although not my first choice for this book, draws one hell of an action sequence.  I guess in this case that would be action sequences.  You want stuff destroyed, JRJR’s your man.  My one sole nitpick about this book is that, the Blackbolt fight was cut short.  That doesn’t have anything to do with JRJR but in any case it would have been great to see him flesh that battle out in its full glory.

Verdict: Each and every Marvel Zombie should have already read this book before this review is even published.  If you haven’t, shame on you.

Quick Reviews:

Sub-Mariner #1 – Namor, Namor, Namor… lost a war, made out to be a terrorist, and now there’s dissension in his ranks.  Namor’s previous efforts of sleeper cells have backfired on him to where now there’s a cell working independently of his control.  But wait, this loner cell just blew up an American city and killed 900 civilians.  The US Government is pissed and wants war.  Namor needs answers and quick, otherwise he’s dead from either the US or the backstabbers in his kingdom.  Not a good time to be Namor.  A fun issue with a surprisingly deep story that has roots in all the current Marvel happenings making this book not only relevant but pretty damn important with WWH starting.  Art’s the weak point.  Plain jane all the way with little to get excited about.

Verdict: It’s only a mini, but that shouldn’t deter you from checking it out. 

Green Arrow #75 – Last issue before the reboot.  Ollie pulls some improv to stop Deathstroke… who honestly still should have been able to kick his ass… disappointing.  You don’t pull out the Slade card unless it’s time for someone’s ass to get kicked.  Otherwise he just seems weak.  But wait Winick also makes Canary seem rather useless as well.  It’s not all bad though, Ollie gives a good speech and the book wraps on really big high.  Hint: check out the cover. 

Verdict: My love/hate relationship with Winick continues.  Recommended for GA fans only.

Mystic Arcana: Magik – I just couldn’t get into this story.  It worked well enough, but I thought this was gonna do to Magic what Annihilation did to Cosmic.  Maybe I fell a bit too deep into the hype but all in all I just wasn’t impressed.  The story is about Ian McNee, who has been sent to recover four magical artifacts to save a magician.  Magik’s story only factors in as a backstory about the first magical artifact.  In fact when I think about it, her story seems completely unnecessary here as it’s just retconned in to add relevance to McNee’s quest.

Verdict: I give it a meh.

The Loser(s) of the Week:

Exiles #95 – Someone wake me when Claremont’s actually killed this title.  Claremont continues to use his way too familiar themes of story advancement.  I just… I just don’t know if I can take them anymore.  This may be a book I actually drop, and I never ever drop books.  There’s no pull-list purges in Hoss town we stand by our man errr… BOOKS! I mean books. You know what I mean… grumble grumble. Whatever. I’ve got an idea.  We should make a drinking game out of Exiles.  Everytime Claremont uses a switcho fake training sequence… we drink.  Every time he goes for the montage pretentious narrative sequence… we drink.  Every time he boots beloved characters so Betsy can get more face time… we drink.  See where I’m going with this, we’d all be drunk by page 10.

Verdict: Time to get tore up.

Superman/Batman #36 – This book just plain sucks.  How hard is to make a winner when you’ve got DC’s biggest two as your leads?  Well if we judge this book based on its last two arcs it must be damn near impossible.  Sloppy Metal Men characterization combined with even sloppier Batman characterization equals one mess of a story.  Also why is Brainiac called Brainiac when he’s a $#%@^ idiot.  Obviously his name should be Dumbest.Computer.Ever. Oh such nerdery, it’s good for the soul I always say.  OK I never say that, doesn’t matter, my rambling just took your mind off what a ridiculous book this was.  I wasn’t so fortunate.


Trade Off: Ultimate Extinction
Reviewed by Ultimate Phoenix

Plot: A drastic reimagining of one of the most classic Marvel tales, the coming of Galactus, for the Ultimate universe!

Background: This is the final volume in the Ultimate Gah Lak Tus trilogy written by Warren Ellis. In the first volume, a team of X-Men & a team of Ultimates respond to a message containing an image of billions of lives being lost to an unforeseen foe & discover Ultimate Vision, who claims Gah Lak Tus is coming. In book two, we are introduced to Ultimate Captain Mahr Vel & Falcon as they join forces with the Fantastic Four to hold off an invasion by the Kree, who want to watch earth be destroyed. Now that all that’s been taken care of, and the heroes have learned the true nature of the beast that’s headed their way, they must devise a plan to stop it. On top of all this, there are subplots that introduce us to Ultimate Misty Knight, more than one Ultimate Silver Surfer & hordes of Ultimate Moondragons!

The art. I’ve been a Brandon Peterson fan for a while now, and his art has never looked better than it does here. Also, I’m always down for seeing great Marvel characters get the Ultimate treatment, as long as they remain interesting, and this version of Misty Knight doesn’t disappoint… Well, maybe she could’ve benefited from an afro, but that could just be me.

Where do I start? How about with Gah Lak Tus itself. Ellis has completely destroyed everything that was great about the original Galactus; instead of being an omnipotent devourer of worlds who likes to wear a purple skirt, Gah Lak Tus is a swarm of intelligent robots that contain a flesh-eating virus. Keeping in that vein, the Silver Surfer isn’t Norrin Radd either and there isn’t just one of him. There are several Silver Surfers with absolutely zero personality whose purpose is to start mass suicide cults all over the planet to weed the population out & make it easier for Gah Lak Tus to wipe everyone out when it arrives. And, as if there weren’t enough bad Ultimate revamps in this book, Ultimate Moondragon turns out to be hundreds of clones of a dead convict created by a Gah Lak Tus cult to prevent our heroes from saving the day. Oh, and Ultimate Vision has boobs (not that I have a problem with boobs… But they’re absurdly big & on a robot!). Ellis clearly has no respect for any of these characters if he thought these reimaginings would do them any justice. Pair all of this with a deus ex machina ending, and the whole story just falls flat on its face.

The FINAL ASSESSMENT: Probably the worst re-imagining the Ultimate Universe has seen yet. Hopefully Mike Carey’s upcoming Silver Surfer arc in Ultimate Fantastic Four can undo some of the damage done here by Ellis. If Galactus in this week’s Fantastic Four sequel ends up being anything like Gah Lak Tus, I’ll be cursing Ellis for eternity for making it possible for them to say "Oh, but it’s canon!"


Not this week, running late. Sorry.

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