The Hulk is one of Marvel Comics most recognizable creations. On the same level as Spider-Man, the green-skinned goliath is known the world over, an icon of the comic book medium. Surprisingly, the Hulk comic book series is traditionally not much of a success on the stands. There have been many high profile creators who have worked on the Hulk but (outside of the 1970’s TV series) only recently has the superhero seen much success.
The Planet Hulk and follow-up World War Hulk comics brought an unusual level of attention to the Hulk. Planet Hulk, in part an homage to Conan-style adventure comics, developed a lush and colorful new world in which the Hulk struggled to tame an entire world. Upon his return to his home planet, the Hulk unleashed his revenge on the very heroes that betrayed him while laying waste to Manhattan. Writer Greg Pak delivered stories that took the Hulk to new situations and re-established him as a force to be reckoned with.
As a follow-up, a new Hulk series was launched by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. The new series was decidedly more humorous and full of larger than life action. It also introduced a new mysterious character, the Red Hulk. Greg Pak eventually returned to continue his Incredible Hulk series in which Bruce Banner was revealed as a master strategist. The battle between the Leader’s Intelligencia and Bruce Banner’s band of powerhouses exploded in War of the Hulks.
It was recently announced that Jeph Loeb will be leaving the Hulk series. Many wonder who will replace him. There are many possibilities to some, but for me there is only one… Jeff Parker.
Agents of Atlas –
After his work on the independent series Interman, Parker went on to work on the young adult series Marvel Adventures X-Men: First Class series. But it was his work on Agents of Atlas that really brought exposure to the writer. Atlas was a cult hit as a mini-series, resulting in rave reviews from the comic book community. Combining humor and action, Agents of Atlas utilized several forgotten characters from the annals of Marvel Comics. An ongoing Agents of Alas series was a similar success, but given the state of the comic book market, the sales weren’t high enough to continue a monthly run. Nevertheless, the Agents of Atlas have continued to appear as a back-up feature and a series of short mini-series.
Hercules: Assault on New Olympus-
Parker’s short run on Hercules is another great example of his grasp of comedy and action. With the work of Fred Van Lente, Hercules had taken over the title role of the Incredible Hulk series, making Hercules a major personality in the Marvel Universe. The unique mixture of Greek mythology and modern superheroics made Incredible Hercules a must-read comic. Parker’s addition, Assault on Olympus, ended the series with a bang with Hercules going toe-to-toe against the forces of the Olympus Group and their plot to rewrite reality. Several other Marvel superheroes joined up with Hercules making a group of Avengers including Spider-Man and Wolverine.
Fall of the Hulks –
The Fall of Hulks series has been daunting for readers. Consisting of several spin-offs and crossovers between Hulk and Incredible Hulk comics… those written by Parker have been the stand-out great reads of the story. While Pak is a brilliantly gifted writer, his issues lack the high adventure mixed with a grasp of Marvel Comics continuity and humor that make Parker’s issues so memorable. Honestly, without Parker’s contributions it would still be unclear what was going on. This is in part due to Loeb’s decision to leave a level of mystery in the Fall of the Hulks story leaving readers feeling confused and frustrated (not a great approach for such a high profile story).
Luckily Jeff Parker’s issues are so much fun and manage to fill in the (many) blanks that Loeb has left open in his issues. Parker manages to waltz within the mysteries of who the Red Hulk and Red She-Hulk are and what their masterplan is from Loeb’s issues and similarly uses Banner whose characterization has become so bizarre in the Greg Pak issues that many readers were not sure what to think. In short without Parker, the Fall of The Hulks story would consist of half-told secrets and bizarre twists of characters. With Parker, the Fall of the Hulks is a fun explosive action story.
In a one-shot pitting Hulk against Frankenstein’s Monster, Jeff Parker presented another enjoyable read. The similarities between the jade giant and Frankenstein Monster as misunderstood monsters was just one level of the one-shot. It also had large-scale battles worthy of the Hulk comic.
While I really have enjoyed Parker’s work on Atlas and Thunderbolts, I have no doubt that he is the right man to take the Hulk series to new heights. He rounds off the perfect bullpen of Matt Fraction on Iron Man (and Thor), Andy Diggle on Daredevil, Ed Brubaker on Captain America and Jonathan Hickman on Fantastic Four. The outcry from fandom has been great over making Parker the new driving force behind the Hulk series. I hope that Marvel will listen.
Please visit Parkerspace for more info and let him know that he has your support!