The Incredible Hulk- ‘Stay Angry’
Marvel is proud to present your first look at, Incredible Hulk #8, from the fan-favorite team of Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon! Dive right into the Green Goliath’s next epic as Stay Angry erupts pushing the Incredible Hulk and his raged-induced fury to its limits! The criminally insane Bruce Banner has thrown Hulk into the middle of a murderous drug war and Hulk is forced into action; but with villainous mob of this stature- Frank Castle is never far behind! Its all-out war, as the Jade Giant faces off against The Punisher who faces off against a cartel in a brawl that no fan will forget!
-that’s the description from Marvel and it reads pretty much as a spot on description of the actual end product… except that it omits the dog people and their human dog drug lord.
The Jason Aaron run on the Incredible Hulk has been a massive shock to the system for long time Hulk readers. After the cerebral Greg Pak run and the dubious run by Jeph Loeb, it was nearly impossible to figure out just how Marvel was viewing the character. Was the Hulk a light-hearted/goofy action comic? Was it an emotionally charged tragic monthly series about human monsters? Who knows?
I have deeply enjoyed Aaron’s Wolverine and The X-Men for all of its wackiness and his Ghost Rider run was superb… but both have one thing in common and that is humor. Aaron is a great writer of absurd comical action that is extreme in its explosive ‘grindhouse-style’ story lines.. and that is apparently the new direction of the Incredible Hulk. Finally separated from Banner, Hulk has attempted to find a life of his own only to discover that he and his alter ego are inevitably linked.
Left to his own devices and without the outlet of the Hulk’s rage, Banner is apparently a mad scientist of Frankenstein proportions while the Hulk is kinda dull, to be honest. On a deserted radioactive island, Banner experimented with the local animal life in standard Dr. Moreau style only to be hunted down by the mad scientist hunter (yes, that’s a ‘thing) Amanda Von Doom and her hunchback assistant. The artwork for the series, along with the story, has been awkward and clunky. Starting rather strongly with Mark Silvestri, it took a fast downward turn as a mob of fill-in inkers were thrown at the book until finally Wilce Portacio stepped in and the book careened headfirst into a morass of scratchy ink.
Even after destroying Banner in a gamma explosion, Hulk hoped he was free, but somehow the two have become merged again. Merged, but separate as Banner has retained his mad scientist schtick. It’s actually a decent idea and allows Aaron to play a new trick with the Hulk that I don’t think anyone had tried before. Previously Banner dreaded a transformation into the Hulk because it would mean that he would lose control and cause untold amounts of damage. Now, however, the Hulk dreads relaxing because it will mean that Banner takes over and pits the Hulk into one horrible situation after another.
The joke is very lurid and opens with the Hulk waking up in shackles only to battle dog men and finally encounter the Punisher… who just happens to be hunting the dog men (for some reason). The two team up and track the trail of drugs and death to the big boss, a humanized dog in a vintage car. The crime boss had apparently made a deal with Banner in the past, one which interests Hulk very much.
Unfortunately, the Hulk gets pumped full of drugs and eventually passes out only to awaken in yet another terrible situation… and an operation scar on his chest.
Art-wise, the latest issue is a step in a different direction as Steve Dillon takes the reigns and the humorous angle that Aaron has been shooting for finally finds its voice. Aaron and Dillon had of course collaborated on the Punisher MAX series where characters had their eyes yanked out of their sockets and wandered around as if they had escaped from a Three Stooges routine from Hell. It’s not to everyone’s taste and Dillon’s Hulk is very flimsy, but at least it’s more fitting to Aaron’s writing style thank Silvestri or Portacio.
The Incredible Hulk is one of the most awkward comic books I have ever read. For its campy silliness and over the top violence, it kinda works… but it’s like turning a work of classic literature into a parody of itself. If there’s one thing the past ten years have taught us it’s that there’s so much untapped potential in the Hulk. Transforming the series into a kind of Garth Ennis-like comic may be a bit of fun, but it is also selling it short.