By: Jeff Parker (writer), Patch Zircher (art), Jim Charalampidis (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Jake Thomas (assistant editor) & Mark Paniccia (editor)

The Story: Yikes!  MODOK is back!

What’s Good: For an ordinary comic, the deck would really be stacked against this issue.  Hulk is right in the middle of some longer-term stories and next issue/month, it dives into Fear Itself tie-in territory.  This issue even has a guest art team, so you could easily see and almost understand this issue being kinda disposable… Which happens with monthly superhero comics.  But when Jeff Parker is writing, I think he almost relishes a chance to write a done-in-one story.  It certainly isn’t much of a handicap for him as he again proves that he is better at packing lots of events into a single issue than anyone else currently writing in Big 2 superhero comics.

So, what’s cool?  Well, remember that new MODOK with the spidery legs from a few issues ago?  He’s back.  I honestly have always thought that MODOK was kinda a dorky villain, but the team of creators here makes him really sinister and creepy.  You just know that he’s going to be trouble in future issues…

Parker also manages to drag out an old Banner-Hulk villain who I really wasn’t familiar with, but Parker does such an awesome job of recapping just the right amount of history that I never felt lost.  Bravo!

And, we get more development from Red Hulk’s new friend: A Life Model Decoy named Anne.  It’s really fitting that Rulk would be friends with a fake human because he’s such an outcast.  Kinda like how the dorky kid who no one likes has to have imaginary friends when no one else will play with him.  I’m also very interested to see what Parker does with Anne longer term because she clearly isn’t just a throwaway character.

Let’s also give an “attaboy” to the lettering in this issue.  Lettering is one of those things that is “harder than it looks.”  Some writers like Bendis create special lettering challenges with their back-n-forth dialog, but Parker presents another challenge.  His comics have more exposition than normal, so when you hit a page where someone is explaining the history of something, the letterer has a lot of words to cram into a limited space and Dukeshire manages to do this so that the story flows smoothly and doesn’t cover the art.

And, I’ll take this Zircher/Charalampidis art team any day.  Zircher is drawing in a very brushy style that is reminiscent of Gabriel Hardman (regular series artist).  Honestly, unless you are really into art and staring at this stuff (I am, most readers are not), you won’t be able to tell that much difference between the two.  And, the more I see Charalampidis’ coloring, the more I like it.  I’m really glad to see his name popping up more around the Marvel U. because his muted and tasteful brushed colors are really nice.

What’s Not So Good: Not many negatives about this issue.  I guess the biggest one is that Parker’s run on the title has been so much about the NEW, that it’s not quite as exciting to see him going back to an old Hulk villain even if it is one that has a natural connection with Thunderbolt Ross.

Conclusion: Another strong issue of Hulk for Parker and company.  Folks really should be reading this.  I know a lot of people think they don’t like Hulk stories, but I haven’t met a single person who has read Parker’s Hulk run and been anything but really impressed.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell

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