by Jason Aaron (writing), Marc Silvestri (line art), Sunny Gho (colors), and Ed Dukeshire (letters)

The Story: Hulk tries to defend his moloid buddies from gamma-powered boar brothers 26 and 27.

The Review: I’m fairly certain that this is one of those issues where you’re going to get reviews across quite a wide spectrum.  The major reason for this, I suspect, is going to be Marc Silvestri’s artwork.

I understand a good number of people will enjoy Silvestri’s style here, but I unfortunately don’t find myself in that camp.  While I enjoyed his first issue, I just can’t escape the fact that his work feels dated.  It has a distinctly 90s style that detracts from the book.  That would be fine, perhaps, if the work showed the same level of attention and craftsmanship present in the first issue, but this felt messy.  It seemed rushed, extra scratchy, and at times, ill-defined.  But really, “messy” is the best word that I can use to summarize this.

There’s good work here, chiefly in Silvestri’s illustrations of the Hulk and Banner’s various monsters, but the rushed feeling really prevails everywhere else, particularly in the backgrounds.  It creates an overall, sloppy 90s aesthetic that detracts from the book.

Last month, I complained that the Hulk just wasn’t an interesting character yet under Aaron’s hand.  Aaron is hammering out the “Hulk just wants to be left alone” trope quite well.  It’s a part of the psychology of the Hulk that Aaron clearly gets.  Thankfully, as far as Hulk’s character and the plot goes, I feel as though the training wheels have come off this month, even if having a third issue of set-up is a little annoying.

But while Hulk improves as a character, I still can’t help but feel bad about the lack of mad scientist Banner this month.  He’s been the lifesblood of the book thus far and taking the focus off of him for a bit makes for a less engaging, psychological read.  Instead, Aaron devotes the space to some massive, super-powered brawls.  While it’s good fun, at this point, there’s only so much enjoyment I get out of a big brawl these days.

Of course, the Hulk IS brawling 26 and 27, who are enjoyably goofy to read and really are trademark “Jason Aaron” characters, part grotesque, part black comedy, and generally pretty twisted.  In fact, I’ll say that the last page of the issue, where we see the fate that’s befallen them, is a high point.  It’s really, really dark.  Hell, it verges on being a bit TOO dark.

However, while I may have enjoyed 26 and 27 significantly, I felt that Amanda von Doom was a bit trying this month.  The whole “tough girl” voice Aaron is giving her is a bit much and felt forced.  Together with Silvestri’s illustration and general design for her, she really gave off a 90s “badittude” vibe that I can’t say I particularly enjoyed.  While we don’t see a lot of her this month, and while I do love the idea of the MAD squad, she’s quickly becoming a tough girl cliché.  I hope Aaron rectifies this, as he’s a much better writer than that.

Conclusion: Not bad, but nothing to really get excited about either.  Aaron’s take on the Hulk is getting better, the boar brothers are amusing, but I’m still waiting for this book to live up to, and capitalize on, those glimmers of potential that it so clearly has.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans