By: Jason Aaron (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Roger Bonet (inks), Frank Martin (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: Hulk finds himself trapped in a forgotten Antarctic prison, caught in a brawl with Wolverine and the Thing.

The Review:  This issue of Incredible Hulk ends up posing a question that is no doubt familiar to comics fans:  how far can great art and pure action scenes alone carry a comic?

For what it’s worth, Carlos Pacheco is at his very best this month.  It’s been some time since I’ve seen work from him look this stunning, dynamic, and detailed.  There’s a lot more ambition to his work here than the often merely passable work he’s done on Uncanny X-Men.  The action scenes are great, the environments look great, and the character’s look great.  A lot of credit, however, has to go to Roger Bonet and Frank Martin, who have really taken Pacheco’s artwork to a whole new level, giving it a lush, almost painted feel with absolutely incredible shading.  Bonet and Martin take great artwork and take it into artbook/showcase territory.  Overall, I’ve not been thrilled by Stay Angry (well, outside of the ridiculous first issue), but Frank Martin has really reached amazing heights on this story and I look forward to what he does next.

As for that story, however, there’s just not much there.  Hulk is in a long-forgotten prison and, for one reason or another, this is very naughty of him (something which is never explained) and Wolverine and Thing show up to punch him out.  At least some reference by these two Avengers about Bruce Banner’s recent insanity would flesh this out a little bit but as it is, it all feels very hollow.  If an issue is going to be one long fight, there has to be some real connection or conflict between the characters to justify it, and that just isn’t here.  As a result, what you get is shallow, even if it’s pretty.

Moreover, I was surprised at the fact that Jason Aaron simply has zero handle on Ben Grimm’s voice.  He does not even remotely sound the Thing; hell, often he sounds downright eloquent and articulate.  As a huge fan of the character, it was pretty painful for me to read.  Aaron really doesn’t know how to write the character’s dialogue and doesn’t seem to have done enough reading to prep himself for writing this issue.

It’s not all bad though: there’s some pretty funny comedy involving the alien prisoners of this forgotten facility that got a couple of laughs out of me and managed to make the book at least a little less bland.  Also, I’ll admit that the ending/cliffhanger was a pretty good one.  That said, at this point, while the ending and the idea of it are good, it’s hard for me to be truly pumped about it given that, thus far, Jason Aaron’s run on Hulk has been nothing but great ideas and potential squandered by a general sloppiness.

Conclusion:  Well, it sure is pretty, but in the end, it’s an issue largely composed of meaningless punching.

Grade: C+

– Alex Evans

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