By: Mark Waid (Writer), Walter Simonson (Artist), Andres Mossa (Colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)
Review: Time travel and nostalgia: as storytelling devices the two are often intertwined, and both are rife at Marvel these days. All New X-Men, Age of Ultron, Fantastic Four, Iron Man…all currently employ elements of one or both in order to repackage familiar elements into new products that, with varying degrees of success, seek to entertain their oft-fatigued audiences. Sometimes they just try too hard, and the pastiche doesn’t connect. Less often it can feel like the creative team are barely trying at all, yet they achieve something true, something that reminds us that the best bits of the past are the elements that have and will always make for a thoroughly enjoyable comic; imagination, humour and killer art. Indestructible Hulk has all three in abundance.
This issue fizzes with that lightning-in-a-bottle magic produced by Mark Waid’s partnership with Walt Simonson. The story itself is a romp in the best sense of the word. Seeking the magical mineral Macguffin of Eiderdürm, Banner and his crew of action-scientists have ventured to Jotunheim where they promptly rock up against a band of angry Frost Giants.
And an unexpected ally – The Mighty Thor. One of the more refreshing aspects of this comic is that, for once, the meeting between the Odinson and the Hulk doesn’t immediately devolve into a grudge match but instead proves ground for a winning team-up. Once the business of Hulk having lifted Mjolnir is cleverly dealt with (it’s obvious I guess, but I never saw it coming) the two heroes are back-to-back against the Frost Giant hordes: “Thou dost have a name…?” asks Thor. “Hulk smash!” replies the Big Green. “Very well! Then on, Hulksmash! For Midgard! For Asgard!” And then stuff gets, like, smashed.
While that’s going on all kinds of sci-fi shenanigans are taking place in the background. The portal that brought Banner’s crew to Jotunheim is found by the Frost Giants and they immediately attempt to break through to Earth. Forced into a tight spot, Maria Hill’s only chance at stopping an invasion is to cripple the portal tech, leaving Banner and co stranded and lost through time and space. All this – as well as one crew member’s secret deathwish for S.B.H. (Suicide By Hulk) and a couple of other neat twists – make this a surprisingly jam-packed read, though the pacing and execution are such that it never feels cluttered. There’s strong characterisations and wit a-plenty from Waid’s script – it’s just so much fun.
Simonson is even better this issue than he was the last, possibly because this issue features more fantasy than sci-fi elements, possibly because Simonson gets incrementally more awesome in general with each passing hour. This issue features big, crazy action – a Mjolnir-toting Hulk breaking Frost Giant arms in two, epic icy palaces and SHIELD labs blowing the hell up. There’s also the continual delight given by the return of Simonson’s classic Thor as well as his depiction of Mjolnir which, under this artist’s hand, almost turns into a fully-fledged character in its own right. Side note: I’ve been considering whether or not to get a Mjolnir tattoo in recent months – the idea has come and gone, but never the inspiration or the template for the work; it’s Simonson’s hammer, every time. He’s the master.
Conclusion: Bright and breezy with an infectious sense of energy, this latest Indestructible Hulk storyline is a real winner. Waid writes to Simonson’s many strengths, Simonson drives Waid’s lively script to ever brighter, more imaginative heights. Both may be old masters, but no-one seems to have told them – they’re still making comics with the verve and panache absent in most creators many years their junior.
Filed under: Marvel Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Andres Mossa, Bruce Banner, Chris Eliopoulos, Frost Giants, Hulk, Jotunheim, Mark Waid, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Marvel Comics Reviews, Midgard, Mjolnir, The Indestructible Hulk, Thor, Walter Simonson