by Mark Waid (Writer), Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Miguel Sepulveda (Artists), Val Staples (Colorist)
The Story: The top scientists of the world are trying to solve the terrigenesis problem. It’s a pity that Bruce Banner does not want to play ball…
The Review: I have a lot of respect for Mark Waid. As a writer, he has done and participated in many books I have enjoyed, some that I even love. Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright, 52 and many other of his work are stuff I re-read even to this day and his modern stuff, like his Daredevil run, are definitely very enjoyable. However, his run on Indestructible Hulk has been somewhat inconsistent. Very enjoyable at times and merely decent at times, it seems that this title fits the titular character quite well in term of mood swings. However, with the new arc dealing with Inhumanity properly starting, does Mark Waid provide readers with an issue more associated with quality than missed opportunities?
It’s a mixed result, for the most part, as some of the very best elements of the book are showcased, while some of the weaker one are present as well. Mark Waid has a particular style that can adapt itself to many heroes and concepts, but it does seem like he is struggling a bit on this particular title.
One of the best elements of this book is how he is able to make Hulk play within the Marvel universe, allowing the personal history of the character to mingle with the larger mythology of this super hero world. The way Bruce Banner interacts with other major scientists like Tony Stark, Hank Pym and Hank McCoy is rather interesting to see, as is the manner in which Bruce summarize the situation and his own history with the inhumans. Delving in the general status quo without destroying the concept of the book and the evolution of the character, Mark Waid is pretty good at playing ball with the rest of the publishing line without making it look forced too much.
Another aspect that’s rather well-handled is the humor, with some jokes told with excellent pacing. Putting the context he built to great use, Waid is able to press on with his story while adding a good number of jokes, without slowing down the story or making them redundant and out of place. They might not be completely important to the issue as a whole, but the mix of action, humor and story does make for a nice thing to read on its own.
What’s nice and not-so nice at the same time is the characterization, with some characters being written very well, while some not so much. The problems of Bruce Banner and his inner voice are immediately compelling, with his point-of-view firmly established and likable in the present situation. Being the titular character, his anger at condescendence and his general envy of more famous scientists is believable, which makes his rather rash behaviour all the more understandable. Other characters like Beast, Hank Pym and the assistants are also handled well, with their key characteristics being shown aptly through their actions, dialogue and their interaction with the titular character himself.
The character which comes as a bit more of an ass is Tony Stark, which goes a bit too far in terms of rivalry. While the general interactions between Bruce and Tony were always portrayed with a bit of a competition of ego, this issue provides a much more forced handle on Tony Stark, pushing his arrogance and his general attitude up to eleven in order to actually make things happen in the story. While the general remark and the comparison between the two is usually fun, here it’s a bit mean-spirited and comes as a shallow alteration to the character to service the story.
The story in itself, though, isn’t anything special. It does bring up its main conflict and its player fairly quickly and well, yet the issue soon devolves into big action with close to no payoff save a teaser for the next issue. It begins with science and characterization, then ends up in something a bit more cartoonish and unsatisfying, despite some of the neat concepts brought forth.
The art is nice, though, with Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Miguel Sepulveda working together in order to bring this issue with a certain visual cohesion. For the most part, the artistic team succeed in doing so, catching the super heroic feeling of this tale quite well as the bigger things happening are both impressive with both sets of artists. Clay and Seth Mann works on the first half of the issue, bringing the results of Infinity to the pages as the scenes focusing on Bruce and his lab are handled by the two. Their work with character is pretty good, with just enough lines given to the faces in order for them to be expressive without going overboard. One area where they excel is in the design of their panel, with the feeling of wonders that is associated with super hero being reproduced very well. The size of Hank Pym, the look of Beast and the general design of Tony Stark is put very well in comparison to the assistants and to Bruce Banner, which accentuate what makes them super in the first place.
Miguel Sepulveda, on the other hand, deals with the much more action-oriented pages. With his dynamic panelling and his talent for poses and sensation of speed and impact, Sepulveda is able to push the urgency of the situation very clearly with his narrative flow and the manner on which he compose his panels. Despite all that, there is a certain lack in terms of details in his panel, either going too far or not far enough, which creates a certain disparity in style with the rest of the issue. It’s nothing big, yet it is noticeable.
What’s also noticeable is the work of Val Staples, who does a good job in this issue. The approach he has to technology and to the lab of Bruce Banner works very well with other elements like Hank Pym and Beast, with their color designs being clashing with the duller area surrounding them. In the action scene, Staples smartly puts a much colder background, providing plenty of elements in motion a much warmer colorization in order to help the effect of speed and power behind them, with Tony Stark, the quinjet and other objects like missiles being affected by this technique effectively.
The Conclusion: The story may be a bit slow so far and there are some errors in terms of characterization for some characters, yet for the most part this issue is enjoyable thanks to the concepts, art and characterization of a good number of characters. Flawed, yet enjoyable nonetheless.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière