Comic Book Review – Hulk #3 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers (including Civil War II spoilers)

“What’s worse? Dying? Or getting that close to death… and getting turned around… and dragged back into the world…” – Jennifer Walters

 

Issue #3 of Hulk caught my eye this week. Partially because Jennifer Walters was on the front cover and I’ve always found She-Hulk to be that little bit more engaging than The Hulk himself, and the simplicity of the title. Only Hulk, not Incredible, Unstoppable etc. With so many the Adjective Super hero comics out there one with such a simple name stands out. This comic was bought to us by:

Cover by Jeff Dekal

Cover by Jeff Dekal

  • Writer – Mariko Tamaki
  • Artist – Nico Leon
  • Colour Artist – Matt Milla
  • Letterer – VC’s Cory Petit

We pick things up with Jen after the end of Civil War II. She had been knocked into a coma during the war, and her cousin Bruce’s death served as one of the key catalysts to the whole battle. I didn’t read Civil War II myself, so I was playing a little catch up here in learning the background to the comic. You don’t need to know too much of the detail though to understand the story telling approach taken by Tamaki. Jen is dealing with a hell of a lot. Work is both uninspiring and too much at the same time and she always looks tired, finding it hard to engage with her friends. In the mean-time crime is still taking place in New York, and conspiracies as always are developing.

Art by

Art by Leon & Milla

The art is bright and simplistic throughout. I think this was done to create that artificial light feel anyone who’s working into the evening on a winter’s night in retail will know well. It slightly clashes with the mood of the comic, which in actually helps set the tone. Jen is pushing on and trying to get back to day to day life because she has to. She has to keep at it even when it’s the last thing she wants. Even so, this approach by Milla may not be for everyone. Leon did a great job in portraying Jen throughout the issue. His line work leaves her looking exhausted throughout and as if she cannot be bothered to deal with people.

However, even a Hulk has hands. How well are they drawn this issue? This is not a combat issue at all. There’s no action to speak of and character interactions are entirely social. Hands are well used to convey emotion throughout the issue, however Leon and Milla’s art style is light on detail. Although hands are drawn well there are not many knuckles in this issue. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I always enjoy a character exploration issue. It did take me a moment to catch up with things not having read Civil War II, however if this series continues along its initial set up we may be treated to a deeper engagement with Jen’s personality. I would like to see more Hulk myself too. For a series simply named Hulk, it was a little light on Hulk.

Score: 8.2 Hairnets out of 10

 

Comic Review – A-Force #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Another week, and the third Marvel review in a row. This week A-Force #1 came out, one of the first tie-ins to Marvel’s big summer event Secret Wars (review of issue #1 here), following some fairly ridiculous commentary that I will talk about later on. A-Force is written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, with pencils by Jorge Molina, inks from Molina and Craig Yeung, colours by Laura Martin and Matt Milla and letters from VC’s Cory Petit.

Secret Wars started with the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe colliding, ending both universes and the multiverse itself.  From the second issue, it appears that this collision resulted in a reconfigured reality known as ‘Battleworld’ – a world ruled by Doctor Doom and divided into numerous regions, each presided over by a baron or baroness. One such fiefdom is Arcadia, the “feminist paradise” ruled by the baroness She-Hulk, who protects the area and it’s citizens with an all-female team of heroes called ‘A-Force’. When a Megalodon (giant prehistoric shark) attacks during a routine patrol, Captain Marvel leads Ms. America, Sister Grimm and Dazzler to deal with it before it harms any civilians on land. During the fight, the actions of one member of A-Force violates the border rules of Battleworld, bringing the punitive functions of the Thors, the enforcers of Doom’s absolute rule, to Arcadia. As She-Hulk struggles to fight against these laws she risks the safety of all of Arcadia, but the alternative is giving up one of their own to life imprisonment on ‘The Shield’.

SW Map.jpg

I was worried going in to some of the Secret Wars tie-ins that they would feel impenetrable to new readers, especially those looking to check out this female led book. The first issue of the main event did feel somewhat closed to those without any firm knowledge of the Marvel Universe, the second felt like more of a clean slate for the story. A-Force echoes the latter, with the basics of Battleworld covered in a summary on the fourth page (after a gorgeous double page splash of Carol Danvers leading her patrol in the skies over Arcadia), and each major player given the bare essential background early on in the issue (for example a green box stating ‘Jennifer Walters SHE-HULK. A-Force team leader. Baroness of Arcadia. Green’.). The writing is brisk, exceptionally tight and compelling, with each character (even the few I didn’t actually know or was more unfamiliar with) feeling fully realised and well rounded. Bennett and Wilson have a great handle on these characters, and the story at this point seems disconnected enough from Secret Wars to be self-contained, while still being shaped and informed by it. The art team of Molina, Yeung, Martin and Milla does a really nice job here too, bringing the superhero action to life and balancing the varied characters and colour palettes well. There is a vibrancy and enthusiasm, despite the dark undertones and cracks in Arcadia, that make this a real pleasure to read. And Captain Marvel punching a giant shark may be one of my favourite panels I’ve read all year.

A Force

Credit: Marvel Comics

I’d be remiss to not address the New Yorker piece about A-Force ‘Looking at Female Superheroes with 10-Year-Old Boys’ by Jill Lepore. In the article, she asks why the Marvel superheroes all look like pornstars (apparently she watches very niche porn where everyone wears spandex leotards, but fine), ignoring the variety of body shapes and characters that the comic presents. Instead she chooses to heavily criticise and rather than actually do any of her research, relies on the knee jerk reactions of two 10-year-olds and her own preconceptions of comics to undermine the importance of the book. The fact she both says that “Thor became female because he’s a Norse god and I guess he can be whatever he wants” and “Captain America became black” speaks to a lack of the most basic internet search that would indicate that neither of these statements are in fact correct, and has instead opted for the sensationalism response instead. The odd thing is that the article actually has a seemingly well researched section about DC Comics, William Moulton Marston and the creation of Wonder Woman.

I’ve not linked in the article, frankly because I don’t really want to give it any more clicks. I will link to G. Willow Wilson’s response, because she manages eloquently take the high road, without seeming angry (like I haven’t) and delivers an impassioned rebuttal. I’m rather fond of how she closes it out too:

“I have been a little cheeky thus far, so let me close by saying that I imagine Dr. Lepore and I want the same thing: better, more nuanced portrayals of women in pop culture. What I don’t understand is why someone in her position would, from her perch a thousand feet up in the ivory tower, take pot shots at those of us who are in the trenches, doing exactly that.”

I really enjoyed A-Force #1 and on top of following the series throughout Secret Wars, I hope that the series continues in some form after the Marvel Universe is put back together. Will you get more out of this if you’re up to date on Marvel, Secret Wars and all of these characters? Maybe. But even if you’re not, this is a great story with a well written cast of kick-ass, but just as importantly nuanced, characters. Did I mention Captain Marvel punches a giant shark? Buy this at your LCS or digital comics platform.

Score: 9 Megalodons out of 10