The Return of the King


World War Hulk #4

In a desperate attempt to stop the Hulk’s rampage, Dr. Strange channels an extradimensional demon called Zom, and the additional power gives him more than enough oomph to beat the stuffing out of Hulk. But Strange gets knocked off his game when he accidentally endangers a bunch of civilians, and that gives Hulk the opportunity to batter Strange into unconsciousness. Rick Jones is still trying to talk some sense into Hulk, but he’s still getting ignored. So Hulk and his alien Warbound buddies outfit all the superheroes with “obedience disks” and force Iron Man, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, and Dr. Strange into gladiatorial contests against each other.

Well, first, wowie, there sure has been a superhero drain in the Marvel Universe. Our spotlight characters are Hulk, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, and Black Bolt, and I’m not sure you could call any of them unblemished heroes anymore. There’s a great sequence in the middle of the book where a bunch of people list off the various crimes committed by Iron Man, Strange, Reed Richards, and Black Bolt, and it’s a really powerful indictment of their behavior over the last few years.

Not that it makes the Hulk any more lovable. Cheeze Louize, I’m really hating him these days. I halfway hope they kill the arrogant spitwad in the next issue. And that’s not a complaint — that’s an example of really outstanding writing. Greg Pak has been writing a series chock-full of action, action, action, and he’s still able to throw in enough characterization to get you to care about what happens to people and to get you to change your opinions of the characters.

And yes, John Romita Jr. is one holy heck of an artist. I love Pak’s writing, but I can’t imagine any other artist drawing this series. Awesome fight scenes, body language, facial expressions.

Verdict: Thumbs up. One more issue to go, and I can’t figure out how they’re gonna wrap this one up. Can’t wait, can’t wait.

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