At first glance, it’s hard not to think that this book’s title of “Incredible Hulks” is becoming a little too broad, as the cast features somewhere between five and seven Hulks, depending on how you judge it. And yet, despite the presence of A-Bomb, Korg, and various She-Hulks, the focus is mostly kept almost entirely on Bruce Banner and the one, true, green Hulk and (to a lesser extent) his son, Skaar.
In fact, it actually becomes difficult to ascertain what all these extra Hulks are even doing in this issue, besides providing sparring partners for the Secret Avengers, who are themselves appearing in no obvious capacity. There are nice moments between the recently-gammafied Rick and his former crimefighting partner, Steve Rogers, but it’s not the sort of moment the story hinges on; It’s just an obvious nod to make whenever the characters meet.
It’s lucky, then, that Pak’s affinity for Banner and the Hulk is enough to keep the story ticking over. Under Pak’s direction, Banner and the Hulk have similar goals, and work together, actively yielding to one another’s personalities as the situation requires it. The dynamic is unusual, but intriguing, and it means the title has a strong, charismatic and engaging lead.
The story itself sees the group of Hulks attempting to sort out the incoming problem of Hiro-Kala, the Hulk’s other son, who he only recently found out about. To do that, they need to retrieve the Stoneship that brought Hulk back from Sakaar, and that entails a fight with the Secret Avengers for no apparent reason beyond the demands of the genre. Although, even then, one feels like there should be some logic behind the appearance of Rogers and crew, particularly since they’re supposed to be the covert ops team.
Kitson’s artwork, at least, is very good, full of character subtleties. His depiction of the Hulk is moody and emotive, where his depiction of Banner is cold and calculating. The splash pages look impressive, and the fight with the Secret Avengers is well-choreographed, which goes some way towards justifying its inclusion.
At the very least, now that “Incredible Hulks” has been freed from a seemingly perpetual crossover with the other books in the Hulk family, and similarly, with the Hulk actually back in it as a starring character, things feel like they’re moving in a positive direction. If the series could just get rid of the franchise refugees it’s currently hauling around and write a book just about the father and son team of Hulk and Skaar, it might actually prove itself the successor to Pak’s original Planet Hulk/World War Hulk run. Things are certainly getting there.