“That’s a freaky Hulk,” my ten-year-old offered up as she sat down at the dining room table where I just finished reading this issue.
“Yeah, he is.” I chose the better part of valor. Rather than explain what exactly was going on in this issue, I figured the ten-year-old attention span would rather just crack the cover herself than listen to me spew on about this book and how the Hulk came to be so “freaky.” The simple answer is that it’s all because of the Impossible Man. Impossible Man is one of those characters that just always bugged me, like Deadpool, Lobo, or Gary Busey. Impossible Man is a poor man’s Marvelized interpretation of Mr. Mxyzptlk. He’s goofy and dismissible, and stories with him in it repel me instantly, as do movies with Busey. Jeff Parker, however, has a knack for taking the odd, absurd, and repulsive and making them entertaining, readable, and (more often than not) enjoyable. Such is the case here.
Not content to make me a convert to the Red Hulk concept and this series, Parker pushes the envelope – hell, he rips it up and glues it back together – by offering up the Impossible Man and Xemnu the Living Titan. Impossible Man works well as a ringside announcer for Galaxy Class Fighting in this issue, adding a few chuckle-worthy lines of dialog to a story that is just over the top with disbelief suspension from cover to cover. This all leads to the Compound Hulk, as depicted on the cover of this issue.
Xemnu, in his quest to achieve revenge upon the Hulk, has brought a collection of “the most powerful denizens from the most treacherous worlds!” This includes a cloned monstrosity named Kluh (yeah, really) who proves to be Hulk’s - both red and green - equal. It’s a simply comprised story, but Parker fills the tale with fun, adventure, and action, making this an enjoyable tale.
As much as I love Gabriel Hardman’s work and appreciate it on this title, the scope of the story just seems larger with Ed McGuiness on pencil duty. Parker recognizes this and seizes upon McGuiness’ more cartoon-laden style to insert the Impossible Man’s madcap adventures into this story, making this a worthy page-turner that has quite a bit to offer both casual and dedicated Hulk fans.
The issue is capped off with an A-Bomb tale that plays the mistaken identity angle through the world of the Hulk family. Tim Seeley’s art is intricately detailed and packed with action as A-Bomb finds a match for his formidable strength.
The Hulk family of titles has been offering a great deal of entertaining stories of late, and this issue is no exception. It’s a bit of a departure from the previous tale, but in departing from that it offers a wonderful slice of variety to the stories, art, and characters appearing in this title.