"Hulk" #53 brings Dale Eaglesham and Alpha Flight to join Jeff Parker on the opening installment of "Mayan Rule." Despite a horribly placed ad, Eaglesham is able to open this story with the comic book equivalent of the team doing a cinematic slow-motion walk into battle. Eaglesham's ability to give each character, excluding poor Aurora, room to flaunt their stuff is enhanced by composing that shot on an angle as opposed to the head-on standard usually prescribed. The border for the opening sequence is just as impressive (except for that damn ad!) as the contents of the pages and prominently displays Eaglesham's knack for detail.
Eaglesham proceeds to turn the comic into a mishmash of oddly shaped panels, fit together like a really easy and odd jigsaw puzzle just waiting to be cut up and assembled. The uneasy page patterns enhance the edgy quality of the flashback story depicting Hulk's allies in their investigations of Mayan temples. Every panel from Eaglesham is jammed with detail. Some of it works quite nicely, but every now and then there's a really odd piece like Rick Jones apparently wearing toddler shorts, based on the closeness of the back pockets. The artist's storytelling, detail work and wide range of body types and expressions compensates these faults nicely and makes "Hulk" #53 a book worthy of re-reading and even studying.
Jesus Aburtov's colors and Clayton Cowles' letters augment the varied cast that includes the aforementioned Alpha Flight, Hulk, A-Bomb, Machine Man, Lyra and She-Hulk (Jen Walters). The subtleties in shades and tones of the characters' speech are keenly handled and play effectively into Eaglesham's drawings.
As always, Jeff Parker finds little hooks for stories and characters and makes them work to satisfactory and interesting ends. I wouldn't put Mayans, Alpha Flight, Red Hulk and Machine Man together, but Parker makes it works wonderfully. He gives each of the characters a piece of dialog or bit of action so no one is left out, and even manages to make all of the characters distinguishable. It's also nice to see Parker bringing together the pieces of his long game. The Mayan deities taking over the spotlight here stem from back-up stories of early issues of Parker's work with "Hulk." Impressive stuff when you sit back and take a look at how long the threads have been out there and how tightly Parker weaves them together.
The jangled panels, extreme details and blossoming plot make this issue a sound investment, giving fans of Hulk and/or Alpha Flight reason to look forward to more Mayan mayhem. For me, it's simply continued evidence that Parker is one of the greatest writers Marvel has on their books. After all, not only could I not picture putting Red Hulk, Machine Man, A-Bomb and Alpha Flight together, I also couldn't picture spending money to read it or looking forward to the next issue so much. As with the opening of each story arc in "Hulk" under Parker's watch, this is a good spot to climb on in.