"Incredible Hulk" #12 is my first sample of Jason Aaron's run and I'll admit I certainly didn't pick it up just for Jason Aaron's writing. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a lot of what I've read by Aaron, but he hasn't quite become a must-read writer for me yet. The real reason I picked this issue up is this: Carlos Pacheco drawing a guest appearance by Thing. One of my favorite artists drawing one of my favorite characters.
Pacheco not only gets to draw Hulk and Thing, but Wolverine as well. Both guest-star characters have been called in to handle a break-in at the God Complex -- a prison designed for housing alien invaders, giant monsters and "radioactive superfreaks." That break-in was perpetrated by none other than Bruce Banner in an attempt to further his own insane mission against his gamma-powered alter ego. Over half of the issue is filled with the brawl between Wolverine, Thing and Hulk. The conflict smashes through walls of the prison and puts some new twists into battles we've seen countless times before. If you've ever wondered what really happens when the rocky exterior of the Thing meets the massive might of the Hulk, given the Hulk's propensity to smash things like rocks, this issue has some exciting and enlightening moments drawn by Pacheco and wonderfully colored by Frank Martin.
Thing and Wolverine spend some time trading quips with one another before and after the fight, but there is an understated mutual respect present in the two warriors as they attempt to subdue the rampaging Hulk. Through those quips, Aaron inserts some humor into this story, a notion he revisits through the denizens of the God Complex following the fight. Aaron has crafted an adventure that tests all three fan favorite characters and provides plenty of fodder for geek debates down the road. I like the voices Aaron uses for Wolverine and Thing and Pacheco's artwork plays right into the script's nuances nicely.
From what I can gather, this "Stay Angry" storyline has provided a plethora of strange matchups for the Hulk and ample writing opportunities for Aaron, but this issue is a magnificent encapsulation of the essence of a good Hulk story: smashing, monsters, heroes and more smashing. Needless to say, it matched, and actually exceeded, the expectations I had set before cracking this book open. I'll be back to check on the results of "Incredible Hulk" #12's cliffhanger last page and I sure hope Jason Aaron brings Carlos Pacheco back with him.