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The ’90s Revisited: Incredible Hulk #350

90s_revisited

incredible_hulk_0350Before the Fall

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Jeff Purves
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1988
Cover Price: 75 Cents

I snagged this issue from a quarter bin because of the cover. Hulk, Thing, and Dr. Doom??? Yes, please! Of course, then I opened the issue, and first thing I really take in text-wise is a note to pick up Fantastic Four #320, first…apparently this issue picks up where that one left off.

How DIFFERENT this is from modern-day comics! Where if there’s any crossover like this at all, it’s some MAJOR EVENT, with SPECIAL BRANDING and COVER BLURBS and all that, Part #whatever of 6 or 9 or whatever chapters for some pre-figured collected edition!

Instead, no…it’s an issue I grabbed completely on its own, essentially my "first" in that I don’t know I’ve read anything from early in Peter David‘s run, know only tangentially/broad stuff from it, etc…and EVEN THOUGH the issue refers me to another first…I can STILL follow along in this issue, as it catches me up on or refers to essentials so that I can read this as it is, as a one-off issue, not part of some mega-event or gigantic crossover.

Much of this issue is a bit of a slugfest, with the Thing coming out the worse for the issue’s portrayal. We open on the Thing standing over the beaten-down form of the gray Hulk, while a green Hulk approaches, challenging him. Apparently the Thing has recently been greatly enhanced, with an odd extra-rocky physical shape and strength beyond what he’d had before, allowing him to come out on the winning side against the Hulk! While he tangles with the green Hulk, the gray Hulk wakes and is met by Dr. Doom, who reveals to him that the green Hulk is an advanced robot, and prods gray Hulk into challenging the Thing smartly. So he does–luring Thing into a hit-and-run match that with further strategy leaves Thing defeated, and gray Hulk finds himself ultimately chatting with Beast and being drawn into some other big thing going on.

That this is not some numbered chapter of some big event goes to the way Marvel comics used to be–simply a shared universe. Some villain might decide to tangle with a hero he doesn’t usually, but then that hero seeks out the usual hero for advice, thus drawing them into things, and eventually you have a "story" that effectively spans multiple titles…yet it’s not officially billed as such. Of course, this style was also when "collected volumes" and "graphic novels" as they’re known in 2018 were 20+ years in the future. Single issues were just that–single issues–and the Marvel Model was not All-Event, All-the-time.

Story-wise, I like what I got here, overall. It’s not my usual fare, and in some ways a bit "talky" and a bit "basic" or "convenient" (Dr. Doom palling around with Hulk and finding old Eternals tech, etc) and Thing vs. Hulk being something, and so on…but for an issue I picked up for 25 cents, it’s not bad, and was an entertaining sort of read, as well as a bit of a time capsule. 1988…30 years ago!

Visually, this definitely carried what I see (remember?) as a "house style" for characters, making them all definitely recognizable and such. While Thing is extra-rocky and I’m not fond of the look, I recall just enough Marvel history to know that he’s had several odd appearances, and that this was a temporary shift for him, obviously going on at the time this was published.

I’m sort of curious to read the Fantastic Four issue referenced, and even to follow this into Avengers Annual #17…but not really enough to make a big focus of tracking the issues down. If I think to, I may look for them in dollar bins at upcoming comic events I attend, but mostly I just enjoyed this as a 25-cent issue and something "different" to read. Though it’s only a "middle chapter" essentially, it has a definite sense of "authenticity" about it that I do not get from contemporary Marvel comics.

And look–it’s #350, a nice "anniversary-numbered" issue, and it’s only 75 cents, the standard/usual price. Not artificially inflated. And to my knowledge, no variant covers. It’s just a comic that’s glad to be a comic, that works as a comic, and doesn’t try to be anything else.

Definitely recommended if found in a bargain bin, but though more enjoyable in its way than many modern comics, not overly spectacular in and of itself–it’s not worth putting a big hunt in.

incredible_hulk_0350_blogtrailer

Secret Wars – Week of June 3, 2015

I actually enjoyed reading the Secret Wars comics I bought this week…so much so that I spent more time reading and less time even considering reviewing. And given general “life gets in the way” time-constraints (and lack of patience, if I’m totally honest) I decided instead of writing up single-issue reviews, I’d just touch base on the issues I bought this week and thoughts I had. Not exactly reviews, not exactly something else. Just my rundown of my trip into Battleworld.

Secret Wars #3

secretwars(2015)003I continue to be surprised (pleasantly) at this series. I’m less and less appreciative of the full-page text/chapter breaks (seems like a waste of pagespace to me), but I’m finding the core story here to be a lot more accessible than I expected, given the writer. Given we basically already know the outcome, and have for months before this even started, it’s still a good ride going through. As this third issue in the series, there is a shift and I sort of feel like we’ve had 3 distinct “situations” presented with the first issue giving us the end of the 616 and 1610 Earths, the second immersing us in this current Battleworld Earth, and now we begin to see some cracks and the drawn-back curtain on how this world was came to be and its background. I definitely look forward to the next issue, and whatever tie-ins I do or don’t get, I’m pretty sure I’m “all in” for this core book.

X-Tinction Agenda #1

secretwars_xtinctionagenda001The cover alone for this issue would have sold it for me. Having a classic cover-dress absolutely punched my nostalgia button–corner box with the character headshots; the bold, blocky title logo, the overly dramatic image, and even the “ACTION-PACKED FIRST ISSUE” blurb…totally something out of the early 1990s. Topping that off, the simple fact that this is an X-book. I’ve yet to read the original X-Tinction Agenda story, but I know OF it. And this issue provides some interesting (to me) character sets as well as the situation casting certain characters into a “villains” type of role…while keeping them sympathetic to me as a reader. Despite that, I’m not overly invested in these versions of the characters, and the cliffhanger doesn’t mean much to me except as “generic” potential foreshadowing. Given my enjoyment of classic ’90s X-Men stuff, chances are good that I’ll stick with this series for its duration.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

secretwars_amazingspiderman001Given the better part of the last decade has had me with near-zero interest in the One More Day/postOne More Day take on Spider-Man, getting a fresh take on a MARRIED Peter Parker (who HAS A KID, to boot!) is something I really could not NOT support. And thankfully, despite some wariness on my part at Slott writing the book (what I’ve read of his work on Spider-Man over the past view years has had mixed reactions on my part)…I quite enjoyed the issue. Some page layouts were a bit weird and distracting as I tried to determine the exact flow of panels, but the art itself was great. The story gives a nice mix of Peter in action and interacting with his family, as well as setting up the world he and MJ live in, and providing an interesting spin on the character as things are set up for the rest of this series. I definitely look forward to the next issue (for better or worse, this is a double-ship month so I only have a couple weeks) and will see how things are shaping up from there as to whether I keep up with the series to its conclusion.

Future Imperfect #1

secretwars_futureimperfect001This is another Secret Wars tie-in based on a story I’m quite AWARE OF but have yet to actually read. I didn’t REALLY have any particular interest in it…but then I saw that it IS a Peter David book, so on his name alone, I decided to check this out. And overall, I’m glad that I did. I had no particular pre-conceived notions getting into this, so it just unfolded, and even gave an interesting twist where I thought I saw something developing but then got something else that felt like it should have been equally obvious. I also enjoyed the art overall in itself, if not all the character designs. Despite that, this is one that as a story doesn’t hit any real nostalgia buttons for me, and given the large quantity of books each week may fall off for me as I simply don’t have the “budget” to get every last tie-in title that’s on my radar. Still…having the original creator (David) getting to revisit something like this with a fresh series is something I welcome, and am glad to see out there. It also leaves me much more interested in actually reading the original, just to “experience” that for myself after all these years.

Years of Future Past #1

secretwars_yearsoffuturepast001The original Days of Future Past story in X-Men was probably the first major story that I spent awhile trying to track down just to read. I was aware of its existence, knew what issues it had been in…but did not have actual, physical access to it to read the thing. I was introduced via the ’90s cartoon, then eventually found a paperback children’s novelization, and finally at some point found the two-issue “mini tpb” to read it (years ahead of collected volumes and digital or even eBay negating such troubles). This is an oversized issue at $4.99 instead of $3.99, and that almost put me off from getting it, but since it even FELT oversized, I decided to suck it up and buy the thing…I’m giving as many of the #1s a shot as I can, figuring shops will have a better handle on ordering for the second issues, and at least I won’t miss out on a surprise #1 taking off in popularity. This had some interesting enough bits, but overall this didn’t exactly grab me…I appreciate it being drawn from the Days of Future Past-era stuff but doesn’t actually hold the tight significance of that original story for me.

Overall Thoughts on the week

Considering I’ve been largely away from Marvel for most of the past couple years, with most weeks not even buying anything they put out, it’s been quite an anomaly the last several weeks actually having Marvel in my purchase stack. This week brought out the sticker shock…with a cluster of THREE Star Wars books, and buying FIVE Secret Wars tie-ins, as well as a couple random issues AND my usual pull-list issues. Even so, while I may be “iffy” on tie-ins on a case-by-case basis, five or so weeks in and I’m still enjoying Secret Wars and still looking forward to more!

The ’90s Revisited: The Incredible Hulk #444

incrediblehulk444Cable Vision

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Angel Medina
Inker: Robin Riggs
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Enhancement: Malibu
Assistant Editor: Polly Watson
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: August, 1996

It’s amazing how much “context” can play a role in a random issue working or not. This issue is labeled as Onslaught: Impact 1, meaning it was an “impact” issue of the first month of Onslaught. From what I recall, there were two types of issues associated with Onslaught: the Phase 1/2/3 issues, and the Impact 1/2/3 issues. Phase were main parts of the “core” story, while the Impact issues were much looser tie-ins…literally “impacted” by Onslaught, but not having much to do with the main story.

I pulled this issue from the quarter bin for that Onslaught tag. Reading it reminded me just how “loose” the tie-in could be. The basic premise of this issue is that Onslaught has basically wiped the Hulk’s mind, setting him on killing Cable. Banner’s been blocked out, so there’s just the mindless, mission-centered beast. The issue opens with Cable already beaten and barely conscious…the only other ally trying to save him is X-man Storm. The issue is basically one long fight-scene, as Storm turns the elements on the Hulk, and a death-ready Cable rallies and does what he can in his state. Eventually the two manage to develop a risky plan to break Onslaught’s control, and restore the Hulk.

Story-wise, there’s not exactly a lot to this issue. And yet, it shows that David “gets” the X-characters, writing a decent Cable and an impressive (at least power-wise) Storm. But, being a big fight sequence, there’s not exactly much character development…moreso we seem to have had a plot point (Onslaught possesses Hulk) that had to be dealt with to get the Hulk from there to the next plot point (back to being himself again, but Really Very Ticked-Off At Onslaught).

Visually, the art’s not bad, though nothing wonderful. The coloring seemed somehow kinda dull, and the Hulk’s shade of green especially a bit different, more subdued, than what I’m used to for the character. I’m also not all that familiar with this particular interpretation of the Hulk…but knowing this was the “Banner’s consciousness/Hulk’s body” era…and the mid-’90s (and this being a single, isolated issue I’m reading) that mostly gets a pass.

Overall, not a bad issue, but nothing spectacular. I don’t believe I’d ever read this back in the ’90s when originally published, so it was interesting to read a loose tie-in to Onslaught, and getting a single-issue “feel” for the “impact” of that story on this title prior to the bigger shakeup of losing Banner but keeping the Hulk that was the status quo once Onslaught ended.

As a 25-cent issue in an age of $3.99 comics, this was a decently enjoyable issue…but I’m not sure I would care for it without already having a working knowledge of the “main” Onslaught story. Taken by itself as a random issue and being a big fight scene, it’s not really something to specifically seek out unless you’re looking for all the Onslaught issues, or a complete PAD run on this title.

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Wolverine and the X-Men Magazine #1 [Magazine Review]

Wolverine and the X-Men Magazine #1 cover

Wolverine and the X-Men Magazine #1 cover

Normally, I wouldn’t consider a magazine something worth writing a review over. However, this one struck me as something I definitely would like to write a bit about.

I came across this at a Wal-Mart last weekend, and decided to flip through it, just to see what it contained. Once I saw what it contained (as well as its price), I decided it was worth picking up.

The cover’s nothing too special–although, I have to give it credit for grabbing MY attention (a nice, classic image, there).  This debut issue of the magazine (headlining Wolverine…after all, there IS a movie coming out in a few months) contains no articles–it’s not that sort of magazine. Instead, this is more of a magazine-sized collected-volume.

This contains Wolverine: First Class #1, Incredible Hulk #s 180-181, and X-Men: First Class #1. There’s also a Mini Marvels short by Chris Giarrusso that was probably contained in one of the First Class issues originally.

For a $5.99 cover price, one gets the contents (uninterrupted by ads except between stories) of four comics. The price is a mere penny ($.01) more expensive than the two First Class issues combined, PLUS the two classic Incredible Hulk issues are present (these featured the very first appearance of the Wolverine).

What really struck me as the value here was that where many of Marvel’s comics are now at the $3.99 point for a standard size issue, for only $2 more one has two issues of recent content, plus the two Hulk issues. That the magazine is a first issue and contains the contents of two first issues and a first appearance works very well–no one’s really being plopped in the middle of some story from the get-go here.

As an adult, I enjoyed this. I’d never picked up any of the First Class comics so those were both new to me. I’d also never read the Hulk issues Wolverine first appeared in–I don’t know if I even have any reprints despite 20 years of comic collecting.

I’m looking forward to the next issue, to see what they do–if this is (for awhile) basically a reprint magazine with two recent comics and a couple classics (or even a move to more recent comics), I’ll be quite pleased, and more than willing to lay out the $6 for an issue.

Definitely recommended!

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