Wednesday, December 31, 2008

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #444 – August 1996

Credits: Peter David (writer), Angel Medina (penciler), Robin Riggs (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Glynis Oliver & Malibu (colors)

Summary: Storm chases the savage Hulk, who leapt away with Cable. They land inside a warehouse, where Hulk prepares to finish him. Before he delivers the final blow, he sees a Bettie Paige poster on the wall. The name reminds the Hulk of his wife, momentarily distracting him and giving Cable a chance to enter his mind. On the Astral Plane, Cable faces a giant boulder with the Hulk’s face. He’s knocked down by the boulder and forced to return to the real world. A weakened Cable asks the warehouse employees for help, but they run away. Cable flashes back to his childhood and remembers a wounded enemy soldier who asked him for help. Cable ran to get help, but was too late to save him. He wonders if some part of him wanted his enemy to die, so he didn’t make a real effort to help him. Back in the present, Storm and Cable devise a plan to jolt the Hulk’s brain with electricity as Cable enters his mind. The end result apparently kills the Hulk. Storm encourages Cable to leave him behind, but Cable refuses. He once again enters the Hulk’s mind and faces the giant boulder. He breaks it apart and frees Bruce Banner, who was hidden inside. Storm uses lightning to restart the Hulk’s heart, which revives his true personality. The Hulk leaves with Storm and Cable on their jet, swearing revenge on Onslaught.

Continuity Note: Storm is wearing the wrong costume on cover, but the interior art uses the right reference. For some reason, I seemed to recall she wore the wrong costume for the entire issue, but I must’ve confused this issue with another comic.

Review: This is another all-fight issue with Cable and the Hulk, but David attempts to turn it into more than just an extended fight scene. One of the methods he uses is to have Cable narrate the story. David has solid grasp of the character, pulling off the “jaded soldier who wants to move beyond violence” angle that became Cable’s focus after Liefeld left. He also uses a flashback to give the issue some sense of depth, making it a story about finding the courage to preserve an enemy’s life. The flashback does feel a little tacked on (this supposedly pivotal moment in Cable’s life is just given a few panels in the middle of a page), but the ending calls back to it in a nice way. While the previous installment of this crossover was content to let large images and relentless action sell the story, David is more ambitious and the story is better off for it.

Medina’s art can’t handle the action as dramatically as Churchill did in the previous chapter, so David’s decision to give Cable an internal conflict is just as well. The storytelling remains clear throughout the issue, but Medina’s attempts at adding cartooning to more traditional superhero art look bland and fairly unattractive for the most part. The art style also seems to change within the issue itself, as Cable is initially drawn with somewhat realistic proportions and lots of detail lines, but ends up with a giant block chin and a more angular design towards the end. The Hulk himself is ridiculously oversized throughout the issue, but I think this was the standard method for portraying him by the mid-90s. Speaking of the Hulk, I imagine fans of his series were likely disappointed in this issue, since only one subplot receives brief attention and the star himself remains a mindless pawn for the entire issue. As a continuation of a Cable storyline, this isn’t bad at all, but I’m sure this was a needless distraction for Incredible Hulk readers.

1 comment:

Mr. Xorn said...

A Peter David story interrupted by a crossover? Psshhh.

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