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One Hulk, Two Hulk, Red Hulk, Boo Hulk

Unlike the two spin-offs from World War Hulk that Greg Pak wrote, in order to accept Hulk #1, you have to believe that things you saw at the end of that epic were wrong. Subtle misleading, perhaps, but enough of a difference that it may be bothersome to you. Perhaps Thunderbolt Ross made an offscreen deal with Mephisto.

That also explains why Jeph Loeb continues working with Rob Leifeld, but that's for comics historians to uncover after the Onslaught ends.

By this point, you can tell that I found the book a bit underwhelming. Opening with Doc Samson and She-Hulk behaving utterly unlike either have in years, the story follows their efforts to recreate the murder of the Abomination. Though Marvel has been trying to re-establish Samson's psychologist cred, the adventurer/detective mode still fits.

What doesn't fit, and perhaps McGuinness can't be blamed for this, is a re-design of Samson with short green hair. Maybe others have drawn him this way, but since the guy's hair length is actually linked to his name, it seems jarring and out of character.

But that problem runs rampant through the book. While Dan Slott and Peter David have been laboring hard on She-Hulk's personality, Loeb and McGuinness ignore it to present an angry woman resentful of playing second fiddle to Samson. Even the lines of dialogue that could be jokes don't match the frown and tight lines McGuinness puts on her face.

Then, of course, comes an obligatory fight with the Red Guard, because the Gamma Team has ventured onto Russian soil. Here again, everybody acts the way they need to in order to ensure people hit each other, not bothering with rationality.

At the center of it all should be the title of the story, "Who is the Hulk?" Nobody actually seems to wonder that, though they've all assumed that Hulk killed the Abomination while knowing perfectly well that Bruce Banner couldn't have done it. Either they know more than Loeb wants us to know they know, or it's just bad writing, especially since the color of the character on the cover is news to them.

Not that he actually appears - though that's just a by-product of pacing, understandably setting up a mystery. Loeb also possibly answers his title question in the second of three "rewrites" of World War Hulk's denouement. It couldn't be that simple, though, because, well, it couldn't be that simple. Left unexplained for now, and annoying that I'm trying to come up with Marvel Universe science explanations for it, is the shift from green to red.

Whatever the answer is, I'll find out eventually. Unfortunately, Hulk #1 doesn't leave me dying to know.

Derek McCaw


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