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When Writers Accomodate Artists
on 11 March 2009
There was a point in time when the writings of Jeph Loeb were engrossing, fun, and deserving of high praise. But as a new crop of talented writers such as Mark Millar and Geoff Johns redefine comics storytelling for a new generation, Loeb seems to be regressing to tales with poor pacing and hackneyed dialogue. The man who received critical acclaim at the dawn of the millennium for works such as Superman for All Seasons and Batman: The Long Halloween now offers up this muddled, ill-conceived storyline unworthy of the Green Goliath.
To state that this was an awful story is giving it too much credit. Frankly, there is NO story. Loeb, in the span of the 6 issues collected in this volume, manages to offer artist Ed McGuinness a two-page spread every few pages that showcases the red or green Hulk punching someone. I finished this "collection" in under 25 minutes and was left amazed at how poorly executed this sad chapter in Hulk's life was. The mysterious Red Hulk might have potential as a major villain, but it is NOT showcased here. What follows in the course of this book are pages with very minimal dialogue and a lot of splash pages meant to highlight McGuinness' ability to draw outrageously muscled characters. This type of pandering to an artist is a reoccurring trend with Loeb, but this is probably the most egregious example. At one point, 7 whole pages are dedicated to the Hulk climbing up a bridge after being tossed into the water below! I can't imagine the frustration that readers felt collecting the individual monthly issues, as it couldn't have been more than a 5 minute read.
Other Marvel superheroes are present in abundance in this tale but do absolutely nothing except prattle on about how the Red Hulk must be stopped or act as punching bags for him. Again, nothing resembling a cognizant, worth-while addition to the Hulk mythos is found in this amateurish tale. The only reason that I even gave it 2 stars is because of the striking art of Ed McGuinness. If ever there was an artist meant to draw the Hulk, it would be him. But stellar art cannot save this poorly executed farce from the mind of a writer who, for some reason, is Marvel's current "go-to" writer. Loeb's next major story involves Spider-Man and a team-up with former Gen 13 artist Jeffrey Scott Campbell. No doubt another crudely written story crafted around showcasing an artist's skills will be the norm once again. For far better Hulk books, check out Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, or some classic stories featured in the Peter David Incredible Hulk Visionaries collections.