Saturday, 14 August 2010

Rampaging Hulk #4. The way things are going...

Rampaging Hulk #4, Jim Starlin)Whatever the greater success of other incarnations of the Hulk, I can’t deny I’ve always had a soft spot for the short-lived version that spoke like a cross between Al Capone and The Thing. You might not have wanted to be stuck in a lift with him but there was something appealingly Kirbytastic about the sight of him calling Rick Jones a punk or Betty Ross a broad.

Well, lucky me because, in Rampaging Hulk #4, we get to see that version make his comeback as the un-jolly green giant’s transported to a world of magic by the sorcerer Chen K’an who restores that old persona so they might better communicate. It seems K’an needs Hulkie’s help to defeat a wicked witch and, as we all know, the Hulk can never say no to a fight.

It’s a nice, if fatalistic, tale and, being drawn by Jim Starlin and Alex Nino, looks beautiful - though I could do without the grey washes designed to compensate for the lack of colour. It reminds me too much of what they used to do in those UK Marvel weeklies I’m always moaning about. It’s done with a lot more style and subtlety here than in those but still, the simple truth is art this stylish is only marred by such tactics.

The back-up story features a character called Bloodstone who, until I reacquainted myself with this comic a couple of years back, I’d totally forgotten about.

To be honest, I’m not surprised I’d forgotten about him. From what I can make out in this issue, he seems to be some sort of cross between Doc Savage, Manhunter, Ka-Zar and Dr Strange, which is a heck of a confluence of influence. I have to admit I don’t have a clue what’s going on in the tale or who anyone is but there seem to be big things at stake and it’s certainly nicely drawn by Val Mayerik and Sonny Trinidad. I get the feeling from what's on show here that the run would benefit from being pulled together into a trade paperback where one could see the whole thing unfold before one’s eyes so it might finally make sense to the likes of me but I don’t know if it ever has been.

The thing that strikes me about this issue, as it does with a lot of Marvel’s black and white mags, is there seems to be a fair bit of padding, with single page pin-ups a-go-go. It’s hard to see who they’re aimed at as I would’ve thought such things would appeal most strongly to younger readers, whereas the magazine format was supposed to be aimed at the more mature.

But that Jim Starlin cover!

Let’s face it, if you don’t dig that, tiger, you don’t dig comics.

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