The Incredible Hulk #4: Breaking Point

You might like to know that the Hulk doesn't look like this cover.  He has long hair and a beard in the actual book..

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Incredible Hulk #4

Seriously, really, let’s stop kidding ourselves. Somebody has to sit down and have a talk with Jason Aaron. In the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven, Aaron managed to make Wolverine, one of the greatest characters in comic book history, boring. As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Aaron has now decided to take his particular brand of hack and slash writing to The Incredible Hulk, a title that has been one of the most consistently well-written comics of the last fifteen years. In four issues, Jason Aaron has driven me to give up on the strongest there is.

As my esteemed editor Andy Hunsaker pointed out in the last review, "Hulk's the good guy and Banner's the monster. Get it? GET IT?"  Do you get it? Aaron is so driven to establish his new era of The Incredible Hulk that he’s slowly dismantling all the genius work from former Hulk scribe Greg Pak. Pak’s entire vision centered an idea that you can’t separate the man from the monster; they are one in the same. Aaron has shooed that concept away with an idea that started strong but is quickly devolving into a hot mess.

In issue #4, Hulk has decided to join Amanda Von Doom and her Murder Squad (they sound a like a hip hop crew) who are bringing the fight to Banner’s door, or rather the shore of his Island Of Doctor Moreau style habitat. The good doctor has been Hulking out wild animals in an attempt to restore himself to his former glory.  Two of the hulked out mutant animals stormed the real Hulk’s home, which has pissed the green goliath off.

The battle between Hulk and Banner is anticlimactic at best. Hulk beats up a lot of mutant animals, and then shows up in Banner’s laboratory to kill him. Meanwhile, Banner is in full, clichéd mad-scientist mode. He rambles, his eyes are open too wide and he constantly is making the “I’m crazzeeeee” face. Hulk and Banner get into each other’s faces but Banner has the plastic glove of power and punches Hulk across the Island, knocking him out. I’m not kidding when I say the plastic glove of power. It looks like Banner is going to give Hulk a proctology exam that lights up. 

The underlying plot has something to do with a gamma bomb Banner constructed and a brain tumor he’s given himself. It’s interesting because Jason Aaron’s Incredible Hulk operates in much the same way his Schism series did. Characters act completely antithetically to how they have for the last few decades. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, they seem to act this way just to help Aaron’s story along.  I’m sure Aaron has his reasons and that the big reveal coming in issue #5 will try to explain why the split happened, who is behind it and why it’s left Banner so nutty. I’m going to assume different parts of the psyche of man and monster mixed when they split, at least that might make some sense.

One of the choice things about Incredible Hulk #4 is it helped me pinpoint why I dislike Aaron’s writing so much. His plots usually start out strong and then completely fall apart, but that wasn’t the key. The backbone to my issue comes with Aaron’s dedication to writing clunky dialog. It isn’t inherently bad, it just doesn’t flow and there’s usually too much of it. What could be written in two dialog bubbles takes Aaron a whole page. Don’t believe me? Check out the opening speech with Amanda Von Doom.

Art wise, Incredible Hulk #4 is Whilce Portacio trying to be Mark Silvestri and failing. I like Portacio’s work, but not here. It appears Silvestri’s recent medical issues have taken him off the book so Marvel would do better to find one artist with an original style as a opposed to a string of artists doing Mark Silvestri impressions.. I’ve been reading The Incredible Hulk consistently for two decades or more. Now, four issues into the reboot, I’m done with the series until Jason Aaron steps down.

 

CRAVE ONLINE RATING 4/10 (1 Story, 3, Art)