Weapon H is one of the most bombastic creations to come out of comics in some time — series creator Greg Pak fully admits it in the back of the first collected trade paperback, AWOL, out this week. The root of the character is simply about slapping adamantium claws and skeleton on a Hulk body while maintaining an intelligence in the character. Truly, this is a character who is overly powerful, which is partially why the narrative can do just about anything.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Weapon X Program has done it again! The villainous program’s biggest and most dangerous experiment yet has been unleashed. With the strength of the Hulk and the rage and claws of Wolverine comes Weapon H! Having escaped his creators, he’s now on the run, hiding out in the Canadian wilderness as far as he can get from greedy corporate warmongers. Clay only wants peace and solitude…but when a new kind of Wendigo threatens lives, will the newly minted Weapon H be able to shirk his responsibility -or does some of his humanity remain buried deep within? The Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange, has the answers! Meanwhile, Roxxon has taken an interest in the newest superhuman on the block -but who will they send after him? Get ready for Weapon H vs. – the Brood!
Why does this matter?
The first volume of the series is a good jumping on point and splits evenly down the middle between two mini arcs. It’s also a monster-of-the-week sort of action book, with Weapon H facing off against three different beasts in this volume.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The monsters Weapon H must fight in this collection may bring in fans all on their own. The first is a Wendigo beastie who has been supercharged, the second is Man-Thing, and the last are a treasure trove of monsters from Weirdworld. All of these monsters have connections to Roxxon, who is the direct villain going after Weapon H — more specifically, their CEO is after him. The first half of this volume basically puts Weapon H on the road as he’s attempting to forget his family so as to protect them. Unfortunately for him, his big old heart forces him to save those in trouble, which Roxxon seemingly knows and it’s how they draw him out. As the story unfolds we learn why Roxxon wants to bring him in, but also more about Weapon H aka Clay’s family.
That family gives the book a nice flair with flashbacks humanizing the character and making him more complex. It’d be easy to slap giant claws on a Hulk and call it a day, but thankfully Greg Pak keeps your interest in the character via flashbacks and also the looming danger Weapon H’s wife gets into. Character wise, there are some interesting personalities to discover here, ranging from an old war buddy, to Roxxon’s CEO, to a friendly but weird alien who seems to want to make a team with Weapon H near the end of the book. Familiar faces pop up too, like Doctor Strange and Captain America. All told these characters breathe a bit of life into the series and keep it relatable.
Cory Smith draws five of the six issues here, with Ario Anindito wrapping things up in the last chapter. Smith’s style leans into the monster design, going the extra mile with freakish looks like on Wendigo (or the flying Brood beasts!), or silently haunting designs with Man-Thing. Weapon H himself is always huge and that size is obvious throughout. More importantly, when there are humans present they have a clean and realistic style.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The bad guys reflect on how Weapon H has special fight training — not the first time this has been referenced — but I don’t see it. It’s not clear enough he’s doing anything special and instead looks like he’s lunging and slashing in no special way.
The flashbacks can be rather empty in their purpose. They serve as reminders of Clay’s love for his wife, but not much more. They are nice respites from the action, but a bit more meat to this relationship would go a long way. Clay himself is overly simplistic too, being the good guy with a good heart who can’t help but save others and not much more. He does spend a good deal punching giant monsters which gets in the way of character work, but still a little more personality would make him more interesting.
Is it good?
This is about as fun as a bombastic monster fight comic can get. It’s a creature feature worked into a superhero narrative which should delight many.