You have to appreciate the level of crazy required to tell a Hulk story like this one. Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley are telling a story where Bruce Banner pilots “Starship Hulk” in another dimension, and the starship is powered by Hulk’s rage. It allows Cates to make a statement with the Hulk legacy while also playing in an alternate dimension sandbox where anything goes. In Hulk #4, “Starship Hulk” is facing off against an emboldened and powerful General Ross. Hope he survives the experience!
There’s a rather ingenious element to this book that rears its head with this issue. Not only does Cates make a statement about how important Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk was, but how his earlier start compared to other heroes helped form much of what we know of the Marvel universe. Would there be a Spider-Man without Hulk taking on his full form? It’s an interesting idea that is explored as the story unveils how this alternate dimension played out for specific heroes.
Those reveals open the issue in the first few pages, with much of the rest focused on Bruce controlling Hulk against Ross’ army. Ottley goes off with some incredible violence in this issue — multiple heads lose connection to their bodies. The use of lasers tearing up Hulk’s body is depicted well by Frank Martin’s colors, as if they are as hot as the sun. The art always seems to be shifting from extreme close-ups of Hulk’s eye or head to wider shots as if we’re going in and out of Bruce’s mental state. Cliff Rathburn inks the book, which shouldn’t go unsaid as the book looks sharp as heck.
Cory Petit supplies some great sound effects that are outlines of sounds. It lets readers soak up more Ottley art while giving the sound effects a different feel.
There’s a chaotic feel to the entire endeavor, so it can be hard to track what’s going on as things almost start and stop. That’s evident when we see Hulk’s rage face off against a new foe to power up the “Starship Hulk.” There isn’t enough done visually, or enough time to allow the reader to catch their breath to really understand where you are before a scene is already changing.
Another gripe is one Nathan Simmons has brought up in his reviews of past issues: it’s almost as if the creators aren’t interested in motivation and instead keep things moving along on instinct alone.
The narrative shifts to the Bruce of another dimension later in the issue, which leads directly into the cliffhanger. It’s a reveal that’s surprising and suits the showdown Hulk is facing. It’s also a nice way to reference how this is another dimension and anything goes.
Hulk #4 is a comic about emotion, action, and big beats. It has those in droves while also subtly building up the fact that Hulk is as important as any Marvel character as he leads the charge in the development of so much in the Marvel universe.
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