There may be a new Thor movie out in a few weeks, but the escapism is already available for Thor and Hulk fans alike in “Banner of War.” Since Donny Cates took over on this series as a writer, the book has been super fun and bold in its choices. Bruce Banner controls Hulk like a starship, for crying out loud! The story arc gets its third chapter in Hulk #7 and it houses incredible blockbuster ideas and action with some new abilities for Hulk to go with it.
This issue drops you into the action as Iron Man controls a Celestial-powered Hulkbuster and is putting Hulk on the ropes. The size of the Celestial Hulkbuster is impressive and Martín Cóccolo captures the perspective well. The very idea of it takes the Hulkbuster to another level and it doesn’t disappoint on visuals. This Hulkbuster ends up serving as a source to reveal Hulk may have new abilities we didn’t know about.
As a Hulk fan, it’s interesting to see how far you can push the character and see new things pop out. Greg Pak famously made the character get stronger no matter the force put on him and here Cates appears to be making him similarly powerful in a volatile way. Anything goes in superhero comics, even if it seems like yet another feature of a superhero is being revealed.
The big takeaway from this chapter is Thor’s empathy for the Hulk. The connection these two characters have has been tinkered with, particularly in captions and how they think, but here Thor actually takes action. That action leaves a cliffhanger that’s a surprise (unless you read solicit news) and it should be fun to see how Cates gets Thor/Hulk out of this situation.
Cóccolo and Matt Wilson dazzle with the full-page spreads. Thor gets an awesome one, looking powerful with cool electrical effects and his hammer lit up yellow. Speaking of the hammer, Odin is trapped inside it and when he pops up he looks the part as a spirit in a magical sense. Some big explosions and massive damage is taken in this issue and the visual capture the details well.
This issue suffers as it holds back with story progression. There are badass moments and some Hulk abilities not yet seen, but it’s also a single fight. The fight is impressively large, yes, but also a 20-page comic that is read quickly. Scenes involving Thor and Iron Man squabbling require the trope of one not speaking openly with the other, or an entire page of Iron Man wondering out loud what happened after an explosion. Both end up feeling like pointless filler.
Hulk #7 features a big idea that Cates is known for and an even bigger action captured well by the visuals. If you’re looking to escape into superhero comics there’s nothing else like this, but don’t expect a lot of plot progression or much to chew on.
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