It’s hard to feel bad about Doc Samson getting his butt kicked after he just lectured the Hulk on the importance of corporal punishment for children.
Did Jones even think about what he was writing? Did his editors read the scripts?
Braithwaite and Reinhold are back on art. Sometimes they’re a little better than usual, but Braithwaite’s Hulk is still awful.
I guess Jones’s wrap-up of his huge conspiracy story line makes “sense.” It’s not a good wrap-up, but it’s better than where he tries to leave Bruce Banner at the end of it. Maybe the closing line–with someone being real mean in a Hulk description–calls back to an earlier comic. I hope so, because, otherwise, it’s just a crappy line.
Jones leaves the comic much in the place he started it. He wipes the slate clean and leaves Bruce Banner far less a character than he started out with.
Shattered; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Raul Trevino; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Here I thought Darick Robertson and Tom Palmer on the art would help….
It does help for a while. But the issue’s double-sized and once Doc Samson shows up, maybe a quarter of the way in, the art starts sliding.
Jones reveals the mastermind behind all of Bruce Banner’s troubles. It gets sillier when the villain explains all of it; the ludicrousness of Jones’s conspiracy doesn’t hold up well under examination.
There’s a slightly interesting gimmick, which Jones shuts down so he can bring back the supporting cast. I’m not sure how Nadia–just a regular small business owner in Nevada or somewhere–can get to L.A. in a matter of hours to help save the day. Worse, Tony Stark is around to hang out with Doc Samson. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Tony to help as Iron Man? Or maybe call the Avengers.
It’s a lousy comic.
Wake To Nightmare; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Darick Robertson; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Raul Trevino; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
I don’t like finishing a comic wondering what the heck I’ve just read. Getting through this issue of Hulk isn’t just troublesome because of the incredibly uneven art–Braithwaite and Reinhold spend the least amount of time on the big fight between Hulk and Iron Man–but through the constant stupidity.
Jones boils down his resolution to a confession, which doesn’t make much sense. Of course, having the drama hinge around Tony Stark having a suicidal girlfriend with a lock-picking, would-be amateur assassin brother doesn’t make much sense either.
Then there’s poor Bruce Banner. What’s he doing this arc? Following Tony around mostly. Only neither character has a real arc. Tony’s is superficial, Bruce is just a spectator. Jones doesn’t spend any time on Bruce outside him helping with the experiment.
There are numerous false endings too. It’s easily the worst issue Jones has done on the title.
Big Things, Part Four; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Watching Braithwaite try to do depth in panels gets painful fast. Bruce is pointing at Tony Stark in one panel and the hand is at exactly the same depth as his body. Maybe it’s Bill Reinhold’s inks, but there’s something definitely off with the art.
Also off is the story. Bruce Banner is still helping Tony Stark on a government contract. There’s a third scientist on the project and he’s mad at Tony, then there’s the guy who Tony’s holding hostage (he did try to kill him so apparently it’s okay). Throw in a Playmate who plays waitress to everyone and Jones has set up a really disturbed version of “The Real World.” Oh, and they’re all stuck in the Stark mansion.
Lousy dialogue and bad characterizations don’t help things. Bruce isn’t just different from the rest of Jones’s run, he’s different from the last issue.
Jones’s checked out completely.
Big Things, Part Three: Shock Waves; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
It isn’t enough for there to be one exorcism this issue, Jones has to flashback to a previous exorcism. The flashback does get some of the back story between the priests out of the way, which is good, but it’s a whole lot of demonic art. Manco has almost nothing to draw except demons in various stages of upset this issue.
As for Jones, for the most part he’s just got to write priests saying lines out of Exorcist movies. Not particularly heavy lifting for him. Manco at least has a lot to do. There’s a double-page spread of angels and demons–it’s totally useless as far as narrative value, but it’s very detailed work from Manco.
There are some big plot developments and big things for cast members. Unfortunately, there’s so little concern for the cast it doesn’t really matter who’s in danger.
Besides Manco, Asylum’s running near on empty.
Writers, Bruce Jones, Sandy King and Trent Olsen; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Kinsun Loh; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, King; publisher, Storm King Comics.
Deodato has some kind of painted thing going on. It’s not good and it’s often unclear what’s going on–and there are real problems with montage–but at least he’s not doing the little panels for big action.
The issue continues with the Iron Man guest appearance. There’s a strange fight scene where Bruce is in Iron Man armor fighting Tony. Because Tony wants to prove his innocence regarding a girl who committed suicide. It makes no sense; Jones’s editors must have been napping.
Even though Bruce Banner is front and center again, but Jones is more using him as an add-on to an Iron Man story. And the Iron Man story is bad. Jones doesn’t have much insight into Tony as a character; none of his actions make sense. He’s just around for the murky art crossover.
The crossover is a complete misfire. Jones has lost his grip.
Big Things, Part Two: Strange Bedfellows; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Bruce is in L.A., no matter why, and he runs across a Tony Stark press conference. So they fight and team up. They fight because Tony can’t recognize Bruce in his sunglasses. Very convenient disguise.
There’s a lot of talking, some confusing art from Deodato–though he’s better than usual–and more of Bruce being able to turn immediately into the Hulk. One thing about that instantaneous change? Jones has never really said how Bruce feels about it. Has he turned the Hulk into a tool? Isn’t the Hulk his own guy to some degree? How does he feel about it?
All these questions go unasked and unanswered and are far more interesting than the comic itself. It’s unclear what Bruce is on the run from this time, which is another thing Jones could have explored but does not.
Worse, the arc’s four parts and Iron Man’s a lousy guest.
Big Things, Part One; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Hermes Tadeo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Deodato is back once again. And, once again, the art is bad. This time there’s a lot Deodato can’t do. He can’t do the talking heads, he can’t handle Bruce willfully turning into the Hulk for a quick emergency.
And it’s too bad, because the issue’s a reasonable done in one where Bruce meets up with a clairvoyant on the FBI payroll. Most of the issue is the two men talking while the clairvoyant can see things unfolding.
Jones doesn’t exploit it as a narrative device enough, but Deodato couldn’t handle it if he did anyway. But the issue’s decent. Bruce and the guy talk through the issue, Jones getting in a couple twists. It doesn’t explain why the guy didn’t try to find the Hulk before, like during the national manhunt, but whatever.
Too bad Jones didn’t do his run more episodically, it would’ve worked. Minus Deodato, of course.
Simetry; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Hermes Tadeo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
After spending the first third of the book setting up the best Hulk fight since he’s been on the run–the way Jones paces out the banter between Hulk and evil spider-clone Hulk (don’t ask) is perfect–Jones trashes the whole thing. He goes back to his talking heads model. Down to no one really having anything to say to one another.
There’s an awkward lack of ambition to those scenes. Doc, Betty and Nadia’s lives are wrought with angst and Jones goes for easy bickering. Not even inventive easy bickering, just page-filling easy bickering. He comes up with a mystery and has to do everything in service of it. The mystery isn’t a good one and he handles it poorly.
The lack of ambition isn’t just lazy dialogue, it’s much worse–it’s Bruce Banner. He’s a marionette. Jones has stopped implying he has any depth. Hulk’s the only interesting thing about him.
Dead Like Me, Part Four: Trust Me; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Jones gets the whole cast together and things finally start improving. Braithwaite draws Bruce as this vaguely awkward, aging pudgy guy. It’s a very interesting visualization of the character; it goes to making him seem a little less familiar even. Oddly enough, the second half of the issue has Jones’s most traditional use of Bruce Banner in many issues.
But bringing the cast together–back at Nadia’s roadside restaurant–reveals another big problem with Jones’s run. It’s very small. Same people, same places; every time it seems like Jones is actually building outward, he just turns around and constricts.
He doesn’t even bother coming up with an inventive villain this arc. Since the whole point is to put the characters in the same room again–somewhere he already had them at the end of the last arc–he just needs a disposable villain.
Jones doesn’t plot Hulk well. The issue’s simultaneously okay and not.
Dead Like Me, Part Three: “Hello,” He Lied; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
It’s a Hulk without even Bruce Banner. And I can’t figure out why. Usually when Jones takes forever with an issue, there’s at least an imaginative conversation going on. Lots of literary references, whatever. But not this issue. Here’s it just Doc and Betty arguing while Nadia Blonsky is in danger.
Where’s Bruce? He left Nadia alone so she could be in danger and Jones could get a cliffhanger out of it.
Nadia running from a variety of creepy things isn’t bad. If Jones had something else going on in the comic, it’d be a fine thing to fill the action quota. But Doc Samson playing with his lab equipment and Betty sounding bitter don’t offer anything. Jones is spinning his wheels to get through another issue and then he’ll rush to get Bruce back into it.
It’s a standard approach on the book.
The decent art helps a lot.
Dead Like Me, Part Two: Bury Me Not; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Jones gets a far better art–Dougie Braithwaite on pencils, Bill Reinhold on inks–and decides to celebrate. Of course, his celebration is dragging his cast through the dirt. He’s got Bruce emotionally pounding on Nadia, who’s a fine enough regular supporting cast member so it’s too bad Jones didn’t establish her more, and then he’s got Betty pounding–literally–on Doc Samson.
No one is happy how things are going or who they’re bedding down with. In all that unhappiness, Jones does do some explaining about off page things in the previous issues, but he also shows his hand. He wants to ruminate on the unhappiness of these characters; it’s unclear if he had any other point with his Hulk except to get them here.
While the issue’s often finely executed, Jones doesn’t offer any glimpses of growth. All he’s setting up for is decay. Unpleasant to read decay.
Dead Like Me, Part One; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Here’s the thing. If Jones had structured this series better, been less concerned with diversions like the Absorbing Man, he might have been able to do a fantastic storyline regarding the Banner, the bunnies, Doc Samson, the evil conspiracy. It would have worked. The issue works to some degree just because Jones lets the characters all feel the weight of what’s occurring.
Terrible Deodato art. His page composition, not panel composition, but his page by page layouts of panels is atrocious.
Even though this issue’s a big wrap up–hopefully Jones will soft boot the title next issue–there’s a lot of good action sequences. There’s Samson and the bunnies going into the base, there’s Nadia and Bruce Banner. Jones is very deliberate about how he pulls one over on the reader, but it’s kind of all right. He’s doing the same thing to his characters.
Shame about the art.
Split Decisions, Part Six: Double Exposure; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Oh, good grief. When Deodato goes for artistic it’s a really bad page. Also when he goes for Hulk action. Hulk rips open a mountain. Is it any good? Nope, it’s boring.
But the issue is otherwise not bad at all. Between the Hulk smashing the evil organization, which brings those two parts of the arc together, and Doc Samson and his bunnies–Sandra, Mr. Blue (nope, not spoiling because it doesn’t matter yet) and Nadia–fighting the mean little monsters. It’s effective stuff, the people in crisis, out of bullets. Not sure why the women had to take off their clothes but Jones is maybe trying to tell the reader Doc Samson shouldn’t be trusted.
Then there’s the cliffhanger. Jones has always had problems with his big hook for the series. The cliffhanger just reestablishes the hook and the problem.
The series is slowly improving, even with its problems.
Split Decisions, Part Five: Deja Vu; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.