When last I read The Incredible Hulk, I said I was done, that I couldn’t read another page of the slop being hurled about by Jason Aaron. My largely more positive editor, Andy Hunsaker, said that issue #5 was the tell all issue. That #5 would be the one where we found out exactly who separated Banner from the Hulk and we’d get to see the serious throw down between the two. I figured I’d give it another shot. Perhaps Aaron had a trick up his sleeve that I wasn’t ready for. Issue #5 could be the one where The Incredible Hulk, one of the best written titles of the past fifteen years, got back on track and we could party down green skin style.
The Beastie Boys once had a lyric that went “When I wrote graffiti my name was Slop”. Well, Jason Aaron writes comic books and his name should be slop. The Incredible Hulk #5 is the biggest pile of useless garbage I’ve ever seen cobbled together. This has nothing to do with my dislike of Jason Aaron’s writing, this is purely on the merits (or lack thereof) of issue #5. Let downs galore. Bad writing in spades and let’s not forget that we still don’t get to see Banner and Hulk fight. I’m not sure what Jason Aaron was thinking with issue #5 but it feels like his own creation has gotten wildly out of control.
First, let’s get the big “whodunit” out of the way. After two pages of long-winded exposition, it’s revealed that Doctor Doom is the man behind it all. Really? Doctor Doom? Seriously? All the other inventive and interesting ways this could have gone down and Aaron hands us Dr. Doom? I also have to say the splash page where Doom is revealed has one of the worst penciled Hulks ever. The green goliath has this look on his face like he just farted or got blown in a soiled bathroom. It takes away any impact from the already lackluster reveal.
Jump ahead and we’re back to the exhaustive and boring jungle battle. Aaron really loves to draw things out until they lose all meaning. This war on Banner’s experimental island getaway wasn’t exciting to begin with and now it’s painful. I was particularly loathsome of the Hulk’s confrontation with all of Banner’s genetically mutated monsters. Instead of a big knock down drag out, Hulk lectures them on the evil of Banner and the creatures, who have been calling Banner father and serving him loyally, suddenly see the error of their ways. In fact one mutation actually says “I was such a beautiful tiger once”.
Anybody else blowing chunks yet?
Then Banner and Amanda Von Doom (who has no relation to Doctor Doom, a joke Aaron has beaten to death here) mix it up and a crazed Banner announces he doesn’t like his brain being stolen. Cut back to the past and Doctor Doom performing the brain surgery that will separate Hulk and Banner. Apparently, that’s all it took to separate the two, a little brain operation with a magical lit-up chainsaw. The best part is by the end of the operation a fully-grown Banner lays on a table next to the Hulk as if he’d been yanked out of Hulk’s skull like some weird magic trick.
What the hell is Jason Aaron doing? Does he even care about continuity or the stories that make up the legend of the Hulk? The rest of issue #5 doesn’t fare much better. We also get hysterical knee slappers like a monkey throwing irradiated feces on the Hulk and the apparent betrayal of Amanda Von Doom, which is shoehorned into the story. The final insult is the last panel, which depicts, yet again, Hulk and Banner running towards each other. Oh, I get it; the NEXT issue is the big face off. Virgins on prom night have done less procrastinating than Aaron has in this series. It’s maddening how bad issue #5 is.
The only thing that could have saved the Hulk was art from Marc Silvestri, alas that is not to be. For whatever reason, Silvestri isn’t on the Hulk anymore and now we’re stuck with Whilce Portacio trying to be Marc Silvestri. It’s not that the art isn’t solid, but nobody is Silvestri so Portacio trying to be him doesn’t work. I was really appalled by Portacio’s Banner. Why he decided Banner needed to look like a skinny emo kid with a giant head is beyond me. The rest of the stuff is hit or miss. All the pencils during Doctor Doom’s scenes are wonderful, the rest just seem like a bad copy of a better artist. If Marvel is going to keep this travesty of a series going, they should at least find one great artist with a style completely outside of Marc Silvestri and allow him/her to take over. Granted, it’s a band-aid on a bullet wound, but at least the miserable slop of the current Incredible Hulk would be fun to look at.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING 3/10 (1 Story, 2 Art)