I remember this arc when it first came out. There was a lot of hype around it and I still consider the plot to be one of the best concepts from all Marvel events. Only Civil War may be able to top it. Nothing beats a good Heroes vs Heroes story, but one that comes close is when the hero turns evil and decides to destroy the heroes. It’s sort of like the Doomsday story in the comics as Superman has a long monologue about what would happen if he finally met a villain that he couldn’t defeat. It’s a story that has a lot of potential. World War Hulk doesn’t live up to all of it sadly, but it’s still a fun comic.
As mentioned, the plot is very simple. The Hulk was shot into space and deserted to die on a planet full of gladiators and aliens. He managed to survive and lived a happy life there, but then his rocket ship came back into orbit and crashed on the planet, destroying everyone on the planet. The Hulk blames the Illuminati for placing the bomb on the rocket and he has now returned to Earth to destroy them and make the Earth suffer for what has happened. All of Marvel’s heroes will have to set aside their differences if there is any hope of stopping the Hulk.
It should be noted that the Hulk picked a great time to launch this attack. For starters, Thor isn’t around at the moment, which takes away a really large threat right from the start. Also, the Civil War is still raging on at the moment or at least the post effects so the heroes have to reluctantly work together at the risk of being arrested. Yes, this is definitely the Hulk’s moment of glory and the heroes may not know what hit them! It should be noted that some heavy weights like Ghost Rider and the X-Men are noticeably absent, but they end up fighting the Hulk in tie-in issues. It’s too bad that they weren’t included, but I did review the X-Men one a while back.
If you wanted a comic with nonstop action, then this is definitely the one to check out. The 5 issues are basically showing the Hulk take down the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and all of the loners who tried to join the fray. Even the military stood no chance against the Hulk. Granted, The Hulk had about 5 teammates known as the Warbound who are apparently about as strong as the Hulk pre rage. That’s a lot of hype for those guys, but they did manage to defeat Spiderman (Off screen naturally……he never gets any respect in the modern comics!) so I suppose that they lived up to their reputation.
The Hulk has never been madder than he is now so his power is really skyrocketing. By the end of the comic, he starts to grow so powerful that he could have destroyed the Earth with a single stomp. That’s some insanely good strength. Naturally, Hulk is a total villain here who only cares for revenge. It’s a motive that works for most villains so why not for him right? He’s not mindless here by any means and he just believes that the Avengers need to pay for their crimes of genocide. An eye for an eye is his strategy. It’s been a while since we saw the Hulk portrayed as a villain so that was neat. He even uses his intelligence to trick Dr Strange at one point since he’s totally in control here. You have never seen a more deadly Hulk.
The Sentry’s role in this is also quite big as he gets hyped up right from the start. One problem that you may have with this is the fact that everyone acts like the Sentry and Hulk are best friends. Since when right? The Sentry is also a little insane and completely unlikable, but you still have to respect his incredible power. He’s said to be the strongest hero in Marvel and while I completely disagree with that, he’s certainly one of the stronger members and not someone to be taken lightly.
I do have to mention that the art isn’t very good here. It’ll look all right at times and then the character models will just start to shift and tumble. I dunno, there was just something a little off putting about it, but the art still wasn’t downright bad. We still got some fun action sequences out of it (Which is the whole point of World War Hulk right?) and the scene where the Sentry finally makes his move is pretty epic. The guy definitely seems to think of himself as a Superman level fighter and maybe he has some valid reasons for this. He does end up looking really good here after all.
As this is one of the more modern events, you can tell that you are missing some things by not reading the tie ins, but it’s not as big as in some other graphic novels where it’s in your face. The pacing is good. The Hulk gradually defeats everyone and by the end you will be wondering how the Hulk can possibly be defeated. You have to wonder if even the Sentry will be able to stand up to such a powerful threat. Most of the other heroes do feel like light weights here. Even fighters like Ms. Marvel and She Hulk are shown to not even be a threat to the Hulk. Seriously, they just watch Iron Man get taken out and only jump in to help at the very end. Not very heroic eh? I was personally disappointed that Spiderman was taken out off screen by one of the minions. I don’t buy that…at all.
In fact, as cool and tough as the Hulk is, I don’t buy any of it. The heroes badly outnumbered Hulk and his little group and I feel like they really should have won this round. I think that Ms. Marvel could give the Hulk a good fight. When she’s with She Hulk, Ares, Spiderman, and many more fighters…that should really be enough to end things. The Fantastic Four didn’t look too good, but I have to admit that those guys would be outmatched in an instant. Only Mr. Fantastic can hope to save them all and things didn’t go according to plan for him. It was fun to see Iron Fist and X-23 jump into the action and Iron Fist did all right against one of the Warbound, but he was soon put in his place.
Dr Strange entered a type of rage mode to stop the Hulk and nearly destroyed innocent civilians in the process. It was the only time where the heroes looked bad as the Hulk had to save them before stopping Dr. Strange. It was still a fun super form to look at though. Even the government gets some hype as General Ross explains that he always knew that the other superheroes could never stop the Hulk. Naturally, his weapons aren’t that effective and he doesn’t stand a chance, but you really have to admire his confidence. Ross has no doubt that he will stop the Hulk and he fights on right up til the very end. He was actually a very likable figure here and he has certainly known the Hulk much longer than anyone else.
The Warbound don’t really have much of a personality as they carry their baggage from Planet Hulk. I didn’t like any of the members and I doubt that the film would change my mind. One of them admits that what they are doing is wrong, but he doesn’t care since he just wants revenge. Better to be a villain than to knowingly act like a villain. Seriously, the guy is constantly talking about morals and justice while he’s attacking the heroes. Definitely not your typical superhero behavior eh? The justice concept would have been pretty interesting had the Illuminati actually placed a bomb inside of Hulk’s rocket, but a plot twist nullifies that. Most of what the Illuminati did was unintentional, but they still deserve a lot of blame for what happened to the Hulk. His time in space was certainly not a pleasant one.
You have to wonder what would have happened if Thor and the X-Men had been here from the start. Would the Hulk have been able to come out on top like he did here or would the heroes have stopped him? I feel like the heroes should definitely have won and with Thor and the others, that should be a guarantee. I would love to see another arc like this pop up soon where one powerhouse takes on the whole Marvel Universe. Not in a single blow or eventually, but a gauntlet run like what happened here. Those scenarios are always a lot of fun.
Overall, I was hyped to read World War Hulk from the start. I just love the concept of it and greatly enjoyed the X-Men vs Hulk tie-in. That being said, it was maybe a little less enjoyable than I had been expecting it to be. The gladiator ring part of the saga wasn’t great and the art was definitely a little sub par. The nonstop action was great though and the dialogue was engaging as well. This is definitely a solid read for all Hulk fans and especially if you just want to see some big hero against hero fights. There is a cliff hanger, but it’s not that great. Especially when you know who the mysterious figure turns out to be. Still, this was a fun event. Smaller in scope than most of Marvel’s big specials, but it was still impactful and showed us the Hulk’s true power! (Albeit, slightly over hyped…)