Incredible Hulk #64 Review

Reviewer: William Cooling
Story Title: Split Decisions: Part 5 – Blue Moon/ Déjà vu

Written by: Bruce Jones
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr
Coloured by: Studio F
Lettered by: Digital Calligraphy’s Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel

It may be me but there seems to be a bug going round various comic creators last week as various books rejected the “lets talk” approach that has been so popularly in the past few years for all out action with Ultimates, Superman/Batman and perhaps most surprisingly Bruce Jones’ The Incredible Hulk all essentially being 22 page fight scenes.

Of course whilst Leob and Millar’s fight scenes were wide-screen action extravaganza Jones’ maintain a more claustrophobic feel. This issue we see Hulk chase the Krill back to the base of the clandestine conspiracy that is ranged against him, and once he gets there indulge in some HULK SMASH. Jones really lets fly on these scenes with a number of near full-page panels showing the Hulk’s destruction. He also shows the panic and chaos that this destruction causes inside the camp, which acts as an excellent counterpoint to the destructive scenes and manages to maintain the shadowy, conspiratorial tone of the series even though there’s a big green giant causing havoc.

In addition to the Hulk’s rampage at Home Base we see Samson, Blonsky, Verdugo and “Betty Ross” fight a desperate rear guard action against what is left of the Krill. Jones’ has designed the Krill expertly, stressing weaknesses such as aversion to light and water that give the good guys a chance to defeat them. The fight scene is also well designed with the device of having only a limited amount of time before the light goes off (and so resulting in the Krill being able to overrun Samson & co) adds tension and suspense to the battle. The conclusion is an inventive one although some of the characterisation between the women seems stilted.

Whilst the Bruce Jones delivers some of his best writing the star of the issue is Deodato whose dark, atmospheric art perfectly brings to life Jones’ script. The most impressive thing about the art is the way that he is able to maintain a consistent tone when dealing with both action and dialogue scenes, something that will be essential when the story’s collected. Actually screw that, what is most impressive is his awesome Hulk, who is just an evil looking, seething mass of muscle (gotta love the red eyes). His art is also complemented well by the colouring of Studio F, with dark, subtle colours helping him maintain a consistently dark visual image.

This is the best issue in what has proven to be a promising arc that might just convince me not to drop the Hulk (although I doubt it, I really need the money). Jones shows that he can do destruction without aping the wide-screen style of the likes of Millar and Ellis, although some might find the clash of styles jarring rather than interesting. Whilst nothing much happens (it is Jones after all) what does happen is well written and well depicted by Deodato, with the conclusion threatening to usher in a major change in the relationships between the characters.