Incredible Hulk #76 Review

Reviewer: Tim Sheridan
Story Title: Shattered

Written by: Bruce Jones
Penciled by: Dougie Braithewaite
Inked by: Bill Reinhold
Colored by: Paul Trevino
Lettered by: Randy Gentile
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel

I’m not one of those people that were part of a public outcry when Peter David left Hulk back in 1998. I thought it was pretty sad, sure, since he worked on a comic for 12 years and he walked (or was pushed) away from it. But it seemed at the time he pretty much said all he needed to on the Hulk. I read all of the issues he did and very much enjoyed them. But it was time to move on. So then came Joe Casey, and that was fine. Then came Byrne, and that was really weak. And then came Jenkins, and it was really great. And then Bruce Jones stepped up. When he started, there was a tremendous buzz about the book that he was going to bring back the “monster” which was excellent, because let’s face it. Hulk is not and should not be a true super hero. The best Hulk stories to me have been him tormented about his life and lashing out. So yes, he is a monster. I never really understood why this cat had to fight supervillians all the time. He needed to smash from time to time, just let him. He needed to get his aggression out for a repressed childhood. And if I learned anything from pop-up video, the lead singer from Tears for Fears did too, which was why he wrote “Shout.”

Anyways, when Jones started his run on the book, it was great. There was smashing, there were conspiracies, there were mysteries, and there was more smashing. Now, Hulk wasn’t around all the time, but when he did show it, it meant something. And it was cool.

So as the run went on layer upon layer of the conspiracy was added. And at first, it was really interesting. Then not. Then it got incredibly redundant. Then it got flat out boring. But as my friends dropped the book, I still picked it up, always the eternal optimist, hoping Jones would turn it around.

Last year, typical supervillian plots began to seep back into the book, and then this April, the title was given a bizarre shift under the Marvel Knight imprint, and Iron Man began to guest star. It all seemed to reek of editorial interference. Which, I suppose, is fine, as it happens all the time in ways that probably make our beloved weekly and monthly reads better. But it just seemed so out of place here.

Somewhere along the line, Bruce Banner’s wife, Betty Ross came back from the dead. There was a Hulk clone too. So it stopped being about the monster inside and was just about weak stories. So Bruce Jones either decided (or was ordered to) wrap up his run starting last month, and we are given a two issue story to tie up every loose end of the book.

And I could not have been more disappointed. And the man behind the whole conspiracy? The Leader. Hulk’s arch-nemesis. Who has been behind every bad thing in his life it seems. But starting with issue #34, and now up to #76, he’s been the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings. He gives us a long winded explanation as to what he did and why he did it. And I don’t know if it makes sense. Maybe it does, but it’s such a complicated story that it just doesn’t matter. I kept thinking, that there had to be more to it, and that I had been reading for years and years and deserved a less contrived ending. But nope. Guess not. Maybe sometime soon I’ll reread the whole epic thing and see if it makes sense. I certainly hope it will. But right now, I’m just saddened by the whole thing.

Bruce Jones is not completely done with the Hulk though. His Hulk and Thing mini starts soon, so hopefully that’ll leave a better taste in my mouth.

The Final Word: I really really wanted this to be better than it was. That simple.