The Incredible Hulks #623: Going Savage by Greg Pak and Dale Eaglesham

Writer: Greg Pak

Penciler: Dale Eaglesham

Inker: Andrew Hennessy

Colorists: Dean White and Frank Martin Jr

Cover: Dale Eaglesham, Dean White, Simon Bowland, and Andrew Hennessy

Hey all, I’m Jon Barrios and I’ve recently been tapped to do the comic book art reviews here at the Pulse. A little background information on myself: I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2007 working in all mediums spanning paint to collage to found object, I’m currently attending Pratt Institute for graduate work in architecture design, and I’ve been reading comics since I was probably thirteen so I am no alien to the comic world or it’s many modes of representation—in fact that might have been an equally powerful attractor to comics as the story and characters.

Now to the main show:

So this is my first comic art review and my first post for the Pulse so perhaps I’ll start with the cover: I don’t like it and it creates a disconnect from the style of representation in the first half of the book that is oddly picked up in the second half. It’s the type of comic book art that appears light, fluffy and fun, and more often than not the treatment of this type of representation is often dealt with by giving everything in the scene equal treatment. Everything from the rocks to the dinosaur to Zabu in the foreground has the same treatment of light because they apparently all have their own spotlights hanging right above them for optimal show. Meanwhile, although it’s understood that they’re in a clearing of some sort I have a hard time believing that all the vegetation around them isn’t overshadowing at least some of their actions especially in the background.

The nail in the coffin: light and shadow, via the colorists. The penciler, Dale Eaglesham, although a bit stiff, knows where his light and shadow are located, the colorists do not and frankly it’s confusing.

I promise this will get better as I write but there is this overall misuse/mistreatment/non-plausibility of light and shadow that I first picked up on when Hulk was leaving for the Savage Land and from thereon in you can’t ignore it. At the top left of page ten Hulk is looking down, light coming from his left side, the next two frames follow nicely and then you come to the bottom center where Hulk’s face is now lit from his right side. I’m not sure how they went from abundant light at Hulk’s top left side to little light in the bottom center frame and switching the light source to the other side. It just doesn’t make sense. For that specific frame an equally dramatic (and correct) effect could have easily succeeded if they just flipped the light source, reinforcing the tension with Betty’s frame much better.

Then they enter the Savage Land with a full spread and after a few minutes looking at this page I know why I’m annoyed. I understand that the Savage Land is some exotic far-off place but it’s still a place on Earth and the same rules apply to dusk and dawn there as it does in France, Brazil, and Tibet. It’s like they entered a version of Alice in Wonderland with all the vibrant magentas, fuchsias, pinks, and blues but thought using some airbrushed gradients (again everywhere) would do it justice. I get the impression that they used more than one colorist here and it’s not working to their benefit. Not to mention that the pterodactyl’s shadow is completely in the wrong place since the sun is setting in the upper right or center, and then the foreground is alight with description even though they’d be almost in total shade or dark by the assumed time of day. The disconnect is made worse in the next frame at bottom left because, although they are higher in the sky and subject to more light, I wouldn’t expect to see green treetops but some with more amber and yellow tones. The next two frames seem to correct this deviation.

A good example of the blatant ignorance of light and shadow (and stylistic disconnect) is the following page where there seem to be multiple light sources. Again, the pressure to equalize everything is prevalent.  First, the setting sun is coming from somewhere on to the  left now (you’d think that some time has passed to darken the atmosphere) and that this setting sun is passing through the tree canopy and affecting the tree trunk at the upper left corner (which is nice), except this is totally negated by the fact that, even though they are in a dense forest, there are no projected shadows onto the scene:  the dinosaur looks like it has been photographed with a flash which did not affect anything else in the scene but for a few weird glimmers on its tail to connect it back to the setting sun.  The greatest give away (if this had been treated correctly) is the dinosaur’s shadow and the tree shadow.  Also, the bright blue gunshot apparently has no luminescent effect on Ka-Zar or the dinosaur, while the leaves and red people just shy of the foreground apparently are ruled by a different sun. The person in the foreground is possibly the only subject besides the space craft to be remotely in correct light.

The penciler did his job well, a little stiff, but well. The use of too many colorists with starkly different tastes is distracting. It only further disconnects what happened in the first ten pages of story from the second half of the book with a weird bridge page of the group en-route to the Savage Land (pg11).  The problem of embellishment is everywhere in the second half, while the first utilizes it well to get the correct emotional setting and context that you’d imagine it would have. A colorist shouldn’t have to pick out every detail a penciler puts down but he should know where the light sources are and the conflicts once you step back and notice that everything seems equally treated.

On the upside, I rather like the artwork in the first half mainly because of the attention to the details that I’m sure the penciler included and the colorist instinctively knew to do. The wonderful blushes of flesh tone that play on the Hulk, She-Hulk, and Betty are appreciated; it shows that the colorist is treating their skin in context and as they would any real person’s skin. There is one weird instance on the sixth page where Betty is talking to Kate Waynesboro and Kate comes off as two dimensional, like a Mike Allred drawing. Again, the comic went from a pseudo hyperrealistic state to a very comic book-vibrant colored artwork with no real necessity; the mood set in the first half is totally negated by the second. It would have been better if one style was throughout the entire book.

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