Let the Battle Begin is a one shot issue from Marvel staring an angry green man surprisingly called the Hulk. Yes, everyone is familiar with the Hulk and I will not bore you with a recap of who he is.
This issue actually contains two stories, one written by Jesse Blaze Snider (Dead Romeo) and drawn by Steve Kurth (Micronauts, Iron Man); the other is by Mark Parsons and Tom Cohen, with art by Ed “Big Jaw” McGuinness (Batman/Superman). I often enjoy the one shots from Marvel because they remind me of the old comic continuum in which the things that happened in that book were self-contained and never brought up in other books. Granted, it makes for a messy universe but it also allows the creators more freedom when telling their story.
The first story is the namesake for the issue. It is essentially about what Bruce Banner goes through when he wakes up after “Hulking out.” I found the ideas interesting and new. Banner wakes up in his purple pants that are three sizes too big for him and must, of course, get back on his feet again. The first thing he does is dig out his survivor gear sewn into his purple pants. This includes: a needle and thread, a pack of water proof matches and a cleverly named debit card. After that, he hitches a ride into town and tries to get his life back to status quo. Along the way, he must lie about his predicament to protect his identity. Then, he must figure out how and why he got to the mysterious town he’s ended up in. Mostly, he must figure out what the Hulk has done to get him there.
Overall the story was very good yet the dialog seemed to be rather stale. Banner was interesting in the narrative captions but almost one dimensional in his speech. The background characters were the same way. Granted, they may only be there for one panel, but it was like having the same character in every scene, not three different characters building each scene. The one true supporting character in the book was awkwardly placed as well and turned up everywhere in the story.
The art was good but not very fitting compared to most Hulk books. Banner looked inconsistent and never really looked like Bruce Banner. The Hulk’s fight with the Wrecking Crew was very entertaining, even if the outcome was just so-so. All that aside, I really liked the concept of the story, even if it ruins everything it created by the end.
The second story, entitled Gammaragnarok, is a reprint from Marvel Comics Presents #9. Frankly, it felt shoe-horned into the book. Perhaps, Let the Battle Begin wasn’t long enough to charge full price for so they reprinted an over-looked story. Whats to be gathered from the story is that the Hulk lands on a planet and brings peace to it. Then, the Leader or someone who looks just like him, lands and threatens to take over said planet. War breaks out and all of Hulk’s people “Hulk out” and beat the crap out of the other side. The story tries and fails to be abstract. Seeing McGuinness draw an entire page of Hulk’s fighting was visually boring. They all looked the same and since there’s no dialog to the story, they remain the same. Again, this story is just there as filler and adds nothing to the overall product other than perhaps the extra dollar Marvel charged for the book.
Is the book worth getting? It depends on how you want to look at it. For $4.00 Marvel is giving you one interesting and refreshing Hulk story that isn’t that long. Then, almost as a bonus, they’re sticking you with a reprint of story that’s not even a year old. Get it for the Battle Begins and stop reading when you get to Ragnarok.
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