Friday, June 29, 2012

The Incredible Hulk #9

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Pasqual Ferry
Review: Will Dubbeld

"Damn surface Yankees!"
...we'll come back to that.
The first Jason Aaron book I remember reading was part of his run on Ghost Rider, and it was awesome. It had gun nuns, mayhem, and most important of all, gun nuns. He revisited the 70s roots of the character and reading that run was like watching a grindhouse movie. As a consequence, I've gravitated towards picking up Aaron's books when I find them. Scalped is especially good.
So, in finding that Jason Aaron was penning the latest adventures of The Hulk, I was in.
Partially because I was curious as to how they would salvage the character after the World War Hulks/Rulk/Hulked Out Heroes debacle.
Thanks again, Loeb.
Never one to shy away from the ludicrous, Aaron started this book with The Hulk finally separating himself from Bruce Banner in a very memorable fashion: Doctor Doom performing brain surgery on Hulk with an adamantium chainsaw.
Thus separated from Ol' Greenskin, Banner goes mad and attempts to recreate the Gamma experiment that created Hulk. It seems he suffered from some rather serious separation anxiety. At the climax of the first arc we see Banner killed by a nuclear bomb and The Hulk finally at some semblance of peace.
Soon it is revealed that Banner still lives, and in a swift maneuver of role reversal, Hulk reverts into Bruce Banner when he stops being angry. A Bruce Banner that is now criminally insane in an archetypically mad-scientisty fashion. The current arc has Banner hijacking The Hulk when he's in control of their shared body and gathering ingredients for some sinister purpose. Or soup.
Issue nine finds The Hulk awakening in the Free State of Southern Submeria, a remote Atlantean colony. It seems Banner arranged for a sliver of magic rock to be implanted in his chest, and in exchange he would help the Atlantean doctor who performed the surgery escape to the surface. The implanted rock is the source of the colony's magic seaweed crop, which they brew into a concoction called Black Mash.
Which is underwater moonshine. Underwater moonshine that turns the drinker super strong and violent. It also makes them, "...paranoid, mistrustful of outsiders, irreversibly narrow-minded, prone to inbreeding."
Jason Aaron created an Atlantean colony that is a caricature of the stereotypes perpetuated about the American Deep South.
The real joy of this book was the Atlantean colony. Page 1, panel 1 has a pair of Atlantean youths noodling for goblin sharks and eels (noodling, for the unawares, is a method of barehanded fishing where the fisherman jams his hand in a catfish hole in the hopes of the creature latching on. The fisherman can then haul the fish out by its gills), the leader of the colony is a redneck Atlantean named Old Sharky who tools around in a galleon mounted to the back of a gigantic hermit crab, and the cannons on this galleon, ladies and gentlemen...
The cannons shoot hammerhead sharks.
The underwater rednecks, or sea-honkeys, assault The Hulk while all hopped up on moonshine, enlisting the aid of giant squid, siren enchantresses, and shotguns filled with sharktooth buckshot, all whilst shouting "damn surface Yankees! Give us back our magic!"
Needless to say, gratuitous violence ensues and at some point The Hulk may chug Atlantean moonshine.
This comic is the reason people should read superhero comics. It's silly, brightly colored, and doesn't try to dress itself up as something it's not. No pretentious storytelling, angst driven monologuing, or existentialist imagining of Campbellian hero journeys. Just a lot of Hulk Smash. It's a comic that's actually FUN to read, a bit of an oddity in today's market. I was unsure about this book for a few issues, but this sealed the deal and I'll keep picking it up. least until I figure out how Hulk got into space, as the last page of this issue revealed.
Teasers for the next issue showed Hulk fighting a cybernetic bear-person.
Bring it on, Aaron...

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