Just a week after last week’s Indestructible Hulk #15 was released, Indestructible Hulk #16 comes out this week as a tie-in to Matt Fraction’s Inhumanity event — even though the actual Inhumanity one-shot has not been released yet.
Oh Marvel, you’re so silly.
Luckily, however you feel about Marvel’s shipping schedule, Indestructible Hulk #16 is still written by Mark Waid, one of the best tellers of superhero tales working today, so let’s just try to enjoy ourselves as we ask: Is it good?
Indestructible Hulk #16 (Marvel Comics)
While I have no way at this point of knowing what kind of role Hulk #16 will play in the events of Inhumanity, I can say with confidence that, taken on its own (which, again, you pretty much have to at this point), this is a solid issue of Hulk.
Banner’s one-sided rivalry with Tony Stark is a great addition to the character.
Mark Waid has always had a talent for making individual issues stand well on their own while building upon everything that came before it, and Indestructible Hulk #16 is no different. If you’ve been following this run from the beginning, you’ll appreciate how everything in this issue, both plot-wise and thematically, is a logical extension of everything that’s happened previously in Waid’s run (and you can go back even further to previous runs, of course). If you’re just looking to get into it as it ties into Inhumanity — hell, even if you’ve never read a Hulk comic in your life — you’ll still have no trouble following this story, and you’ll have a great time while you’re at it.
(Just ignore that “16” and “Inhumanity” on the cover altogether if you have to. You’ve heard of the Hulk, right? Big green monster, likes to smash things when his puny human scientist of a host gets mad? Doesn’t understand subject-verb agreement? Good, you’re ready to read this comic.)
I know that feel, bro. I swear that I had an idea for a story about “superheroes in the real world” years before Mark Millar wrote Kick-Ass.
After the entertaining yet rather unnecessary series of time-travel adventures of the previous arc, it’s nice to see Hulk and Bruce Banner back in the present day, returning to the “Hulk Smashes, Banner Builds” premise that Waid began his run with. We also get a compelling bit of back-story about another scientist on Banner’s team, once again suggesting that Indestructible Hulk is on a different side of the same thematic coin that Waid’s utterly brilliant Daredevil run. A more complete discussion of these themes is best left for a separate article (which I am working on, so look out for that), but for now, I will just say that Indestructible Hulk, like Waid’s Daredevil, both explore themes of mental/emotional disorder and trauma through the language of superheroics.
For those of you that aren’t interested in my pseudo-intellectual, quasi-academic musings and just want to see some good ol’ fashioned Hulk smashin’, don’t you worry, because there’s plenty of that here, and it’s buckets of fun—and funny, too, without losing sight of its emotional core. I actually laughed out loud more than once, which is pretty remarkable for a comic that’s only some twenty pages.
Waid’s portrayal of the shifts from Banner to Hulk has been a highlight of his run.
- New reader? No problem.
- Returns to high quality of previous issues.
- A great start to a promising new arc.
- Bruce Banner is sometimes difficult to recognize.
Mahmud Asrar is no Walt Simonson, but he still does a more-than-capable job of keeping with the general aesthetic that several previous artists have lent to this run, while still providing his own distinctive touch. It’s expressive and dynamic, yet he doesn’t fall into the same traps that many artists use to convey such energy — namely, needlessly confusing layouts and tastelessly harsh lines. My only real complaint is that his depiction of Banner seems a bit off. He looks at least a decade younger than previous artists on this series have portrayed, and in some panels he looks like a completely different person than he looks in others.
Is It Good?
Does Hulk smash?