Peter David and Dale Keown are reuniting this week on The Incredible Hulk: Last Call after working together from 1990 to 1992 on Incredible Hulk. It’s possible this is part of Marvel’s celebration of its 80th anniversary and it’s fun to see these creators working together again after their 2002 one-shot Hulk: The End. Step back and enjoy two of the most important creators to ever pen Hulk write another story of intrigue and heartbreak.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
HULK LEGENDS, PETER DAVID & DALE KEOWN, REUNITE! In his twelve-year stint on THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Peter David redefined the Green Goliath for generations of fans and creators. Artist Dale Keown drew some of that run’s most beloved and influential issues. Now the pair return to their incredible collaboration for a special oversized one-shot issue! Bruce Banner is tired of being the Hulk. Heck, he’s tired of being. But just when he’s about to lose all hope, a miracle occurs: a fight worthy of the Incredible Hulk. Rated T+
Why does this matter?
This story puts a focus on Bruce and Betty’s relationship and what that means to Bruce as he contemplates suicide. There’s a touching story here that recaps old stories and questions what could have been if the monster was never created.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is an interesting psychological story crafted by two creators very familiar with the character and it shows. In the issue, we witness a Bruce Banner who is calm but seriously contemplating suicide. It opens with him calling a suicide hotline and talking about why he wants to take his own life. As he talks things over with the suicide prevention worker he goes over how he’s ruined lives and has no will to live with his wife Betty long gone. David and Keown retread stories with Betty, but also show when they first met which adds a touching moment to the narrative. In a key moment, Bruce reflects on what the monster was and how it wasn’t a personification of his rage, but something else. It’s a nice sentiment and one that adds weight to the monster inside the character.
The art is rock solid depicting the ripped Hulk, and other monsters, well. Keown’s strongest work is when Hulk is rippling with muscle and doing his worst with his fists which you get plenty of here.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The story is a bit meandering and doesn’t quite land every figurative punch. The suicide part doesn’t quite make much sense; you never quite believe Bruce is capable of doing it anyway. He’s too casual about it and seems to be chatting way too much to be on the verge of ending his life. The big turn to change his mind is simple too and something Bruce shouldn’t need reminding of.
Is it good?
This serves as a nice reminder of why Bruce Banner and Betty Ross had such a strong bond. It’s a somewhat meandering reminder of Hulk’s history honoring the character and his legacy.