Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review - Giant-Size Hulk #1

Giant-Size Hulk #1
By Peter David, Greg Pak, Juan Santacruz, Aaron Lopresti, and Dale Keown
Published by Marvel; $4.99 US

The last time we got a single Hulk issue this size was back in 2001 with the "Monster-sized" Incredible Hulk #33, which featured an original fill-in by Christopher Priest and some reprints from both the heyday of Len Wein and the dawn of Peter David’s first Hulk run. The reprints were cool and Priest’s story was funny and touching, but the stories didn’t really have anything to do with where the character was going or any strong connection with each other. In comparison, Giant-Size Hulk #1 gives us “Green Pieces,” a Hulk vs. Champions story that, if the solicitations are trustworthy, holds some connection to a post-Planet-Hulk event; "Banner War," a "Planet Hulk" interlude that answers the question of why the Hulk’s paler half has been absent from Sakaar; brief interviews with Greg Pak and Anthony Flamini (writer of the upcoming Planet Hulk Gladiator Guidebook); and a beautiful reprint of Incredible Hulk: The End, the first of Marvel’s "The End" books that premiered in 2002 and reunited Peter David and Dale Keown on a Hulk book for the first time since 1996’s Hulk/Pitt, and whose climax has an interesting connection with Pak’s "Banner War."

The clash between the Hulk and the Champions (perhaps the most awkwardly cast super-hero team in history, and this is coming from a hardcore Defenders fan) comes first and is set hard on the heels of the battle royal featured in 1977’s Champions #16. With the exception of David’s trademark quips, it channels the classic Hulk-fights-someone-who-thinks-he’s-a-bastard-and-feels-bad-about-it-later stories of the 70’s, and that’s a good thing. For an 18-pager, we get a respectable tussle between greenskin and the Champions, as well as a surprise guest appearance.

Maybe it’s because I’ve read so much of David’s stuff that the humor has grown stale, but a lot of the funny just doesn’t work for me. The set-ups to jokes seem a little self-conscious, but I did get a nice chuckle out of Hercules’s commentary on the screwy time-logic of the Marvel Universe.

The solicit for Giant-Size Hulk promised that "Green Pieces" would hold "a key to Post-PLANET HULK events!" What’s the key? No clue. Probably the clearest possibility has something to do with Hercules’s regret at the end of the story. Since Herc’s in the anti-registration camp of Civil War, at least a good chunk of the Illuminati members are on the opposite side, and if/when Hulk returns to Earth looking for payback he may be gunning for the Illuminati, maybe the "key" has something to do with a post-Civil-War alliance? Another possibility has to do with the aforementioned surprise guest, but there’s less of an obvious connection there.

Initially I had one minor quibble about Hercules’s lamentation. I wondered if this chipped out a bit of continuity in regards to later meetings between Hercules and Hulk, particularly in reference to Byrne’s and Milgrom’s Hulk/Bi-Coastal Avengers battles when Hercules seemed so excited at the chance of another knuckle-bruising with the Hulkster, as well as David’s Incredible Hulk - Hercules Unleashed in which the demigod was suspicious of the green goliath’s connection with the Avengers’ "deaths" and was hellbent on either recruiting or pounding on him. I thought about it though, and in the end I don’t think there’s any discrepancy there. I think it’s absolutely believable to assume that Herc’s passion for fisticuffs overpowered his memory, just as it tends to overpower what little common sense and decorum he possesses.

Over the years Hulk has given us a lot of dreamy sequences in which Banner and Hulk meet to hash things out either literally in dreams or on some kind of hypnosis-induced mental plane. Pak’s "Banner War" is a surprisingly original chapter in this ongoing conflict for one simple reason: Banner ain’t the victim this time around.

In most stories like this, we either see Banner imagining himself in physical conflict with – or simply being chased down by – the Hulk, or – as was the case in David’s first run and Jenkins’s as well – the various personalities rolling around Banner’s head are on a more level playing field. "Banner War" turns the paradigm on its head, portraying Banner as an emotional tyrant trying to belittle the Hulk into submission. Banner is at his most irrational, saying things like, "Let me take over. I’ll find the ship. I’ll fix it. We’ll go to the planet Reed wanted us to go to." Apparently, Banner forgets that there’s an army between him and the spaceship; an army even the Hulk might have a hard time plowing through. It's Banner, and not Hulk, who viciously rips at his alter-ego's insecurities in order to prove he's the dominant persona.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the story is Hulk imagining his vengeance on Earth’s heroes. There’s some great dialogue, including some digs at recent Hulk appearances in books like Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, Sentry, and even, during a dreamed return to Jarella’s World, Pak’s own story ("Look at you living these old stories again…This is embarrassing.").

"Banner War" should prove, for anyone who’s been wondering, that Pak has the chops not only to bring the action back to Incredible Hulk, but give us some new spins on the Banner/Hulk relationship. I’m more convinced than ever that I’d like to see Pak continue after "Planet Hulk" closes its doors.

Considering Hulk, and not Banner, is on the cover of future "Planet Hulk" additions, it shouldn’t be too tough to figure out who wins the conflict. Whether it was coincidence or not, the end of "Banner War" echoes the events of the third piece in Giant-Size Hulk: a reprint of Peter David and Dale Keown’s Incredible Hulk: The End.

"The Last Titan" was originally published as a short story in the 1998 prose collection, The Ultimate Hulk. David and Keown adapted it for comics for the first of Marvel’s "The End" books, and the issue has since become notoriously difficult to find in back-issue bins or auction sites. Incredible Hulk: The End shows us a world in which Bruce Banner is literally the last human on Earth. Humanity and its heroes have been wiped out by a nuclear holocaust, leaving Banner to wander aimlessly across the Americas, with only a ravenous horde of evolved cockroaches and an alien vidbot to keep him company. Keown’s art is beautiful, and comparing it to his early work on Hulk reveals a wonderful evolution in his craft (that, unfortunately, helped to make his last work on the character, Darkness/Hulk, so disappointing).

The war between Banner and Hulk has never been more vicious, and the end result is sad, chilling, and David portrays it so perfectly that you end up asking yourself how it could ever have ended any other way. The story of how the nuclear holocaust takes place - terrorist attacks followed by US retaliation - is particularly eerie when you remember Incredible Hulk: The End was originally released not too long after 9/11. In fact the double-page spread that chronicles the event features a picture of Hulk standing atop a pile of rubble that was altered for Marvel's post-9/11 Heroes collection to show Hulk holding an American flag.

My only problem with the story is Banner’s revelation regarding the connection between himself and the mythic figure Prometheus. The Hulk-Prometheus link is indicative of David’s tireless dedication and ingenuity towards constantly re-defining a character he’d handled for over a decade, but the way it’s presented feels a bit like spoon-feeding and even a little too academic. David has never been sneaky or subtle about his metaphors, and this one is brilliant. I guess that’s the problem. It’s not just brilliant in the sense that it’s smart, but brilliant in the sense that it’s glaring. Still, despite its faults, "The Last Titan" is touching and one of the better Hulk tales of the last half-dozen years or so.

Overall, Giant-Size Hulk #1 is one of the most satisfying Hulk reads I’ve bought in a while. I feel more thoroughly Hulk-satiated with GSH than with any of the recently-released Hulk trades. At $4.99, it’s a steal. It’s honest-to-Zeus weird to feel so optimistic about the future of Hulk that I’m actually worrying about whether or not the creative team can keep up the pace and the quality. Civil War might not be keeping die-hard Spider-Man Peter Parker fans happy, but for now, Marvel’s doing right by Hulk.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Opinion- My problem with the Ultimate Hulk

If you were to construct a list of the most volatile subjects among Hulk fans, the Ultimate line’s re-interpretation of the Hulk would be right up there with Bruce Jones’s run and Joe Casey’s snake. Hulk was first Ultimatized in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #2-#3. The Ultimate Hulk wouldn’t show up again until Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates, with Bruce Banner as second-in-command of the US government’s program to produce a super-hero team. Specifically, Banner’s job was to reproduce the super-soldier formula that created Captain America. Eventually, Captain America was found alive and frozen in a block of ice. With Banner’s job presumably made redundant because of this discovery, Betty Ross separated from him and dating movie stars, Hank Pym in Banner’s former leadership position, and people like Wasp and Tony Stark doing everything they can to antagonize him, Banner finds himself at the end of his rope. He had been cured of the Hulk after his initial transformation in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, but purposely injects himself with a mixture of the old Hulk serum and Captain America’s blood in Ultimates to become the Hulk once more. As it was in the MU proper with the Avengers, the Ultimates’s first action is taken to control the Hulk, and Thor joins the team as a result. The Hulk who rampages through the Ultimate world’s Manhattan ain’t the misunderstood, good-hearted beast many Hulk fans have grown up with. The crimes committed by the Ultimate Hulk include mass murder, cannibalism, and (arguably, considering a scene from the previews of Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk) rape.

The only thing that threatens to make Banner more sympathetic than his alter-ego is that he can’t eat the people who abuse him. He’s thoroughly pissed on by most of the Ultimates even before he tears through Manhattan, but in the end you get the sense that he deserves it. The Ultimate Bruce Banner is insecure, self-involved, insulting, and expresses concern only for himself after his rampages.

I’ve read a lot of debates about this subject on the Net, and the guys who like the Ultimate Hulk tend to say a lot of the same things. A lot of readers feel that this interpretation is a more genuine one. There’s a sense that people feel the more puritanical sensibilities of super-hero comics are what made the Hulk anything close to a hero, and that Millar’s drunken nurse-eater is a more real examination of the dark side of humanity. I think there’s some validity there. Reading the early issues of Hulk, the character seemed like an uncomfortable mix between the old Marvel Monsters and new super-heroes of the time, which may in part explain why the original series only lasted six issues.

Another point the fans of Ultimate Hulk tend to bring up, and rightly so, is that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. Fans who can’t handle the idea of Millar and Co.’s reinterpretation of their favorite character don’t have to handle it. They can completely ignore the Ultimate universe.

I have two problems with these arguments. First, while the Ultimate line’s less strict view of morality doesn’t limit the kind of Hulk stories that can be told, it does limit the kind of stories that can be told with the Hulk as a hero. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think you can sell a mass-murder/rapist/cannibal as a sympathetic comic book protagonist. As soon as the smoke cleared in Manhattan after the Hulk’s rampage, and the artwork went as far as it could to make it look like NYC during the aftermath of 9/11, any hope of the Ultimate Hulk ever being portrayed as anything close to a super-hero was destroyed.

And maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s okay for Ultimate Hulk to be a villain. It doesn’t affect the regular MU Hulk, does it?

Or does it?

And that’s my second problem. Spillage. Whenever we get an alternate interpretation of an established character, and that interpretation is met with the kind of success Ultimates has enjoyed, the Powers That Be tend to bring the originals closer to the alternates. Every time Joe Quesada talks about the possibility of splitting up Peter Parker and Mary Jane, he almost always mentions the success of Ultimate Spider-Man. While I haven’t read Captain America in a while, the original's costume was re-designed after the success of Ultimates to make it look more like the WW II era Cap of Ultimate Marvel. The regular MU Nick Fury has certainly started to borrow the Ultimate Fury's more manipulative aspects. Simply the idea of killing villains is becoming more acceptable in the MU proper, while the morality of it never seems to even be questioned in the Ultimate line. I wouldn't doubt that when Thor returns to the regular MU, he'll be re-worked to resemble the Ultimate version in certain ways.

We're already seeing the debris of the Ultimate Hulk affect the original. With New Avengers: Illuminati, the idea that the Hulk has killed large numbers of people during his rampages was made fact, and helped to inform the decision to exile him to outer space. If the less-than-subtle hints about a post-Civil-War "Hulk vs. Everybody" event sees fruition, it's likely this will be brought up again. I wouldn't doubt we'll see, considering the trend in Marvel and DC towards casual slaughter of super-heroes, Hulk killing a few masks here and there.

I doubt we'll ever see a Hulk in the MU proper who eats people, but I am concerned with what the point of all this is. Judging by Bendis's reactions to Hulk fans' complaints about New Avengers: Illuminati, the only point I can see is that in real life, people would die because of the Hulk's rampages. Okay, maybe, but as Dan Slott pointed out, what super-hero heavyweight wouldn't have a similar death count on his/her conscience? Hell, forget the heavyweights. Spider-Man can lift trucks. How many times has this guy fought non-powered muggers, mafia hoods, would-be rapists, etc.? How could a guy with that much physical power hold back enough to not kill every single non-powered man or woman he's ever struck? We tend to think of Spidey as a lightweight because we've got the heavies like Hulk, Thing, and Thor to compare him to, but I have a tough time believing that, in real life, if I had the physical strength to lift a truck over my head that I could do so much as punch a man in the face without pushing his nose through the back of his skull.

The point being that when you start writing super-heroes in certain ways just because that's what they would be like "in real life," you're starting down a slippery slope. There's nowhere else to go because super-heroes do not, and cannot, exist in real life, which, duh, is probably one of the reasons we like to follow their adventures. Once everything starts revolving around what these impossible characters would be like in a possible world, you whittle away everything that makes super-heroes "super." What you end up with may very well be an intriguing story, but if you're writing ongoing characters set in a broad mythology like the Marvel Universe, then the result is going to be the death of the franchise. You can't just brush off the Hulk becoming a mass murderer. It's one thing to have Wolverine or Punisher carve up hordes of ninjas, it's another to have a household name killing more innocent civilians than Osama Bin Laden or the Hiroshima nuke.

The Hulk has rarely been a bonafide super-hero in the rigid definition of a character who consciously fights for what h/she believes to be justice. He’s fought villains and saved the world, but in many cases he’s done “what’s right” because what was right coincided with his goals of freeing himself from the various villains, heroes, and government agencies who hounded him. It was only during the various periods that Banner won some mental control over the Hulk’s body that he purposely fought villains for purely altruistic reasons. The Hulk’s heroism is much more personal, in that it lies in his determination to never be made prisoner or servant to anyone else.

For better or worse, Millar’s Hulk has been stripped of any chance to be a hero in any sense. He’s more like Hannibal Lecter than the Hulk of the MU proper. He’s less personable and more destructive even than the Mr. Hyde of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and, if it’s possible, more sexually horrific. Unless Marvel decides to put on some Jemas-like continuity blinders to the "revelations" of New Avengers: Illuminati, I worry that the success of Millar's Ultimate Hulk is going to continue pulling the original down the same path.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Review- House of M: The Incredible Hulk

House of M: The Incredible Hulk
By Peter David, Jorge Lucas, and Adam Kubert
Published by Marvel; $13.99 US
Collects The Incredible Hulk #83-#87

When Wanda Maximoff creates a world in which the heroes of the Marvel Universe are given their hearts’ desires, Bruce Banner finds acceptance in the ranks of an Australian aboriginal tribe. His newfound peace is disturbed when the House of Magnus invades the outback in search of the new minority: homo sapiens. The Hulk allies himself with A.I.M. in his conflict against the House, and eventually wages war against both in House of M: The Incredible Hulk.

I didn’t nay-say as much as some when it was announced a slice of Peter David’s second run on Hulk would be devoted to Marvel’s "House of M" event. I’m just as cynical about the big, stupid crossovers as your most jaded fan (or jade juggernaut), but one of David’s strengths during his original run on Hulk was his ability to use the crossovers to his advantage and get great stories out of them. Prime examples include Hulk #384 when a Smurf-sized Hulk, shrunken by Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet #4, managed to dissuade Abomination from stalking his former wife by talking in his ear and telling the villain he was God; and Hulk #363 when he used the battle between Hulk and Grey Gargoyle to poke fun at the concept behind "Acts of Vengeance," while tying up something of a loose thread from the epic Grey Hulk/Pineapple Thing battle from the year before. In fact, while I’ve heard that David was unhappy about Bruce Banner being sucked into the "Heroes Reborn" universe post-Onslaught, I enjoyed most of David’s stories between the dawn of "Heroes Reborn" and the end of "Heroes Return." Also, I figured Hulk’s involvement in HoM might nudge greenie back into the Marvel mainstream, and I had no problem with that. Of course, to be fair, it wasn’t until after that announcement that we found out the Hulk’s foray into the HoM world would mark David’s last issues on the book.

Unfortunately, the best phrase I can find to describe my reaction to the finished product is "lost opportunities." The story gives its main character five issues to join an aboriginal tribe, lead a revolt against an oppressive regime, assume leadership of a continent, turn on the group that helped him seize power, and finally try to recover after Scarlet Witch’s magics fade away. The story’s too big for its pages, and it feels far too rushed. There are some promising concepts in this story that could have been mined further, but there just isn’t time. The result is the only themes that are brought up are ones that we’ve seen before.

The thing that I liked most about the story was the introduction of Banner into the True People Tribe, particularly because the premise of Scarlet Witch giving everyone in the MU their hearts’ desires raises some intriguing questions. The most obvious question is why Banner doesn’t find himself cured of his more violent alter-ego, and why Betty Banner is nowhere to be found. I don’t think this is a fault of the story, far from it. There are answers, but David doesn’t bring them to the foreground. The answer to the first question, I’d imagine, is that Scarlet Witch’s magic doesn’t just give Banner his heart’s desire, but the Hulk gets his dearest wish as well (and it’s unlikely that wish is to be eliminated). The absence of Betty is trickier, though a potential answer is that Banner wouldn’t be happy with Betty around if he’s still Hulk because it would mean she would always be in danger. Regardless, I feel like a lot of great stories could have been made simply out of Hulk's introduction into, and involvement with, the True People Tribe. We saw something like this in David’s first run, in Hulk #454, when a Savage Land tribe made the Hulk its champion. Though, this was when Banner was in the "Heroes Reborn" world, and that tribal Hulk only lasted one issue. With Banner back in the mix this time around, there are some interesting questions to be asked. Why is being a part of the tribe a manifestation of Banner’s dearest wish? Why would the True People allow him into the fold in the first place? Would Bruce find a love interest in the tribe? Post-HoM, if Banner were to find out that this was supposed to represent his deepest desire, would he feel guilty about the absence of Betty? Would he feel guilty about still being the Hulk? There’s a lot to explore with this concept, but David doesn’t go anywhere with it. It’s all but abandoned. Bruce gets some paint thrown on him and apparently learns how to use a boomerang. That’s about it. There’s a suggestion that Bruce has embraced a new kind of belief system, but besides a couple of lines of dialogue (“My satisfaction does not matter. It is what it is.”), we don’t see any of it.

The House of Magnus element doesn’t make up for the loss of this richer concept. It lacks the subtlety in which Bendis framed the mutant-human oppression in House of M, and gives us a more black-and-white picture of the conflict. Exodus, the Governor of Australia, is a one-dimensional super-powered Hitler, and in the end he doesn’t even prove to be a worthy opponent. They really scraped the bottom of the bad-mutie-barrel for this corner of HoM. We get Unus the Untouchable, Pyro, and, God help us, Vanisher. The Hulk has a tougher time with a pack of crocodiles than he does with Unus, and the battle between Hulk and the muties in Sydney is so short, most of it is off-panel. We don’t even know, by the end of it, if Pyro and Vanisher were even involved in the thing. There are some predictable battles between Hulk and a bunch of A.I.M. cyborgs, and a lot of disingenuous non-insight from Hulk’s villain/love interest, Monica Rappaccini.

By the time it’s over, we learn that Hulk and Bruce aren’t as different from each other as they’d like to think, that they like being in charge, and that maybe Hulk’s better off left alone. Not really talking about uncharted territory here.

P.S. For a great battle between Hulk, Unus, and the Blob, check out Marvel Fanfare #7. Great stuff. If you have, or remember, the 80's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the pic in Blob’s entry of the Hulk lifting him out of the ground is from that issue.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Review- Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, Vol. 1

Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, Vol. 1
By Peter David, Todd McFarlane, and John Ridgway
Published by Marvel; $19.99 US
Collects The Incredible Hulk #331-#339

I was not happy with Mr. David. Oh no, I was not happy with him at all.

I was around 10 or 11 when Peter David started his twelve-year run on The Incredible Hulk, and as happy as I was with his dispatch of the ill-conceived Rick-Jones-Hulk in his second issue, well. What can I say? I had just barely nudged myself into pre-adolescence, and it was the freakin’ Hulk. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t care that he was gray or smart or could only lift a large hill rather than a small mountain, but. Well.

In his third issue he fought a cop.

A cop. One cop. As in singular. As in less than 82 cops. As in not the Abomination or the Rhino or Thor or anyone else who could likewise lift large hills or small mountains.

The adversaries that followed included a Kate-Moss-sized gamma zombie, a similarly sized supernatural killer who dressed like a reject from The Crucible, an alien chick, and a kid not much older than I was at the time. He fought three-fifths of the original X-Factor somewhere in there, a scenario that gave me at least some hope of a respectable Hulk-smashing, that is until they kicked his ass.


I would re-read those issues with the same kind of juvenile masochism that might urge me to watch Caddyshack 2, just so I could sit and bitch about how utterly bad they were. During these re-readings, something funny happened. I realized that, in spite of the relative lack of earth-shattering fisticuffs, I liked the stories.

Peter David was the first writer to make me realize that comics could be more than flashy costumes and seizure-inducing battles. In fact, he was the first writer to make me realize that comic books were written. I literally had never before been interested enough in the writing craft of the medium to bother to turn to the title pages to check who had scripted the issues. It just never occurred to me. I was too busy counting the number of pebbles that jumped off Ben Grimm’s head every time my green guy knocked him into orbit.

The first nine issues of David’s run are collected in Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, Vol. 1, and re-reading them now it’s strangely satisfying to note the relatively quiet beginnings of what would later become some of the hallmarks of David’s work on the title.

David’s interpretation of Betty Banner, for example, starkly contrasts her previous portrayals. She’s far from the G.I. Jane who’d follow her husband to different worlds and level uzis at the heads of gods later during David’s tenure, and still little more than an appendage to the Hulk’s paler half, but as soon as the first few pages of the collection, we see a Betty Banner stronger than she'd been in years. If you don’t believe me, go through some of the Milgrom issues (Al Milgrom wrote the title right before David), and you just COUNT how many of Betty’s lines start with "Oh, Bruce!", usually accompanied with tears, a faint, a swoon, or all of the above.

David’s pension for diving headfirst into political hot topics is evident here as well, most notably in his exploration of domestic violence in the third chapter, "Quality of Life" (the aforementioned Hulk vs. only-one-cop issue).

Though -- contrary to popular belief -- it wasn’t David who first introduced the idea that the Hulk’s creation was just as connected to his childhood trauma as it was to radiation, it was David who made the concept an absolutely inseparable part of the character’s evolution. The beginnings of one of David’s most controversial interpretations -- that Banner not only was a victim of radiation, but suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder -- is most blatant in "Native Son," the final chapter of the trade, where he references the abuse Banner suffered during his childhood. Though, really you can see it as soon as the first chapter. As early as the second page of the first story, Banner suggests he should jumpstart his transformation into the gray Hulk in order to go after the (soon to be de-Hulkified) Rick-Jones-Hulk. When Betty tears him a new bunghole for the suggestion, he says, "I’m sorry Betty. Of course. You’re absolutely right. I don’t know what possessed me." Throughout the collection, the notion that Banner is a bit more "Hulk" than he’d like to admit, and vice-versa, is a simple yet powerful extension of the concept heralded at the end of Bill Mantlo’s run (and, to a lesser extent, Roger Stern’s): that Bruce Banner’s connection to the Hulk runs deeper than DNA.

It’s interesting to watch McFarlane try to find his footing in the beginning of his work on the title. In the beginning, Hulk's physical presence is muddy and ill-defined, and the first few issues feature numerous panel-for-panel swipes from John Byrne’s first Hulk run, particularly during battle scenes.

It isn’t until the last few chapters that we see McFarlane settle on the Hulk that defined his tenure on the book - the jutting forehead; elephantine skin; and the dark, unreal mass that often suggested fat more than muscle.

The only penciler featured besides McFarlane is John Ridgway in the classic "The Evil That Men Do!" which survives as perhaps the single scariest Hulk story ever told.

Other highlights include the aforementioned "Quality of Life" and "Native Son," the latter of which ends the trade with a line of dialogue that even today can tear me up just a little bit (and no, I won’t reproduce it here, because you need to read it yourself).

With Peter David and the Powers That Be at Marvel enjoying a relationship that feels more like England/America circa 2006, as opposed to the England/America circa 1776 atmosphere of the Captain Marvel days, and David winning an exclusive contract with Marvel and more A-list assignments like Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, hopefully more fans will get curious enough about his early work on Hulk to keep these volumes coming. As much as I'd love to see it, I have a difficult time believing his entire run could be collected. If we can just get to end of the David/Keown run I'll be happy. At the time of this post, Volumes 2 and 3 have been released and Volume 4 is on its way. According to the Amazon solicitation for Volume 4, it will reprint Hulk #355-#363, leaving over 100 issues to PAD's run, even if they don't reprint any more guest appearances (and Volume 3 reprinted stories from Web of Spider-Man and Fantastic Four). That's at least 11 or 12 volumes to go. Probably more.

Print it, Marvel, and I'll buy it.