Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Indestructible Hulk 7-8, originally released May 29th, 2013.
Ethan: Sometimes, when you’re feeling a little blue, you need a distraction. Something to take your mind off of what’s causing you pain. A kind word from a friend, a spontaneous trip to somewhere new, an experience that shakes you out of the depression. Or a near-death experience accompanied by front-row seats to a couple of big, brawny dudes rolling around in the snow. In Indestructible Hulk 7 and 8, writer Mark Waid and artist Walter Simonson explore all of the above.
Hulk has brought his limitless strength to bear to break one of the reigning principles of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir: no one can lift Thor’s hammer but Thor (except for like ten other people/things that have). Or has he? Turns out Thor was just summoning the hammer back to himself, and Hulk hitched a ride. While Hulk is riding the Mjonir-go-round, the rest of his team is ambushed by Frost Giants. Thor and Hulk return to rescue the team, but in the kerfuffle, one of the Giants nabs Randall (the renewable energies specialist), knocks him out and takes his place on the team using its frosty illusion magic. Good news: the Frost Giants are driven off; bad news: the portal is toast. In Jotunheim, Thor and his merry Midgardians regroup while Melinda and Director Hill work to restore the portal back on Earth (Melinda does the fixing, Hill does the yelling).
Patricia (the biologist) confesses that, because she has a terminal disease, she joined Banner’s team in order to kill herself to get life insurance money for her father. Banner tries to give her hope by drawing her attention to the incredible surprises the Marvel Universe holds – like Thor and his crazy hammer – but Patricia isn’t ready to have that conversation yet. Meanwhile, Daman (the molecular engineer) is pitching an idea to Thor; he can use his electric mojo to grab some of the metal Eiderdürm they came to harvest in the first place from the nearby waterfall. The team starts executing this plan, just in time for Frosty Not-Randall to reveal himself and his fellow giants to attack. No worries though: Thor and Hulk join forces again, this time smashing the entire glacier-like ground beneath their feet, creating a massive new plunge pool at the foot of the Eiderdürm falls and dropping the Giants into the drink. Thor electrifies the liquid with a supermassive lightning bolt, the Frost Giants are collectively SKRA-KOOM’d, and Banner and his team return to Earth.
First, some props for Waid and Simonson. At first, I wasn’t feeling the jaunt into Jotunheim storyline and the flatter, more angular art of this arc, but they’ve won me over. I’m glad Waid is taking the time to flesh out his characters, and, at minimum, I love Simonson’s sonic fetish (this would be a great band name, Walter!). Allow me to demonstrate:
… and, of course, the finale:
I don’t mean to diminish the terrific work Simonson does with these issues; I just find his obsession with sound both completely hilarious and a fun tribute to the Biff-Pow-Bam tradition of days gone by. One of the aspects of the art NOT related to typography that really won me over was the downright joyful depiction of the God of Thunder. Yes, Thor in his more modern depictions always brings that extra bit of booming good cheer to a scene, but in these issues he was a kid in a candy store, shiny silver dollar tightly gripped in hand.
Meanwhile, Waid keeps up the pressure on the story side, taking us back in time for a romp with Thor (before he clashes with Hulk in Manhattan during Hulk’s World War) and developing Banner and Patricia side-by-side while dealing with Patricia’s death-wish. Waid continues to cast Banner as a quirky but natural leader. This whole trip is in part due to his desire to draw out one of his scientists and give her a new perspective. But then, you know, he’s also shoving her into the jaws of death and then spinning vague theories about magic to try to cheer her up, so maybe he needs to go to a few more management seminars after all. I like this look at the inept but compassionate side of Bruce. After seeing him turn into the Jolly Green Giant to lay the Omega-level smack-down on his foes in the previous issues, I’m glad we spend some more time with him trying to solve problems as a small, squidgy human, and only partially succeeding at it. Superheroes get to win every battle until they die, but the rest of us have to paw our way through life with borrowed phrases and good intentions, and Bruce Banner is no exception.
Finally, before I hand things over to Shelby, I have to give her some props for her mad predictive abilities. Go read her post on issue 6 if you don’t know what I mean. I’m one of those people who can always have a good time reading murder mysteries because I NEVER KNOW WHO DID IT until the end; even when the killer talks like Jafar and looks like Charles Manson, I always guess wrong. Even when the butler is holding a bloody knife, I accuse the vicar of doing the deed. My infantile reasoning abilities aside, big kudos to you, Shelby, for totally seeing where this arc was going with Patricia. I admit that I’m a little irked by the way Waid handled this – the one woman on the team turns out to be someone who’s trying to escape from a horrible situation by killing herself? Shenanigans. But clearly you’ve been proved right – what did you think of Patricia’s confession of attempted S.B.H.? What do you think of the other team members?
Shelby: Well, as much as I love taking credit for the work of my colleagues, I’m going to have to pass your delightful kudos on to Drew; he was the one who posited that Patty wanted to kill herself. None of us guessed her noble motivations, though, and I’m glad we didn’t. A woman seeking suicide-by-Hulk? That’s just weird and morbid. A woman looking for a way ’round the suicide clause in her insurance plan because the cost of treating her terminal illness will render her unable to care for her father? That’s the saddest thing ever! It adds a good deal of depth to her character, as well as to Bruce’s character for picking up on it and trying to help her with magic.
Banner’s tolerance of magic is intriguing to me. I mean, he is THE scientist, right? Supposedly he can even give Reed Richards a run for his money, and he brought Patty to another dimension for a miracle. Not to experience a miracle that will cure her and make everything magically better, just to show her that miracles do exist. Sure, she’s got the smartest minds in the world and all the resources she could ever want at her finger tips; there isn’t any where better for her to potentially be cured. But Banner didn’t want to give her any of that. He just wanted to give her some faith. That is a bold position for a man of science to take, and it just makes me like Waid’s work with Banner even more than I already did.
Ethan, I love that you used “merry,” “joyful,” and “cheer” in your lead, because that is exactly what this arc has been imbued with. Waid and Simonson captured that cheesy glee we all love from Golden Age books, but still managed to give us some depth and character development. This last issue just made me happy to read it, and it was largely about a woman with a terminal, degenerative, incurable disease. Speaking of, now that we know Patty’s secret, I am itching to know the secrets of the rest of the team: here I thought the gossip around my office was juicy. Maybe one of the secrets we’ll learn is how Waid manages to make a book light-hearted and fun without sacrificing plot and strong character growth. I know I can’t figure it out.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?