Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Indestructible Hulk 10, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Shelby: It’s really easy to look back at a situation after the fact, and see the obvious solution to the problem, what with hindsight being 20/20 and all that. I know it sounds like I’m making some sort of mean joke, talking about vision in an issue of Indestructible Hulk that features Matt Murdoch, aka Daredevil, the blindest lawyer/masked vigilante around, but stick with me. For Bruce Banner, great big chunks of his life are lived with only hindsight to guide him. When he turns into the Hulk, he loses his control; all he can do is look back when it’s all over and try to assess what happened, maybe even learn something useful about the Hulk for next time. Banner moves forward as himself by constantly looking back to when he was the Hulk. It’s not ideal, but I guess hindsight is better than no sight, am I right Matt? Ok, one mean joke…
Things are not going super great for our heroes Hulk and Daredevil. After rescuing DD from both a falling building and an oncoming train (not to mention getting hit with a weapon that “rewrites molecules at the subatomic level), Hulk is feeling a bit smashy. After Matt tells him he can smash the man with the gun, Hulk adorably declares that the “devil man is Hulk’s friend,” and the two are off to stop Zemo. They smash their way into the villain’s lair/armory; Zemo escapes through a portal, but not before blinding Hulk. Turns out, a blind, panicking Hulk is exponentially worse than normal Hulk, and Matt has to use the sonic gun to try to get Hulk away from the rest of the weapons and civilians. Between the extra-enraged Hulk, supersonic weapon, and a double-decker bus full of tourists, he’s got more than enough on his plate when he’s finally cornered by the Hulk. He roars in anger, and raises his fists high in the air…to hold up the building about to fall on his friend, the devil man.
Mark Waid continues to impress me with the development of the two lead characters in this title. Until now, I’ve mostly been impressed with Bruce Banner. I love that, instead of moping around about being the Hulk, Waid’s Banner has taken as much control of his life as he can. He’s got agency, he’s got purpose, he’s got motivation. This approach to Banner has colored my experience of Hulk as well; seeing the Hulk act through the filter of Banner’s motives has influenced the character to a degree. I say to a degree because there’s really only so much you can do with Hulk, right? He’s rage embodied in physical form, a smashing machine whose power and strength we’ve determined is incalculable. While he’s become more nuanced in Waid’s hands, I wasn’t expecting anything more from our greenest, angriest hero. His interactions with Daredevil, though, have shown that Waid has a lot more for us with both Banner AND Hulk, that while Hulk may be base and primal, he’s also fiercely loyal.
The Hulk Smash Fake-Out was absolutely my favorite part of the issue. I’ll admit it, Waid got me; I thought there was a very real chance Hulk had just smashed Daredevil. He wouldn’t have been to blame for doing so, either; he had been blinded, and Matt was shooting him with a weapon even Hulk finds painful. The same weapon that, a few pages earlier, Matt told Hulk he could smash the person who was shooting it. There’s no way Hulk would be able to comprehend the complexity of the situation; at his best, he’s a dangerous animal, and now he’s a wounded dangerous animal. Artist Matteo Scalera perfectly illustrates the moment. That single black panel give just enough pause in the story to make you sit up and wonder what just happened. It was Waid’s build-up that made me wonder if Hulk was capable of smashing Daredevil, but it was that one panel that made me believe for a second that maybe he had done so.
I mentioned in the intro that Banner is dealing with the Hulk through the lens of hindsight, but he’s also using an incredible amount of foresight in his dealings with S.H.I.E.L.D. If he doesn’t check in with Matt on schedule, it’s up to Matt to act not as Daredevil, but as his lawyer, delivering to the public a deposition that would make S.H.I.E.L.D. very unhappy. Banner has a lot of balls to keep in the air right now: his personal duty to make the world a better place, his leverage over S.H.I.E.L.D., the Hulk in general. I’m surprised he manages to keep his cool as much as he does. What about you, Patrick? Has the Hulk smashed his way into your heart like he has mine? Do you not-so-secretly want a permanent Hulk/Daredevil team-up book, too?Patrick: Oh, Waid has such a masterful handle on Matt Murdock that I feel like every book he writes from here on out should have a perpetual Daredevil cameo in it. Shelbs, if I recall correctly, you’re not reading Daredevil so some of the joy you’re experiencing in this team up must come as a surprise. As a fan of Daredevil, these last two issues have been like some kind of magical dream, wherein the strengths of Indestructible Hulk were magnified and its weaknesses minimized. You talk a lot about the agency of Banner, and indeed he shapes this narrative by presenting the whole story as a sort of debriefing session for himself. But I’m much more interested in the character of the Hulk that’s emerging. “Devil man is Hulk’s friend” may be the cutest thing I’ve read all year. There’s so much talk of Hulk as this weapon that S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to wield, but the weird truth of the matter is that the creature has its own feelings. Think about that for a second.
There are a bunch of examples of Hulk taking on the role of Daredevil’s protectorate in this issue. Even if he’s also attacking Devil Man from time to time, the Green Guy shows more affection than he does rage. Some of this comes across in the writing, but Scalera makes the point more explicit through his art. In fact, the issue is basically bookended with heroic images of Hulk saving Murdock’s life.
I don’t know if I get this impression because the story is set in New York City, or if it’s because Hulk is driven to smashing from an annoying sound, but I’m reminded of King Kong throughout this issue. And that’s actually a pretty good template for “sensitive monster that could squish your body into jelly.” (Also, that sorta makes Matt Murdock Ann Darrow, and that’s hilarious – they’re bros!) Colorist Val Staples knows just how to milk these heroic drawings for all they’re worth – check out how cool the lighting from the train is in that first panel. There’s no separately credited inker for this issue, but Scalera casts so much of his actors in heavy shadows; it’s dramatic as hell.
Hey, we don’t ever really talk about the fact that it’s sorta horrifying that Hulk just kills people, right? There’a a point in this issue where some dumbass Hydra goon — instead of running for his fucking life like everyone else — attacks an already extra-enraged Hulk. Hulk retaliates and the dude is VAPORIZED. I was taken aback for a second: straight-up killing someone would be a huge deal for the rest of the core avengers (possible exception for Wolverine). I know, I know, he can’t control what Hulk does, but usually the destruction is limited to incalculable property damage. Waid doesn’t dwell on it (and by extension, neither does Banner in his notes), so it must be something that they have made peace with – but it still felt a little strange to me. I’ll appeal to the comments: am I being naive? Is Hulk really just killing hundreds of people off panel through collateral damage all the time anyway and I should just let it go?
Looking ahead – it looks like Hulk’s going to be traveling back in time… again… Remember, that Thor story happened in the past, too. Maybe this means we have to take a break from the cameos for a while, and just let the Banner Team speak for itself. That’d be a nice change of pace – they haven’t been all that active since their introduction like six months ago. Plus, we may finally have enough fun, usable information about who this version of Hulk is that we don’t always need him paired up with superheroic types that can go toe-to-giant-green-toe with him.
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?