Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Savage Hulk #1 - Marvel Comics

SAVAGE HULK No. 1, August 2014
There aren’t many combined writer/artists whose work will immediately entice me to blindly purchase a comic book. As my collection of “Kamandi” attests, Jack “King” Kirby is one, and “Alpha Flight” creator John Byrne is another. Alan Davis is actually a third, which caused me to snatch up this particular (first) issue of “Savage Hulk” without a moment’s pause. And why not when the Englishman has drawn a cracking cover depicting a rampaging Hulk scattering various members of the original “X-Men”. Indeed Davis’ illustration really captures that classic late Sixties “Marvel Comics Group” era depicting the green-skinned alter ego of Bruce Banner in his infamous torn purple trousers.

This is no surprise however as the writer has taken the somewhat unusual step of this making this edition a direct follow-on to the March 1970 “X-Men” story “The Mutants and the Monster”. As a result, the storyline to “The Man Within” takes up where the last issue of “X-Men” finished before the mutant super-hero group’s comic book became just a reprint title. On the face of it this probably seemed a good decision, hopefully tapping into a generation of readers who long to hark back to the simpler days of when Stan Lee was the publishing company's Editor-in-Chief. However the exploits of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman and the other X-Men were clearly cancelled at this point in their adventures for a reason and Davis’ attempt to continue their 'journey' struggles as a result.

In fact little of actual interest takes place within this comic, besides the Hulk destroying a missile launcher with a large boulder, until the issue’s very last page when the Abomination literally leaps into the proceedings. Up until this point however, all that happens is Professor Xavier provides the reader with some amazingly convoluted scientific explanations as to how he’ll be able to cure Doctor Banner of his gamma curse using a mental exhaustion device.

What this comic book does provide however is some superb drawings of the incredible Hulk by Alan Davis, as the monster battles a swarm of dual thrust supersonic rockets. The artist captures all the action in a series of panels which are superbly inked by Mark Farmer and coloured by Matt Hollingsworth. There’s also some of the best sketches of the Hulk coming to rest and returning to his human form that I have ever seen. The peaceful, almost childlike expression on the monster’s face as he stares at a breath-taking ‘photorealistic’ rendering of the night sky is simply stunning. It is therefore a pity that later, when Davis pencils the start of the reverse transformation process, that his drawing of Doctor Banner physically becoming the Hulk is disappointingly poor and greatly at odds with the quality of his work throughout the rest of the book.
The variant cover art of "SAVAGE HULK" No. 1 by Alex Ross

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