Thursday, 5 March 2015

Hulk #391/X-Factor #76/Hulk #392: What's Green and Clever?

There are several types of comics crossovers, and Incredible Hulk crossing into X-Factor here is a Type C: books written by same person.  Peter David isn't much one for Type A or B crossovers, it appears, but he'll do a Type C every so often.  In Incredible Hulk, well, when was the last time we checked in on that?  A shocking 20 years ago.  A lot has changed in Hulk since then, by any normal standards, but this is an X-Men review blog, and Hulk here now being the "Doc", who combines Bruce's personality and intelligence with Hulk's physicality, is nothing.  In case we've missed it, this is all happily exposited to us (and X-Factor) by Zack Galvin and Val Cooper.

Hulk and X-Factor clash on opposing sides in a civil conflict in Trans-Sabal, a morally dubious US ally, with Hulk on the side of the rebel Pantheon and X-Factor being brought in by the American government.  This a great premise for an X-Men story, but there hadn't been an opportunity to do it between the end of that early situation in the first few issues, where it seemed the X-Men were working for the government, and thr establishment of Val Cooper's X-Factor team.

Incredible Hulk 391 builds towards and ends with a confrontation between Havok and Hulk, which ends badly for both parties.  While this is ostensibly a three part story with the X-Factor issue forming the middle chapter, neither Havok nor Hulk appear, them having been blown clean away.  Instead, this middle chapter has more general team vs team fight, and a strand where Wolfsbane is captured by brother-and-sister supporters of Farnoq Dahn.  This can be omitted if you are just reading Hulk, but probably suffers when read in isolation.  Hulk 392 dispenses with any pretence at moral ambiguity, and avoids the need for X-Factor to turn against the government by having Dahn become a moustache-twirling villain who has literally strapped children to missiles and drugged American advisors into compliance.

He's also strapped Havok to a missile, planning to use his explosive force, which I take with some level of humour, reading this issue in the same day of the Pope's supposed claims that trans people (my default metaphor for the x-men, obviously) are as contrary to the natural order of things as nuclear weapons.  Would you believe it, he gets foiled?   This would be better if it had the guts to be as incendiary as that missile, but it's going in the right direction.

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