by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr.
Release Date: May 21st 2008
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Ultimates Volume 1 / Volume 2 – The Ultimates 2 Volume 1 / Volume 2
Ah, World War Hulk. Like other Marvel comics/graphic novels/events from this time, this one feels very much rooted in that post-9/11 world, where everything took on a ‘darker’ and ‘grittier’ tone. It feels like the more I read of these now legendary comics, the more it becomes apparent the writers were taking a more cynical approach to superheroes. This feels much like the same heroes – or heroes cut from the same cloth anyway – as The Ultimates, where most (if not everyone) are morally grey, using safety and protection and ‘intellect’ to make decisions that affect the whole planet.
Here, the decisions are made by the ‘intelligent’ heroes of Marvel, the men the others look up to – Tony Stark, Black Bolt, Reed Richards and Dr Strange. They make the decision to send Hulk into space, seeing it as the only way to keep the world safe. Although they intend to send him to a quiet planet with no intelligent life, he instead lands on the planet Sakaar, where he finds peace, love, and starts a family. However, the ship explodes, killing his family, and Hulk seeks revenge against those he holds responsible.
The more I read of Marvel from this time, the more I feel their portrayal of a billionaire who flies around in a metal suit is a bit more accurate than the MCU. Tony is an arsehole, and not the kind of “yeah but he’s loveable” arsehole from the films, more a “everyone should do what I say because I know best” kind of guy. The MCU definitely softened these characters; here, many of the heroes actively work against Hulk. There are some who don’t, and who feel what happened to him was unjustified, but Hulk is out for revenge. It’s a sympathetic portrayal of him, and one where he is more than a mindless smashing machine, but intelligent, strategic, and with emotional depth. Strange tries to reach Bruce, at least, but the others, well, it’s not that what happens to them is justified, but you can definitely feel for Hulk and understand why he’s doing what he’s doing.
This also feels like an opportunity to see Hulk fully unleash against some of the strongest Marvel characters, which is kind of fun, if a little brutal.
Along with the main story, there’s a few “What if” comics at the back, and these one-shots were really enjoyable. They give some different scenarios and show how things could have played out if something was changed very slightly, and I really liked that.
I definitely enjoyed this one, and I love the fact I got to read it. It’s a recommendation from me for sure.