It's clear Hulk is outclassed by this new version of his longtime foe, the Abomination, but when his friends are in danger, you can bet the titan will rise to the occasion to take on any obstacle. Mark Waid hit us with an exciting cliffhanger in the last issue and I'm happy to report it's given a fairly awesome follow-up. Mark Bagley (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), and Jason Keith (colors) create a splash page that's sure to make most Hulk fans cheer -- I know I sure did. It's a great compliment to the last issue's final page, and the rest of the madness and destruction is where this visual team really shines. They do a proper job letting us know how vicious and chaotic a fight between these characters should be. The panels are never laid out in a creative way, but the fight never feels static and flows well from hit to hit. It's impactful and downright brutal in a few moments. Truthfully, there's some panels which feel a little rushed compared to the rest (mostly when there's several characters involved in a mid-shot), but the visuals are consistent for the most part and I'm an especially big fan of how the hero in San Francisco is brought to life.
It's a shame this is Waid's final issue, but he leaves us with a cliffhanger that's loaded with potential and will set the narrative in a whole new direction. It may not make your jaw smack the floor or leave you speechless, but it's a development that should most definitely have you speculating what'll come next. It's a bummer he won't be around to see it through, but Gerry Duggan's a talented writer and it's my understanding the two discussed the upcoming story.
Not a negative or positive but worth noting: just like with the last issue, the cover does not represent what occurs in this issue. So, if you're picking this up just because you think the Green Goliath will battle the Avengers, I feel obligated to let you know that doesn't happen. But hey, at least it's a pretty exciting cover, right?
There's been a fair amount of build-up with this plot and this seems like a pretty abrupt resolution. It almost feels like the dilemma with Abomination is swiftly resolved in order to move on to the twist for the next big plot. While I'm obviously excited to see what happens next, this gave us no real sense of closure with the villain's side of things or even boosted our interest in his role.
Personal gripe: I know this new Abomination is a powerhouse, but part of me really wanted to see Hulk step up a little more instead of just seeing more of him getting absolutely demolished. Sure, he gets two hits in, but then it's back to the status quo of him getting smacked around. After seeing him beaten over and over, watching him take the edge a little longer would have been a great dose of fan service.
Very Minor gripes: Considering there's a pretty detailed recap page, it's a little disappointing the very first page feels like it's there just for new readers. Considering I've been reading Waid's Hulk since the first issue of INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK, this felt redundant and I'm a little surprised they couldn't just added this part in the recap page. Also, as someone who's very behind with the current volume of IRON MAN, it was a little jarring as we jumped to Tony's world and supporting cast.
Waid leaves Hulk's world on a note that's both exciting and intriguing. The brawl is swift yet riveting and the second half of the book opens the door to unlimited possibilities. Basically, this issue's a double-edged sword. It's a shame Waid's saying goodbye to Banner, but he's leaving on a note that's fun and paves a new and legitimately attention-grabbing path for the title. Thanks for the good times, Waid. Duggan, you're up!