Monday, 12 May 2014

Indestructible Hulk, Volume 3: SMASH Time Review (Mark Waid, Matteo Scalera)

Get out the headache medicine, it’s another Marvel time travel story!

That’s right, as if Marvel didn’t have enough time-travel crap going on after the Age of Ultron arc, where Wolverine “tore” time, and All-New X-Men, which stars the X-Men of the past interacting with the X-Men of the present, Hulk’s getting in on the action too! Some Chronarchists (time terrorists who look like Darkseid cosplayers) and Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, are futzing with time to make it so that they’re supreme rulers in the future… or something. Because, like all time-travel stories, the second you start looking too closely at it, it unravels and makes zero sense!

Thankfully Mark Waid doesn’t dwell too much on the details and has fun sending Hulk and Banner – whose consciousness is in a ROB unit accompanying Hulk – through time as Hulk battles dinosaurs in the wild west, superheroes in the days of King Arthur, and even travels to the day of his own origin. But what will happen if Hulk is caught in the gamma blast that transformed puny Banner into a monster?

If you’re thinking that the subtitle – S.M.A.S.H. Time - has something to do with Hulk’s TV show, think again, it’s just Hulk! If you’re thinking at all, you’d do well to stop – trying to make sense of yet another idiotic time-travel story just gives you a headache (like it did me!).

Waid’s story has some good moments like Banner’s constant teasing of Hulk to keep him big, green and angry otherwise the timestream will destroy him (Banner and Hulk’s chemistry remains entertaining after all these years), and Matteo Scalera’s art is well suited to the out-there sci-fi story elements (check out his great work on the Image series, Black Science) though his characters’ mouths continue to look really strange and warped.

Ultimately though it’s another forgettable time-travel story that flies by at a pace designed to ensure the reader isn’t questioning the weird, constantly shifting timeline or noticing that Zarrko’s bizarre plan couldn’t possibly work . The frenetic storytelling, constantly shifting scenery, and threadbare plot didn’t really engage me either, it was just a lot of noise and shouting that made little impression. Was Betty really going to be erased from history? Was Hulk? Please.

SMASH Time has its moments – Hulk going super-saiyan was great! – and it’s tough to make a half-decent Hulk book, let alone an awesome one, but I think Marvel need to lay off the time-travel rubbish for a while, it’s gotten really old now.

Indestructible Hulk Volume 3: S.M.A.S.H. Time

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