Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
This has been one of the series I have enjoyed the most in Marvel NOW!, and as I've been saying for a while now, a vast improvement on the previous Incredible Hulk series by Jason Aaron.
Hulk is still trapped at the bottom of the ocean floor, but is rescued a rebel named Mara, and with their help Banner produces a plan to attack Attuma.
Like last issue this wasn't my favourite issue in the series, but it was still good, and much better than anything from the previous series. Mark Waid has done a brilliant job on this series, and I'm glad that Hulk is in good hands. I also like that Waid has ton's of brilliant unique idea's for both Hulk, and Banner, and although I didn't think he used this Atlantis based idea to it's full potential, I was still happy to see that he was making the effort to give something unique, whilst at the same time driving the series onward's, building up possible future events. Although I felt the overall story could have been better, I can't fault the rest of the writing, and Waid did a brilliant job with the dialogue, giving us a very fun, interesting issue, with some humorous dialogue, and some Hulk SMASHING! action.
The art from Leinil Francis Yu was once again brilliant, and I've really enjoyed seeing his art on this series, and it won't be quite the same now that he's leaving, although I hope he can return at a later date. His art is full of detail, and everything looks phenomenal, with very few imperfections. I've especially liked the way he's drew Hulk over the series, as he's made him look the big giant rage monster that he is, and he's made Hulk look very intimidating, something that some of the previous Hulk artists haven't managed to do. Don't get me wrong he draws all the characters brilliantly, and I also loved how he drew Attuma and Mara in this issue, but they're nothing compared to the way he draws Hulk. I also love the emotion he puts into the character's, as you can really see what they're feeling, and it adds a lot more drama to the issue at the same time. The cover was also brilliant, and I loved that he showed Hulk looking defeated with Attuma over the top, as that was the sense we got at the end of the last issue.
There was a new character introduced in this issue, and her name was Mara. I found Mara a very interesting character, with many of them being similar to what Banner himself thought of her. The most interesting thing about Mara was that she was more interested in Hulk, than she was of Banner, wanting the green guy too return, which I found interesting as most people dislike Hulk, but can tolerate Banner, especially when it comes to women. It was also interesting that despite the fact she was betrothed to Canor, she still wanted the big green guy. Banner's reaction to this woman was also very interesting, and I liked the way Waid wrote this sequence, feeling that it was perfect.
Another thing that I've liked throughout this series is that Waid focuses on Banner just as much as he focuses on Hulk, and showing Hulk SMASH! Although it's Hulk SMASHING! that I like seeing in the Hulk series', I have found that Banner has been left out of the story too often, or handled badly. I understand that sometimes there has been a good reason for this, like during Greg Pak's run he had Hulk the centre of attention in Planet Hulk, and World War Hulk, with Hulk seeing Banner as much of an enemy than he did of Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Bolt. Also in Pak's later run the series was renamed, Incredible Hulks, so it wouldn't be right to focus too much on Banner. This however was the best Waid has written Banner so far, and although I've enjoyed his writing of the character as a whole it wasn't as good as this time. I liked that Banner was able to use his big brain to prepare Hulk for the proper attack, and that he was able to be a big part in saving the day, just as much as Hulk was.
The thing that I have had mixed feelings on during this two part story has been Attuma. I really liked that he's made an appearance in this series, and I also think that Waid has written hims very well character wise, but at the same time I don't think he was used as much as he should have, and wasn't used in the story properly. I also felt that the entire Atlantis concept could have been used better, but I already said that earlier.
The fight between Hulk and Attuman however was entertaining, and I loved seeing the two square off. The only thing that could have made this fight better would have been a better set-up, as although I liked that the story focused on Banner, it didn't give as much time to set-up the fight. Although the fight was short it was still very good, and overall there wasn't much that I disliked about it. The only real problem besides the set-up that I had was the ending, as it was a bit too sudden, and deflated all the excitement that I felt throughout, but besides that it was good.
I'll finish by stating that this was a brilliant first story arc from Waid, and he's got a really good grip on this series, and I expect him to produce marvellous stories. I'm also really looking forward to the next three part story featuring Thor, and although I'm not the biggest fan of Walter Simonson's art from the preview it looks like he's made a terrific effort, and even if he hadn't it has Thor.
Although not the best issue in the series, this was still a very good issue, and much better than anything from the previous series. It was a brilliant end to the Attuma story, and although I feel the story could have been handled better as a whole, it was still very interesting, and at times also very entertaining. I also liked that Waid has had this issue focus more on Banner, and although that took away from the action, it made the issue more interesting. I would easily recommend this issue, and the entire series, as it's the best the Hulk's been since Greg Pak finished his series.