Artist: Walter Simonson
This has been an amazing series, and easily one of the better Marvel NOW! series. The way Mark Waid has brought Hulk back to being a brilliant character, in a fantastic series has been amazing, and although it's not always been perfect, and in my opinion is still to hit it's peak, it's still been phenomenal, and I for one can't get enough of it.
Hulk, who somehow managed to lift Mjolnir fight Frost Giants, but Thor won't let Hulk have all the fun.
This was an amazing issue, and this stories finally became the Hulk/Thor teaming that I'd hoped for. Don't get me wrong, last issue was amazing, and set this one up nicely, but it just took a little too much time setting things up, but it was well worth it, as all that set-up pays of in this issue. I've always loved Mark Waid as a writer, but since he started Daredevil a couple of years ago I have really became a big fan of his work, and have also loved it on this series, and the new The Green Hornet series, and although this series hasn't quite became the level of Daredevil yet, I'm sure it won't be long, and wouldn't be surprised if it surpassed it. Anyway, Waid continued to show his brilliant work in this issue, and it may very well be my favourite issue in the series so far. It was very fun, and exciting, and the pacing was brilliant. Having become a fan of Thor after J. Michael Straczynski's run on the character I'm not quite as used to the older, more dramatical Thor, and although this was a nice touch, I personally still couldn't quite love it. I did however find it humorous at times, and the entire Thor/Hulk interaction was amazing, and truly something wonderful. I also loved how Waid was able to add some emotion into this issue, as although it had Hulk in it for the most (opposed to last issue which had Banner for most of it), it still found time to put in some interesting, and more serious notes, which didn't only add depth to the issue, but has me even more interested in the development.
Like last issue I still wasn't 100% sure on what I thought of the art in this issue, but I can say that I much preferred Walter Simonson's art this time round than last issue. Now to be honest there wasn't a lot of difference (naturally), and it could just be that I've gotten used to his art, but it just felt much better this time. Now I still haven't been won over as a fan of his art, as I've never actually really liked it, but the way he drew Hulk, as well as the action in this issue was brilliant, and to be honest there wasn't a great deal I could truly complain about. In saying that there was one thing in particular that slightly bugged me, and that was when Thor asked Hulk his name, Hulk replied, "HULK SMASH!," and had a smile whilst saying it. Now I know that Hulk can get happy when SMASHING, but I've always thought of it as a more sinister smile, whereas in Simonson's art it looked awful cheesy, as if they were playing around, which just didn't look right. The layout of the art was also brilliant, as everything looked so dramatic, and retro, giving the perfect mood for the story, and I especially loved the panel with Hulk, and Thor squared up to each other, as it looked both dramatic, and entertaining, as Thor had that stupid grin on his face (which suits Thor). I also thought that Simonson once again did a brilliant job of the facial expressions, as although there wasn't quite as much this time, it showed the character's emotions perfectly.
Last issue ended with Hulk lifting Mjolnir. Now although I'm a big Hulk fan I wasn't 100% happy about this, as although it was an interesting way to end the issue, I just couldn't think of a decent explanation to why Hulk would be able to lift Mjolnir. Waid however thought the perfect explanation that made me happy as both a Hulk fan, and as a Thor fan, and although I won't actually spoil it I will say how simple, but genius it was. Besides that seeing Hulk wield Mjolnir was also awesome, as although the Thor fan in me questioned Hulk's worthiness, the Hulk fan, and overall action fan that I am couldn't be more happy to see HULK SMASH! with the thunder hammer, and overall this was perfect, and I'm glad it happened.
Another thing I loved about this issue was that Hulk, and Thor got to work together. Now to be honest I wouldn't be too fused if we got to see either them work together, or rip each other apart, but I'd have still preferred the working together more. That doesn't really matter, as we got both, but to see Hulk, and Thor SMASH Frost Giants was brilliant, and the retro tone that came with this was also amazing, and although I wasn't overall sure about the retro tone in the last issue, it's been the thing I've loved most about this story line.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILER AHEAD!
Now in my review for the last issue I stated that the Jotunheim that featured in this story was from either a parallel universe, or time, and although that wasn't too hard to work out I was proven right, as it was revealed that Banner, and his assistants had travelled in time. Now this seems to be the time for time travel in Marvel, as we have it happening in Age of Ultron, and Fantastic Four, but I have to say this has to be the best time travel story out of these. Now although the time travel in Fantastic Four may be more exciting, and fun, the reason I prefer this time travel, is that it's subtle, and although the retro Thor isn't subtle, it's still in a way that has you questioning whether it's time travel until it's actually revealed, which I loved.
Now Waid didn't forget about Maria Hill, and Banner's final assistant, Melinda Leucenstern, who was left behind to watch the portal door, as he had stuff for them to do. Now I won't go into details as to avoid spoilers, but the way he involved both character's was brilliant, and very exciting, and dramatic. The interaction between the two character's was also interesting, as you could easily see the type of characteristics that each character has, and this added so much more drama to this sequence, and without it there's every chance that it could have been very dull, and boring.
This was a phenomenal issue, and probably the best in the series so far. It's the perfect cross between Hulk, and Thor, and exactly they type of story I was hoping from this. The retro feel also really helps the story, making it much more unique, as although I wasn't 100% fond of it to start with, it's really grown on me, and the story wouldn't be the same without it. The action throughout was epic, as expected, and this was overall truly a wonderful issue, and I'd highly recommend both it, and the entire series, as Waid's done a tremendous job.