And, NOW!: The Indestructible Hulk

And, NOW! is a series of posts about Marvel NOW!

The Hulk is probably one of Marvel's more confusing characters right now, certainly much more than any of his teammates from the Avengers movie, all of whom have had relatively stable comics versions for some time. There are the colored Hulks, for one, and Banner and Hulk were separated for a while and didn't he spend some time off of the planet, or something? All of that should be set to change, though, with Marvel's best under-the-radar writer teaming with one of its favorite artists to handle a character who seemed to get a particularly favorable response from audiences last summer.

Look: Mark Waid's main idea for Indestructible Hulk is fabulous. We've got Banner and Hulk together again, which is great, and we've got a Banner with a real personality and a certain amount of ambition, which is nice to see. The good Dr. is intent on using his time as himself to save the world, and he's decided that he's going to manipulate his greener half for destruction that's both necessary and controlled. I love that Waid has, finally, written a Banner who is  comfortable in both who he it is that he is and in what it is that he can become. I love that, finally, we get a Banner who understands that he is, as he tells Maria Hill, incurable.

Given all of this, Indestructible Hulk should be a great comic. But its not. This is Lenil Yu's fault. I know a lot of people like Yu, but I'm not sure why; to my eyes, his work looks sketchy, half-finished, like he just kind of churned it out. Many of the panels use a grey or green gradient as the background which, as a time saving idea, isn't so bad, except that the lack of any distraction behind Yu's figures mean that there's nothing to distract from the fact that his figures are stiff and over dark. When something does happen in them, it doesn't really make sense; this issue's second half is devoted to an utterly incomprehensible fight scene, six or so pages that don't come together coherently and which do their best to suggest that, imagine this, fighting is chaotic, without giving any actual idea of who's winning or what's going on.

Even when less complicated movement is required, Yu is apparently unable to suggest sensical spacial relations. Take, for example, the panels to the right, which are essentially the crux of the book. Banner, having pitched his services to Maria Hill, asks "What it'll be?" and both of them are turned towards the  storefronts in the background. In the next panel, though, things fall apart: as the Dr. asks "In or out?," he appears to be turning away from Director Hill, apparently so that we can get a good understanding of her answer. I think we're supposed to assume that she picks up the two-by-four from the boarded up storefront so, leaving the problem of how she grabbed it so fast aside, why is Banner all of the sudden facing away? That doesn't make any sense either physically or emotionally-- isn't this a moment when he should be looking her right in the eye, particularly since he's just barged in a top secret S.H.I.E.L.D mission? Even if he was bashful about this proposal-- which he obviously is not-- why would he put his back to her rather than simply turning his head to the side? Why would he turn all the way around and then finish his question? Just so Hill could hit him? This is not a panel that makes very much sense. It's too bad, too, since this moment could be the book's emotional center rather than simply the point at which the plot turns.

And, holy hell, that isn't even the worst sequence in the comic! No, no, that particular honor goes to this marvelous disaster:

I just want to be clear about this: I love panel interaction. Panels that don't interact are the sign of a staid, traditional cartooning style that forces a reader to completely close the space between panels himself. Those artists who make their panels talk to each other, that is, those artists who suggest a way of reading to the reader are often much more interesting and their work is often a lot better for it. This here, though, is a heavy mess. First of all, how do you bump a sitting person in the middle of their back as you walk by? You'd have to be walking sideways to manage it, particularly if you're walking across their body and not towards it. That unlikely movement is insignificant, though, compared to what that guy's hand is doing: is he patting Maria Hill on the head? It certainly looks like he is, doesn't it? Is there anyone, in the whole of the Marvel Universe, who could get away with that? What makes this guy so special? To make the whole thing even sillier, the panel on the left is a medium shot while the panel on the right is a close up of Hill, so a guy who has a bicep as big as Banner's face appears to have tiny, tiny hands and S.H.I.E.L.D's director apparently has a big, big head. I don't even know what to make of it-- how do sequences like this ever get published? Is anybody actually looking at these comics before they go out?

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