Review: Hulk Gray

Published on June 28th, 2011

Is there anything better than a Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale team-up? Probably, but you might have trouble naming fifty things that are better than a Loeb/Sale collaboration. One of my all time favorite stories from them is a 6-issue miniseries called Hulk Gray. The hardcover of this trade has been available for quite a while, but just recently became available as a paperback again, so I thought it might be appropriate to be the feature for this week’s Trade Tuesday.

hulkgrayFirst off, I love the way this story is told. It actually takes place after Betty Ross died (but before she came back to life) and starts with Bruce Banner visiting his friend, Dr. Leonard Samson in the middle of the night to talk. So, the whole story is Bruce re-telling the events of the first time he became the Hulk.

I actually think this might be the best story that Loeb ever wrote. Yes, even better than the original Teen Wolf. I think the character of the Hulk is captured absolutely flawlessly in this book and it really has you feeling for every character involved. Reading this really gets you to understand why Bruce hates the Hulk and General Ross so much. While at the same time, the book explores how Bruce has taken the blame for everything that has happened over the years and he’s just consumed with grief and guilt. I also really like how Loeb approaches the Bruce Banner/Hulk personalities. Depending on the writer, it’s sometimes difficult to understand if the Hulk is a separate entity from Bruce or if they’re the same person. In this book Bruce is able to remember a lot of what the Hulk does, but he explains that he has no control. What really ties them together is a shared love of Betty Ross.

Betty Ross is pretty interesting in this book as well. While reading it, you think she’s just this stereotype of what women were supposed to be. The entire time, she’s being told by her father what to do and at one point he gives her some pills to keep her under control. Then towards the end of the book, she is the only person who can actually figure out how to control the Hulk. I love the facial expressions that Sale draws for her. There are times when she looks scared out of her mind, but then in the next panel he draws her again and he barely does anything different, but it becomes a completely different emotion.

I really think that the Hulk is the perfect character for Sale to draw. The Hulk is just such a massive character and that large face gives Sale an opportunity to do so much. There’s a scene where the Hulk is petting a bunny and he just has this goofy grin on his face, it’s the most adorable page I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Then Hulk accidentally kills the bunny and he immediately goes into a rage and the feeling of the book changes so dramatically.

Everything with this book is amazing. The story, the pencils, the colors, everything adds to this book. They even found a way to work the original golden Iron Man into this story. If you’re a fan of the Hulk or old monster movies, this is a comic for you. The sketches and notes from Loeb and Sale at the end of this book alone makes it worth the fifteen bucks Amazon is charging for it.

Ken Zeider