Hulk: Gray Review By Deffinition
Hulk: Gray sees the recollaberation of my favourite creative team in comic books: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Over the years I think the team have created outstanding work and it’s rare they release a dud. Batman: The Long Halloween is my favourite graphic novel of all time so naturally I was excited to read another piece by the duo. That’s where Hulk: Gray comes in.
Teaming up once more they this book has the potential to be INCREDIBLE (sorry). I absolutely love the way that the duo have decided to return to the character’s roots and portray him in his full original Gray gloriousness.
However, with such high hopes is this destined to let me down? After all, in my eyes there is a lot riding on this. Especially when the Hulk is quite a one dimensional character in my opinion.
Will this live up to the path set before it? Or is this a gray matter that deserves to be paid no mind? Let’s jump In to find out.
‘Let’s start at the beginning’
Opening in a psychiatrist’s office, Bruce recaps the origin of the Hulk. Through flashback we travel to the moment that the Hulk was born.
From the off this epic Year One story grabbed me. Whether it was the tonally contrasting art that Sale is famous for or the characterisations that make Leobs words leap off the page, everything in this storyline feels perfect. If you are a fan of The Long Halloween then you will instantly find a kinship with This work and the presentation, pacing and atmosphere makes it easy to become obsessed with the storyline.
Shades of Grey
At its core the book is about duality and enveloped within are several metaphors that can be applied to real life. We all deal with our darksides daily and watching Bruce’s come to the forefront in such a devastating manner throughout the work, speaks volumes to the fact that as a species we must get the better of our demons in order to find peace.
Unable to do this, Bruce becomes a ticking time bomb and those around him struggle to deal with the fact that at any moment things could go haywire. That’s what makes this book so intriguing. Similar to our protagonist, most readers will have been in a situation where they have had to push people away in order to achieve harmony and the character becomes one of the most relatable in comics because of the nature of his superpower/curse.
Isolating himself, Bruce learns to manage his anger. However he has to once again enter the fray when General Ross puts pressure on those he cares about the most.
Epitomising the evil government agent is General Ross. Whilst the archetype is often cliche, Hulk: Gray adds weight to his character by making his daughter, Betty Ross the centre of Bruce’s affections.
Kidnapping Betty, Hulk flees to the desert to be alone with her.
Watching the Hulk care for his love shows a kindness that is often missed in the more recent incarnations of the creature and there are flashes of King Kong that help to add another side to the beast.
Sending Iron Man in to attempt to gain his daughter back, Ross really ramps up the stakes and the battle that takes place across Issue four between the metal Man and the Mad monster is certainly a standout moment of the book.
I had a brilliant time with the face off and watching the two go head to head for the first time is worth the price of admission alone. I loved this element and gravitas is added when Betty gets hurt during the showdown. Even though I already knew the eventual outcome to her life or death situation, Sale and Loeb kept me on my feet because of their ability to paint even the most played out aspects of the repertoire in a new light and readers will be gripped as they head into the finale.
‘Hulk hurt Betty’
It’s heartbreaking to see Betty wish that The Hulk would leave her alone as we know how deep his passion for her runs. However, I found myself being able to side with the damsel in distress completely. She is fearful for her life and from her perspective, shacked up with a monster. It speaks volumes as to just how good Loeb’s characterisations are when you can see the argument from both sides and align with each completely.
As the final battle between Ross and The Hulk ends the book it’s easy to see why the character has become so endearing throughout the last sixty years. As sympathetic as he is aggressive, The Hulk at his core is a multi faceted monster that is enthralling to watch. Steeped in tragedy we know the character is cursed but that makes him even more engaging to watch. This is as good as it gets,
Hulk: Gray is a great graphic novel. Loeb and Sale once again do an outstanding job of rejuvenating an age old character and their signature style makes the book a brilliant read. Newcomers and veteran fans will find a lot to love here and this is one of the most gripping origin stories that I’ve ever read.
Breathtaking from beginning to end Hulk: Gray gets a…