Mark Waid’s Hulk run continues it’s upwards trajectory with this exciting new time-travel storyline. Eagle-eyed Marvel fans will have noticed of late that there’s been a whole lot of time-travel happening in a wide range of books, and it all came to a head in Age Of Ultron, where the time-stream ‘broke’ and stuff like Angela happened for some reason. This issue of Hulk sees the problem being tackled, as Bruce Banner is tasked by SHIELD (and their time-travel sub-division TIME) to investigate it. Why? Because Hulk is the only one strong enough to survive going into the now super-fucked-up time-stream.
With this issue, you could see that Waid is having a lot of fun exploring the nature of time-travel, using it in messed-up scary ways, like the tragic fate of the TIME agent who dies in the first few pages of this issue, and also addressing superhero continuity in an interesting way. Zarrko, the future criminal who helps Bruce Banner in this issue, reveals that the real reason why the Hulk acts differently every time he appears isn’t because of stress or whatever, but because of ‘Chronarchists’ travelling back in time and screwing with his origins. This is an interesting idea, especially when you consider the fact that the ‘Chronarchists’ may just be Mark Waid doing meta-commentary on comics writers. Could the fact that Red She-Hulk has been swallowed up by the time-stream and retconned out of existence be because her title was cancelled?
Yes, that’s right, this issue removes Betty Ross from continuity. I’m sure she’ll be back by the end of this story, it’s a big change to the Hulk’s past, and I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out.
Matteo Scalera once again provides excellent artwork here, his style really suits this series, and I really liked seeing a story with a lighter colour palette, the Daredevil two-parter was dark, whereas this one is more colourful. Scalera and Staples are really demonstrating a level of versatility here, and man, the Chronal flux or whatever looked amazing.
Waid also sets up an interesting new dynamic for Banner and Hulk for this story, because Banner could not survive the time-travel, Hulk has to stay Hulk, but in order for him to be effective, Banner’s brain is downloaded into a robot. So now we’ve got both Hulk and Banner at the same time, talking to each other, which should be interesting. I’m always impressed when a writer comes up with a new way to explore the dichotomy of those two.
So, Hulk and Banner jump into the time-stream, and come face to face with… Cowboys (I recognised Two-Gun Kid, were the other two Marvel Western characters?) and Dinosaurs. Oh yes, this is going to be fun. That’s the thing about time-travel, you can get all caught up in the physics and paradoxes of it all, but in the end, you just want to see stuff from different time periods mixing it up, you want it to be fun, and with this story, Mark Waid is having fun and making lemonade out of the Age Of Ultron lemons.