Incredible Hulk #4 is the halfway point of the original six issue run. With this issue it seems like Jack & Stan decided to try something a bit different, instead of telling one full issue story filled with everything we expect and hope for, they gave us two, both staring our favorite green machine. The Hulk.
The First story picks up where Incredible Hulk #3 left off. with Rick Jones being able to control the Hulk like a large living robot. The two story’s also complement each other quite well, The first giving us some great character development, the 2nd some much desired action and heroism.
This story really starts in the middle, using that as a great way to build up suspense. with the hulk hooked up to a machine and Rick Jones about to use it on him. it however quickly snaps back in time and to one of our other supporting characters.
This time to Betty Ross, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross’s daughter. taking us further back in time she has a flashback, and makes a connection between Rick, the Hulk and Rick and Dr. Banner whom she is highly attracted too.
it is good to see the characters using there intelligence, but I thought that the connection between Rick and the Hulk was already quite clear and exploited, last issue. continuing this is fine, it just feels like it was written as if no such connection existed yet.
beyond that small flaw, I thought the story was a wonderful work, filled with character development. not just for Dr. Banner, but for Rick, and Betty as well. Making the supporting cast a bit stronger and deeper in design.
I feel the artwork was quite appropriate, while not as detailed in the backgrounds as it could be, the facial expression’s in many of the panel’s where life-like. adding to and not detracting from the great Character development story that we where witnessing.
I think even on the hulks face, you can see the pleading look of effort, as well as the strain he had to get in touch with the Bruce Banner part of his brain.
Overall, for this story the expressions is much more important than any detail, and I Feel it got them right throughout the story.
Originality & Continuity
While sticking in with the continuity, this story changes the basic premise of the comic again. in 4 issues we went from the hulk changing at night, to being stuck as the hulk & under rick’s control, to now being able to change with a device.
I am talking about this under continuity instead of development because I think it truly speaks for how they where just not sure how they wanted the hulk to work. Searching for that magical formula that would make it work and him popular.
I do give them credit for making the change in a way that did not change the ongoing continuity but worked with it, but with this style, the hulk truly lost the things that made him as unique as he was.
Characters & Development
it also shows us that not all the supporting cast is stupid and unable to put things together. Betty Ross figuring out that Rick Jones is a common link between The Hulk & Dr. Banner. Rick struggling to find a way to restore the hulk to Dr. Banner.
Even the hulk and banner both develop, together and on their own in this story. we learn a lot about how the hulk function’s and thinks, but also how Banner thinks.
We also continue to get a good look at how the world in general perceive the hulk, even when he does something good and helpful, he can still be made out to be the bad guy. While in this issue the hulk again is proven to truly be a hero, the world does not see him as such.