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Incredible Hulk #8 Review

4 min read
The devil's in the details and the offer being made to Bruce is definitely going to be full of that.

“Spirits of Vengeance Part Three”

Creative Staff:
Story: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit

What They Say:
THE EPIC CONCLUSION OF HULK’S THROWDOWN WITH THE WWII GHOST RIDER AND THE WAR DEVILS! The Personification of Rage and the Spirit of Vengeance have their own vengeful spirit to conquer! When the Hulk and the undead Ghost Rider of the past finally come face-to-face with the monstrosity controlling the war devils, a bone-crushing brawl follows!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having not read a Hulk series since, well, back when Peter David finished out the first time on the property, I was curious to see what Phillip Kennedy Johnson would do after enjoying some of their Alien work recently. The opening installment did well in establishing things while playing against recent events in the prior series so that new readers such as myself can figure out most of it easily enough. The clues and context are there which is a big plus for someone like me. The book makes out even better by having Nic Klein on the artwork with Matthew Wilson coloring. There’s a good 80s-infused pre-Vertigo kind of DC feeling to this but also trying into the 70s Marvel with the monsters. It looks fantastic and has the right kind of near-Lovecraftian elements to draw me in and want to see how Bruce and the Hulk all factor into it.

This installment brings the arc to a close which means it’s a mostly action-oriented piece, which is fine but not all that thrilling. There’s a bit of a split for a good chunk of it as we see Bruce on the “inside” where he’s dealing with the thing that has covered Hulk and is attempting to take him over in the cause of serving the Eldest. It’s a good moment where it looks at Bruce and wonders how this soft and squishy thing is all part of this but it also allows Bruce to be resilient and push back against it as well. It’s not terribly deep and we don’t get a radical change or anything from it, but it helps to give Bruce a bit more presence and agency of sorts to it. The visual design for it all is interesting since these are the pages that Klein colored himself and it has a neat surreal aspect to it.

The flip side is the fight outside where Hulk is going a bit nuts, to the point where Charlie is pretty worried and they require this incarnation of Ghost Rider to help nudge things along. The visual of Hulk like this with the black goo on him is fun but watching as Ghost Rider flames him up and helps to push back against what the Eldest has sent against him. It’s a bit chaotic in a traditional kind of action sense and it works well to make the pages enjoyable but there’s not too much meat here just yet. What we do get that is meaningful is that Ghost Rider makes it clear to Hulk that Charlie is his weakness – much as the boy is his own – and that Hulk has to protect her at all costs. You can see how she’ll obviously be the key to him at some point when all the chips are down, which I wish wasn’t quite so blatant, but the basics are all in place for the upcoming confrontation.

In Summary:
With a bit of a minor gap between issues, it took a bit to reconnect with this issue overall and that made it just feel a little more bland than I expected. I like the overall approach of it and what it’s doing, even as standard as it is, because the execution is generally solid and the artwork is fantastic. That’s carrying it more than anything else but I also think that this three-part storyline just felt a bit overlong and that we don’t need these kinds of guest-starring stories either, even if this is a different kind of Ghost Rider. I just wish it would dig a bit more into the weird and stay self-contained instead.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 31st, 2024
MSRP: $3.99

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