By Jason Mott
June 3, 2007 - 08:00
Unless you’ve spent the last few months catapulted into deep space you know that the big news this summer from Marvel is the coming epic: World War Hulk. With World Breaker (quite possibly the coolest sounding title in years) readers get the chance to prepare for the summer of the big boy in green. World Breaker is three small stories rolled into one. The end result is a heavy heaping of backstory and foreshadowing. The long and short of it is this: months ago, before the mania that was Civil War, the Illuminati loaded the Hulk up into a spaceship and rocketed him into space like so much unwanted spinach. Well, Hulk landed on a savage planet, Hulk-smashed his way to rulership, fell in love and even had a baby on the way. Then the ship that brought him to his strange, new planet exploded killing Hulk’s beloved, his impending child, and everything else that may have made him happy. Now, with a big, stone spaceship to call his own, a small army of alien badasses and a greater thirst for revenge than Batman and Ghost Rider rolled into one…Hulk coming!
“ Casus Belli,” the first of three stories in World Breaker is surprisingly well-written and does a terrific job of setting the stage for World War Hulk. This story quickly cuts to the meat of exactly why the Hulk is so pissed off and does a wonderful job of profiling the Hulk’s treatment at the hands of Marvel’s various heroes through the years. Hulk is good and angry at almost every hero in the Marvel universe for some time or other in the past where they’ve locked him up, tied him down, knocked him out, blown him up or just took sides with “puny Banner” just when the infamous “Hulk Smash!” battle cry was getting warmed up. “Round Trip” is a pretty pointless story featuring the mostly annoying “mini-marvels” that serves simply as a comical engine for more backstory. “Mastermind Excello,” the third and final story in World Breaker is more worthwhile. The story follows the life and times of a teenager who’s been tagged as “the seventh smartest person in the world” as he prepares for the Hulk’s return by vowing to help the big boy in green.
The artwork on these three stories is nothing extraordinary. “Casus Belli” does a decent job of conveying the action sequences but loses steam in the quieter times of the storytelling. As if fully aware of that fact, the layout focuses on action and memories of former battles, seemingly, as a way of avoiding the weaker artwork that occurs when there isn’t anyone around to be punched in the face. “Round Trip” is simply Sunday comics artwork that does nothing new or interesting. If you’ve ever any one of the “mini-marvels” stories you’ve seen them all. Finishing off the book, “Mastermind Excello” is pretty barebones in its layout and use of color. The artwork simply serves its purpose, with no attempts to be anymore than a means of telling a story. Sadly, this is the problem with too many stories. Still, it’s worthwhile.
Overall: 7 on 10. A concise prologue.