Cracking the Internet in Half, Inside Out, Upside Down & Sideways: Incredible Hulks #622, Reviewed

Have I been blogging entirely too much? It's crazy that I actually have to shuffle things around and prioritize what I want to talk about. I love talking comics, although certainly other non-comics things are on their way. (What, you think I put that new image at the top of the blog for my health?) The Hulk, however, remains my bread and butter, so now, without further ado, my review of an issue which has ignited the fires in many a Hulk fan's breast (and yes, the fact "fan" is really short for "fanatic" is something I'm especially aware of granted the responses I've seen).

The Incredible Hulks #622
"God Smash," Conclusion

Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Paul Pelletier, Danny Miki & Crimelab Studios
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Production: Irene Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Well, here it is! The moment you've all been waiting for! In order to make perceived wrongs right, the Hulk takes the fight to the newly-reborn Greek Pantheon of gods. And because the Hulk is The Strongest One There Is, he won't be denied, and during a truly epic battle he pummels the Skyfather himself, Zeus, finally making him accede to his wishes. Zeus decides to see things the Hulk's way, returning Rick to human form and curing Betty of the insanity that afflicts her as Red She-Hulk. The only catch is he's cursed to be the Hulk forever. Bruce Banner exists no more.

I totally had you up to that heartbreaking idea of a cliffhanger, didn't I? Then again, if the story really did go anything like the above summary, Hulk fans wouldn't be in the middle of a Hulk-sized hissy fit, and Thor fans wouldn't be gloating like crazy while proclaiming their guy has better showings against higher gods. And yet, to this reader, the way the story went is pretty much the only way it could.

Writer Greg Pak took a lot of flak from much of the Marvel fanbase during World War Hulk, where many saw the Hulk and his Warbound companions' victories over various heroes as the result of "jobbing," which is to say Hulk & co. are made to look good at the expense of more skilled (which is to say, more popular) characters. Interviews, including those taken by this very blogger, indicate Pak certainly has a high opinion of the Hulk. He's loved the character for years and certainly knows his way around his history, with repeated references to Jarella and other oft-ignored bits of Hulkish trivia.

Pitting the Hulk against the Skyfather Zeus in this story, then, tests Pak's mettle as a true storyteller, as well as puts him between the proverbial rock and a hard place--at least, among fans who care about who's strongest and who can beat the excrement out of whom. If the Hulk beats Zeus, then, holy crap, the Hulk really must be the strongest one there is, and every other superhero out there can suck it. On the other hand, if the Hulk is beaten by Zeus, then there is just no justice in the world, and every Hulk fan assembled should scream bloody murder and call for the immediate replacement of Pak as Hulk writer, because that's not the way we roll.

Yeah, that was sarcasm. Could you tell?

The Hulk and Banner foolishly expect that Zeus would just grant them a boon, but Zeus has never been the most levelheaded of gods. He remembers their previous encounter (and say, is this book one of the only ones to use starred references to other issues anymore?) and decides to show the Hulk a lesson he won't soon forget. The battle that follows is brutal and bloody with a predestined end reminiscent of Peter David's Hulk: The End. Although engaging Zeus in battle, make no mistake: this Hulk would die if it meant happier times for his family. Unfortunately, the world doesn't work in such simplistic terms.

The story this outing works better than in the previous chapter in spite of the preordained outcome. Although many will argue the point, the Hulk just isn't in the same league as Zeus and shouldn't be treated as such. The Hulk's simplistic desires clash with Zeus' equally simplistic view of humanity, and both parties really come away as losers when the dust clears. Pak's script makes these developments clear, and to me at least, it's a relief that the winner wasn't the guy whose name is on the front of the book.

As strong as the ideas behind the story are sound, it's the art that is a small letdown this issue, and once again, just like in "Dark Son," I'm afraid I can only blame the stepped-up twice-a-month schedule of the book. Although Paul Pelletier's pencils are always a joy to see, and Danny Miki usually delivers some great inkwork, this issue's artwork seemed rushed in both line and color. Thankfully, the pages that needed the strongest visual "punch"--those showcasing the Hulk's battle with Zeus--are spot-on, but most of the rest, particularly the pages featuring the Hulk's family and their coming to his rescue, are lackluster. I hope to see a stronger effort next time we see Pelletier and Miki on board, whenever that may be. Perhaps shorter stints by the artists in question, or more lead time between arcs, would improve the finished product.

So, the psychological journey of the Hulk with his awesome responsibilities to his family continues. While not delivering a home run, Greg Pak and Paul Pelletier, et al, nonetheless provide another solid story arc with "God Smash." The Hulk must take the thornier path to salvation for his family after finding that he couldn't just punch and hit those more powerful than he into submission. I admit, I'm quite anxious to see what the humbled Hulk's next move will be, especially considering what metaphorical chickens are coming home to roost in this issue's epilogue that paves the way for the next arc, "Planet Savage."

A note in closing: I really must thank Marvel Comics this month, as for the first time since Christmas 2008, there's a Hulk book on the stands for $2.99USD. The backup stories may be gone, but I for one won't miss them. We're eight pages lighter, and the dollar back in our collective pockets is greatly appreciated. I hear Jeff Parker's Hulk series is next starting with issue #30.1 in March. I hope this confidence is reflected in forthcoming sales figures. (But, hey, how about a little advertising, Marvel? DC has their "Holding the Line" promotion. Put something big on the cover. Something!)

In two weeks: Welcome, Dale Eaglesham.



  1. Emo Hulk needs to go.

  2. It's not the fact that Hulk lost, it's the fact that he wasn't given a good showing at all! Granted, I know Zeus is a powerful Sky-Father who's power rivals that of Odin himself, but being the supportive and dedicated Hulk fan that I am, I was willing to give the 50-50 as to whether Hulk would win or lose. But instead, what we got was Hulk getting trashed in hand-to-hand combat, and which all of us knows that Hulk can break all the rules of comics when it comes down to a fight based in hand-to-hand combat and physical strength/durability/stamina/endurance, but instead Hulk doesn't fight back at all which only adds to the humiliation!

    Now if it were done like this, we Hulk fans wouldn't have been so ticked off- Hulk could have defeated all the other Olympian Gods, one by one, until finally meeting Zeus who would best Hulk by using his powers to their fullest limits. This could have allowed Pak to make for a longer and much better run on the God Smash Saga, rather than cramming it into two issues. Or all of the Olympian Gods (Including Zeus, Pluto, Poseidon, Apollo, etc.) attacking Hulk all at once and using an extremely powerful combined strike to defeat him, thus allowing the other Hulks to come retrieve their defeated leader, all the while Hulk earning the deepest respect from Zeus and the Olympians.

    A lot of us, me included, wouldn't have been offended as much by Hulk losing if he was given a chance to actually fight back against Zeus when the Sky-Father was using his powers to their fullest limits! But instead, we get Hulk not fighting back whatsoever and being beaten physically in hand-to-hand combat, which is more or less a slap to the face!

    I mean, Hulk's 50th Anniversary is coming up soon, and I would like to see our green goliath take on the Gods again... Hell, I would like to see Hulk and his family take out an entire pantheon! I just want to see something that is incredible, and none the less, this issue was far from it.

    1. Lmao it's only going to lead to that climatic battle where neither side has equal footing because it will be one victory for both ends of the franchise. We are Hulk fans we should be use to this by now!

  3. Not the Strongest anymore...Sat Feb 12, 07:59:00 AM MST

    Well said, anonymus...

    Hulk getting humiliated like that by Hulk writer extraordinaire, Greg Pak is a slap to the face to the 30 000 Hulk Fanatics who still buy his book.Even if his storytelling started to get in a downward spiral after World War Hulk, we still followed Pak out of loyalty for the man who gave us the Worldbreaker and the beautiful Planet Hulk.

    Now, What he did to "The strongest one there is" cant be erased nor pardonnable.

    "Planet Savage" better be VERY good or his days has the Incredible HulK writer are numbered...

    Whats next after this defeat??? Hulk as a super spy ?!?!?? Oh wait...

  4. The Hand that feedSat Feb 12, 08:12:00 AM MST

    Greg Pak didnt like being accused of writing a fanboy version of the Hulk and the pressure of the internet got him.So he gets the Hulk not only beat but humiliated by his oh,so precious Olympian characters..

    Only thing is that the only people who are still buying his Hulk book are the other Hulk fanboys who dont want to see their favorite hero getting destroyed like that.They want him to do ummeasurable feats of strenght and Power.

    Greg Pak just bite the hand that feed.

    This issue was not good for the fans, for the Hulk Mythos but most of all, for Greg Pak.

  5. Thanks, Not the Strongest anymore!

    I can't help but tell it like it is. Instead of getting an epic showdown, we get a really bad and tragically flawed issue. I can only hope that Hulk gets another shot at Zeus and the other gods, and beats them all to a blood pulp!

    Because, lets face it, the Gods are too damn arrogant for their own damn good, and I hope that when Hulk does go after Zeus for a rematch, that the Green Scar/Green King Hulk persona brutally knocks the mighty Sky-Father down a peg or two!

    I mean, we Hulk fans don't buy Hulk comics to see our favorite character get humiliated! We buy Hulk comics to see our favorite green goliath do impossible things, break the rules of comics, and SMASH!

    We want to see Hulk beat the crap out of guys like Zeus, Odin, Thanos, Silver Surfer, Thor, or whoever else! That's why we buy these comics for!

    I just hope the Savage Planet arch is better and the upcoming Skaar: King of the Savage Land series are excellent, because we the fans deserve something that truelly demostrates that Hulk is... The Strongest One There Is!!!!

  6. I'm hearing a lot of comments flying around the Hulk Message Board, Ratchet's site, and now here that basically boil down to something very simple: The main draw of those protesting the Hulk's treatment in this issue is the Hulk's strength, period. If I bet money that these selfsame fans were the ones screaming bloody murder when the Hulk was getting bled out month in and out during the first several months of "Planet Hulk," would I be a rich man?

    I enjoy other aspects to the Hulk's character than his prodigious strength and durability. Pak Fail, you say you want an end to "Emo Hulk"? The Hulk's always been about out of control heights and depths of emotion: rage personified, revenge personified, loss personified. The Hulk's life has been filled with rich, textured emotion. Would you truly wish an end to all of that for the sake of "Hulky Smashy"?

    I will agree that sometimes I long for the days where the Hulk just couldn't be hurt. There's a delicate balance that needs to be struck, I think, in that his enemies have to be of a particular power level or else it seems ridiculous that they could even pose a legitimate threat. At the same time, the majority of those the Hulk fights can't be allowed to truly draw blood. But I see nothing wrong with an especially powerful enemy being able to overexert the Hulk's nigh-instantaneous healing abilities. But Hulk getting bloodied month in and out, such as he's been during this five-issue run, borders on the ridiculous.

    There's a legitimate theory that's been tossed around before about the Hulk's durability, which is to say that the more simpatico he and Bruce are, certain of his abilities like healing are lessened. Believe that if you wish--there's evidence to go both ways (ref HULK #296 pro, HULK #398 con).

    I don't think Greg Pak picked Zeus' name out of a hat and said, "Aha! I've found someone the Hulk can lose to!" There must be some external conflicts the Hulk can lose for one reason or another, else there's no real drama inherent in watching him fight. Let's face it, too: sometimes the best Hulk stories come about when he has to do more than just smash.


  7. Have we seen the Hulk fight a being of Zeus' caliber, ever? Thor's not in Zeus' league, although I doubt the Hulk could stand up to him if he were in full control of the Odinpower. (I recall an issue of THOR during the Reigning when Hulk was clearly shown having fallen to the thunder god.) Hulk's never had a fair showing against Thanos, mano e mano. He's never fought Mangog, either. Galactus? Celestials? No. Do we really have a battle against a comparable opponent to judge?

    Also, please remember, although the Hulk may be the mightiest mortal to ever walk the Earth, it takes a lot more than strength to vanquish a foe, otherwise Wolverine would've been a bloody smear on the wall ages ago. There are different fighting techniques, and there are other abilities including energy-based ones that would enable higher-level characters remain at arms' length or beyond and still kick the crud out of the Hulk. There's also that mighty maxim, "The madder the Hulk gets, the stronger he gets!" and certainly since we didn't see the Hulk go all Worldbreaker in #622, I somehow doubt that Zeus was truly able to get the Hulk mad enough for those uppermost levels of strength to matter. If Zeus slaughtered his whole family, I suspect we'd be having an altogether different argument just now.

    I really don't think the Hulk was fighting to defeat or kill Zeus--he was fighting to be noticed, and perhaps to sacrifice himself so his friends might have what he felt they deserved. He just didn't count on Zeus being such an ass about it.

    I foresee the upcoming battle with Miek as something with a deeper emotional subtext than the Zeus battle, as the Hulk does bear a certain responsibility toward the way Miek matured over the course of "Planet Hulk." He also probably angsts over the fact that, following World War Hulk, he couldn't get back to the Imperials and the other Sakaarians that came with the Warbound to Earth.

    In summation: highly interesting seeing so many fans taking Zeus' defeat of the Hulk as a personal affront.


  8. The only issue I have with your review, Gary, is the end where you thank Marvel for reducing the price. Marvel should never have raised it so drastically in the first place.

    Marvel shouldn't be thanked - the many, many people who became choosier with their book selection should be thanked - because if Marvel didn't see such a drastic decrease in sales they wouldn't have lowered anything.

    So, no - Marvel doesn't deserve theh credit for a lower price tag.

  9. To add my two cents worth, I do think comic publishers as a whole should be more realistic in the prices they charge for the product.

    People can't afford to buy everything that they want. The massive increase in the price of graphic novels is another bone of contention for me too.

    Everything costs way too much! Comics now cost the same price (if not more so) then DVD's, CD's etc.

    Now to the the Hulk vs Zeus debate. Well, I can see everybody's point of view, but to use Greg Pak's words on this, Hulk now possesses a level of physical power unmatched by any other mortal and most gods walking the Earth today. He is step behind the Sky father's and the cosmic beings like Thanos and the like.

    I do think that there should a level of a power that the Hulk can't beat. There as got to be limits otherwise you what would be the point of comics? Sweet Aunt May beating up Galactus would on the stands.

    The hulk putting up a good showing before losing in the end that I could live with. I think the problem here is that the fight seemed too one sided to alot of people.

    Has I suggested to Zeno, it could be that the Hulk threw the fight, wanting to die by Zeus' hand in the vain hope that he thought that Zeus would grant his wish to see right by his family before he died.

  10. I agree Marco - that seemed like the case to me. The Hulk wasn't putting up much of a fight because his intention wasn't to win...

  11. Thank you Ryan,

    If you know your Marvel history (and I know that you do) you know that physically, Hulk is way stronger than Zeus. The leveller is when Zeus taps into his godpower. That is the difference maker here.

    I assure you that down the line a rematch will be held, the battle will be more even.

    The big thing here is Marvel tying Hulk into the Greek mythology. Hinted as a possible descendant of Prometheus. I would have no problem with that. In fact, I see that ss a good thing as it shows that Hulk could ascend to greater levels of power and wisdom than he currently possesses. Who knows? he might (in the future) become a Sky Father in his own right. The way they are setting it with an estranged wife, s good son, a bad son and a rebellious daughter looks like a pantheon in the making to me.

    A big Thank You to Zeno for being the first guy to spot this.

    1. Hope your right. After the last time with him and Zeus, that was no fight lol
      If given the chance again for a rematch, that would be cool and set the record straight and proving Hulk is the strongest one there is lol

  12. Look at it this way,

    Hulk as a future Odin

    Skaar as a future Thor

    Hiro Kala as a future Loki becoming a future Balder

    Lyra as a future Sif

    Rick as a future Fandral

    I am sure you get the picture, mortals evolving into states of godhood as been done before but, not very well. This could (in theory, if they go down that route) change everything.

  13. Gary, I had a question for you. It has been awhile since I read World War Hulk and I don't have the issues at hand right now. I thought the Hulk only took the Warbound with him to our planet. Where did the other Imperials come from? Were they on the ship with the Hulk? All the imperials from the Hiro storyline are on Jarella's world now so I don't think there are from there.

  14. It was established in HEROES FOR HIRE and some of the other books in the crossover that a contingent of other aliens came to Earth with the Hulk and the Warbound. Many Imperials were shown to be imprisoned by SHIELD in the first INCREDIBLE HERCULES arc. There were also more of Miek's race including Mung from INCREDIBLE HULK #108 and PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #12.

    Oh, and I've said my last words about #622. I also don't enjoy the "mortals evolving into gods" bit because to a point it's already being done across the street at DC (with their "Trinity" series as well as Grant Morrison's "Final Crisis" vis a vis the evolution of Batman and the concurrent theory which is exactly as Marco describes).

    Those who believe Hulk should have kicked Zeus' butt will believe it no matter what I say, or no matter what even the actual writer says. I have my opinions, others don't share them and use other people's plagiarized opinions to counter. It's all gotten just a mite ridiculous over the last few days.


  15. Woah - Garry, you sound a bit aggravated - don't let them get you down brother!

  16. The whole issue really is not that important. There are other things about the last few story arcs that are more bothersome. One is how Dark Son was handled. Hiro Kala was first made out to be flawed but with good intentions,but it is was the methods he used that were wrong. That is what the story should have shown.

    It also was never explained why killing his girlfriend was necessary. Also what is the difference between the New Power and Old? The relationship was made unclear.

  17. Zeno,

    I think the point of Hiro-Kala was to act as a counterpoint against Skaar--the one Banner was able to help because he found him in time versus the one he was too late to save. If we stick to the text, Hiro-Kala was upset at being orphaned, resentful of the attention everyone centered on his brother, and distrustful of a power that he was born with but couldn't control. Add everything together, and it's no surprise he conjured images of his mother, telling him what he wanted to hear, in an effort to make sense of what he thought was senseless, insodoing shaping his fears into a very real threat through his misunderstanding of the Old Power. Even when he wasn't aware, he was actually subconsciously using the Old Power--first to conjure his mother as above, and to conjure his future visions that stemmed from those same fears of Old Power run amok. The only real question here is just what damage he really even did to Galactus, as Hiro-Kala proved it's only in the wrong hands that the Old Power can really be a threat to the universe.

    I think the "Dark Son" arc reads better the more distance we get from it, and certainly the length was of no issue to me. I do think we've ended up rushing through the "Chaos War" crossover as well as "God Smash," to a point, but the stories' emotional underpinnings were spot-on.


  18. I would like to believe that there are plans in store other than Pak wanting to boost Zeus prior to his new series. Pak has too much of a high regard for these arrogant gods - though all this may be a build up.
    Its just a shame that the Hulk will be the fall guy as I doubt he will revisit a fight between them at all.
    Just remember in Hulk vs Hercules the depiction of Zeus was much different, also from the same writer and not too long ago.
    Hardly any panels reaching up to Zeus where he could have spent a while fighting the godlings.
    Marvel could and should have milked it a bit more by spreading the issues out.
    It seems like Pak has a plan and he wants to get it over and done with as soon as possible so he can move on to new things.
    Again with most Hulk fans its not the Hulk losing, its the way he lost and the rushed feel of the various issues.
    Hiro Kala too was seemingly disposed of in quick fashion, gone was the quest to rid the universe of the old power - no explanation of the new power, inconsistent portrayal of the character from evil one second to crying the next the list goes on and despite how much we like Pak for his past efforts its obviously clear that the attention has lessened.

  19. Well,to be honest I felt cheated. I say that it was bullshit and it looked like he was holding back and clearly had different intentions, rather than wanting to fight Zeus. That wasn't really a fight lol See, worldbreaker hulk was obviously attempting to sacrifice himself for his family. he really was not angered just wanting redemption from someone with the power to give it. Zeus was angry at hulk and told him it was the wrong religion anyhow so that's what really happen hulk was not really that angry he plan this. I mean, know for a fact that Hulk can beat a god like Zeus.
    I mean what pisses me off are some the people that truly don't understands hulks true intensity, like idk, all I know is that i believe the hulk vs mostly anyone loses, everytime i see hulk vs anything or hulk anything lol, he does not lose, he smashes his opponents, only way to win is calm him down and make him turn into banner, but yeah super pissed about this zeus fight, and i really hope they do make a rematch one day or a match where hulk vs ANY SKYFATHER, and has the most epic battle, but hulk comes out on top, oooooh man would that make all the god fans pissed XD, but its the truth!!!!!!
    And Hulk's actions in the Dark Dimension show that he at least has the potential to smash Thanos and Zeus. Hulk would have beaten Zeus and brought down all of Mt. Olympus if he had tapped into those powers. Plus, he already smashed Sentry, who is a godlike being! Hulk's ability to get stronger as he gets more angrier, which thus, would allows him potential to smash guys like Thanos, Thor, The Juggernaut, Zeus, Galactus, Odin.
    Truth is that, it was a bit of a messed story in general with the writing of how it went down. Though, some put up good arguments, but in the end, the outcome is always up to whoever is writing the story and one's personal preferences. STILL! They should make a story where Zeus and Hulk should come back for a rematch. If people in Marvel could make that happen, that would be very cool. And in showing that the Hulk IS the strongest one there is!!


I can never tell if two comments from "Anonymous" are really by the same person, so please, especially if I know you from other websites, leave a name or alias or something! Thanks!