The marvel universe has recently been executing solid storytelling by utilizing their rich past and have it impact the present. Just what is it that would drive Bruce Banner to have his son kill “the monster” that is The Incredible Hulk? And how is it that Nick Fury can drink unimaginable quantities of alcohol without so much as a hair out-of-place, yet is a “person who sees a problem that no one else is willing to deal with and will do just that. And for no other reason than it needs doing?” Well, issues 611 of Incredible Hulk and Secret Warriors 18-19 delve within the minds of these iconic characters to not only entertain their readers but have us look deeply into ourselves.
Incredible Hulk begins unlikely enough in a flashback as Banner is tinkering with a “toy” on Christmas day – a small child with a smile on his face that soon fades when he sees his own monster. On the surface that is what this issue is about – how fathers make monsters out of their sons. But it’s more than that. It’s about Banner reconciling his past and getting over the loss of Skaar’s mother and what his son had to endure as he grew up on one of the most inhospitable of planets where the only way you could survive is to be violently more ruthless than the next person. The ending will also surprise you and leaves open a plethora narrative options for those who revolve around The Hulk, since out of the eight most intelligent men in the marvel universe he is also the most dangerous. After all he had the ability to manipulate everyone around him including the other seven to get what he wanted just to exorcise his own demons and possibly his son’s.
Then there’s Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors. Issues 18 and 19 deal with in a series of flashbacks and present day time the possible demise of The Howling Commandos – the men who Fury led during WW II. Of course Hydra is involved, but this time the stakes are bigger and the U.S. government is so desperate for Nick Fury’s help that they hold Dum-Dum imprisoned. It’s not so much the storyline that draws you in as much as the history of The Howling Commandos and Captain America’s involvement with them until the unfortunate incident with being frozen. You realize just how much Cap was missed. Jonathan Hickman writes what you believe would come out of the mouths of these characters without making them trite or hokey. When Cap gives Nick Fury a pep talk in only the way he can – if anyone else had said those words the scene would have been disingenuous. But these two men have shared so much that you feel as if you are intruding on the most intimate of moments that only these two manly-men can have. Then there’s the artwork by Alessandro Vitti. You can see all the angles on Fury’s face and the complexity of Cap’s as a man who has just returned from the dead – again. This time there’s more experience. While Cap’s more experienced warrior and Fury’s wily veteran are well written and well drawn, Dum-Dum is as defiant as ever as he gives the clueless government panel the skinny on Hydra and that they may just be on their own against “organizations that have no allegiance to anything but themselves.”
Overall readers will be interested to see what happens in the coming months in the marvel universe.