Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 3: S.M.A.S.H. Time by Mark Waid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
***Green Theme Buddy Read #3…for not one, but TWO HULKS! GREEN! Oh and a Green Dinosaur and Green Dragon!***
Indestructible Hulk SMASH Time is both the title and a full description of the events in Volume 3. In addition, it is time for Hulk to SMASH things…the thing(s) being Time itself.
This is not as strong as the previous volumes in my opinion, and the second half of the book is bogged down by what I feel is bad art. It feels like it was drawn by someone who had too many Red Bulls after watching a Dragonball Z marathon. That might work for some, but I didn’t enjoy it as much.
Premise is actually pretty sensible…for a bit…the Marvel U has been running roughshod on over through and back and forth in time…as a result, it’s fucking the space time continuum up worse than cheap Taiwainese Smack and Maker’s Mark.
I’m glad that Waid acknowledges how many time travel shenanigans are going down in the Marvel U. Theory follows that, because of this, time will fall apart, and there are also Chronoarchists running around like inside traders, making use of the time changes to tweak for their own purposes.
All of this is explained by Zarkko, “The Tomorrow Man” who’s locked up by SHIELD in a top secret division called T.I.M.E. Director Hill explains that it’s so ultra super duper secret researching into the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff that even Tony Stark doesn’t know about it (and tells Banner to enjoy that he knows something Stark doesn’t…which is both hilarious, and perfect for the rivalry between the 2, as has been going on through the history of Marvel, and in this particular series).
Zarkko apparently has been a time travelling villain from the 23rd Century and mostly a foil for Thor, which Banner alludes to, but he serves his purpose here as the “expert”. No one could possibly survive going through time at this point, because of how unstable it is (we see in the introductory pages a poor SHIELD op, and what happens to him when the fabric of time tears through his protective suit…it’s an intelligent way to kill him off, and establishes just how crazy bad things are). But of course, HULK isn’t just anyone…however, the Bruce Banner part couldn’t survive it, but HULK could…assuming he stays angry and Hulked-up the whole time…
So that brings us to one of the cooler parts of the volume…Bruce’s consciousness is uploaded/copied into a ROB (the tiny SHIELD robot babysitters that follow HULK around on his missions). That way, Banner can go back and make sure HULK does what he needs to, and not have his human part destroyed. It’s a far more literal exploration of the duality/Jeckyll-Hyde nature of Banner/Hulk, but is also a pretty cool one. In addition, Banner gets to insult HULK a lot, and have an out of body experience watching HULK do what he usually does while trapped inside. The insults of course, are instrumental to keeping HULK MAD, and when HULK MAD, he’s STRONG, and gets stronger and can therefore SMASH more…including…TIME!
Follow me so far? Ya. Waid pretty much throttles back away from the time travel explanations other than to show instead of explain, and that’s a wise decision. Focusing on HULK SMASH rather than the intricacies of the science or the paradoxes lets us see HULK the way we want to…SMASHING the shit out of things.
The things here are the best part: Dinosaurs in the Wild West (alongside cowboys); Dragons in Camelot (alongside the Black Knight – yes the Avenger one, but way back before he was one – and Arthur and Merlyn); and the best of all? HULK SMASH HULK himself!!!
Banner, of course, laughs hysterically when Zarkko tells him what to do, as he explains how stupid it is, the ultimate Bull in the China shop idea…Hulk playing around with the fabric of time? Are you all morons he says? See it’s the little things like this which make Mark Waid such a good writer…common sense things the reader would notice and think about, but not enough to derail the whole story.
When HULK makes his third “time jump” to battle a Chronarchist, it is at the very moment before the Gamma Bomb test that made Banner into the Hulk…talk about your paradoxes…so we see that someone is manipulating events to that Hulk will never exist, and therefore…WHOA!!!! Trippy!!!
So as events play out, Banner drives to the test site to save Rick Jones, and just as he’s pushing Rick into the ditch, BOOM, Time Travel HULK shows up and pushes Puny Banner into the ditch…! At the same time, the explosion blows up the ROB robot with Future (our Banner) Banner’s consciousness, which is thrown into past Banner’s body…whew…this is where things get either really convoluted and ridiculous, or totally bitchin’, depending on your POV…
So if Banner didn’t get GAMMA irradiated…who did??? Why HULK of course…and what happens? He pretty much turns into UBER-HULK SUPER SAYAN…ya.
HOLY FUCKBALLS JEFF! So Banner re-assesses his situation and says forget this noise, I’m just going to live in the past with all my future knowledge, since I’m not HULK, I can marry Betty and live happily and UBER HULK ain’t my problem! Only one issue…the timestream has been altered…and there is no Betty Ross here…Of course…Which only makes Bruce ANGRY! And you wouldn’t like him when he’s ANGRY…
So he goes after the Chronarchist, and starts punching him, which the baddie laughs at, but turns out of course, Banner’s smart eh? So he’s studied the timesuits that they wear, and he’s not just punching, he’s damaging, and at the same time, pushing back minutes through time…ya…apparently…and I’m not sure at all what happens next, but somehow Bruce punches back far enough to get to the point of the Gamma explosion, and puts himself directly in the centre of it…so boom! Banner is HULK again! Except there’s still the matter of UBERSUPERSAYAN-HULK…so Banner gets ANGRY ANGRY ANGRY…and punches so hard, he puches through time, destroying the other HULK, and kinda fucking time up too…but SMASHING TIME!!!
This being comics, of course, some how, instead of shattering like a mirror and giving him 7 cosmically bad years of luck, he’s safe back in the present…but with a nagging feeling that he missed something…which of course, we as the readers get to see in 3 panels just what was missed…setting up a whole bunch of possibilities…
OK so…after I read it last night, I was kinda bummed, and thought it was a let down…then I read some reviews, slept on it, read the title again, realized that SMASH Time is possibly the cleverest name ever for this book…and wrote this review. HULK is all about SMASHING, Indestructible HULK has been about Banner’s legacy and HULK, and somehow this book combines both, and gives us Banner smart, HULK SMASH, and funny shit. It also has HULK SMASHING:World War II Airplanes, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Uber-HULK, and Time itself. So all in all…AWESOME!
I just felt that the art let us down in the second half, and the frenetic, kinetic nature of it and too many lines just wasn’t my cup of Tea. That and Time Travel is a dead horse at Marvel right now…which even Waid acknowledged…that and this book is the equivalent of a Jason Statham movie…if you want to watch ass kicking at a high velocity, and you don’t want to think too much, and you have no problem knowing what you’re going to get…it’s a great movie. It’s never going to win an OSCAR, but you don’t want OSCAR you just want…SMASH TIME!
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