Book Review: Incredible Hulk: Dogs of War by Paul Jenkins, Ron Garney

The Hulk has been hounded by armies before. But this time it seems more personal than usual. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross blames the Hulk for his daughter’s death, and his colleague, General Ryker, has decided the time has come to bring him down for good. The Hulk doesn’t necessarily disagree with Ross, since his gamma-irradiated body caused the radiation poisoning that killed his wife, Betty. The stage is set for a battle the likes of which have not been seen before. Ross brings everything in the army’s arsenal to bear in this war. The Hulk must fend off mutated soldiers, radiation-injected hounds and even tries to turn the Hulk’s own body against him. It’s a battle for the ages, but not without a price being extracted from both Ryker and the Hulk. The aftermath may leave the army poorer for the experience, but it also leaves the Hulk and his Bruce Banner alter-ego in less than stellar shape.

Hardback in the Marvel series, picked up from my local Comic Book Store.

The book includes the two part Snake Eyes as a precursor to the full 9 issue “Dogs of War” storyline.  It centres on Banner having both lost his wife Betty, as well as finding out he has Lou Gehrig’s disease. He is dying and doesn’t have anything left in the world to live for.

Bruce searches out Angela Lipscombe, an old psychiatrist friend and ex-girlfriend, in an attempt to get his head into shape. This leads to an interesting story about what is going on in Banner’s head, where there is not one, but many Hulks running round, with several Hulks being most dominant (Including the brutal, violent Hulk, and the massive but articulate Bruce that Banner wishes he could be). Banner knows that in the end he will never be able to truly die as Hulk wont let him, and he must reach some kind of agreement with the Hulks as to who gets to “take over” when Banner finally gives up.

Banner is being tracked by the military, and his new opponent, called General Ryker who will do absolutely anything to get hold of the Hulk, which includes the killing of civilians. Having just left Betty’s grave, Banner turns into the Hulk (because of the pain from his disease) and the military spot him. Arriving in the local area, they feed several dogs with irradiated meat, turning them into the Dogs of War of the title.

Captured, the Hulk is subjected to torture, to allow Ryker to experiment, using a test subject called Bennie in order to find a cure for Lucy’s (his daughter) cancer.  It is clear that Ryker has lost all sense of perspective in order to protect his daughter, and will do absolutely anything. However, it turns out that Sansom, who has been captured along with Banner and Lipsombe, has set things up if he goes missing for more than 24 hours – therefore Betty’s father launches a rescue attempt.

The story ends with Banner surviving, but facing the fact that multiple Hulks have been let loose in his brain, which is effectively shattered, and he doesn’t know where to turn.

Interesting take on the Hulk story, giving a little more complexity to a character that could easily be considered as a mindless, unstoppable violent machine with no chance of redemption or no depth.

 

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