That was rubbish. I loved What If: Planet Hulk
, but this started bad, got worse and ended up laughable shit.
There are three stories, planned along the same template as before. Only my second issue of What If? and already I'm getting an impression of formula. Story #1 is an apocalypse in which Heroes Die. Uh-huh. If anyone can suggest anything more creakingly obvious for a What If? story, I'll buy them a lollipop. However that's obviously a bit depressing, so Story #2 is more optimistic. Or in this case, to use the technical term, "retarded". After that, Story #3 is made up of crudely scribbled attempted comedy that's, frankly, worthless.
1. What if the heroes lost World War Hulk? (21 pages)
Comparatively speaking, this is the good one. For a start, it's got fully painted artwork! A bit dark, but hey. That genuinely surprised me. Somehow the superheroines look sluttier when they're painted like this, but on the other hand there's a cool page of the irradiated ruins of New York.
The story involves the Skrulls taking advantage of the situation to conquer the Earth. It's standard dystopian stuff and I'm getting tired already of the empty shock value of killing superheroes, but it's got an impressively brutal ending. The last four pages in particular are taking it to another level.
2. What if Thor entered World War Hulk? (12 pages)
I'm not so wild about this art. It's not bright and cartoonish enough to be interesting, but instead seems ordinary. Thor looks as if he's been smacked in the face a few times, though.
It's the script that's the shocker, almost bad enough to make it worth reading for camp value. In the beginning it's okay. Thor's hanging out with some silly fellow gods and talking in his usual cod-Shakespearian style. "You dare sully Mjolnir with your foul touch!" However he soon meets up with the Hulk and they're throwing punches while delivering macho bullshit dialogue that makes the Hulk sound like Shaggy off Scooby Doo. "But the God of Thunder is still more than a match for you!" "Bring it, Blondie!"
Now what you've got to remember here is that 'World War Hulk'
starred a Hulk who'd seen his wife and his adopted planet blasted into atoms. This had driven him to such a pitch of sadistic rage that he was inflicting nuclear-level damage on civilian areas, enslaving his former friends and forcing them into gladiatorial battles to the death with each other. Here though he's persuaded to abandon his quest of vengeance in a couple of panels by a little boy and his a sick mother. "But the subway train got derailed, then the tunnel caved in around us. At least all your fighting made it possible for me to escape to get help since my mom's got diabetes and is kind of in bad shape." "Can you help us? You can beat each other senseless later." Let me vomit, please. It's laughable. Who thought this was of publishable standard? Please don't tell me they paid the writer. It's like reading fanfic.
3. Say What? World War Hulk (4 pages)
It's humour strip style art, but unfortunately it's trying hard to be funny without ever coming within a million miles of it. Well, at least it's only four pages.
Overall, missable. Mike Raicht wrote the story that's readable and Michael Gallagher perpetrated the other two. It seems clear, if only from the artwork, that these What If?s are a prestige product, but unfortunately this particular issue has given itself a prestige shortfall. I'm bored already of token massacres and I'm mystified by how clueless Marvel are about comedy strips. DWM has done lots of really good ones, for instance. Not putting these particular What If?s in the World War Hulk graphic collection was a good move.