Jim Starlin returns to pen a cosmic tale involving his creation, the Mad Titan himself, Thanos, and Hulk! Now, a confrontation between these two might seem out of the ordinary, but this is Starlin we’re talking about here. The man is responsible for some of the greatest cosmic stories in Marvel’s history, so how could you NOT give this series a chance?
For some it is important to know when a particular story takes place and if it’s “in continuity.” Well, that info is right at the beginning, so if you’re one of those people, you’ll be satisfied. Soon after, we’re dropped into a story that pleases on all fronts. Even though this isn’t an issue full of flying fists and Hulk smashing, there’s some solid story building that should please fans. It seems that Pip the Troll kidnapping Banner, along with telling some half truths, is the reason for the predicament the Hulk is in. Much of which leads to several humorous events and some surprise revelations. Also, it is always a treat to see how a writer handles a situation when Banner and Hulk have to interact, and Starlin makes these moments one of the highlights of the issue. When cameo appearances of several well known cosmic characters and a bar in space coincidentally named “Starlin’s” are thrown in, it’s pretty evident you’re going to have some fun. Thankfully this isn’t a quick read that rushes to get to the action, as Starlin makes sure that there is a reason behind everything. The amount of exposition here gives the story more credibility than it being just about two characters beating the hell out of each other. Sure, that’s what we want to see eventually, but this is a bit more satisfying as well.
As for the artwork, Starlin makes the issue look as good as it reads. Especially once the story leaves Earth and we’re treated to all manner of alien life and scenery. The double page spread of the lab and villain reveal was an excellent visual sequence. Seeing his Thanos was like a trip in the way back machine as he captures everything that makes the character who he is. Though I will admit it is a bit odd seeing Pip without a cigar. Andy Smith and Frank D’Armata do just as well on inks and colors throughout the issue. There’s a panel where Thanos is merging his consciousness that is one of the times where everything syncs up perfectly.
Once off planet, Thanos vs. Hulk really picks up some steam and hints at how great the story can be. You also don’t need decades of knowledge about these characters to enjoy this issue, because Starlin gives you everything you’ll need right here. It’s comfortable and easy to just dive right into, so here’s hoping that continues and we get to see punches thrown between our two title characters real soon!