HULK: Gray

Jeph Loeb, Author, Tim Sale, Illustrator . Marvel $21.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7851-1314-0

In recent years, writer Loeb and artist Sale have collaborated on contemporary treatments of early phases of Marvel superheroes' careers, titled after colors in their costumes ("Spider-Man: Blue," "Daredevil: Yellow"). This book's title refers to the color of the Hulk in his first issue, in 1962. Loeb and Sale tell the story of the 48 hours after Bruce Banner first became the Hulk. They present a slightly revised version of Banner's initial transformation, and most of the rest of the work consists of new sequences set within the time frame of the Hulk's first issue. Inventively, the authors have a present-day Banner narrate this story in a session with psychiatrist Leonard "Doc" Samson. Through their comments, Loeb explores the psychology of the principal characters: Banner and the Hulk; his nemesis, General "Thunderbolt" Ross; Ross's introverted daughter, Betty, who loves Banner; and Banner's teenage confidant, Rick Jones. In doing so, Loeb raises questions about these characters' motivations that, until now, haven't been incisively investigated. Loeb deftly builds on the classic work of the past without making major revisions, reinterpreting it to expose and illuminate its underlying psychological depths. Sale's art blends caricature and realism, explosive action and ominous mood, capturing the spirit of Hulk co-creator Jack Kirby's work while creating an independently quirky style. (June)

Reviewed on: 08/09/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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