cover image Incredible Hulk 00: What

Incredible Hulk 00: What

Peter David. Putnam Publishing Group, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14104-1

There are several reasons why it's difficult to write a good novel about a comic-book character-and all of them are in evidence in this padded, styleless offering from Peter David (Imzadi), who scripts the monthly Incredible Hulk comic book. The first reason is the tendency to indulge in comic book-style plotting. Here, the Hulk is given a chance to permanently become his alter ego, Bruce Banner, through the insertion of a biochip into his brain, an act that will save Bruce's marriage to Betty, who's pregnant with twins. But it turns out that the Maestro, a villainous future version of the Hulk from an alternate timeline, has engineered this scenario in order to steal the Hulk's son. The second reason is the difficulty of handling background; unless readers are fans of the comic book, they won't get many of the references here, such as who Doc Samson is or what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for. The third reason is comic book-deep characters; a green-skinned behemoth who is the most powerful creature on earth is less a personage than the embodiment of a male power fantasy. Only an exceptionally talented author can meet these challenges, but David-clever, concise and capable on the illustrated page-tends to pad scenes with pointless dialogue and qualify nearly every available noun and adjective. Without depth, drive or compelling complications, this novel is nothing more than a comic book without artwork-the kind of novel that, in fact, gives comic books a bad name. (Sept.)