WORLD WAR HULK: FRONT LINE 1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Ramon Bachs
As with Civil War, the main World War Hulk title is accompanied by a Front Line title by the Jenkins/Bachs team, detailing the civilian reaction to the events in the main title, through the eyes of former Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich and alternative news journalist Sally Floyd. At the end of the last series, they had set themselves up as the main writers for the online news site frontline.com. As we open this series, they appear to have gone from news site to newspaper. Sally and Ben are on their way to lunch discussing their need for one big story when the Hulk’s giant stone spaceship appears over Manhattan, and they have their story.
As they cover the evacuation of the city, we also get a subplot where Sally’s cop boyfriend Danny gets involved with Hulk’s alien associates. As an officer in “Costume division”, he gets to deal with some of the odder cases – so when a giant alien rock monster demands the NYPD assist in investigating the murder of one of his comrades, it falls to Danny to assist.
The previous Front Line miniseries gave us some of the definite lowlights of Civil War. This was after all the title where the bright happy fun character Speedball was turned into the grim and gritty spike-covered self-harm fuelled Penance after an incredibly unsubtle recreation of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. It also gave us the abysmally bad scene of Captain America being berated by Sally for not knowing about NASCAR, MySpace and American Idol (Because those things are so very important), and the laughably poor taste mash-ups of genuine war texts, including works by Wilfred Owen and Plutarch, with scenes from Civil War in an attempt to give it some kind of real-world relevance. (As noted on Wikipedia – “Issue 6 - An epigraph by A. E. Houseman, taken from his collection 'More Poems', comparing the dead of the Somme offensive to the Atlanteans killed by the Green Goblin.”). Hopefully, this series will avoid such pitfalls, although it may already be too late. Issue one contains a moment where Ben Urich receives some generous assistance from an unknown benefactor who is standing in the shadows in a dimly lit underground car park while wearing a trenchcoat, and a clumsily obvious parallel to the evacuation of New Orleans where a black woman complains that she has not yet had any assistance in evacuating a troubled area because the Government doesn’t care about her. Jenkins has shown on many previous occasions that he is a better, more original, more subtle writer - perhaps his guest appearance in New Avengers a while back has affected him. After all, he’s fictional now. That’s bound to cause problems.
Bachs on the other hand does a reasonable job on the art, although it does tend to fall down whenever he has to depict events from the main title – his versions of the Hulk’s arrival and Iron Man’s new armour cannot hope to compete with Romita Jr’s from the main title, and come across as TV movie versions of those moments in comparison to the big budget summer blockbuster of the originals.
If you enjoyed the last series, or if you’re planning on getting hold of every single part of World War Hulk, then pick this up. Otherwise, it’s probably best avoided.
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The above review appeared on the long-since departed Fractal Matter site. I don't recall reading many other issues.
I self-edited one line which I wish I had kept in, as it's an all-time favourite:
"The last time I saw anything this ham-fisted, I was being punched in the face by a pig."
My editor's review of the issue was "Bag of shite". I pointed out that it was missing the bag.