what many hope will be the springboard for a standalone Hulk movie, should Marvel Studios ever be able/ willing to do so.
But I can't stress enough how wrong of an entry point WWH Front Line was for a casual fan like myself. First off, the World War Hulk series is a sequel to the Planet Hulk series, and second, Front Line is like watching a DVD's extras without having watched the movie.
It began fine by filling me in on some of the back story. The Hulk had been banished to space by Tony Stark (Iron Man), Mister Fantastic, and a few others but managed to carve out a new, successful life on another planet. Until, that is, his old spaceship exploded killing his pregnant wife. Hulk and his new alien buddies head back to Earth for revenge. I still had a few questions at this point (where was Hulk's milder mannered Bruce Banner form during all of this?) but I assumed that such questions would be answered and looked forward to an exciting showdown or two. When Hulk arrived on Earth, things looked promising. There was an almost immediate run-in with the Fantastic Four but then...
That fight is just sort of rushed through and the rest of the book focuses on smaller, tangential players in their own side stories. Set in New York, the "major" plot lines revolve around J. Jonah Jameson trying to takeover his competitor, the Front Line newspaper, a couple of Front Line reporters, and a murder mystery involving one of Hulk's alien buddies. These stories weren't without any appeal. Ben Ulrich is a pivotal character, whom I just come to learn about through Netflix's amazing Daredevil series (Daredevil also makes a brief appearance, by the way), so it was good to see more of him. Sally Forth, a character who was previously unknown to me, is another reporter but she's also a struggling alcoholic and I like when comics take on heavier themes such as that; when they're giving characters complexity without just making them old school villains. The murder mystery didn't do anything for me, but that wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that none of this is what I signed on for. I wanted the Hulk story. You know, the guy on the front of the book. This was a bunch of extras for hardcore fans.
The art was okay. Nothing terribly innovative, but the dark colours fit the tone well and while Bach's characters reminded me of caricatures of MAD Magazine (like say, those of Jack Davis or Mort Drucker) and therefore did not fit the serious tone as well, I'll give him credit for reminding me of MAD Magazine anyway.