As much of a Marvel Zombie as I was growing up and have been to some degree after rediscovering comics in my later years, one character I’ve never really collected has been the Hulk. I’ve read lots of comics with the Hulk in them, and am usually to some degree familiar with his current incarnation. (Though I admit to be completely lost before doing some research about this whole Red Hulk business a few years back.) I generally knew if Hulk was currently green or gray, intelligent or not. I knew who the Maestro was from Future Imperfect. I knew basically what happened in Planet Hulk, World War Hulk and World War Hulks, but never read any of them. They are on a long list of things I hope to read (yes Watson, I can read) someday.
As familiar as I am mostly with the 616 Hulk, I am the opposite when it comes to Hulk 2099 and the Ultimate Hulk. Outside of reading the Spider-Man related titles on and off I was never that into the Ultimate or 2099 lines. I’m not surprised they have Hulks, but I can’t tell you anything about them.
So in this column I will be flying a bit blind in looking at Ultimate End #2, Future Imperfect #1 and Secret Wars 2099 #2, much like I was in reviewing the Secret Wars version of Planet Hulk. I’m sure I can make sense of it all, but might miss some of the throwbacks and references to the “source material”.
Also, if you are like me and haven’t read all of Johnathon Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars, be sure to take Tom’s Road To Secret Wars course at gabbinggeekuniversity.com. The reading materials are online here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.
Ultimate End #2
The final story of the Ultimate Universe…that’s already been destroyed…before issue one…ah…continues! The Thors are in town to let the mish mash of Manhattans know that whatever they are doing, just stop it. Doom is aware of the dimensional chaos in their domain but demands that the heroes there not attempt to fix it. (And from a continuity standpoint, I won’t spoil Thors #1, but it has to take place after this issue.)
Some of the heroes stand up to the Thors, but they don’t mess around. When Ultimate Hawkeye stands up against them he is killed immediately by a bolt of lightening.
As the hero least likely to obey orders Tony Stark continues to work on finding a solution. Lest we forget there are two Tony Starks now. There is an extended scene where alcohol is put aside and BFFs are created, allowing the Tony’s to get to work.
Next we get a very touching scene where 616 Spider-Man visits the home of the deceased 1610 Peter Parker. He shares a sandwich with the 1610 Gwen Stacy and Aunt May. It’s a great scene as Peter is meeting with them both for the first time since…whatever happened to mush the universes together.
And I don’t say “since the incursion” or whatever, because they don’t seem to think that is what it was (well, not that Doom would let them remember). But it brings up an interesting point that I should have noticed last issue, but is much more evident now with the release of Secret Wars #3. The whole basis of this title seems to be that the Manhattan zone is a mash up of the 616 Manhattan and the 1610. Then why is Spider-Man there? We just saw that he survived the incursion on the 616 liferaft. So if this is not really the 616 Marvel…what is it? (It’s probably one of those things Tom Kelly would tell me not to think about…)
The rest of the issue focuses on The Raft, Ryker’s Maximum, Maximum Security Installation and a particular skull on his chest wearing inmate. That is until the Green (616?) and Grey (Ultimate) Hulk bring their brawl crashing through the walls of the prison. As SHIELD, their Hulkbuster squad and a litany of heroes make their way to stop the two goliaths, Punisher makes his escape.
Future Imperfect #1
While I’m familiar with who the Maestro is, as I’ve said, I don’t know much more about Future Imperfect. Which includes having no idea about the lead in this story: Ruby Summers. (Editor’s note: “Uh, Jimmy, Ruby Summers has nothing to do with the original Future Imperfect.”) I rest my case.
As our friend Ruby wanders the desert alone, taking some time to herself to think, she comes across a man that claims to be Odin. He appears to be dehydrated and weak, so Ruby lifts him up and carries him back to Dystopia. She eventually takes him to the secret hideway of a group of rebels preparing to rise up against the Masetro. Odin claims to be all in on that plan.
But alas, he is not Odin, but a disguised Robert Bruce Banner who turns into the Maestro. The rebels, particularly Ruby, fight back, but are no match for the future Hulk. It appears that Ruby and her friends will be his latest victims until their boss arrives to try to save them. And that boss is the ever loving Thing. (But is it the Thing from the 616 liferaft? And if not, where is that Thing?)
Secret Wars 2099 #2
As mentioned when I looked at Secret Wars 2099 #1, outside of the first dozen Spider-Man 2099 issues, I’m not that familar with the 2099 universe. I have some idea about a lot of the characters, especially from the initial launch. I know of Punisher 2099 and Ravage. I wonder if Doom 2099 is kicking around Battleworld? (Editor’s note: “Jimmy, Doom 2099 is Doom.”) Really? Well that’s confusing.
Anywho, remember last issue there was an almost throw away line about a bounty being placed on Captain America’s head? Well, to start this issue, someone is trying to collect. Captain America, excuse me, Roberta and her husband awaken just in time to avoid the blade of a ninja assassin. When “The Specialist” (as we’ll learn he is called) knocks out her husband, Roberta switches into Cap mode and takes the would be killer down. But to prevent Cap from taking him into Alchemax, he commits Hara-Kiri.
Once Cap clears the crime scene by kicking him out the skyscrapper window, she reverts back to being Roberta with no recollection of what happened. She tends to her husband and when he is ok, runs off to check on their kids. At this point we learn that her husband is also an Alchamex operative and is in on the whole Cap/Roberta switcharoo situation.
An examination of the body reveals the business card of an “all around criminal type” named Martin Hargood. The Avengers assemble to investigate if he is behind the assassination attempt. Unfortunately, when they find him, someone has already begun to ask him a few questions. A Mr. John Eisenhart. Who? I have no idea either, but apparently he’s the Hulk.
The Avengers engage him in battle, which, like most battles against a Hulk, doesn’t work out so well for them. And things go from bad to worse when Hulk’s friends Strange 2099 and the Silver Surfer (2099 or Norrin Radd?) arrive to form the Defenders.