Review by Karl Verhoven
This is the final full volume of the Hulk’s escapades as Las Vegas enforcer Mr Fixit, and it’s fun in places, although that might not be apparent from the opening chapter’s forced satire occurring at a video convention followed by an induced wish-fulfilment dream. Something Peter David has since excised from his writing, is the inability to resist a smart comment, no matter how inappropriate, but early in his career it was a frequent occurrence. How credible is it that Mr Fixit or the Hulk would come out with “stuff like this is in old stories or musicals with Ray Walston”? At the time such steps out of character were the downside of David’s snappy dialogue.
The remaining plot is dragged too far. A powerful being has been tasked with inducing some nobility in the Hulk. They’re tenacious, and it’s an interesting idea that the conflict in a superhero story occurs due to a desire to improve. They are, however, open to deception, and while Mr Fixit is being led around town from brawl to brawl, plans are being concocted. This story eventually ties in with a Marvel crossover event of the period, Inferno, which David adroitly sidesteps by featuring the title and a demon from hell, but no further reference. For the second consecutive book he uses a gambling solution to a problem, although that wouldn’t have been as apparent in issues published almost a year apart with no thought that they’d ever be collected as a graphic novel.
The art doesn’t match the script. Jeff Purves is attempting to modify his style, but the role model he’s chosen, possibly Marc Silvestri, isn’t one he can emulate very well. There’s a proliferation of stretched people with misproportioned heads, although it’s balanced by a more appealing approach to layouts, and as he established the character, Purves’ Mr Fixit always has a surliness about him. The art improves for Marie Severin seemingly taking the time to fix a few things when she inked the pages of the last few chapters, and there’s a very impressive splash page of a coyote howling over the Hulk’s profile hacked out of rocks.
It introduces a conflict with Werewolf by Night, which is quite the moody piece, and far better than the preceding team-up with Iron Man, although by the end it’s lachrymose and melodramatic. David again pulls the trick of largely ignoring another company-wide crossover when he pits the Hulk against old villain the Grey Gargoyle, able to turn people to stone with a touch. There’s a very good aspect to this story, but it’s not apparent until the next volume, and there’s some value to the Grey Gargoyle attempting to steamroller the Hulk, but it’s otherwise average.
For the sake of completion this collection includes a poor story by Bob Harras with woefully over-written dialogue, although nicely illustrated in places by Dan Reed, and two shorts written by David. One is the Hulk versus a killer whale, and sadly nowhere near as interesting as it sounds. ‘The Main Event’, however, pits the Hulk against his wrestling namesake with predictable consequences. There will be many nostalgic to see Herb Trimpe drawing the Hulk again, even it is the grey version, and while David hardly over-extends himself it’s enjoyable fluff. Volume 5 is better.