Review by Frank Plowright
In 2009 Marvel began expanding their Hulk line of characters, and the means to do this was the scientific tinkering of the Hulk’s long-time foe the Leader. Fall of the Hulks provided a surprise ending in that regard, and led to this, in which a number of heroes have been exposed to gamma radiation and transformed into Hulks themselves. Hulked Out Heroes shows how they get on.
Hulkpool is up first, having conceived a plan to go back in time and kill Deadpool. Thankfully, with his pal Bob in charge, incompetence is guaranteed, and instead we see Deadpool skipping back and forth through time meeting other heroes along the way during their own time travels. Jeff Parker knows his Marvel history and supplies the jokes, but many of them rely on readers recognising, for example, that Hulkpool’s just prevented Daredevil and Doctor Strange’s origins. Humberto Ramos’ art provides the necessary power and dynamism, if in a cluttered way.
Deadpool’s unique character results in the best of what’s on offer here, but the past is significant in almost all the remaining presentations. Beyond a few differences in speech patterns, having Thor or Captain America hulked out only results in minor variations on the more familiar Hulk, something Deadpool rises above, so the creators dip back into the characters’ pasts. Kieron Gillen and Jorge Molina’s sample page demonstrates the awkwardness, with Spider-Man more like DC’s Bizarro. Their sepia pages of the younger characters are more interesting, and the same applies regarding the look at the past supplied by Paul Tobin and Jacopo Camagni for Captain America and Wolverine. It’s crucial to know Bucky Barnes was wearing the Captain America costume during this meeting. What makes it slightly better than Hulk versions of Spider-Man and Thor is the greater amount of space allocated to a gangster plot featuring Wolverine, and Tobin contrasting the way Wolverine endured experimentation with the experiences of Winter Soldier.
Chris Eliopoulos and Patrick Scherberger take a long time to work up to a final page joke about Iceman finally overcoming his insecurities among the early X-Men, supplied with copious hand-wringing in the past. It’s too melodramatic, so never induces the intended sympathy. Brian Clevinger and Gurihiru produce two shorter pieces, the first dealing with Monica Rambeau, then an agent of H.A.T.E. taking on assorted other heroes. This is deliberately lighter in tone, as is their follow-up with the Thing and the Human Torch, which is more successful. The way the Thing needs to be drawn is constantly amusing, and Gurihiru always have a lovely cartoon style.
Apart from noting the two chapter Deadpool story is the sort of manic nuttiness his fans will enjoy, little else is consistent enough the whole way through, which makes this a collection of moments, not sustained quality.