Fall of the Hulks presents only a few chapters from a story that ran across several Hulk-related titles. The full story is yet to be collected in a single volume, the nearest to completion being the oversized hardcover Fall of the Hulks, which misses out the She-Hulk chapters. However, compared with several other 21st century Marvel crossover collections, this is structured to provide a comprehensible read over the four chapters without needing to know what’s happening elsewhere.

The Hulk has always been short of enemies who really define him with their presence. Almost every other long-established Marvel hero has half a dozen villains, yet only the Leader and the Abomination recur enough to count as such for the Hulk. The Leader has already been seen in Son of Banner, and it’s here than his latest plans come to fruition. He’s always been the Hulk’s direct contrast, gamma ray immersion bestowing giant intellect instead of raw power, and a really nice opening chapter reveals his alliance of the super smart, the Intelligencia, has been around and interfering in the Marvel universe for much longer than realised. Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier are responsible, and Pelletier draws the remainder of this volume. He’s got the ideal combination of talents for drawing a Hulk story, able to deliver the power and savagery while also good with the civilian interludes.

Having honed his plans for several years (Marvel time), the Leader and his allies have something in mind for the smartest people on the planet who aren’t super villains, so set about targeting the likes of Reed Richards and Hank Pym. And of course Bruce Banner is included among them. The way that all works out is “as of today I’m the smartest good guy left on the planet”. Or is he? The Leader’s scheme is nutty James Bond super-villain bonkers. What Pak is trying to convey is that the Leader and Banner are both incredibly smart people capable of figuring out each other’s plots, so every time one of them does something the other has already anticipated it. It leads to plenty of surprises immediately countered with a triumphant explanation, and while there’s a logic about that, the repetition irritates. If you’re able to block that out, this provides a fast-paced plot with plenty of guest stars leading into World War Hulks.