Wow, we're in the second week proper (After the odd "one month early" branding of the two prologue books) of World War Hulk, and it really does seem to be shaping up to be the little crossover that could, judging by the two crossovers that I read. Of course, this doesn't mean that the Heroes For Hire issue and Ghost Rider issues aren't crap but, I mean, come on. Ghost Rider's never been that good in the first place.
(And now I wait for the angry comments from Dan Way, even though I'm joking...)
INCREDIBLE HULK #107: Here's something I am slowly coming around to in this crossover - and it's almost entirely down to Greg Pak's writing in both this and the main event book, as opposed to anywhere else: The idea that the Hulk is a monster. Not in the traditional, misunderstood tragic, sense, but in the "He's just a bastard who is going to attack his friends who come in peace just because" sense. I knew that things weren't going to go well when Amadeus Cho (who I'm also warming to very quickly, as well; he's a very Marvel character, if that makes sense - Someone who still has to learn that whole great power = great responsibility thing, but who's extremely likable nonetheless), but for some reason, the way the scene plays out surprised me in the way that the Hulk comes across. The unpleasantness of the central character is offset by the new (and, sadly, probably only temporary) supporting cast, who are so much more enjoyable than they've been in a long time - the Angel is a likable character all of a sudden! Hercules is played for laughs without undermining the character! - that I kind of wish that the new not-Champions series had starred a reunion of the original team and been handled by Greg Pak and his artist of choice. Also managing to both undermine the current status of Hulk as "other" and keep the book interesting is the introduction of those who want to see the Hulk win for their various reasons; Pak's definitely taking the rough concept of the event and moving it into some more interesting areas in this particular book, leaving us with something Very Good, happily enough, and also something that almost makes me want to go back and check out Planet Hulk after all.
But I definitely want an Amadeus Cho series, if he comes out of this alive.
IRON MAN #19: Even though this issue is clearly marking time - allowing for the main World War Hulk series to conclude the "Hey, Tony's been beaten to shit!" cliffhanger from #1 of that book - Christos Gage manages to make lemonade with his first fill-in tie-in, helped substantially by Jackson Guice's artwork (the coloring? Not so much of a help - It seems very murky in places), showing both the events of WWH #1 from another perspective, but also a Tony Stark who comes across as less of a dick than he's been portrayed elsewhere but also less idealized than he normally comes across in this series. It's not enough to make me enjoy where Iron Man is these days, but it's definitely a Good step in the right direction.
(Also, the internal narration in this issue will make it really hard for Marvel to say that Tony's a skrull, if they end up going down that route - Gage clearly is writing this assuming that this is the same Tony Stark we've always known, and perhaps more importantly, manages to make the reader think the same thing. We haven't seen that in quite some time.)
It's still early in the whole thing, of course, and we haven't seen such unpromising series as World War Hulk: Gamma Corps and World War Hulk: Frontline yet, so there's still time for this whole thing to go south, but right now, I'm weirdly optimistic about this...