Punching! Hitting! Lasers!: Graeme makes it through to the end of the World War, from 11/14

So it goes without saying that the end of WORLD WAR HULK #5 was somewhat underwhelming, but it should also be added that I'm not sure what kind of ending would have really managed to feel satisfying at this point. Maybe something that hadn't attempted to redeem the character, or had come to some kind of conclusion that lived up to the no holds barred opening to the series...? But that was never really an option, of course; for all of the illusion of change presented at the end of the issue, something as extreme as the heroes being cold-blooded enough to try and murder the Hulk or whatever is the kind of thing that'd never happen in this age of movie options and multi-media licensing.

(Even the "Is Bruce Banner dead? In stasis? Or something more sinister?" ending is incredibly easily reversed, and immediately following that with previews for a couple of new Hulk series launching next year makes that depressingly obvious.)

What's really underwhelming about the issue, though, is how tired and nonsensical the whole thing feels. While the series so far has hardly been a masterwork of intricate plotting and characterwork, there's something remarkably flat about the pages and pages of punching swapped between the Hulk and the Sentry, and going from that to the cheap "shock death" of a supporting character and the deus ex machina ending of Iron Man saving the day by doing... something... when the Hulk suddenly threatens some unclear kind of overload (Seriously, what is happening at the end there? Is the Hulk's whole "I'm radiating energy" thing something from Planet Hulk? And what does Iron Man actually do with the satellites?) felt more like the plot being driven by the need for a big finish rather than anything organically arising from the story so far. It feels forced and strained, sadly, and the last page reveal so simultaneously from out of nowhere and cliched, that it devalues the big dumb fun of earlier chapters, in a way.

Eh, then, albeit very nicely illustrated Eh; John Romita Jr.'s work, especially with Klaus Janson's inks and Christina Strain's coloring, has rarely looked better. I'm just disappointed that what started with such a bang ended with such a whimp... Oh, you know.