Thursday, 28 November 2013

'Skaar - Son of Hulk' - Pak, Garney, Guice (Marvel)

I used to entertain the wild notion that I would someday be able to make sense of the wild mess of decades spanning continuity that is Marvel Comics. I mean, it couldn't be that hard could it? Yeah, I know... That was kind of naive really. I could barely get to grips with the X-Men let alone the rest of it! That way led to headaches and sleepless nights (seriously, that's what I'm like) so I decided to just play it safe and dive into whatever caught my eye. Comics are there to be enjoyed at the end of the day, same with everything :o)
We were in the library, the other day, and Sue found 'Skaar - Son of Hulk' for me to read; my wife is great isn't she? While Sue was rooting out the good stuff, I was looking for a princess book for Hope (I know but what can you do...?) Anyway... I had a great time reading 'Skaar' (great commuter read, the other passengers don't know what to make of it) but that whole continuity thing got the better of me in a way I wasn't quite expecting...

Born in fire. Raised by monsters. Destined to smash. On an alien planet shattered by war, no one is stronger than Skaar, the savage Son of Hulk. But as a Fillian warlord, an Imperial princess, and a mysterious Earthman spread chaos through the wastelands, will Skaar save the puny survivors -- or eat them?

So, Marvel does 'pulp planetary romance' with a lone hero making his way through a world of monsters, techno-barbarians and god-like beings. A world where bombs may fall from the sky but all the important decisions seem to be made by sword or fist, great stuff then if you're the son of the Hulk and are having a bad day. There are too many artists working here to pay credit to each one individually but take it from me, they all know just what they're there for and they all do their job damn well. Sakaar is an alien world of magnificent barbarism and wonder. You don't dare take your eyes off the page for a second for fear of missing yet another piece of gorgeous detail. And they all capture the inherent rage of Skaar himself which makes the battles all the more stunning.

I wasn't too sure about Greg Pak's writing work here though... On the one hand, Pak tells a compelling story of a man trying to find his place in a world that is painfully wary of him at best (actively seeking to reject him at worst) Skaar has tough choices to make and Pak leaves us in no doubt that the outcomes will affect the entire planet.
Did he have to tell all that backstory though...? It felt like every time the main story got going, Pak would bring it to a juddering halt just so one of the supporting characters could tell a story to tie things up a little bit. While I appreciate the attempt at making 'Skaar' more accessible for readers like me, I just wanted the actual story to get going and it never quite managed (although, to be fair, the collected format means that all of this could just be setting things up for more story down the line, I don't know...)

'Skaar - Son of Hulk' is glorious visually then but probably requires a lot more time, than I had, to get the most out of the story itself. There's enough there though (Silver Surfer!) that I'd pick up more of these books if they're in the library.

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