Comic Book Review – Dark Reign – The List- Hulk #1 (Oct 2009)

Writer – Greg Pak

Artist – Ben Oliver

After the events of Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn was installed as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. He disbanded the super-spy agency and created H.A.M.M.E.R. in its place. The heroes of the Marvel Universe did what they could to stop Osborn’s reign, but ultimately fell short in their endeavor. Osborn took notice and decided to seek revenge on those that tried to overthrow his regime. Osborn made a list.

In this one-shot, Banner and his son Skaar end up on Osborn’s radar after the duo team up to save Dr. Woodsbourgh, Banner’s ex-girlfriend, from a H.A.M.M.E.R. facility. She was given the Old Power of the Shadow People from Sakaar. Osborn wanted this power for himself and had his protégé, Victoria Hand, and H.A.M.M.E.R. scientists try to extract the alien energy from Dr. Woodsbourgh. Once Dr. Woodsbourgh was freed, Banner and Skaar continue their mission to track down other H.A.M.M.E.R. facilities to shut them down permanently. Osborn picks Hand and Dark Avenger Miss Marvel (Karla Sofen aka Moonstone) to neutralize Banner and Skaar and take them off the board for good.

I liked that Osborn picked Miss Marvel for the mission to stop father and son instead of heavy hitters like Ares, the Sentry, or Venom. Miss Marvel was chosen for both her brains and brawn. She uses her degree in psychiatry to try to turn the reunited Banner and Skaar against each other. The tandem of Banner and Skaar have a shaky alliance. Skaar came to Earth to kill the Hulk. Before Skaar reached the planet, the gamma radiation inside of Bruce’s body was removed and he can no longer transform into the Hulk. Skaar works with Bruce to help fix the damage and mistakes Banner made during World War Hulk as Banner tries to teach Skaar to feel other emotions beside rage and anger and to raise his son right. However, the day Bruce becomes the Hulk again will also be the day Skaar kills his father.

In addition to the titanic tag team bout in this issue, the one-shot also contains a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #14 which is the first time Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin comes face to face with the Incredible Hulk. I didn’t get to read the reprint just yet but I will and I hope to have a review of it in the near future. All of this for $3.99 – not bad! As much as I like that they included the reprint, I would have enjoyed more of the main story. For instance, the Hulk’s former group Warbound is mentioned at one point but it would have been nice to see them in action to help Bruce and Skaar. At the very least, the Warbound’s current whereabouts could have been shown as a tease for a future issue of The Incredible Hulk.

If I come across any of the other Dark Reign – The List one-shots in the bargain bin, I will definitely purchase them and give them a read. Norman Osborn is one of my favorite supervillains and I would like to go back and reread Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts at some point. Osborn would remain in charge of H.A.M.M.E.R. until the miniseries Siege. I don’t want to spoil what happens in it, but Osborn finally gets his comeuppance as a new day dawns on the Marvel Universe once again.

Next IssueIncredible Hulk #603 – Smash meets slash as Banner and Skaar finally come fist-to-claw with Logan and Daken! But will the battle royale come down to Wolverines versus Hulks — or fathers versus sons?