WEAPON H #2 by Greg Pak, Cory Smith, and Morry Hollowell
With some fantastic action sequences in both plot and art, WEAPON H #2 sets out what it accomplishes to do. It is an entertaining read, and while it doesn't quite deliver much in the way of depth, you should definitely take a look!
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Out of Control
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WEAPON H and its predecessor WEAPONS OF MUTANT DESTRUCTION both begin from a ludicrous place. What happens when you take the Marvel universe’s two biggest rage monsters (Hulk and Wolverine) and smash them together? The resulting grey skinned goliath with claws might just be one of the most physically powerful characters in Marvel comics today. That means that writer Greg Pak needs to put this monster up against some truly monumental threats. In WEAPON H #1, Pak introduces readers to a new, improved version of the Wendigo. With the monster’s healing factor, it has taken everything that Hulkverine has to make any headway. But when Dr. Strange arrives in WEAPON H #2, the battle takes a surprising and dangerous new turn.

Strange Circumstances

WEAPON H #2, Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

WEAPON H #2 succeeds most deftly as a straight-up action comic book. There is very little that Greg Pak has to do to sell this particular plot. He just has to put three major Marvel brawlers in the same scene and let the fists fly. The one problem with a character like the Hulkverine is one of stakes. With a character who cannot die, who cannot even get injured, the stakes of a fight can fall away very quickly. However, Pak manages to continue upping the ante as the story continues. First, Clay (Weapon H’s human form) has to save a single Roxxon scientist, but as the battle intensifies, the Wendigo rampages through an innocent small town. Suddenly, Clay has dozens of lives to defend. For a character based on the Hulk, Clay’s drive to protect all around him feels like a brilliant change of pace.

I will say, though, that the lack of depth so far does disappoint me. WEAPON H #1 managed to balance a really cool subplot that showed Clay trying to hide his new powers so he wouldn’t endanger his family. While we do get to see his family more concretely in this issue, I felt that the overarching combat took away from these slower, frankly less interesting scenes. This isn’t to say that I disliked the chance to spend time with Clay’s wife and kids. Those sections are incredibly well-written with a very grounded atmosphere. However, I didn’t feel like these two different stories fit well together yet. I wanted to stay in the moment of the fight constantly. Without that consistency, the pace falters a bit.

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Taking Control

WEAPON H #2, Page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

While I didn’t want Pak to break up the fight to give extraneous information, I was hoping for a bit more characterization. What we do get is absolutely brilliant. I love Dr. Strange’s opening monologue on Clay. He essentially says that while the Hulk and Wolverine are prone to blind rages, this makes them somewhat predictable. However, Clay, while Hulked out, seems to have perfect control of his actions. For this reasons, his unpredictable nature terrifies the good doctor. While this control limits the kind of psychological story possible in other Hulk tales, I really appreciated that Pak delves into a new type of Hulk character. Clay is driven by his love for his family, not by the injustices done against him and by him. Also, the new exploration of his past military career gave some interesting insights.

However, I never felt WEAPON H #2 sold me on any of its characters. Several of the background characters, namely the Roxxon employees and the shadowy organization behind the Wendigo, simply exist to make Clay’s life harder. There is no other context to their existence. The same can almost be said about Dr. Strange. After all, he shows up to battle only to give Clay the axe that will win him the fight. There is no apparent distrust between the two characters until the fight is over. Comics give writers a really unique opportunity. While the main plot flows along in the visuals of the fight, writers can delve deep into the character’s psyche with thought bubbles or narration. This isn’t used to any great extent here, which I feel is a shame.

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Inside the Beast

WEAPON H #2, Page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I love monster movies and horror comic books. There’s simply nothing better, in my mind, than a really great monster design. Thankfully, on top of all of his other incredible artistic talents, artist Cory Smith has designed one of the creepiest creatures in Marvel mythos. The long, gangly claws and alligator-like jaw of the creature are intensely disturbing. I also have to show my appreciation for the incredible action sequences within this comic. The way Smith choreographs the smallest aspects of the battle really grounds all of the action. It would be really easy to lose track of the events with all of the setting changes and fight movements, but Smith manages to make it work on every page.

Much of this success comes from Morry Hollowell‘s colors as well. WEAPON H #2 simply wouldn’t work without this artist backing Smith. Both Wendigo and Hulkverine have deeply monochromatic motifs. Wendigo, as a snow-bound hunter, is meant to blend into the tundra. However, these color schemes could easily blend into the backgrounds. With Hollowell behind the wheel, though, this showdown couldn’t be clearer. The use of shading makes the characters stand out well, but it is more than that. I noticed throughout that the main characters have a far less saturated color palette. This makes them pop when put alongside other major characters and backgrounds with more intense color schemes.

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Final Thoughts: WEAPON H #2

For what it seeks to do, WEAPON H #2 succeeds on nearly every front. This is an action-heavy story built from a fairly ludicrous concept, and despite the blood and gore, this is a very fun story. The action is sound in both plot and art, and the look at Clay’s source of power really makes this issue work. I did have some issues with the lack of characterization and the depth of the plot, but this is still an exhilarating, fast-paced read with plenty to capture the attention of most readers.

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