Review Date: 11/07/2008

 ECHO #6
By Terry Moore
Publisher: COMICS
Price: $3.50

     It's Radiation Week here in Ye Olde Comics Review Corner!  Both reviews this week focus have main characters transformed by some form of radiation.  One comic has a decades-long following and tradition, while the other one is very new.  So let's see how they stack-up with each other, starting with the new storyline:
     Echo is written and drawn by Terry Moore, and self-published through Moore's Abstract Studio imprint.  Moore is best known for his now-completed Strangers In Paradise comic book series, and is acclaimed in the comics industry and fandom for creating comic storylines that address women in more realistic circumstances and storylines.
     A quick summary of the Echo storyline through the first five issues: The main character is Julie Martin, a young photographer who while taking pictures in the western U.S. desert witnesses the explosion of a military plane testing a new advanced body armor weapon.  Pelletized pieces of the irradiated battlesuit fall on Julie, reforming as a type of atomic-powered chestplate on her, which unfortunately is adhered to her and can't come off.
     By the current issue #6, Julie is on the road through the desert Southwest trying to figure-out how to cope with her bizarre experience. She's accompanied by Dillan, the boyfriend of the mysterious armor's inventor, who died in the explosion while piloting the armor testing plane.  At the same time, Julie is being investigated and pursued by Ivy, an agent of the organization working with the military on the secret armor project.
     Issue #6 of Echo is an excellent and enjoyable example of Moore's unique style of comic plotting and artwork.  Presented in black-and-white, his art and storyline combine in a manner rarely seen in the comic genre to give a very real world feel to a comic story situation that has fantastic elements in it. 
     The pace of Moore's comic reality is our-world normal, rather than standard comic book action; characters can sit in a coffee shop and just talk for a few story pages, or take care of a dog for a few panels, and yet the mundane, everyday-circumstances are very subtlely combined by Moore with the extraordinary elements of the story, resulting in an extremely believable situation. 
     There's a feeling with Moore's storyline that this situation could realistically happen in the everyday world, and that this is how a real person would react to such a strange event. I was entertained and drawn-in to Moore's style and world setting in this comic, and plan to backread issues #1 through #5, currently available in graphic compilation format, and recommend the same to you, the good comic reader.

Hulk #7
Story by: Jeph Loeb
Art by: Arthur Adams, Frank Cho, Walden Wong
Colors by: Pete Steigerwald, Jason Keith
Letters by: Comicraft
Cover by: Arthur Adams, Frank Cho, Michael Turner
Publisher: Marvel Comics

     This fairly new comic line of The Hulk is written by Jeph Loeb.  The story format is a bit different from the standard one-story comic these days.  The first half of the issue is a stand-alone Hulk story entitled "What Happens In Vegas," scripted by Loeb with art by Art Adams and Walden Wong. It's a very action-oriented plot of the Hulk battling a band of Wendigo monsters in a Vegas casino, with some well-timed involvement from three other Marvel Universe superheros (I don't want to ruin the surprise of who they are, so I won't spill the beans!).
     The second story is written by Loeb with art by Frank Cho.  Entitled "Hell Hath No Fury...", it centers on She-Hulk convincing Valkyrie and Thundra to team-up with her against "Red Hulk", a mysterious new Hulk who's immensely more powerful than Bruce Banner.  The heroines need to knock Red Hulk out in battle to identify what human he reverts to when defeated.   By the end of issue #7, the battle has begun with the threesome so far fairing very poorly against Red Hulk.
     I wrote in a contest announcement several months ago that I traditionally felt The Hulk was one of my least favorite comic book characters, due to the "me Hulk, me smash" brainlessness of the old school Hulk that I grew up with.  The fact that Hulk now has a personality and intelligence (at least in some storylines) intrigued me to take a look at this current Hulk incarnation and give it a review.
     I really enjoyed what I read in this issue, for several reasons.  First, it seems that one can never go wrong with any comic that Jeph Loeb writes; from the basic plotting to the minor dialogue and character features, Loeb always brings an A-game to the effort.  Secondly, Frank Cho is one of my favorite artists, so it was an unexpected treat to view his artistic take on Hulk.  I highly recommend that you check-out his popular "Liberty Meadows" comic book line.  Its clear from the strong Cho-style sense of humor within the second storyline here that Cho collaborated equally with Loeb in the writing of this story.
     Third, the respective personalities and intelligence that Loeb instills in both the Green and Red Hulks is very effective.  I had wondered whether giving personality to Hulk would feel artificial or forced, given the long tradition of the brainless Hulk over the years, but it works in this storyline at least, with Loeb instilling the Bruce Banner Green Hulk with a humor-laced sharp intelligence and the Red Hulk with a dangerous, extremely confident cunning that's actually somewhat chilling to behold.  I was also very intrigued with this alternate "Red Hulk" concept that I wasn't previously familiar with, and frankly can't wait to see who this guy turns out to be when he reverts back to human form.
    My only minor criticism of this issue is that the split story format results in two stories that feel much too brief in a standard size comic issue.  Marvel should allow extra pages in this type of storyarc, otherwise the comic feels much too cut-off, almost as if pages are missing from even a half-issue story.  However, the quality of both the Loeb story and art here still make this a very entertaining read. 
     So "me Hulk, me now have an I.Q." works for me, and hopefully will work for you, too! 
     To sum-up both of this week's reviews, it appears that all three of our irradiated main characters are well presented in these issues.  It's interesting to see how two completely different approaches to characters dealing with radioactive changes are represented in comic format.  While the approaches in "Echo" and "Hulk" are polar opposites of each other, both are well-crafted and succeed as entertaining and high quality comics. So if you're fishin' for some good entertainment this week, these two tales of fission are highly

New Contest Announcement!

     Ken and I have been chatting lately about favorite past individual issues of comics.  As such, from time-to-time we'll have a contest asking you to submit (and justify or explain) your favorite individual issue of a comic from a particular decade.  To start things off, in this contest we've selected the decade of the 1990's.  So e-mail me at Gordon_A@msn.com, and tell me what individual issue of a comic published between 1990 and 1999 was your favorite comic issue of that decade, and why.  Good Luck!


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