Totally Awesome Hulk #21
Author: Greg Pak
Artist: Robert Gill
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
If these guys are a wolf pack, Logan’s the Alpha Wolf (although I have to wonder if Sabretooth or Cho would agree with that). The “X-Men” (I think the term is loosely used here considering you have the Hulk and two villains on the “team”) get ready for their attack on Weapon X!
Previously: Weapon X is getting closer to perfecting their mutant cyborg killing machines. They have DNA from Logan, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, and the Hulk (lord only knows how deadly they’d be with Domino’s luck power). The X-Men have figured out where Weapon X is and it’s in the middle of a community. They’ve tracked one member of Reverend Stryker’s flock (Bobby) to the facility and are preparing an assault.
Currently: At the checkpoint, Carla and Bobby pass by the guards and head into the Weapon X facility. She takes him down to a couple doctors who are to perform some tests on him, to determine if he’s ready for the project. They inject him with a chemical and fit him with some goggles and he is treated to a massive bit of propaganda against the X-Men, mutants, and the Hulk. When the movie is over, he is greeted by Reverend William Stryker.
In a control room, Dr. Alba observes the conversation and initiation (for lack of a better term) of Bobby, but she is also interested in another experiment (designated as H-Alpha). This one is screaming, not at all happy about being stuck with needles. Apparently this particular subject isn’t a “True Believer” (as they call the fanatics devoted to the cause) and Dr. Alba wants to find out if it’s a better fit for the program. After all, she is a scientist. Change one variable to find out what effect it will have.
On board Hulk’s ship, he announces that they have discovered the Weapon X facility and we get a bunch of prose explaining how he found it and how he knows what’s there and how he knows that they have a bunch of killer cyborgs there. So Sabretooth’s solution?
I mean sure, as Cho points out, that would kill the children at the nearby school (and Domino is concerned about the bank). Sabretooth instead suggests placing the bomb in the middle of the underground facility, but Cho is against that as well since not every scientist there is evil. Cho reminds them that they are there to save Bobby and regardless of his political or personal views, he doesn’t deserve to be made a mindless cyborg. As the conversation seems to go against Cho, he grabs the nuke briefcase and tries to storm off with it, but Sabretooth isn’t having it.
We get a fierce battle between the two, with everybody else staying out of the way. Logan even encourages them to have at it, declaring himself the alpha of that little wolf pack (and then says he’s “the daddy”). Sabretooth manages to trick Cho through the airlock and the bomb blows up (honestly, it wasn’t really a nuke), dropping Hulk to the farmland below. The Hulk jumps right up through the floor (seriously, how does this not knock the plane out of the air) and proceeds to mercilessly and relentlessly beat Sabretooth bloody. Sabretooth laughs it off…through a lungful of blood. He just wanted to see the real Hulk.
A short time later, the security guard at Weapon X places a food order. Almost immediately, a delivery car shows up…packed full of X-Men…and driven by Hulk.
Thoughts/Reviews/Snide Comments: So let’s get the negatives out of the way. The art is once again sub-par. Mediocre at best. It’s not horrible, but it’s just not exciting, doesn’t capture my attention. But I’ve definitely seen worse.
I also kind of miss any mention of Jenny from Weapon X #5. She seemed to be such an integral part of #5’s storytelling and there is no mention of her here. I’m hoping it comes into play, maybe even if it’s just the X-Men finding her family. Her story was part of the reason I loved that issue.
There are some cute little moments here that don’t really add to the story, but are fun all the same, such as the use of 90’s X-Men in the brainwashing goggles (and the goggles themselves are clearly versions of the ones worn by Wolverine when he was brainwashed by Weapon X) as well as Domino’s caring more about the money in the bank than the mission (she’s really been cracking me up in these stories).
But I think the theme of this issue is the continuing of Pak’s tackling of ethical dilemmas. Pak even touches on religion (even if it’s not overtly done). First of all, we get Cho, and it’s clear that Pak is driving this arc to one of two possible outcomes: either Cho will be forced to accept that killing is necessary, or Cho will convince the others that killing is not. I’m hoping…wishing…wanting that Pak doesn’t take the easy route and have everybody sing “kumbaya” and everybody’s okay. I want Cho to realize that not everybody can be saved. That sometimes, you do have to kill the bad guy. This is addressed in this issue both by Cho’s unwillingness to use the bomb as well as his determination to save Bobby. This kid is clearly a fanatic and while it is true that Weapon X is turning people into mindless cyborgs, but who’s to say this isn’t what he wants? How does Cho know that Bobby wouldn’t want to be turned into a robotic killer? Bobby hates mutants. At the fanatical level. This is also a deeper problem because Cho simply refuses to allow his anger to unleash his true strength. Cho refuses to get all Hulk-smashy (which is why it’s great for Sabretooth to goad him into it…even if Sabretooth does find himself on the receiving end).
Blowing up the scientists kind of takes me back to one of my favorite scenes in Clerks. They discuss whether or not blowing up the Death Star was ethical. I mean, the first one was strictly a military space station, but the second one was under construction and had general contractors working on it. So the question is, when the Rebels blow up the second death star, are they killing thousands of innocents? This is the discussion that Cho has with Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. Are the scientists working for Weapon X fair game to target? Do they know that Weapon X is an evil organization (if you’ll pardon the hyperbole)? If they do know, does that make them evil? I think Weapon X #5 clearly showed that they are not all evil…but if they stand by and do nothing, does that still make them bad?
I did find it interesting how Pak continued his statement about religion. Since it’s so divisive, I won’t get into it here, but he definitely gets into the “True Believer” vs the “unbeliever” debate and how one operates without thought and the other one is logical. Of course, the answer isn’t given here. And I don’t know if Pak will give an answer. It would certainly be risky, because you’ll piss off some demographic…but I’m hoping Pak takes the risks.
Final Thoughts: Pak continues his ethical discussion and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. But this issue was mostly a set-up issue…and so were the previous 2 issues. I would have preferred something a little more fast paced. At least now that they’ve reached Weapon X, something is gonna hit the fan. Probably the Hulk.
To Be Continued: in Weapon X #6