Comic Review: Hulk Vs. Thor: Banner of War (Marvel Comics, 2022)

Hulk Vs. Thor: Banner of War

(Collects: Hulk vs. Thor Banner of War Alpha, Thor 25-26, Hulk 7-8)


Donny Cates, Daniel Warren Johnson, Martin Coccolo (Artist), Matt Wilson (Color Artist), Joe Sabino (Letterer), Cory Petit (Letterer), Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz (Artist), Brett Breeding (Inker), Nadia Shammas, Simone D’Armini (Artist), Pete Pantazis (Color Artist)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The title of some of the most iconic clashes and rivalries in the history of not just Marvel Comics but in comics in general.
Two of the most popular Marvel characters out there.
One of the most hotly debated questions in geekdom: Who would win?
Written by one of the hottest writers in comics who has had massive success writing some epic comics at Marvel and is now helming the solo series of both these iconic heroes, bringing them together in a mini-crossover to face off and maybe finally answer the question.

To me, this was the stuff of fan-dreams. The kind that would make you drool a bit.
But to explain the low rating you see at the top of this review, I need to explain (in short) that part of the problem stems from the aforementioned solo series that writer Donny Cates has been helming: fresh from his character redefining run on Venom, he got to take on both these books and it was daunting to be fair, given that he was taking over from Al Ewing‘s mind-blowing Immortal Hulk series and the long-running Thor saga by Jason Aaron. Thor hit the ground running with the Herald-Thor storyline and was mostly alright but I found it meandered into directions less interesting after that and the Hulk book has been an intriguing premise that within the first few issues started to lose me pretty quick.

Both of these books slam together to tell us this story of a driven and emotional Thor who is King of Asgard but has lost his father and is struggling to deal with the responsibilities and challenges before him (including a renewed Mjolnir that holds the spirit of Odin which only Thor can hear), who must face off against the “Dimension-Ship” Hulk that the Bruce Banner personality is piloting in an effort to escape his world and find something even he doesn’t really know what. The scale is epic and the sites of their clashes across this story (and yes, the location changes a few times across the universe!) are truly remarkable. In terms of pure imaginative power to try and do justice to this clash of Titans, Cates does a good job and it honestly revived my interest in both the series for the brief bit that they are over-lapping here + the art team of Coccolo, Wilson and Warren Johnson are more than up to the challenge of keeping up with Cates’ imagination as they render the action extremely well. You can feel all the impacts and power of this fight and I did enjoy the new cosmic death-match arena created in these series, known by several names, including the Black Hand of God and The Pit – essentially a giant floating severed hand in space (like the head known as Knowhere, but way more gruesome somehow!) with the most brutal cosmic arena in space right in the palm.

And yet somehow it was all more than a tad… underwhelming… As I said, it was good fun and it was definitely a bit of a shot in the arm to two ongoing series that I was very surprised to be getting bored off, but the storyline itself felt like it was just there kind of for the sake of making these two fellows fight again and only really peripherally (more with Thor than Hulk to be honest) about the battle and the aftermath being about the personal challenges/journeys they are respectively on in their ongoing main storylines. The only thing I can compare it to is honestly a bit like a Fast And Furious movie where you kind of power through the story that feels only mildly interesting and you sort of push through it to get to the over-the-top madness that you know will come and you enjoy it with a bucket of popcorn and when its done, you are fine to never really bother seeing that again.

If you’re a big fan of Hulk and/or Thor, if you’ve been enjoying either series – for sure, worth a one-time read just for the kicks and entertainment. Will this go down as something worth remembering in the lives of either character? No, not really; I can think of dozens of stories with these two including other punch-ups that Hulk has had with Thor and The Thing that were perhaps smaller in scale but I left far happier than I did with this one, that I remember and would even perhaps read again.
If on the other hand these two are not amongst your all-time favourites and purely punch-em-up comics are not your thing, feel free to skip without a second thought.

…Oh and there’s also (just because) Tony Stark in yet another attempt at a giant Hulkbuster Iron Man suit that gets totally wrecked and wastes our time and adds nothing of value except more smashing in this already short story… in case you’re interested…

View all my reviews

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