Weapon H #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Cory Smith & Marcus To
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover artists: Leinil Yu (regular)/Gustavo Duarte, Dale Keown, Adam Kubert and Skan
Editor: Wil Moss & Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US
Since Wolverine’s debut in the late 1970s, he and the Hulk have seen their character histories intertwined, and their popularity is undeniable. So there’s a certain logic to Marvel’s decision to create a “new” character that blends both properties. However, I put “new” in quotation marks because there’s little new to be found in this debut issue. If you’re a fan of Wolverine or the Hulk or both, you’ve already read versions of this story — multiple versions — and it makes for a predictable and unengaging read. It might be something of interest to readers who are new to comics and have only a passing familiarity with Wolverine and the Hulk, but there doesn’t seem to be enough new potential in this character concept to justify a story arc, let alone a new ongoing series.
A merc with a private military-security firm finds his life turned upside down after he takes an ethical stand against his employers, and it leads him to be experimented upon and transformed into Weapon H, imbued with the powers and abilities of both the Hulk and Wolverine. Presumed dead by the world and on the run from Weapon X, he tries to disappear, both to protect his family and anyone who might fall prey to the rage, power and razor-sharp claws his other self unleashes. A corrupt corporation learns of his existence and sets out to harness his power for its own.
The art here is solid and capable, and it conveys the size, strength and ferocity of the title character quite well. I think what was most striking about it was the very different take on the Wendigo, a monstrous character that’s been connected to both the Hulk and Wolverine in the past, so his appearance here is fitting. There’s something a little more alien and weird about his look here, and that makes it a little more unsettling and intimidating. Despite the contributions of two line artists for the interiors, the overall look was consistent throughout, and I was reminded of the style of Cary (Conan, X-O Manowar) Nord here.
As I read about Clay trying to hide from the world, trying to keep calm and avoid conflict, and about how he just can’t bring himself to turn a blind eye to people in trouble, I really felt… bored. I’ve read this story so many times before. Marvel has done little to distinguish this new character from the two that inspired it. Clay is Bruce Banner, if Banner had been a trained soldier. He even looks like Banner. I suppose it’s not fair to expect something new would arise from an amalgam of two old characters, but I thought the plot might aim for something a little different. The storytelling is straightforward and capable, but it also feels like it’s following a very specific, familiar formula.
To be fair, there is one element here that one doesn’t find in most Hulk or Wolverine stories: a family. Later in the issue, we catch up with Clay’s wife and kids, who think he’s dead. However, that plays out in a rather cliched manner as well, and then there’s the hard-to-swallow coincidence that Clay’s wife happens to work for the same corporation that’s now hunting him (while being unaware of the connection). Drawing such a direct line between the corporation and its prey really seems like too easy a shortcut. 5/10