IT’S TIME TO BRING THE THUNDER -- GOD! That’s right, we get a team-up with Thor in this volume as Banner and his lab rats make a trip to Jotunheim in search of a mythical liquid that’s said to only exist at subzero temperatures. Of course, this being Jotunheim that means the Frost Giants are going to get involved in the action sooner rather than later. Though writer Mark Waid does a good job at making the action move at a fast pace, along with a surprisingly heartfelt subplot about the medical problems being faced by one of Banner’s assistants, the real star of this arc is Walt Simonson’s art. Always the definitive writer/artist of “Thor,” the man shows he hasn’t lost a step with the character or his world and serves up some wonderfully intricate art as proof. The energy in Simonson’s work elevates the story as a whole and makes it into a very entertaining ride. This is even though it’s most fantastic moment -- two words: “HULK… WORTHY!!!” -- winds up being a bit of a fake-out.
Unfortunately the second arc here doesn’t have nearly the same level of energy or excitement. It may be another team-up, but it’s one that features a character that Waid knows very well right now: Daredevil. ‘Ol Hornhead and Hulk blaze a trail through New York looking for a missing weapon from a high-tech arms shipment. Even though this story features a character who Waid has been doing great work with, it feels ill-suited to the title character. While the weapon may be “Thor-level ordinance,” the chase through Manhattan for it is decidedly more subtle and low-key than you’d expect from a “Hulk” story. Though a change of pace like this can be a good thing at times, it never quite clicks here. Not helping matters is that Matteo Scalera’s dark and gritty art feels like a real comedown from what Simonson delivers. So between the two arcs, this volume isn’t bad but it does leave you hoping that this downturn in quality doesn’t become a trend.