ROUND 2, BATTLE 1
A FORCE #1&2
PLANET HULK #1&2
In a battle as fun as it is enormous, A Force takes us on a journey to explore exactly why a utopian society is being felled by mysterious attacks and how its leaders deal with balancing the threat and their unwavering commitment to Doom. Planet Hulk takes us on a ride to discover how to take down the leaders of a dystopian society so that Captain America and his dinosaur can find their best friend and be free. Like I said, this battle is as fun and big as can be. The questions, however, is which comic deserves a spot in the sweet 16. This is the question that keeps me up at night. This is the question that plagues my waking hours.
In looking at both books, the ideas of allegiance and the all-crushing hand of Lord Doom are front and center. How are you supposed to answer to a man that you believe in, however incompletely? Knowing his power and understanding his position only takes you so far before you have to contemplate exactly how just his policies are. With A Force, we see She-Hulk fumble with loyalty to her God and loyalty to her team, resulting in everyone questioning her position. In Plant Hulk, we see a man decide that loyalty, however facetious to his God, is a worthy deceit if it will allow him the freedom to fight back. The battle, then, breaks down to how well each book does or does not make the reader believe in motive, action and consequence. And though both are absolutely tremendous reads, the edge goes to A Force.
In A Force, we see She-Hulk put herself in the very real situation of having to decide between her personal satisfaction and the greater good. Relenting to the demands of an angry Doom, She-Hulk and her team are forced to lose one of their own for the sake of keeping their creator content. Her motive for doing so is clear and her actions logically follow. She has nothing but difficult decisions to make and she does her absolute best to appease everyone, resulting, as always, in almost no one being appeased. Half way through the second book, I found myself shouting, “Fuck you, Dazzler! If you think you can do better, why don’t you try leading the A Force?! Oh, because all you can do is disco light bullshit? Exactly! Shut up, all of you!â€. Then I remembered I was reading a comic book. And I was in public. My day off was out of control.
And so, A Force is able to win me over with an incredible story as well as drama and tension that is so completely relatable that you almost forget that a sentinel may come down at any moment and try to step all over your main characters. And while Planet Hulk does an equally great job at presenting wacky shit, the character moments are fewer and farther between. It’s a fun, adventurous romp through jungles and dunes with giant everythings jumping out of everywhere, but the Captain’s motive for justice at all costs is simply mishandled. As virtuous as the Captain is and as important as it is to get to the titular planet ASAP in the books, the time we spend with our hero is brief and hollow compared to the amount of desolate destruction we are hurled into before the end of the first book. Believe me when I say that I’m not asking for a 3-page soliloquy detailing the Captain’s every emotion and thought, but A Force gives me that little something extra to keep me wanting more. By the end of the second book, it felt like Planet Hulk would be fun battle with external forces. By the end of A Force’s second book, I could not wait to see more of its battle with a team’s internal struggle.
And there you have it; that Marguerite Bennett did it again! She refuses to write boring characters and she is a master at fusing real world relationships and drama with the insanity of storylines that only exist in comic books. Sorry everyone else, Marguerite Bennett is fucking killing it right now and her books move on to fight another day in the sweet 16 of the Battleworld Battleworld bracket. May Doom have mercy on whomever she faces next.
Jason R. Noble