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My sons are both into superheroes, but while the oldest prefers graphic novels or comics, my youngest ( nearly 4) still prefers story books. He loves Hulk, especially his trademark phrase "Hulk Smash", and with so few books about the Hulk I was happy to buy this for him with part of a dooyoo voucher. This book is part of a new series from Marvel, released to coincide with the new Avengers movie, and I believe these books are taken directly from the animated series. The problem with this book is that it appears this was taken from a two part episode of the series, but this only includes the first half and you can not buy the second half. This is very much like reading only half of a book without ever being able to finish it.
I feel very strongly about spoilers in books which adults might read, but where the ending upsets a child, I will include spoilers in children's book reviews. In this case the ending or rather the lack of an ending did upset my son, so I will discuss this at the bottom of this review, but will clearly mark this section so the reader can skip this if they wish. I was hoping very much the next book would complete the story, and bought another book afterwards, but sadly, the new book was a completely new story.
This story begins with a very shabby looking Bruce Banner tracking down an escaped convict from the Cube. Like Bruce, Carl Crusher Creel has been exposed to gamma radiation, and developed a super power. Crusher is a bit of a bully and picks a fight with Banner. We all know what happens when Bruce Banner gets angry, so soon we have the Incredible Hulk fighting the Crusher's alter ego - Absorbing Man. I'm afraid we never find out who wins. The story just jumps from one battle to the next and soon the Hulk is battling General Ross and his Hulk Buster units. As if our not so jolly green giant didn't have enough problems, a new set of enemies arrives on the scene, Hawkeye and Black Widow from shield and yet another battle ensues.
The pictures in this book are fairly good. They are not up to the standards of a graphic novel, but they are bright, colourful and well drawn. My son does enjoy the illustrations, and he does still ask to hear this book. It does have plenty of fights, and a bit of smashing. The story does jump about, rather than having a smooth flow to it, but this only 24 pages and heavily illustrated so I accept that the story may be limited. I dislike the fact that the print is placed over a green checked background. I find the checker pattern slightly distracting when reading, but I think this might be more of an issue for a child. I prefer text to be clear and on solid light coloured background if possible.
If this story had an ending, I would rate this as a 4 to 5 stars. True it is not great literature, and I have a few issues, but it is reasonably priced, currently selling at £3.21 from Amazon, and my son does enjoy these books. The fact that we never see the outcome of the fight with Crusher Creel is annoying, but we could live with it. As much as I hate buying one book and having to buy another to finish the story, I still would have given this 4 stars if I could buy another book to finish this, but as it stands, I can barely give this 2 stars, and this based only on the fact that it does have the Hulk and my son loves the Hulk, so he does still use the book. The rest of this review points specifically to what upset us about the ending, so that parents may judge for themselves if this would be a problem with their children. If you do not wish to know how the story ends, please stop reading here.
Our problem with this book stems from the fact that after the battle, the Hulk is left chained to a wall in a dismal prison. Hawkeye is captured and put in prison too. Apparently, Hydra is victorious, but the whole feel of the book is that it is incomplete. As if the author gave up half way through and never bothered to write an ending. My son wasn't happy with ending with the good guys locked up. I looked online to see if there was a part two for this book, but there is not. There is another book entitled "Avengers Breakout" which I assumed must show Hawkeye and Hulk escaping, but this was a completely different story, although Hulk is free now and working with the other heroes in the newly formed Avengers. I assume Hawkeye has been freed as well, but there really is no connection between the books so I've just had to make my own story about the heroes escape.