Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk #3 was initially suppose to release in April of 2006 amid much publicity and fanfare. Only it didn’t. In fact the storyline or incidents in the series were mentioned in three other Ultimate lines. Ultimate X-Men #97, The Ultimates 3 #5 and Ultimatum #4 all refer to the battle between Wolverine and Hulk that never made it to the printers. Why? Marvel never really says. But after what must have been many re-writes, issues one and two were re-released in February of 2009 (three years later) and issue number three finally makes it to the stands in March of 2009. Why? How did three years pass between issue two and three?
Marvel, under the professional and consumer service oriented Joe Quesada, never really give a good answer but it is another example of what happens when the artists take control of the business side of running a publication. They forget about making sure that the people who are shelling out the four bucks an issue are what pays for them to continue to draw their pretty pictures. This is why artists need managers. To make sure they deliver. Three years between issues is ridiculous.
But, beside that. Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk is one of the best written and drawn books to come out in sometime.
The plot is as follows. After the Hulk destroys Manhattan, a death sentence is passed on him and the world at large is sick and tired of being smashed by the Hulk. So they nuke him. Only he survives. As Bruce Banner, he decides to lie low and seek peace in a Tibetan monastery. Shield and Nick Fury soon realize that the Hulk survived and decide a more intimate answer might work better. They reach out to the Wolverine to find and kill the Hulk. Logan agrees and hunts the Hulk down. The battle that ensues gives us one of the most unforgettable moments in comic book history. The Hulk literally rips the Wolverine in half. Then proceeds to throw the lower part of the body four miles up a mountain. When Logan comes to and realizes what has happened he drags what remains of his body up the mountain in search of his legs. When he finds them he finds the Hulk also waiting. The Hulk gives him a choice. Which leg will the Hulk eat. Before they can finish that, they are joined by another. Betty Ross, in the form of the She Hulk. Yes that Betty Ross. Bruce Banner’s fiancé. Now as the She Hulk, as they battle, or have sex depending on perspective, Logan blacks out.
He comes to in Shield, a decapitated head on a tray. He refuses to tell Fury what transpired and in a rage Fury shoots him. When Logan awakens again, he is whole and remembers what Hulk said last and where he was headed. Logan finds Betty and the Hulk in Casablanca. He injures Betty and captures Bruce. It ends with Hulk and Wolverine stranded in the middle of nowhere, figuring out that they need each other more than they want each other dead.
What makes this six issues series so much fun is the banter that goes on between Logan and Hulk. As when the Hulk is threatening to eat one of Logan’s legs and makes him choose which one. When Logan does, Hulk asks if he is sure. Logan gets pissed off and lets into the Hulk, who responds, while holding Logan’s legs, “You’re taking this all too personal.” Good writing and strong artwork make this a worthwhile read. The writing goes behind the scene into the motivations behind the characters. Banner’s and Hulk’s search for peace. Wolverine’s anger that Banner has found that. Betty Ross in love with the power of the She Hulk and no longer willing to wait around for Bruce to figure out what he is or isn’t. Her constant betrayal is what sets the Hulk. And of course Nick Fury and Shield, who are less interested in protecting the country as they are in finding out the secrets of the Hulk serum.
A good comic book series.