This review was submitted by Jeff Hartz.
Writer: Len Wein
Artists: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Okay, so I have a couple of reasons for submitting this review. Number one is the fact that while we wait for Omar and Melanie to return from their wonderful honeymoon, it’s time for some of us to step up and provide some filler for the website. Number two is that with both “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Dark Knight” hitting theatres this summer, it sounds like the right time to look back at this 1981 classic. You can find this story in The Crossover Classics Volume One trade paperback, unless you’re really old like Ray and I and have the original copy we got in or youth.
The story begins with people dreams starting to become real, such as a sweltering summer dream of Arctic Ice and monsters in the horror movie. It seems the Shaper of Worlds, an old Hulk villain that was originally a Skrull-created Cosmic Cube experiment (Damn! Those Skrulls are EVERYWHERE!!!) is going insane and losing his ability to use other people’s dreams as a blueprint to alter reality. Seeking out a unique mind in the Universe to help him find a cure he turns to… The Joker! It seems there is a chance of a cure using a Gamma-Gun being developed at Wayne Enterprises as a way to cure all Mankind’s diseases. So the Joker attempts to steal it, unaware that secretly working as day labor at the project is Bruce Banner. He’s there to find out if the Gamma Gun will finally cure him of The Hulk, and when The Joker’s goons tackle him after he trips the alarm, it’s time for a little Jade Giant action. Fleeing with the gun from the Hulk, they come upon none other that The Dark Knight! But Joker manages to turn the situation into your classic “Superheroes fight before they team up” scenario and gets away with the Gamma Gun, which he plans to use to give Shaper his powers back in exchange for being able to alter reality any way Emperor Joker sees fits.
Okay, I’m not going to go too much further into the details as you’ve either already read the story at least once in your life and know it by heart, or you’ve never read it, and I’ll tease you for more and make you go out and read it. But I will give my thoughts on it. The style of Bruce Banner being on the run and secretly trying to find a cure was at the heart of the story back then, directly related to the “lonely man” television version of Hulk. And with the new movie (go see it again and again and again!) focusing on that style once more, it really comes full circle to the way Hulk is perceived these days. Joker is as maniacal and lethal then as he’s ever been in the years since. And Batman is Batman. Bad ass then, badder ass now! Shaper of Worlds doesn’t do much except be the McGuffin, and cameos with Thunderbolt Ross, Doc Samson, and various Batman/Hulk villains could have been more than just an afterthought. But he y, this was 1981 and we saw HULK VS. BATMAN and didn’t give a rat’s ass who else was in it! Overall, the story surprisingly holds up today as much as it did when it was written. I’d say give it a shot and see for yourself, or for those of you over 35 go back and recapture that feeling from long ago that you felt a little bit when you sat in the theatres last week. RATING: A-