Or, "Hulk Smashed."
I like to think that I am a man who can concentrate sufficiently to understand basic texts and even to a degree complex ones. Post-war philosophy has long been my Achilles heel but I believe I can cope with this shortcoming manfully.
Is it that contemporary "continental" philosophy is especially complex, or is it that it is routinely boring, poorly written and wilfully introverted? I further wonder aloud, Is it a coincidence that the foremost readers and espousers of theory at university were also proud members of the juggling society?
I used to sit in the postgraduate methodology seminars, batting my bottom lip absently, listening to (no, listening around) the voice of Richard Robinson as he spoke of Heidegger and that interesting Nazi's dull textual sleights of hand, or of Deleuze and Guattari and their eccentric but nevertheless thrilling "rhizomes," and I used to think, "In less than an hour I can be drinking hard cider and shooting wicked-ass pool and we can forget this flimsy pretense for being here."
Given my proven excellences as a reader, then, I have nevertheless come to doubt my certified "powers" as I attempt to make sense of the recent Hulk storyline.
A Guggenheim "genius award" to the first person who can explain this thing to me.
It's hard to work out any of what's going on in the Marvel Universe right now. The Hulk comics are especially mind-bending, and not in a particularly good way. I don't know who's where when and I definitely do not know why.
"Riddle me this, me Trinity scholar":
The Red Hulk was a double-agent between MODOK's grisly crowd of misfits and maniacs on one side and Bruce Banner on the other. Hulk's son Skaar, meanwhile, wants to kill Bruce Banner but only when he turns into the Hulk - which Dr. Banner shan't do. He simply refuses to comply. His resolve is marvellous to behold.
Skaar and Dr. Banner are also in the Wolverine titles at the moment with Skaar double-crossing Wolverine with Wolverine's grandfather (or whatever he is) Romulus. Are you following this rubbish?
Doctor Doom was kidnapped and knocked "the fuck" out with what amounted to a "stupid bomb" so he couldn't think straight. I know the feeling. The eminent Herr fon Doom is, "simultaneously", appearing in titles across the board with a marked knack to be in a dozen places at once almost equal to Deadpool's. Out of alarmed curiosity, Who apart from me is doggedly, perversely reading Doomwar? As a general rule, any story involving the Black Panther (or Storm) is boring beyond measure. This one proves the rule entirely.
Then, in the Hulk titles, every major superhero gets turned into a "Hulked-out" version of themselves. They are really called the "Hulked-Out Heroes." I think that "Hulked-Out" should enter the common parlance, because it describes my condition quite remarkably. I am wholly hulked-out.
Regardless of me and my refined sensibilities, Deadpool-as-Hulk (yklept "Hulkpool") disappeared into the time-space continuum for to kill Deadpool. That is, to go back in time and kill himself before he became "hulked-out". Why any person would suddenly conceive of this powerful drive is not explained by the exellent craftsmen at MARVEL COMICS; but we keep on buying right along. It is a time paraodox: accept it and stare out of the window, as if you are in the postgraduate seminar again and letting the venerable Richard Robinson's paper pass over your head like gamma rays on a balmy afternoon.
Hulkpool Adrift Thru Time was actually a good story but what it added to the larger narrative escapes me. More Deadpool money for the Marvel coffers. Deadpool is in twenty titles a month - even Marvel is making embarrassed jokes about this, even as they scoop up my money into their bulging pockets using a large trowel.
At this moment in my life I don't know if the denouement of the Hulk arc has even happened or not. Has that story finished? Nobody seems quite sure.
Now to DC: Batman is finally returning from the dark confines of the, yes, the space-time continuum. Perhaps out there he'll run into "Hulkpool" and the "Dark Knight Detective" can figure out what is going on in the Hulk titles cause I can't. In their Blackest Night ("Dullest, Wettest Afternoon") maxi-crossover fiasco the sum of it was that DC brought back the Martian Manhunter. Bet you'd been missing him I know I had.
Now you're up-to-date and will have something good to say if you ever have the excellent fortune to be in a drawing room with Tinsley Mortimer or Paul Johnson Calderon.
[Portions of this article first appeared in an e-mail to Damian Morgan.]