Okay, this time I’m not going to complain that this The List book is actually nothing to do with the Dark Reign meta-arc and instead focus on it for what it is: a one-shot that has a lasting impact on the parent title’s continuity, presumably as a marketing device to draw people into the series’ ongoing plot threads. In that sense, it’s still a bit of a failure.
This issue, Osborn gets to “Neutralising Bruce Banner” on his list of things to do. The Hulk, of course, is already neutralised, so Osborn goes to great lengths to explain why Banner needs to be taken out of the equation too. Apparently, it’s because he’s the fourth smartest person on the planet, though why that’s a good enough reason to go after Banner and not, for example, Reed Richards, isn’t particularly clear.
The plot has the unlikely pairing of Moonstone and Victoria Hand going after Skaar and Banner. Moonstone makes sense, because she’s an old Hulk villain, but much like Osborn, Ms. Hand is so over-exposed, one wonders how she’s got the time for field operations. Still, it leads to some enjoyable battles-of-wits between her and Banner, while Moonstone deals with Skaar. Pak has always understood the need for a psychological dimension to the Hulk, so it’s good to see that continue here, as the fights are resolved not by punching, but by smarts.
The payoff to the issue – Banner being partially re-irradiated – is either a major part of the ongoing arc of Incredible Hulk, or a ridiculously weak cop-out, depending on how it’s followed up. The idea is that being irradiated by Osborn’s plan has will mean that Banner becomes the Hulk much sooner than he would’ve. Of course, since we had no time frame on that anyway, it’s hard to see how this’ll have any consequences. I’m giving Pak the benefit of the doubt, but I’d be lying if I said I was wholly convinced.
Whether this one-shot becomes anything more than a throwaway piece of continuity will ultimately rely on Pak himself. As a story itself, it’s fairly enjoyable, but not enough to make it worth buying if you’re not already reading Incredible Hulk – and for a one-shot that’s supposed to appeal to people who aren’t, that’s not a good thing.