Let me start by admitting that i'm as big a Hulk fan as any fanboy out there (well maybe not THAT big but... big). This 6-issue collection re-tells the origin of the Hulk (one more time!) via a midnight consult between present-day Bruce Banner and his friend/shrink Doc Samson. IMO Loeb handles this re-hashing of an age old story about as well as any rendition i've ever read, and Sale gives the book an "old timey comics" feel w/ his art. Kind of reminds me of reading those old Hulk comics i used to run ragged when i was a kid... good times.
Loeb takes advantage of the fact that his story is being told by a distressed Bruce Banner to his head doc, Samson, by focusing (as all shrinks tend to do) on his relationships during the early days of the Big Green. Special attention is paid to Banner (and subsequently Hulk's) interactions with Rick Jones, General Ross, Ross's now famous daughter Betty.
The narration and dialogue is written in such a way as to really pull you into the confusion, distress, anger, and lonliness that have plagued Bruce Banner from the very start. There's a really cool couple of panels when the Hulk accidentally kills a "pet" rabbit that really speaks to me - and typifies the inner struggle between Bruce and his "other" half.
Loeb throws a bone to anyone wanting something new in their rehash - by adding in the never before told story of the first meeting of the Hulk and Iron-Man. Evidently Stark Inudstries is THE major supplier of military hardware to the U.S. gub-ment (the link), and when the Hulk first emerges and begins to rampage the countryside, Stark is enlisted by Gen. Ross to hunt down and capture/destroy him. A classic battle ensues; ending w/ the Hulk beating the absolute snot out of this early-edition Iron-Man. The book has a lot to offer overall, but this cameo is worth the price of admission by itself IMO.
Ok enough is enough. Overall this is a great retelling of a now classic story. Loeb does an excellent job w/ it, and Sale's art is a great compliment. If you're a Hulk fan, this is can't miss for sure (especially considering some of the Hulk dreg that's been out there lately representing the character), but don't shy away if you're just in need of a good stand-alone Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde story with some real depth of character and a solid peek into the inner struggles of a man and his monster second half. A+.
It was all over when...