I don't read Hulk comics and I don't read Fantastic Four comics. Neither has ever been all that appealing to me. Sure, I enjoyed the Hulk movie and I'll go see the Fantastic Four movie, but as comics, neither has ever really managed to get my attention enough to read them. So why did I buy this mini series? Especially since it cost me $3.50 an issue? For a guy that usually buys tons of stuff from the $0.25 bins, this is a lot of money to spend on four comics. The answer--Jae Lee. He is one of my favorite artists, so I try to pick up whatever issues of his that I can. If he wasn't involved in this story, I wouldn't have even looked at it.
Even though I thoroughly enjoy Lee's art, it is somewhat subpar in this mini, as opposed to much of his other work. Many scenes weren't as detailed as I was used to. Combine that with Lee's tendency to overink everything throughout this mini, and you have an unhappy reader. There were some great splash page moments, but for the most part I felt underwhelmed by Lee's work here.
As for the story, it was moderately interesting. I haven't read much of Bruce Jones work, so I didn't really know what to expect. What I got was a very talky story. For a mini dedicated to the Hulk and the Thing, and called Hard Knocks of all things, you'd expect it to be more action oriented. Instead, a solid chunk of the story is the Thing talking about one of the FF's encounters with Doom and the Thing's initial encounter with the Hulk.
The verbal interplay between Hulk and Thing was very well done, though, so even though this was a talky mini, I didn't mind too much. The ending of the story, however, seemed forced. In the final issue, a military force takes center stage over the interaction between the two main characters, which feels out of place. Then you have the end, which really left a lot to be desired. It made the mini seem very pointless in how it just left the Hulk and Thing sitting there, starting another conversation. It made me feel somewhat cheated, but I'm not exactly sure why.
I'm sure Hulk or Thing fans will get more out of this than I might because I'm assuming the flashbacks fall into continuity somehow, but it really didn't do much for me. Jae Lee did a passable job with his art, and it's still much better than many other current Marvel titles, but it wasn't one of his better offerings. I wouldn't recommend buying this if you have to pay cover price, but if you can pick up the tpb or issues on the cheap, you might as well go for it.