The year 2002 was the year of Paradise Books when it came to hardback kids stories featuring Spider-Man and Friends. Writer Michi Fukimoto scripted roughly 30 books, most (if not all) illustrated by Jeff Albrecht Studios.
This one here: "Where is Everybody" stars the Incredible Hulk, but co-stars Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Captain America.
Like the others in the series, this book is 7" x 7" with every page made of thick cardboard. Counting the inside front and back cover, there are ten pages of story content. The pages are "tabbed" down the right hand side for quick access to each page, should you need it. How's that for the ultimate in convenience?
On page 1: "It was Hulk's birthday! Hulk couldn't wait to see what his friends had waiting for him!"
Hulk strides into the tree house where the friends hang out, but... he can't see anybody. Silly Hulk, Spider-Man is peeking in at the window.
Hulk looks out the window, and Spider-Man disappears. But Captain America is at the other window with a Cake.
Poor Hulk is sad. He sits on a chair and sulks, completely oblivious to the party table, party gift, cake, balloons and which are being set up behind him.
His friends announce there presence. The party begins. Hulk knew his friends would not forget.
Well, this version of the Hulk is pretty self confident. I can certainly imagine the regular comics version of Hulk celebrating his birthday alone, somewhere in the Nevada desert probably. But in the world of Spider-Man & Friends, I guess everybody is... well... Friends. Even characters who possess a fundamental defining characteristic that they are generally untrusted and friendless.
Given that I'm generally more familiar with the solitary Hulk, I struggled a bit to get my head around the idea that the Hulk was expecting a party in his honour. It left me feeling a bit confused... a story about a character I know well, behaving very differently from how I know him to usually behave.
Other than that, the story is well written, and probably works pretty well for a kid who isn't quite as deeply ingrained with my prejudices and expectations of the Hulk as an antisocial character. So while the story didn't quite "click" with me, I'm still reluctant to rate it as anything less than three webs.