The Hulk has been a mainstay of various comics from Marvel over the years. In fact, he has also starred in several three movies, two of which he headlined, and has also made an appearance and been a star of several animated series. Often just a lone agent, he’s also been a part of SHIELD in recent times and is a card-carrying Avenger. I’ve read a very small handful of comics featuring the Hulk over the years, and I’ve always been impressed with them. Such as last year’s Arms of the Octopus crossover or Marvel Knights: Hulk. And now we have a new series featuring the Big Green Guy, written by one of Marvel’s mainstay writers, Mark Waid.
Hulk #1 apparently picks up from the final issue of Waid’s The Indestructible Hulk, which was one of the series that debuted for Marvel Now back in 2012 and has had a good decent run up until now. As we start the issue, Bruce Banner has been shot in the back of his head and it is all touch and go so SHIELD brings in the best brain surgeon in the world to operate. But nothing is as it seems and soon the caged beast is out and causing his own special brand of mayhem. Combined with a really interesting storyline and characters, plus some very good art, Hulk just went on my monthly pull-list.
The best thing about this issue is that we get to see Bruce Banner as he was in the college days through someone who was a fellow student. It adds a very personal touch to the story and certainly makes the character of Dr. Aaron Carpenter very interesting, since we get exposed to what kind of a man he thought Bruce Banner was and what his reaction was to the news about the Hulk’s appearance and that Bruce Banner and Hulk were the same appearance. And this is a guy who has really thought about all of this and he has carried some regrets and some firm opinions on the whole thing over the years. I loved this guy and would certainly like to see more of him in the series, Waid’s pen permitting.
I’ve often found that when you deal with characters like the Hulk, characters who are destructive and monstrous each in their own way, the best kind of stories are those that deal with these characters at a remove. Their presence is implied, the destructiveness and their penchant for overwhelming the reader is implied. Not everyone can pull it off. But Mark Waid does exactly that in this issue. Sure, we get to see the Hulk towards the end, but most of this issue deals with a comatose Bruce Banner and we get to see both characters through the eyes of others around them, whether it is the various SHIELD agents or the doctors and nurses in the operating room.
Going into this issue, I felt very conflicted in that we didn’t see Banner’s shooting, which apparently happened in the final issue of Indestructible Hulk. And we don’t see who shot him either, although there are some clues in the issue, but since I’ve never read a (main) issue of the previous series, I lack that context as well. So some things didn’t quite work out for me, especially since the cover has as a graffiti-title “Who Shot Bruce Banner?“.
But still, what matters is that Mark Waid delivered a really cool story here with a heart-stopping twist at the end. That was something that I definitely did not expect, not at all. Mark Waid seems to be going for a very character-focused story and that is perfectly fine with me.
Mark Bagley does the pencils here with Andrew Hennessy doing the inks, Jason Keith doing the colours, VC’s Cory Petit doing the letters and the duo of Jerome Opena and Dean White doing the amazing cover. I liked the art in this issue. The characters sometimes lack details, especially on their faces but at the same time they are also very expressive. And Bagley’s representation of Hulk is of a force of nature, almost barbaric. That was something that I absolutely loved and would like to see more of.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with it and this is a series that I definitely want to continue reading.