In my time as a reader of sequential art, I never really picked up a Hulk title. That is not to say I was never interested — I was, but my feeling with most Marvel characters — or most superhero books, in general — is that they have a long history behind them and that I would have to know to get into such titles. With exception to Spider-Man, I was never much of a Marvel reader as a lad. Always interested, but never could get myself past the characters’ pasts. Luckily, Marvel has been relaunching many of their books to #1 in an effort to draw new readers. And, personally, I had not been picking up a Marvel title since a year after Civil War. I was not privy to “One More Day” or “World War Hulk.” Because of this new relaunch, I’ve picked up (and thoroughly enjoyed) Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Greg Rucka’s The Punisher and am looking forward to reading the post-Schism X-Men titles (one written by Jason Aaron himself). But the one I was most excited to tear right through was The Incredible Hulk #1, by Aaron and Marc Silvestri! With that said, I can easily say that I was not in any way disappointed. If anything, remarkably surprised.
Having not been a reader of Greg Pak’s legendary run that recently concluded, one might worry about the world they are blindly entering. But, with Hulk, there are not many things to know.
- If Bruce Banner gets angry, he turns into the Hulk.
- The Hulk likes to smash.
- Therefore, you would not like Bruce Banner when he is angry.
What Jason Aaron does in this first issue, though, is throw out all that you believed you knew about Hulk. What if the Hulk and Bruce Banner were separate entities? What if Bruce Banner and Hulk no longer shared the same mortal coil? What if Hulk didn’t smash?
This issue takes place a while after the end of Fear Itself, where Banner and Hulk are split. Hulk is now underground, living with… some rock creatures — Fraggles? — and waiting for them to hunt him down once again. When they get there, Hulk gets to the smashing. But then he is told that they aren’t there to fight him, but ask for help in fighting someone else: Bruce (fucking nutbar) Banner!
Writer Jason Aaron is crafting a story that the Jade Giant has never really faced in the character’s history. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) What I love most about this tale is how it focuses a lot on the character of Hulk over Bruce Banner. From what I know of Hulk, Banner has always been a focus when it came to character development. Here, we get something of a welcome change. We have Hulk providing the book’s narration and attempting to live in peace. He is trying to get out of the shadow of his creator and away from a world that has hunted him and tried to use him as a weapon for years. He wants to be a hero to the rock dwellers he is living with and, if the beginning of the story was any indication, he was. But, as the classic story goes, one can never really escape their past. But this time, it is Banner that is doing the catching up.
Aaron takes both characters — Bruce and Hulk — and switches their roles, making Banner the thorn in the government’s paw. Banner is now trying desperately to recreate the same circumstances that made him the Hulk onto animals on an island that he is hiding out on. He has taken the island’s entire animal population and turned them into anthropomorphic, Hulked out abominations (pun intended). And now — in a lovely, Frankenstein-esque form — the mad doctor’s first creation is coming for him. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jason Aaron has transformed The Incredible Hulk into a horror title and Comics bless him for every bit of it!
To join Aaron on this recent Marvel escapade, he has none other than the legendary Marc Silvestri on pencils (with Michael Broussard on assists). In a book about the Hulk, who better to have than Silvestri penciling all the epic action scenes and grotesque creatures that this series is already delivering? Every muscle, every vein, every crease on the Hulk is uniquely detailed. Silvestri’s character is unmatched. From the curves on Amanda Von Doom (no relation) to the fur of a screeching monkey to the anger on Beardy Banner’s face, Silvestri explodes talent all over those pages.
I also like that both Banner and Hulk have beards now. It’s almost like a sign that when everything goes to normal, you’ll know once they are clean-shaven once again.
While we do not know exactly how Banner and his former alter-ego were separated, the voyage to that answer looks to be one that fans both new and old will regard in high esteem. This isn’t merely a good jumping on point for new readers (like myself), but a character study on these two sides of a coin and how they may very well need one another in order to survive. I’m not certain where Aaron is taking this story and that makes me all too excited.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.