Writer Gerry Duggan takes over the reigns of Hulk from Mark Waid with this fifth issue of the Green Goliath's latest volume. And, much like the writer's work on this week's Batman #34 (also reviewed by yours truly below!) the result is nothing short of stellar. Under the creative pen of Gerry Duggan this Hulk is a brilliant scientific mind apparently unburdened by the mindless rage that often accompanies to the rampaging beast.
While this isn't totally unfamiliar territory for the character — as he has been depicted before as one who was able to retain his superior intellect even while not in the form of Bruce Banner — the difference to be found here is that this version seems to be teetering on the verge of mad scientist territory. Doc Green, as Hulk prefers to be called as he explains that the Hulk was the name given to him by his captor, is actually pretty damn scary.
He is a calculating and devious mind who promises rewards under the veil of threats all in the sake of his mission which is the apparent eradication of all gamma based weaponry and individuals. Hulk even goes so far as to team with his former enemies the scientific minds of the Enclave in the hopes of seeing his plan to fruition. This leads to the shocking reveal that Hulk has created specific vials for each gamma-radiated character in the Marvel universe.
The duo of writer Gerry Duggan and artist Mark Bagley have exceeded my expectations with their debut issue. Duggan has brought an unrelenting and mysterious scientific approach to this incarnation of the Hulk, one who has no problems forcing his mandate on those surrounding him.
The Hulk is equally convincing in his role as scientific crusader/madman in the awesomely done opening sequence which features Hulk singlehandedly dismantling the gamma-powered country North Valnon in an impressive display of smashy smashy to the interaction with former teen sidekick Rick Jones, who as the gamma powered A-Bomb, who doesn't take to kindly to the Hulk's offer of a "cure"!
The often under-appreciated Mark Bagley easily churns out crisp descriptive line work and bombastic action heavy splashes. His rendering of the Hulk is of a creepy, take no prisoners scientific genius, even with the green mohawk. Bagley does a remarkable job of conveying the emotional state of his subjects and none is more apparent as to when Dr. Leucenstern questions Hulk if Bruce Banner is "ok". The response is a horrifying look into the eyes of Hulk depicting a trapped Bruce Banner screaming and banging to be let out which was visually terrifying! This is the stuff that nightmares are made of and Bagley made the most of every opportunity to make this Hulk frightening.
This new creative team has genuinely piqued my interest in a title in which I would normally have no interest. Gerry Duggan has been a tremendous fit on every title that he has touched and this is no exception. Duggan and Bagley have hit the ground running on Hulk with this debut that was part science, sci-fi, madness and all awesome!
The Hulk is back! After being shot in the head, being fixed by Tony Stark's extremis virus, having his book go on a brief hiatus and slugging it out with Iron Man in the Original Sin tie in, Hulk #5 is finally out. New series writer Gerry Duggan joins artist Mark Bagley for an all-new story that features the Hulk gaining super intelligence due to the effects of the Extremis and going by the all new moniker of Doctor Green. But what exactly does Doctor Green plan to do with his new found intelligence? And will it be for better or for worse?
It's clear that Gerry Duggan has big things planned for the Hulk and that he is obviously drawing a lot from Peter David's long run on the Jade Giant, specifically his Mr. Fixit plot. Though while a lot of the plot elements hinted at this issue are interesting and mysterious, they aren't focused on long enough to leave much of an impact aside from an occasional "Huh, wonder where that's going?". It all feels too crammed together and nothing is given much development.
In this issue, the Hulk goes into a portal that leads to Kang the Conqueror's trophy room and then within two pages he comes right back. It feels like a missed opportunity to not have the Hulk explore the room more thoroughly and talk about it with his fellow scientist (especially since Mark Bagely throws in some nice Easter eggs for Hulk fans).
Mark Bagley's art is well-suited to this book. He knows how to make the Hulk look massive and intimidating and really does a nice job portraying just how much power the Hulk has. While I don't feel many artists will ever truly capture the size and scope of the Hulk like Ed McGuinness or Carlo Pagulayan, Bagley is a nice mix of not quite cartoony and not quite realistic and I feel it works well.
While the Hulks return to his own series does have a few bumps in terms of its pacing and content, it's still a good jumping on point for anyone interested in following The Hulk into his new status quo. The story does leave a lot of mystery and intrigue for new readers, and veteran Hulk fans will enjoy the Mr. Fixit-like change to the Hulk's character. I'm sure we will get back to the "HULK SMASH" version sooner or later, but for now this is an interesting curve ball in the Hulk's history.