Review: Incredible Hulk #1 By Jason Aaron & Mark Silvestri

So, my editor says to me, “Give Hulk a go, I haven’t seen you tackle Marvel yet.” I thought about throwing a big diva tantrum, but that’s on the checklist for becoming a one-hit wonder, not being a comic book reviewer. (Bonus points if you get the reference!)

Plus, I did volunteer for the job.

But wow… I’m not sure I’m ready… I (unexpectedly) became a fan of the Hulk in the 90s (curse you Hulk/X-Factor crossover!!!) when Peter David ruled the roost. I kept reading when the title was taken over by Paul Jenkins and Bruce Jones, and while I generally enjoyed myself, it wasn’t quite the same. (And the less said about the John Byrne run, the better).

A few years ago, I got the Planet Hulk trade. I certainly respected what Greg Pak was trying to do, and I recognized that it was quality work. But to me, it betrayed the work of the past. I didn’t like turning the Hulk from a modern day Jekyll and Hyde to a Spartacus like space gladiator that would make Frank Franzetta proud. And since Planet Hulk, it has gotten even more confusing with Red Hulk, Red She-Hulk, A-Bomb, and seemingly several Hulk sons and daughters.

So I approach this book with misgivings and extreme trepidation. But, that never stopped me before, so what the hey.

Incredible Hulk #1: Hulk: Asunder Part One

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer
: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Marc Silvestri
Cover Price: $3.99

Note, this review (like most of my reviews) is of the digital version of the comic book.

Okay, I’m coming into this book pretty cold, as I did not read War of the Hulks nor did I read Fear Itself. According to the synopsis, the Hulk has gone into hiding following the events of Fear Itself. That’s as much as I know, let’s see if the new writer is able to pull me in.

Update: According to the pages on Marvel.com. The Hulk was able to remove Banner from his mind and separate them into two separate beings. Nice that Marvel decides that the Hulk can use willpower to violate the most basic laws of physics, but I should save that for my analysis.

http://marvel.com/news/story/16940/exclusive_prologue_incredible_hulk

Synopsis

  • After the events of Fear Itself, the Hulk and Bruce Banner have been separated.
  • The Hulk has found peace as the protector and hunter for a tribe of underworld cave dwellers, but he refuses to join them fully.
  • When he decided to finally participate in their celebration some advanced robot hunters battle him.
  • A woman, named Amanda Von Doom, no relation, wants to recruit him to do something about his former alter ego.
  • In a remote tropical island, some boar-like creatures return living animals to Bruce Banner for experimentation, but he needs the Hulk.

Questions and Answers

Q: After years of wanting to be freed from The Hulk, why is Bruce Banner so eager to reconnect with him?

Q: Why is Banner experimenting on animals? What is his overall purpose?

Q: What has Banner done that has the government worried about him?

Analysis

This book definitely suffers having been published so quickly after the events of Fear Itself. The book would feel more at home if the publication of the book somewhat mirrored the happenings of the book, which makes you feel that the events are happening months if not years after Fear Itself.

I think this book definitely has an audience, but I believe that audience to be young males who don’t have long-term comic book memories. Almost everything in this comic book is something I’ve seen before and seen often. Please don’t get me wrong, comic books are built on the shoulders of old clichés and obvious tropes. That being said, you can ALWAYS find a new tact, or a new combination of old ideas to bring forth. But this book does not seem to find any of those:

  • Hulk being the warrior hero who protects them from the monster. Seen it.
  • Hulk feeling like he must separate himself from the rest of a group, because he is a monster. Seen it.
  • Someone tracking down the hero, because only he can do the job. Seen it.
  • Hot woman coming to tame the beast. Seen it.
  • Oh, and she works for yet ANOTHER secret government group. Oh, maybe it’s not a group, it’s just the (and I quote) “Deepest darkest corners of the US Government”. I think Marvel might have 50 of these groups.
  • Scientist gone mad and experimenting on animals, making them semi-intelligent. One of the oldest sci-fi tropes in the world. Seen it.

There are potentially one maybe two new ideas in this whole book.

Hulk realizes that he is an endless cycle where someone will eventually come for him. That’s pretty interesting and self-reflective. It doesn’t go anywhere, but it’s definitely new.

A story where the Hulk is the hero, and Bruce Banner is the villain, is definitely new. But, I’m guessing that Bruce needs an aspect of The Hulk back in his psyche, but then I’ll just watch the Classic Star Trek episode where the transporter makes two Captain Kirks.

(Oh, and transforming wild boars into the human like creatures, that’s different. I don’t remember anyone doing boars before. It’s not particularly clever mind you, but it is different)

Now, let’s talk about the art. I love nostalgia, like anyone else, and the 90s was my decade, when Marc Silvestri emerged as one of the hot young artitst. But I read this comic book and it appears that Mr. Silvestri has not grown as an artist since that heyday:

Hulk with a necklace of skulls around his neck and a ripped loincloth.

A warrior wears armor that falls off her body like a stripper costume, only to reveal a very attractive voluptuous woman in an extremely skin-tight jump suit, and of COURSE she has a scar running down her left eye.

The Hulk with bulging veins, tendons, and sinews coursing through his body.

And finally, the last scene where Bruce is glowering while his brow is furrowed, his teeth are gritting, and there’s several beads of perspiration on his forehead.

Now, I’m sure there are plenty of comic book fans out there who just want to see big battles between The Hulk and other monstrous creatures. (Well, you’re in luck, because next month, he gets to face “hulked-out sharks”!!!!!) And if so, then maybe this book is for you. For me, this was just a giant plate of Nothing Special, with a side of Seen It Before topped with a Ridiculous Artwork sauce.

I would love to hear from people who actually thought this was really good. Don’t just tell me that it’s better than I thought, or that it’s okay and you want to see where it goes. I can buy those arguments. But “good” is supposed to mean something more than just putting out the same old crap.

Coming on the heels of DC’s September, I think it’s rather deflating for Marvel to release this as a new #1 issue. Yes, I know that Hercules has Hulk’s old title, and that the Red Hulk is the centerpiece of the (non-adjectived) Hulk book.

Maybe I could accept this book, if I felt it was being aimed at younger readers. At 40 years old, I probably shouldn’t be in the target audience for the Incredible Hulk. But I didn’t get that sense at all. All I saw was lazy borrowed comic book writing aimed at an audience who only wants ‘big battle scenes.’

Rob’s Soapbox

Marvel is selling the digital copy (and the print copy) of the comic book for $3.99. And as we know, most of DC Comics digital and print offerings are going for a dollar less at $2.99. I won’t claim to know whether either price point is a fair price of services for either company. Maybe DC is losing money at three bucks, and maybe Marvel is gouging at four bucks. But that’s not my point.

My point is, would it have killed Marvel to include the alternative covers for Incredible Hulk #1 with the digital edition of the title. Both the Justice League and Batman titles included multiple covers in their digital versions. I think Marvel could bother to include the alternative covers, especially at the higher price, regardless of what I thought of the issue.

Verdict

Well, there’s the last time my editor lets me review any Marvel titles. (Kidding Grey) Seriously, I didn’t find much in this comic book that was redeemable as a new reader. If you like the current direction of the Hulk universe, maybe this is your cup of tea, but for me this was a serious drop-off from the talents of Greg Pak. And it definitely was not worthy of a renumbering.

2.5

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