Marvel Now! Review: Indestructible Hulk #1 by Mark Waid & Leinil Francis Yu

Indestructible Hulk #1
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Written by: Mark Waid
Artist by: Leinil Francis Yu
Coloring by Sunny Gho
Lettering by: Chris Eliopoulos
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

What is with Marvel and tossing random adjectives in front of all their titles? Hulk was always Incredible…and now Indestructible. And look at poor Spider-Man. He’s already Avenging, Amazing, Spectacular, Ultimate, Friendly-Neighborhood, and now Superior. With Marvel, I am always surprised they didn’t find an extra adjective to give the Fantastic Four. Maybe the Fabulous Flying Fantastic Four. Trademark, Skitch Incorporated, 2012. Yes, us reviewers really do complain about the most petty things.

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with SHIELD Director Maria Hill sitting in a dinner in Manchester, Alabama. She is working on directing a sting operation when Bruce Banner walks up behind her. He places a device on the table, and starts to talk to her about all the times he’s tried to cure himself of being the Hulk. He’s come to a realization that being the Hulk is an incurable situation. But instead of allowing himself to fall into a deep depression over this, he has come up with some solutions:

The device he has left on the table is a water purification unit that will eradicate all water borne illness in the world within five years. Banner believes he can create something on this scale on a weekly basis with SHIELD laboratories and support. Maria is about to suggest an alternative, which Banner interprets as “one of the dozen of undercover SHIELD agents scattered across this sleepy town puts a bullet in my head.” Banner shows that he expected this possibility and has put together a major blackmail operation in the hands of someone he can trust if something happens to him. It’s not revealed what Banner’s blackmail material is, or who his accomplice is, but it’s enough to impress Hill into listening further.

In addition to getting the service of Banner, he also offers them the services of the Hulk. SHIELD can treat Hulk like a cannon, aiming him at problems that need to be taken care of…such as the Mad Thinker, who is the target of Hill’s sting operation. Banner offers to use this as an audition, suggesting that SHIELD going in there would be a suicide mission.

Hulk ends up leading a SHIELD detachment in. Mad Thinker has weaponized Ultron’s Quantum Molder which can now be used to melt down human flesh. If Hulk had let the SHIELD agents go in alone, they would have been slaughtered. Hulk is able to smash the Thinker’s machines and turn him over to SHIELD custody with minimal casualties. Hill decides to hire Hulk and Banner.

Review: I loved the symbolism of a ticking clock that kept popping up in this comic. At first I thought it was counting down the raid on Mad Thinker’s operation, but in the last panel, the scene once again focuses on Hill’s ticking watch.

It might have been some heavy handed symbolism about Banner as a ticking time bomb, but damn if it didn’t work really well. It definitely helped give this book a very clear direction on where this title will be heading.  Waid seems to like the idea of a superhero as a ticking time bomb…it’s been a bit of a reoccurring theme in his work over the years, but he has put many different spins on it, so it’s never repetitive.

One thing I loved about this issue is that I felt I got a full story in it. Waid sets up the premise of the book perfectly, with Banner offering his services to SHIELD. And then we get to see Hulk shut down the Mad Thinker. Even in books I like lately, it constantly feels like all stories need to take two or three issues to get started. I am a big fan of the one and done story.

In both this book and Daredevil, Waid has done a great job of bringing back some old Marvel villains and making them seem like real threats. Sure, Hulk is able to take down Thinker easy enough, but seeing Thinker use Ultron’s gear to try and melt down SHIELD agents was pretty damn cold. Reminds me a lot of what we saw “Coyote” doing in Daredevil the last two issues (I don’t wanna spoil Coyote’s identity for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but it was real clever). I would love to see Waid breathe some life into some of Hulk’s rogues. Hulk has some interesting villains, but they often feel like a lot of wasted potential.  I bet Waid can even make Bi-Beast into something cool!

The art on this book was mostly good, though I did think that some of the action sequences weren’t drawn very clearly. A little too much cluttered line work that made it hard to figure out exactly what was going on. For the most part, my favorite Hulk stories are the action-packed ones. I get a little bored when Hulk gets too introspective, so I hope this scene isn’t an indication on how the action scenes in this series will look. Just based on this issue, I am not quite sold that Leinil Francis Yu is the right guy for a Hulk series.

Marvel Now! has been a great revitalization of the Marvel line. I haven’t read all of the new issue 1’s yet, but every one I have read has been either good or great. As I’ve said…too many times…I do think the 4 dollar price tag on most character that happened to be featured in a movie is a mistake, but on the bright side, at least Marvel Now! has been producing really good comics. Marvel’s relaunched books all seem to have a much clearer direction than a lot of DC’s New 52 books, and I am glad they didn’t reboot the entire universe. I definitely am curious how this will all play out over the next few months, especially once Age of Ultron is thrown into the equation.

Final Score: 8.0 – Great writing by Waid and an interesting new status quo for the Hulk. I did think some of the art in this issue, especially in the action sequences, were a little too stylized and hard to follow, but this still was a pretty good comic.

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