“Hulk knows how to punch things until they fall down. Hulk knows how to smash. Not how to dream. If I had ever dreamed, it would have been of this.”
Bruce Banner is finally free of Hulk. After the events of Fear Itself, he and Hulk somehow split up, although it’s still unclear exactly how. Hulk is below the earth, fighting huge monsters to feed and protect a community of humanoids. Down here, he’s their savior. He’s not the borderline menace that he’s used to being. He’s close to being happy, but it gets interrupted.
Amanda von Doom comes down to recruit Hulk to help stop Bruce Banner. And that’s where I got hooked. I actually got hooked as soon as I saw Hulk had a beard, but more on that later.
What makes Incredible Hulk #1 so interesting is that it’s the opposite of the way Hulk stories have always been. Typically Bruce Banner tries to keep Hulk under control. Now, Bruce Banner is the problem, and it’s up to Hulk to try and stop him.
It’s a big week for Jason Aaron. He has two ongoing books starting in the same week, with this and Wolverine and the X-Men. This is Jason Aaron’s first shot at writing the Gamma Giant, but he seems like a no-brainer for the character. He’s written Wolverine, Scalped, PunisherMAX, and Ghost Rider. His brutal, violent writing style carries over to this book. Hulk punches monsters. Hulk punches robots. Hulk punches people.
But, Hulk’s not the physical embodiment of anger anymore. Aaron paints him as a character akin to Clint Eastwood’s in “Unforgiven.” Hulk is done with his old ways of killing and destroying and walking the line between hero and villain. He’s almost happy, but he gets forced back out into the world to do what he has just given up.
Marc Silvestri’s on pencil duty, and his art is stellar as usual. There aren’t a lot of big panels or spreads, but Silvestri doesn’t need them. His style of using thin lines lets him fit almost anything he wants on any size panel he uses. Huge wide shots are set on almost the same size panels as close ups, but nothing feels squeezed or forced.
He uses crosshatching for most of the shadows, instead of heavy blacks, and it fits the book. Instead of giving it a smooth feel, the art feels as tough and rugged as the writing. Silverstri’s most famous for his work on Uncanny X-Men, and this first issue of Incredible Hulk recalls that style. Imagine 90s style pencils with modern colors. It might just be from the nostalgia, but every page gave me something to be excited about.
Oh, and I’m not sure if it was Aaron’s idea or Silvestri’s, but Hulk has a beard. And it is glorious. I would be remiss not to mention that.
The Incredible Hulk #1 was fantastic. It had everything I want in a Hulk book, and more. The writing’s tough, the art is rugged, and the Hulk is hulking. It’s an issue that acts as more of a new beginning than most of Marvel’s recent new number ones, like Captain America or Thor, and it works better as a result. At $3.99, it’s more expensive, but it’s been a while since a book has gotten this much raw excitement out of me. The Gamma Giant has had a bunch of strong stories recently, and it looks like he’s in for another one. Next month can’t come fast enough.
WRITING: 5 / ART: 4.5 / OVERALL: 4.75