I have enjoyed things that both Fred Van Lente and Tom Fowler have done, but I’m not a Hulk guy. I’m not against Hulk, I just feel that he’s a hard character to do right, especially as the main character. He works best in supporting roles and in small doses (which is why he worked so well in the Avengers movie, and was one of the best parts of Garth Ennis’ Punisher). Throw in that Marvel’s Season One line has been on a downward trajectory since it’s initial launch, and it leaves me wary.
The book starts with a very brief run down of the Hulks origin. This is nice, because I think we all know the story at this point. We are then thrown into a crazy 50’s sci-fi epic.
A.I.M. T.H.E.M. shows up as well as some super cool Soviet robots. As you can imagine, that leads to some really cool fight scenes, which Fowler just KILLS. This book has some of the best art I have seen from him. And lets not forget Van Lente. His writing is sharp. He is on his game in the Hulk-verse. My second favorite line is “Ray gun, huh? My gun shoots ray bullets!” I’ll let you find the best line of the book on your own, and he even works in a great Man-Thing reference!
There is so much going on that this book never feels dull or full of filler. One (of many) plot points is the Hulk trying to rid himself of Banner and it has never been better. The reason he doesn’t want to share a brain with Banner is pretty cool and it explains why Hulk functions on a lower more animalistic level. He’s not dumb, he’s just surviving. By the end, the Hulk’s origin is twisted ever-so-slightly. The radiation didn’t make the Hulk, it just triggered a mutated gene that his body has been suppressing. I haven’t read enough Hulk to know if this has been addressed before, but it should have been. Also, Banner changes under times of emotional distress this is due to something that the Hulk does. This ties Hulk and Banner together more than anything Hulk related that I ever read, and it does it in an organic way that I feel ashamed for everyone who has written these characters before. If Van Lente wasn’t staring at an Ouroboros and watching black and white science fiction movies while writing this, I’d be surprised.
This book is great! I honestly can’t think of anything that I didn’t enjoy. Well, there’s some child abuse stuff in here that almost gets heavy handed, but that’s only if I want to get really nit picky. The inclusion of a digital copy more than makes up for it. This is what Hulk should be: a crazy sci-fi (not alien sci-fi, but actual science sci-fi) adventure with heart to boot.