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In the midst of the New 52, Marvel is bringing one of their flagship characters back to square one as well. Between “Planet Hulk,” “World War Hulk,” and “Red Hulk/She-Hulk,” the Hulk has been seeing a lot of changes and reboots over the last few years. This book is no exception. If you happened to join me for the end of Marvel’s Fear Itself #7, then you’ll know that after this event, Hulk and Bruce Banner are now two separate entities. What does that mean for the characters and the series? Let’s find out.
Last we saw Hulk (depending on which epilogue you read), he had mysteriously separated himself and Banner into two separate physical entities and then abandoned puny Banner in the desert. Well, it looks like some time has passed since then and both our boys have been busy. Hulk has found his way to a community of friendly yellow-skinned tribespeople and has joined them as a hunter and protector. We get some very cool shots of him destroying lots of monsters while waxing poetic about his life of persecution. This is not the simple-minded Savage Hulk, but the one we have seen lately who has a mind of his own and the intelligence to use it. Also, a sense of drama. Let’s call him “Brooding warrior who has the soul of a poet Hulk.” He even grew a beard. Yes, the simple life is good for our less-than-jolly green giant, but as he and we both know, it can’t last. Soon, there are drills, robots, and hot, no-nonsense secret agents with peculiar names coming out of the proverbial woodwork. And they want Hulk. Why? Apparently Hulk’s better half is showing his bad side.
Cut to some island, somewhere. Mutant talking animals are collecting regular non-talking animals to be turned into more mutant talking animals. It seems that without Hulk, Banner has taken to living on the island of Dr. Moreau, both in mind and body. All his experiments seem to tie into a newfound obsession with Hulk, but in what way? We don’t know. How long has it been since they separated? We don’t know. How did Banner get this way and where is he specifically? We don’t know. Any question you had before coming into this issue and any you are wondering about now? You know the rest.
The Incredible Hulk #1 is cool, but confusing. Hulk’s fight scenes are great. The premise of Banner becoming an external villain to Hulk is a very interesting idea. Marc Silvestri’s art is incredible to behold and full of detail. By the end of the issue though, my greatest feeling about the book was puzzlement. I still don’t understand why the two characters have separated and this issue only raises more questions. The separation between Hulk’s world of peaceful monster fighting and Banner’s world of science and obsession is intriguing, but it’s nothing new. We have seen Hulk as the aspiring pacifist who begrudgingly fights before. We already know that Banner is just a wee bit insane. What we haven’t seen is an explanation for any of the circumstances for this comic’s existence and that is what I look forward to seeing in future issues. Do we really need another new start for the Hulk?
The Incredible Hulk #1 is by no means a bad comic and is actually something of a pleasant surprise compared to the boring Fear Itself #7. Jason Aaron’s story seems to be moving in an interesting direction and Silvestri’s art makes everything, from fighting to studying, an incredibly visceral experience. That said, when a debut issue only serves to confuse the reader more, things need to change or we’re in for a rough road ahead.