Geek Goggle Reviews: Hulk #1

by Jeff

Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews

654025_320 Geek Goggle Reviews: Hulk #1Hulk #1-16 (2014)
Marvel Comics
Waid, Duggan, Bagley, Hennessy & Keith

Between April of 2014 and May of 2015 Marvel published a comic simply entitled “Hulk” that ran for sixteen issues plus an annual. While this is isn’t the first comic to carry this title and this volume comes on the heels of the ‘Indestructible Hulk’ by the same writer, Mark Waid, this volume takes on a direction that is unique from all the other recent Hulk incarnations. Marvel has had a pattern of launching books when different creative teams take the reins for a comic, so when Mark Waid was pulled from this book for other projects after only four issues Marvel oddly decided not to relaunch the book. Instead they let the comic turn in a completely different direction. It is entirely possible that new writer, Gerry Duggan, had more freedom with the book with the Secret Wars event coming along and canceling all the titles and effectively ending the universe. However, the devil is in the details and Duggan made the most of his twelve issues and helped make this title one of Marvel’s best over the past year. This is a highly recommended read.

The first four issues carryover the plot from the previous volume that saw Bruce Banner shot in the back of the head. There is a surgery performed by a suspect group with some questionable motives. However, the complication turns out to be not whether Banner will survive but the mental state of Banner coming out of the surgery. He takes on a near-vegetative state and is sent into hiding to keep tabs on him and his alter ego. While these opening few plot points in the first two or three issues sound boring they actually are rather engaging. The problem is that these plots get prematurely wrapped up to kick-off the “Omega” story line when Duggan takes over the writing duties.

When the writer change occurs, Banner reverts to his Hulk persona, but with a twist. This version retains all of Banner’s intelligence, but the Hulk’s memories. He then refers to himself as Doc Green and gets to work with a lab of assistants to find a cure for the gamma radiation powers. The book winds its way through the twelve issues at a fast pace that has very little wiggle room with subplots.

Doc Green has a list of gamma powered friends and enemies that he seeks out to use his cure on. The list includes Rick Jones, General Ross, Betty Ross and a few others. The interactions rarely occur more than once and usually no single issue contains two. Doc Green is met with resistance with each character and this allows the reader to hear multiple and sensible arguments as to why they shouldn’t be cured.

The most compelling theme throughout all of this is how Doc Green is allowed to make decisions for others. While his gamma bomb accident set all of this in motion it seems he is one of the least stable characters to make long-term decisions for anyone. In some cases, the characters are living as heroes and really aren’t causing any problems and are actually helping mankind. This idea that Doc Green is playing King of the Gamma beings is interesting because part of the rationale is that Doc Green believes all gamma powered characters are heading to a corrupt and power hungry existence. He even makes a reference to becoming the Maestro, a dictator in distant future, that apparently rules over the remaining bits of civilization. If Doc Green felt this strongly about the corruption then why isn’t he using the cure on himself? This idea comes up again and again and isn’t resolved until the very final issue.

The two confrontations that are highly anticipated are Doc Green with Ross aka Red Hulk and Betty aka Red She-Hulk. Neither of these disappoint and both have some explosive results. Doc Green tries to reason with both but neither is looking for words of wisdom from The Hulk. Whether they believe Banner is actually behind the cure or if they simply blame The Hulk for all the wrongs in their life, they both don’t see Doc Green in a friendly way.

The series has some subplots. There are a couple of scientists that work for Doc Green that find themselves in some hot water. There is still the mystery of who shot Banner and why. Finally, there is a bit of a missing person situation with one of the gamma powered beings. None of these see a ton of panel time but they all come to relatively satisfactory conclusions by the end of the run.

Bagley is the artist on the comic for the entire run and the book looks great. For the first few issues there are smaller panels as the narrative is more of a mystery. When “Omega” begins the comic starts using more of the full page splash pages whether the story contains action or not. The comic book looks lively and important. In some ways, this comic book appears more like an event than some of the events Marvel has produced in the last ten years. The artwork brings out some emotion as well in the key parts of the “Omega” story line.

geekgoggle Geek Goggle Reviews: Hulk #1The series is not without some hiccups. When Banner is in hiding in issues two through five, editorial can’t seem to remember if he’s in Kentucky or Colorado. In one issue he’s in Kentucky, in the next issue the recap page says Kentucky, but the dialogue says Colorado. The next issue both say he’s in Colorado. There is also a scientist that sort of gets written out of the book without much explanation in the main title. Finally, Banner going back and forth in his mental state and the difficult/ease of changing back and forth between Hulk and Banner seems to lack any consistency. These do not make or break the series but they take away from this being as tight of a story as possible.

The Hulk is not everyone’s favorite character. However, if you were every curious about the character then these sixteen issues are a great introduction to the character because the story has a satisfactory ending. Long time readers will find this story to tie up a lot of loose ends as the universe goes away. While not everything that you might expect to be said between the characters occurs, there is certainly enough to bring their stories to a logical conclusion. The series is very good and makes the most of the writer change and the editorial directive to end the universe. This is something to definitely pick up.

4.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles

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