Harkanon, Haarg, Holku, The Green Scar, The World Breaker and The Eye of Rage. All names used to describe the alter ego and darker side of Bruce Banner, known as the Hulk. There have been many incarnations of him as well with the most recent being penned by Greg Pak. Now Jason Aaron, one of Marvel’s Architects, takes over the reins.
Over the course of time Hulk has become much more self aware and here we have Aaron taking a further step in that direction. The new start was advertised as "Ripped asunder!" and that is exactly what you are given from the very first page. Hulk and Banner now have their own personal space and inhabit their own separate bodies. This is not the first time this has been done, however it is the first that the Hulk has really decided to make a new life for himself.
Aaron’s writing is a mixed bag for me. Opening with narration is not unexpected for a first issue as this will pave the way for new readers. This fades through the issue as the story eventually takes over and you are given a “man” who appears to have found a semblance of peace and happiness interwoven with a great deal of wariness and almost apprehension. There is overwhelming foreboding sense that the peace Hulk had been searching won’t last. So close and yet still out of his reach.
If anything though it is a little formulaic. You can see where things are going well before they happen, but whether this is bad writing or simply the continuation or a well embedded theme would be for the individual to choose from. I fall more on the side of building on a common theme as I have liked the writing behind the issue. The comparison between this new release and also Planet Hulk is quite clear too. For new readers this is not an issue, likewise I feel for fans of Planet Hulk but anyone who has found the intellectual Hulk out of sorts for them, it won’t sit comfortably.
Banner’s portrayal is also something that has made me think. My favourite comment of all time came from Pak’s run where the question was posed that what if Hulk wasn’t the real monster but it was actually Banner. This has been amplified hugely, almost distorting the character culminating in the Marvel take on Dr Moreaux. Roles have certainly been reversed.
The issue has been pencilled by Marc Silvestri who is a favourite of mine for his work on Top Cow’s The Darkness amongst other titles. His style is totally evident as his gives huge amounts of detail but also manages to keep it almost rough cut. Hulk is rippling and imposing but instead of menacing has a clear look of thought and contemplation, but why the beard and straggly hair? The cover image (also by Silvestri) is more traditional and yet inside you still have the gamma-irradiated, wild man of Borneo look. A little confusing but I have a feeling it’s only temporary.
As a first issue I have not been overwhelmed by what I’ve seen but I am a fan so I haven’t disliked it either. This is a title that is definitely on my pull list but I am waiting for changes to come. Marc Silvestri is an uncertainty for me as he has a number of other projects. Frustratingly I can only see this new beginning and the hunt for Banner being short lived. New arcs will need to be designed, possibly still around two main protagonists. Even so, it’s a good easy beginning for those new to Hulk and a reasonable one for those who aren’t. We just have to see how it goes.
This week Matt has been trying hard to refrain from using phrases like “Matt SMASH!” and “Puny Humans!”