Review: The Incredible Hulk #1 Is Rar! SMASH! Awesome!

The Hulk doing what he does best, courtesy of Marc Silvestri

Ironically, given the subject matter, I’m of two minds about The Incredible Hulk #1. There’s one part of me that feels the issue is all setup, no delivery, without a clear in point for new readers. The other half? Rar! SMASH! Awesome!

Let’s talk about the first part, first! You already probably know the setup for this book but if not, mild spoilers on: something has separated The Hulk and Bruce Banner. With the two finally (for, you know, the fifth time or so) apart, Hulk has found peace living underground with The Moloids, battling monsters and growing a wicked beard.

Two side notes:

1) Someone needs to make a map of all the secret worlds that are under the crust of the Earth in the Marvel Universe, because that place is getting super crowded.

2) Sexy Moloids. Never thought I’d see that. Not sure I want to see that again.

I only have two words for you: Sexy. Moloids.

Anyway, as Hulk suspects will happen, someone comes for him, and wrecks his fragile peace. I won’t spoil who it is, but it includes one of the most ridiculous, weird jokes writer Jason Aaron has ever made in his writing career, and that’s not a bad thing. The second half of the issue is taken up with what’s going on with Banner, and suffice to say, Marlon Brando’s film oeuvre would be a good hint about what he’s up to. No, nothing involving butter. Happily.

The problem is, since Hulk is a man of a little words, there’s not a lot going on other than smashing in the first half, and strange mysteries in the second half. Plus, it’s entirely possible that there is nobody in the world who doesn’t know who Hulk and Banner are, but if you don’t, there’s potentially a steep road to understanding what’s going on in this issue. I realize that’s part of the mystery, but not all of the cards are on the table here, particularly if you’re looking to hand someone a first issue of something.

Silvestri's Hulk "is smooth muscles, bulk, and a serene demeanor we’ve rarely seen on the character"

That all said? Most people do know who the Green Goliath is, and what his relationship with Banner is, and this is a fun, intriguing flip of the coin that desperately makes me want to read more. Plus, a large part of this, I think, is Aaron writing for penciler Marc Silvestri, who nails it. Ignore the almost tree-trunk like Hulk of the cover, his monster is smooth muscles, bulk, and a serene demeanor we’ve rarely seen on the character. I’m not sure if Silvestri’s pencils were smoothed out by Michael Broussard and Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua, and Sal Regla on inks or what, but this is the least hyperactive thing I’ve seen from Silvestri in years, a much more fluid and rendered look than even his work back on X-Men in the ‘90s (which I love).

Plus, there’s a lot of smashing. A lot of it. And the monsters are huge. And there’s a sack of adorable animals. And a last page that raises an insane number of questions.

There’s something to be said for starting from a place where you assume readers just know some basic info, and then launching a stand-alone story involving the characters. If this had been released as a graphic novel, that might even be laudable, and exciting. But as a monthly comic restarting with a number one, it’s a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, rather than a full meal. All in all? This a good Hulk story, with some fabulous looking art from Silvestri, and I’ll definitely be picking up issue two. But I’m not totally sure it’s a comic you can just hand to a new fan and get them hooked on Hulk. We shall see.

The Incredible Hulk #1 hits stores today!

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