I think I can safely say that each member of the geek community has some dream vehicle they would like to helm. Maybe it is the Enterprise, the Falcon or the Tartas but I wager there is some legendary transport you want to pilot. However I doubt anyone would have the considered using Marvel’s jade giant in that manner. With the keys to the most catastrophic craft imaginable Donny Cates is taking readers on a road trip of sorts. Hulk # 1 from Marvel Comics sees Banner go to unimaginable lengths to prevent further damage from his “creation”.
Hulk # 1: Mad Scientist Part 1 (of 6)
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
The Hulk, and by extension Bruce Banner, are dealing with the fallout of Ewing’s recently ended Immortal Hulk. The revelations of that series weigh heavy on this issue and provide a serious tone for this opening issue. We open with a narration, later revealed to be Dr. Strange, discussing the nature of Hulk. As he is talking we glimpse the rage machine himself attempting to break down a door. It is soon revealed that the individual who has managed to cage the enraged Hulk is none other than Dr. Bruce Banner. It is at this moment that Dr. Strange unusual and disturbing proposition. What if Hulk has been protecting us from Banner?
We follow Bruce into a locker room where he opens one with the words “Captain” printed on it. What assignment has Bruce taken up now you might wonder? He soon moves to what appears to be the bridge of some vessel. As he cleans his glasses he is approached by a familiar face in the form of Betty Ross. From their discussion you can tell how much Bruce is still reeling from the events of El Paso in Immortal Hulk. Their tense conversation hinges on Banner’s new plan for dealing with his, with the Marvel Universe’s “problem”.
From the first page you can sense this is a different Hulk story. Cates does a great job creating a engaging opening issue with the use of different points of view. After the Banner and Betty conversation the scene shifts to the assembled heroes of Earth. Dr. Strange is leading the discussion with Spider-Man and members of the Avengers and Fantastic Four. I felt this was a good use of Stephen given the nature of the scenario the heroes currently are facing with the Hulk. Although honestly even he has trouble explaining it. Simply stated, Dr Bruce Banner is driving the Hulk. And I don’t mean the monster truck.
Hulk # 1 sees a Banner unhinged and unpredictable. No longer is he willing to sit by as Hulk destroys everything including banner himself.
The artistic team of Ryan Ottley and Frank Martin do an amazing job capturing the various points of view and creating an atmosphere using subtle visuals. You could easily overlook how Bruce and Betty’s opening conversation takes place under a red hue. Later on one image manages to give the reason which makes their exchange even more uncomfortable. Another example of the talented art takes place as Starship Hulk attempts to gain entry to a Stark facility. As the scene shifted back and forth between captive Hulk and Starship Hulk I noticed a difference in the green between the two. It may seem insignificant but I feel this trick helps establish a divide between the Hulk we know and what we are about to experience.
I was impressed with how each portion of this story worked together to establish the direction of this series. In the past the Hulk’s actions have resulted in a rocket to oblivion or an arrow to the head. Instead this issue gives the feeling that the assembled heroes may just be out of options. Also it was interesting how Betty referred to Hulk as a child. It’s an odd way to view the Hulk/Banner dynamic. However in light of Bruce’s actions leading up to and during this issue the series seems to be establishing Bruce as a greater danger than Hulk has ever been.
We have seen how Incredible he is.
We discovered that he is Immortal.
But for the first time we are seeing an Irritated and Irrational Banner.
We always heard we wouldn’t like him when HE is angry.
Readers are about to find out why.