Perhaps DC’s recent relaunch of their most beloved characters has Marvel fighting a little bit more than they’re used to. Restarting the numbering and creating a new “number one” is a good way to get a few heads to turn and provide a jumping on point for new readers. Incredible Hulk #1 is not one of those issues though. This book throws us right into a scenario that confused the hell out of me. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge Hulk fan, I like the character, I like seeing how it has evolved over the past 50 years from a nearly unintelligent brute into it’s various forms. I don’t think I’ve ever really picked up a Hulk book “just because” before though. I picked this up in part because I have a soft spot for Silvestri’s art (more on that in a bit) and I was intrigued at what this series was going to bring to the table. What’s really and truly interesting about this book is that it seems that The Hulk, by all intents and purposes, will be the hero this time around.
I haven’t read Fear Itself, I have a basic understanding of what happened, but I don’t know any details except for what’s on the wikipedia page. In the way it relates to this book is that somehow The Hulk and Bruce Banner have been separated. The Hulk given a permanent body, living underground with the Moloids, becoming their champion and hunter. While Bruce no longer lives in fear of transforming into the Hulk, he feels alone and empty. I would like to see an Incredible Hulk book that just focused on him roaming around underground fighting giant beasts and threats to the Moloids. Kind of like a Godzilla: King of the Monsters type deal where every month he’s up against some new big, bad beast. I’d be totally into it. Now, we are only on the second issue so I’m not going to jump on Jason Aaron too much, I am intrigued to see where it heads.
Here’s the big twist in the book though. Banner is the bad guy! I guess, sort of. I mean, okay, he’s gone a little bit crazy since he and the big green guy split up. If, by crazy you mean he’s set up a private island lab and does genetic and radiation experiments on the local fauna. Then, yes, he’s definitely gone crazy. It’s not like he’s mutated some warthogs into bizarre Bebop knock-offs or anything like that. It seems that Bruce considers The Hulk his one true accomplishment as a scientist. It’s been with him for so long that he doesn’t know how to live without it. He feels like as if a part of his very nature has been ripped out, stolen. And so now he has started trying to bring him back.
The first 2 issues set things up pretty well, with the Hulk destroying some monsters and bringing the meat back to the Moloids, who apparently speak english. We see that Hulk stays apart from the community, that he still feels like an outsider. Then some von Doom bitch shows up and ruins the party with some robots. Which doesn’t really end well for the robots. She tells the Hulk that something needs to be done about Banner. Amanda von Doom takes him up to their battleship aircraft carrier thing, and then they fight some giant Hulk-Sharks. After the sharks are beaten she explains to the Hulk that they really need him. He refuses and then jumps off the ship. That’s all I’m going to say about the first 2 issue storyline because I don’t want to ruin anything else.
Now, my issues with the book. I used to be a huge Darkness fan when I was a teenager. Like, huge. Partly because of Ennis’ “edgy” writing and Silvestri’s art. I have to say, Marc has not gotten any better, honestly, this whole book looks rushed. As if he only had 2 weeks to finish the issue, which, is possible. Maybe I’m just jaded from all of the DC stuff I’ve been reading, and Ryan Ottley’s work on Invincible that I just plowed through. It really distracts from the work and the sketchiness that I used to love just seems like amateur night now. I know that art is subjective but it was almost enough for me to put the book down. Not to mention there’s a “Pencil Assists” credit to Michael Broussard. With issue 2 boasting something like 11 artists, FOR A SINGLE BOOK! What is going on over there Marvel? Here, take a look for yourself.
Is this common? I know that for most books there’s a penciller, inker and colorist, and sometimes the colors are put out to a studio, but seriously? What’s going on with Silvestri that he can’t finish a few issues by himself. What’s even more troubling I believe, is that you really can’t tell where his work ends and someone else’s begins. It ALL looks like chicken scratch lines.
I don’t see this book lasting, probably because of the artwork and artists situation. Which is a shame because I’d like to see something new done with the characters and the story actually seemed promising. I don’t really know whether or not to tell you to pick this up yourself. If Marvel can somehow get the art under control this book could be something to look forward to every month, but as it stands now, no, not at all.