Due to events in Fear Itself #7, the most dysfunctional duo in the Marvel Universe are separated once again. No longer sharing the same body, Hulk is now living underground among a race of Moloids as a champion of sorts. We can only assume a decent amount of time has passed since he’s rocking the full beard and multi-skulled necklace of whatever the hell he’s been killing since living there. Though never really at peace, Hulk does seem content, but he knows in the back of his mind that eventually someone will come for him. Enter Amanda Von Doom (who claims no relation to the ruler of Latveria) and her team, who have been sent to seek out Hulk to help solve a much bigger problem.
This turning point for Hulk/Banner is starting off with a twist that puts Banner on the wanted list instead of Hulk. It has been stated over the past year that he is more dangerous than Hulk, and no one has noticed it. Aaron seems to be setting us up for a deeper look into that suspicion, and from what takes place in this issue I’d say he’s off to a good start. A good portion of the beginning is Hulk’s inner dialog where Aaron lets us know where the character is mentally at right now. Then when we meet Amanda Von Doom, it’s the best sequence in the book. Whenever you get a normal character that stands up to the Hulk, it can either come off as crappy over-the-top bravado, or something that makes you actually believe what the character is saying. In this case, Aaron finds the balance needed to make this a believable scene and it plays out perfectly. Then we’ve got Banner, who seems to be going all Dr. Moreau on us since he’s experimenting on various wildlife in what seems to be an attempt to recreate Hulk. His abominations walk, talk, and seem to be fiercely loyal to him, but he’s just not satisfied.
Seeing Silvestri’s name as artist on this title was a huge reason I picked it up aside from also being a fan of the character. What was also a pleasant surprise was seeing that Michael Broussard assisted with pencils on this issue. So with these two artistic talents I expected to see some great artwork from beginning to end. This is one good looking issue, though from the point where Hulk meets Amanda is where things start looking great all the way till the end. The beginning of the story moves well, with Hulk hunting huge underground monsters for the Moloid tribe, but it just didn’t look as good as the latter half of the book in my opinion. One of my favorite panels is the look on Hulk’s face when Amanda tells him that Banner has become an issue. You can clearly see the “Say what?” expression on his face that just gives that conversation that much more weight. That scene is reinforced even more in the panel of Banner looking quite the mad scientist these days.
We’ve seen the Hulk and Banner split before, and each time it’s made for some very good stories, so I’m very excited to see what Aaron has in store for Hulk fans. Hopefully the stories can be self contained without the title being caught up in any events or crossover tie-ins for a while, which will give it time to establish itself. It’s not often we get to see Banner go off the deep end either, and this has some great dangerous potential because of how smart he is. So we’re off to a good start with The Incredible Hulk #1, and I’m eagerly awaiting the second issue!