Friday, October 28, 2011

Incredible Hulk #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Marc Silvestri
Company: Marvel Comics

Compared to the books that have encompassed the Hulk property over the last few years, Jason Aaron's new foray into the grand misadventures of a Banner-less Hulk leaves a distinct and quite unsatisfying taste in your mouth. Yes, the prerequisite material that any Hulk book should have is there. Hulk does smash stuff bare handed and grumble a bit about persecution and being hunted, but to me it's missing the heart that Greg Pak was able to package and get across in his book.

One of the biggest selling points is probably the Marc Silvestri artwork. It's been a long time since we've seen him do a monthly book, as for the past few years
he's mainly been the go to guy for one shots with things like Dark Avengers/X-Men Utopia and X-Men Messiah Complex. With Incredible Hulk, you certainly get some solid action in the guise of our "hero" trading blows with a giant Magma Monster. Still, this isn't quite the Silvestri of old. Yes, it's his style but instead of a slickness to the pencils, there is a messiness to it that we haven't seen before. This can probably be attributed to the fact that there is another artist (Broussard) providing finishes and then another three artists completing the inks. With that kind of artistic parade, the end result is going to suffer no matter what, and sadly, it does. The backgrounds are less than stellar, seem devoid of much life, and the characters occasionally feel smudged.

The biggest problem however isn't the art, it's the way that the story is approached. For being a new number one, a fact that will undoubtedly get more people to pick it up and give it a try than any subsequent issue, the story takes it for granted that the reader already knows that Banner and The Hulk have been separated from each other. It's a fairly notable piece of information, one that isn't really touched on until the very end. It would have been easy to cover that at the beginning in a text piece titled Previously On or even in a quick flashback. That said, there are some things about Aaron's depiction here that are interesting. Hulk's need for introspection is different and I like the fact that over a period of time he's sort of made a home at the center of the Earth. The befriending of a clan of Moloids, a clan that seems to be reminiscent of a tribe of Native Americans, is a little out there and feels more like it belongs in Franken-Punisher, but the parallel that it gives to the story is needed.

The inevitable cessation of said happy times when the government bursts onto the scene isn't surprising and the "shoot first ask for help later" attitude that they use feels like a clumsy excuse to have another action scene. Aaron's Ellis-isms continue a bit with a governmental character, dubbed with the last name Von Doom, that is snarky and snide. I get that these are things that work in comics, but it's not needed in every title and lately has become distracting. Then there is the twist ending, which being a Banner fan, made my inner groan machine bristle and rev up.

All in all, this version of Incredible Hulk is off to a rocky start. I think Aaron is a talented enough writer, but his approach to superheroes doesn't always work, and the lack luster pencils by Silvestri doesn't help much either. Here's hoping things get better fast.

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