By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Indestructible Hulk had a lot going for it before it even hit stands, what with Mark Waid and Leinil Yu reuniting. Throw in a hell of a premise with Hulk working for S.H.I.E.L.D., and you’ve got one of the hottest tickets in all of comics.
Then a trip to Atlantis watered it all down…no pun intended.
Frustrated at the idea of being remembered only as the Hulk, with very few contributions actually having been made to science, Bruce Banner strikes a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill. In exchange for a state-of-the-art lab facility and a staff of researchers, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to use Hulk as its personal cannon, to aim at whichever battle or crisis it sees fit to. This new arrangement will see Hulk battle supervillains, Atlanteans, and even Iron Man.
In terms of superhero comics, Mark Waid is truly one of the modern-day greats, and he shows us why in the very first issue of Indestructible Hulk. Banner and Hill are simply sitting in a diner, with emphasis placed on a ticking clock. “Tick…tick…tick.” The idea is that Hulk is a ticking time bomb which could explode at any moment. Waid also has a few clumsy diner patrons poke the sleeping giant to up the tension. It’s a fantastic scene, possibly my favorite since the start of Marvel NOW!.
Waid does some really good character work with Bruce in the first half of this book. Much of it is actually pretty funny. For instance, the first time Banner meets his new staff, he tests their mettle with a scream of: “What do you mean there’s no internet connection?!?” There are a couple of moments with a would-be robot companion (who we see on the cover) which are amusing as well.
Waid also explores a really intriguing idea in the first two issues: Banner is jealous of Tony Stark, as he always gets to use his brilliance to save the day. Banner, meanwhile, has been stuck trying to “cure” himself of the Hulk. This factors in to his more proactive “manage what exists” approach. The second issue, which culminates in a fight between Hulk and Iron Man, actually represents a lot of what I’ve been missing from DC since the New 52. When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have a conversation, they feel like old friends, because the audience knows there’s so much history there. Compare that to the conversation we recently saw between Superman and Batman in Justice League #20. We know the characters, but we don’t know them like we do Stark and Banner in this book.
For the most part, Leinil Yu draws a kick ass book here. He has some issues with his layouts early on, most notably in the first issue, in an instance where a diner patron inexplicably appears to be stroking Maria Hill’s forehead. But he’s so good at the action side of things, and his Hulk seems to be positively pulsating with explosive ferocity and rage, it’s easy to forgive him.
Sadly, the book loses a huge chunk of its momentum in the second half of the fourth issue, when a mission sends Hulk to Atlantis. Simply put, when the emphasis shifted toward the Atlantean conflict, I stopped caring. We’d spent the majority of the book on the Banner/S.H.I.E.L.D. dichotomy, growing more and more invested in this new found balance struck between the two. So when we leave it in favor of Atlantis, the result is just…meh. I suffered through issue five (despite Yu’s stellar art), because it seemed like such a departure from everything I’d been reading up to that point. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book which started with such a bang, but ended with such a whimper.
Sadly, Waid and Yu’s reunion began and ended with this book. But so long as Waid is still on board, Indestructible Hulk will no doubt continue to be worth keeping an eye on. My feelings of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. are positive, given how wonderfully it started. I only with this Hulk book had been able to maintain some of its awesome strength.
Image 1 from mindofshadow.com. Image 2 from blogdesuperheroes.es.
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