Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Incredible Hulk....6 months later (Review)

The Incredible Hulk is an Icon.  You see big & green, and all you can think of is the Hulk!  The new, on-going series written by Jason Aaron follows a wonderful run by Greg Pak that produced Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, & tie-ins with Jeph Loeb's Hulk title that included a Red Hulk, & several other gamma-induced friends & enemies from Bruce Banner's life.

Jason Aaron had a lot of pressure to produce something good, and he has not disappointed. The Incredible Hulk thus far has been wonderful, including a mad scientist, a secret government agency, and a radioactive island filled with "Hulk-like" animals.  Marc Silvestri & Whilce Portacio have done all the artwork so far in this series.  Although some don't like their  "scratchy" art, I love it. It gives The Hulk that feel of feral rage and simplicity.  Leinil Francis Yu adds some of his work on the covers of some of the issues as well.

For years Dr. Bruce Banner has struggled with the Beast within. But now the Beast has done something the Scientist was never able to....split the Man from the Monster.

The Incredible Hulk is free, and hidden deep inside the earth, living with a tribe of Moloids.   But Hulk knows peace and freedom never last....they will come.  Amanda Von Doom and her Mad Squad wreak the Hulk's new existence, so the Hulk wreaks havoc on them until they tell him why they are there.....they need help with Dr. Bruce Banner.

The Hulk and Mad Squad come face-to-face with some of Banner's "experiments" (see: cover to issue #2 on the right), but Hulk believes that Banner isn't his problem. We also start to see glimpses of what took place to separate the two. It was the Hulk's doing, not Banners!  Banner wants the Hulk back, but the Hulk is determined to be free.

Meanwhile, 26 & 27 (a.k.a. The Boar Brothers, experiments of Banner's) seek to have their "father's" approval, and begin their journey to where Hulk is.....or was.   They attack the Moloids, just as The Hulk is returning from turning down the offer to work with Mad Squad.

The Hulk returns to the depths of the earth to learn that the Moloids have been attacked by The Boar Brothers (creations of Banner).

The Hulk is upset!  They have stolen the children, all in an attempt to kill the Hulk and make their "father" happy. An epic battle rages between the Boar Brothers & the Hulk, but only one is the strongest there is! 26 & 27 end up beaten near to death near the earth's core, stranded, and unable to help one another.....Banner believes them to be ungrateful deserters who left him just like Hulk did.

Dr. Banner is going insane.....injecting himself with "Gamma juice", basking in radiation, injecting rageful blood from his experiments directly into his brain, & talking with himself.  As he seeks to recreate the conditions that originally turned him into the Hulk, The Incredible Hulk finds Mad Squad and lets Amanda Von Doom know that he's going to help them get Banner.....except, Banner is His!!

Mad Squad & The Incredible Hulk make landfall on Banner's irradiated Monster Island, and immediately find themselves in the fight of their lives.....until The Hulk gets angry!  After beating down most of the island's monsters, Hulk takes off after Banner.....

As the two meet face-to-face for the first time since they were separated, Hulk realizes that he's not the monster anymore....Banner is! Banner's built himself a Gamma-Bomb, in a last ditch attempt to recreate the Hulk within himself.  A secret up his sleeves, "Hulk Gloves" (?) give Banner the upper hand as he sends Hulk across the island with a huge punch....leaving him unconscious.

The Hulk awakens moments later to find himself swallowed and in the belly of a monster-anaconda.  After freeing himself, he faces the entirety of Banner's creations as Mad Squad seeks out Banner.  The Hulk convinces the animals that freedom from Banner is worth more than being controlled by him. The animals see the reasoning of Hulk's argument and let him pass......all but one.  The little monkey that can write gives Hulk the option of loving father or dying? The monkey then transforms himself back and forth from tiny to monster while angering the Hulk more and more then.......

.....flings Monkey Poo in the Hulk's face!!!  The other animals restrain the monkey as Hulk continues on to end Banner's reign of terror.  Meanwhile, Banner uses his brilliant mind to re-program B.R.A.I.N., who attacks Amanda Von Doom.  He uses psychological warfare on Mr. Gor and renders him unable to help as he gets away.....only to find The Hulk blocking his path.

We finally learn that is was Dr. Doom who separated the Hulk from Banner, and that the price was Banner.  The Hulk reneges on the deal, and takes Banner to the island....starting all of this.

With time running out on Monster Island, Amanda Von Doom and Mr. Gor activate Banner's Gamma-Bomb, and take down some genetically altered fishermen.  A flashback invites the idea that Amanda Von Doom may well be the daughter of Dr. Doom, though unconfirmed.

As the Hulk and Banner fight it out, what remains of the Mad Squad evacuate the island after starting the bomb's countdown. Banner wants to stop the bomb, but the Hulk stops him....Issue #6 ends with the Gamma-Bomb exploding, the island & it's monsters destroyed.  But what about the Hulk & Banner?

The only other Jason Aaron-written work that I've read before The Incredible Hulk was PunisherMax, and I wasn't impressed.  He has many fans though, and I'm a fan now as well for what he's done so far on this title....Banner separated from Hulk, Hulk with a beard, lots of monsters, the Mad Squad, flinging monkey feces and an exploding monster island is entertaining and smashingly fun! 6 issues into the new series, with Aaron's writing and some good artwork from Silvestri & Portacio.....Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

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