Or – “How Hulk Got His Groove Back…”
Revelations, ruminations and Hulk fighting his ex-wife: Add in a guy with an eye for a head, and things get real weird, real quick…
INCREDIBLE HULK #7.1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Jefte Palo
Cover Artist: Michael Komarck
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously, in Incredible Hulk: After the traumatizing events of Fear Itself, the Hulk and Bruce Banner separated themselves (thanks to a little help from one Victor Von Doom.) While the monster lived among the Moloids learning to be a man, the man pulled a Doctor Moreau and learned to become a monster. Things came to a head when Banner’s new Gamma Bomb exploded, incinerating the monster/man and leaving behind a confused man/monster. The Hulk now has to find out what it means to be the alter ego of a man who no longer exists…
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/PUNY ALTER EGO…
I always find it interesting when a story changes it’s timeframe, but this one starts with the entertainingly puzzling notation “Three Days From Now,” as The Hulk faces the Red She-Hulk in combat. Flashback to a time labeled “Now”, as the Hulk and a woman named Amanda Von Doom (she’s quick to point out that there’s no relation) bury the radioactive ashes that serve as the only remains of Doctor Robert Bruce Banner. I am reminded of the words of Benjamin Grimm, who said that if you don’t see a body, you better not figger that somebody is dead, but Hulk seems to believe that his “other guy” is gone. Amanda amusingly hits on the Hulk, but the big guy just jumps away and sets off on a series 0f quite entertaining adventures, shown one panel at a time. I’m a little bothered by the art in this issue, as the Hulk is routinely drawn with the physique of a large ape, and his jutting jaw is comical enough to undermine the story somewhat. There’s a sketchiness to the art that I assume is the creators trying to emulate Mark Silvestri, the high-profile artist on this latest Hulk relaunch.
THE CREATURE IS DRIVEN BY RAGE.
As anyone who understands situational irony would have expected, the Hulk finds no peace in his Banner-less existence, and ends up in a bar sucking down beer after beer, wondering what is wrong… Enter: The Wife. Red She-Hulk’s entrance is all fists and fury, battering The Hulk and demanding that he tell her what he did. “I ate a reindeer,” replies the monster, “and drank a buncha beer.” HA! Jason Aaron’s dialogue is a hoot, and the existential quandary at the center of the Hulk’s search for peace/identity is a cool one, but things get a little weird as the issue progresses. As our couple battles through the city, Ghost Rider villain the Orb is seen robbing a bank… Well, sort of. He doesn’t so much rob the bank as rip the eyes out of the heads of everyone in the building (raise your hand if “EWW?”) The Hulks make short work of the Orb, but his words lead them to assess each other, and then, they start making out. And then… Hulk-sex. “Keep your eyes open,” Red She-Hulk demands. “If he’s in there, I want him to see this.” The issue ends with Hulk falling asleep in a flaming crater, alongside his ex-wife, and a sudden revelation as to the TRUE fate of Bruce Banner.
THE VERDICT: WE WANT MORE MARK RUFFALO!
As a Point One issue, I expected mostly flashbacks and retcons and such, as I found out in the first couple of .1’s, but this issue picks up the story and runs with it, serving as a jumping-on point while also working as a successful single issue. The scenes with the Orb are squicky as heck, and the sex scene (while thankfully mostly off-panel) has some unpleasantness to it, by design. Overall, though, the basic theme here is the inversion of roles for Banner and Hulk, and the ramifications thereof. Incredible Hulk #7.1 is a good one, even though I hate the bald Hulk and have issues with the art, earning an optimistic 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m interested to see where this is heading, and hope to see more of the awesome Hulk portrayal from The Avengers movie, even if they’re doing something different with the character…