For years, Amadeus Cho has been of the opinion that the Hulk is a mighty hero, not a terrible monster. But, can he prove it to the world at large? Your Major Spoilers review of Totally Awesome Hulk #1 awaits!
Previously in Totally Awesome Hulk: For years, Bruce Banner has been The Incredible Hulk, a gamma-powered abomination (not THAT Abomination) who used his might for good, as much as his tiny brain could. And, always watching from the sidelines, his greatest fan, teenage genius Amadeus Cho. But now, 8 months after the Secret Wars, Bruce Banner is off the board, leading Amadeus to step in and prove that his hero was more than a monster. But can he keep the monster at bay?
CAN I GET USED TO THE FAUX-HAWK?
The biggest issue that I’ve had with the promotional material for this issue is the cover image, featuring Amadeus-Hulk rocking an exaggerated faux-hawk, but I’ll tell you right upfront: It’s much more subdued within the actual issue. We open with strange doings at the beach (allowing Frank Cho to draw his signature Frank Cho ladies in bikinis), as a giant monster attacks innocent sun-bathers while his robot overseer yells at him repeatedly. Amadeus shows himself to be a new kind of Hulk, flirting with a pretty girl, throwing in a few quips and using technology to shrink the monster once he beats it into submission. Wearing a pair of cool 90s jam-shorts, the new Hulk is actually really fun in this issue, especially when he teams up with Spider-Man (Morales version) and She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters version, who coincidentally has a few harsh words for the new kid in Gammatown.) Pak’s story sets up a few plot points for later (Amadeus’ sister is the voice behind the robot, his gamma-rage may not be as in control as he thinks, and also, he’s a little bit of a horndog), but most of this issue is dedicated to super-powered mayhem and cheesecakey fun.
Since this is a Frank Cho joint, you probably already know the drill: Musclebound heroes, curvy ladies (including the new bad guy, Lady Hellbender) but there are some nice quiet moment in here as well. Amadeus needs to power up his Hulk-form by eating, and so travels in a flying food truck (a moment that is actually so silly as to come back around into ingenious territory), and the interplay of Amadeus and Maddy is filled with vivid expressions and facial “acting”, working as a cool down between the two big fight sequences. Greg Pak’s biggest Hulk stories in the past have been serious affairs with deadly consequences (remember World War Hulk?) but his scripting works just as well here in a breezier, lighter-toned tale, while still maintaining the ability to inspire dread (Amadeus falls asleep, and his dream sequence implies that this series will have it’s darkness as well.) In short, this book serves as a lovely counterpoint to the teenage adventures of the new Nova, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man, and I really hope we’ll see more of Amadeus-Hulk even after Bruce Banner’s inevitable returns.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A COOL RELAUNCH
Totally Awesome Hulk #1 sets itself up a hard row to hoe with a title like that, but the creative team is up to the challenge, giving us an exciting new Hulk who is believable as both teenager and genius, and setting up for some solid adventure stories, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. With the post-Secret Wars lineup showing a lot of potential, this book still stands out from the crowd, and yes, gets me past my problem with the faux-hawk…