The Avengers and X-Men’s Epic Battle is over. Scott went insane. Charley took the dirt nap. Hope and Wanda made everything better. So Now what?

Well, NOW is the time for Marvel to shuffle the deck and play a new hand. It’s relaunch city as The House of Ideas brings us 23 new #1s with all-new creative teams over the next 5 months. What will the new 23 have in store for us Marvel Zombies? Well, be sure to check out this column each week as we dissect the first issue of every new title under the Marvel Now Banner. And I don’t mean Bruce Banner…..well except when the title has the Hulk in it….you get what I mean. So sit back and relax as we check out what’s new in the 616.

The Hulk is one of those characters who you can relate to Superman in terms of popularity. While not as known as Supes (who had about a 25 year head start), The big green guy is known all over the world and continues to be the second most identifiable Marvel character in the public eye (Spider-Man being the first). But when it comes to sales of his comic, he’s not usually the top draw, keeping steady readership but nothing phenominal. Then we get to this past year and the success of a little film known as The Avengers. After the success of this film, the public becomes enamored with “the other guy”. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a comic for the character that felt more like the Hulk we saw in that movie? Well, thanks to Marvel Now, we now have that comic care of Mark Waid and Leinil Yu. Mark Waid has become the hallmark of hero comicbook writers with his award winning turn on Daredevil. Leinil Yu has been a favourite of Marvel’s for awhile now, being given high profile projects over the years like New Avengers and Secret Invasion. If you want A-List talent, we got A-List talent. It’s all an attempt to create the perfect storm of awesome to create the Hulk comic we’ve been waiting for. The wait is over. Indestructible Hulk is that book.

We begin out story in Manchester, Alabama where S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill is in position for a mission. While she waits at a local diner, she talks via encrypted messaging to Agent Coulson about the unknown whereabouts of Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk). Coulson tells her to forget about Banner for the time being and focus on the mission at hand. But before she can, guess who shows up at her table? To Hill’s surprise, Bruce takes a seat and begins to explain that while they’ve been trying to find him, he’s been off thinking. He’s decided that since the events of AvsX, he wants to be more productive as a scientific mind and a possible hero. He doesn’t want to just be known for “Hulk Smash”.  He proposes that S.H.I.E.L.D. set him up with the lab and resouces to make a difference and help the world. In exchange, whenever he “hulks out”, S.H.I.E.L.D. can point him at whatever they need “smashed”. As a token of faith, he wishes to demonstrate by taking care of the mission that Hill and her crew are about to execute – a raid on the Mad Thinker’s secret hideout. Hill takes Banner up on his offer and the results are….smashing!

Mark Waid is a creator that I’ve done an “about face” on in recent years. Back in the Days of his Flash run and Kingdom Come, I always found the guy highly overrated. I didn’t like his Cap run. I thought The Kingdom was crap. I had no interest in whatever he was writing. That was up until a few years back when he brough Irredeemable to the world. I was blown away by this work and it made me think that maybe I was wrong about Waid. Then came Incorruptible. Another great work. So at this point I thought, “Oh, he’s just not good with pre-existing characters.” That theory was dashed with his Daredevil run followed by his take on The Rocketeer. Two great books! So my expectations were raised for this issue. Thankfully, it delivered in spades. I really enjoy the fact that Banner’s intentions, while noble, are truly selfish and egotistical. He wants to help the world but more importantly, want’s to show the world that he’s just as smart as Reed Richards and Tony Stark. It’s a cool take. For years we’ve been subject to Hulk being the true character and Banner being relegated to the guy who’s obsessed with making Hulk go away. In this, it appears he’s learning to embrace the monster and find a way to use him effectively. Maria Hill on the other hand needs a little work. She was entertaining for the most part but felt more like a means to move along plot as opposed to an actual character. I think as the story progresses, she’ll be given more to do than just be the decision maker. What I also enjoyed was that for a character as big as the Hulk, this is a very small story. The majority of the tale takes place in the diner. The action is only at the end. Much like Bruce Jones’ “Return of the Monster” arc from years ago, Hulk is being used in small doses to increase his grandure when he does show up. It’s effective and does a great job of making the book about characters as opposed to plots.

The characters really jump off the page with Yu’s pencils. I know some are not a fan of Leinil’s large amount of lines. As a general rule, neither am I but Yu is very skilled with his line work. I really enjoyed his rendition of Maria Hill. Many artists usually rush her out like some generic S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who lacks importance. In this, we get a very appealing yet believable Hill. Banner too looks more real than ideal. The only real part where the visuals get cloudy is during the action. I find that Yu gets a bit spastic with his layout and blocking whenever there’s a fight and this book is no exception. Thankfully, the quieter moments (The diner) appear more exciting with his style so it’s a trade off in that respect.

I was impressed by the concept and dialogue of Indestructible Hulk #1 but can also see that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re a fan of the Hulk, I suggest you pick it up. But like my thoughts on Deadpool, if you didn’t like Hulk to begin with, this issue isn’t going to change you’re mind. But Waid’s got my money again with this series….for now.

So this 1st Issue is done but there’s plenty more to come. Check back here in the coming week’s to find out which books are worth your time which are a waste of it.

And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Hulk’s off to a good start.

 Recent Marvel Now Reviews:

Days of Back to the Future Past (My Review of All New X-Men #1)

Thunder Gods, Foursomes of Fantastic and a Legacy to Uphold

Brave New World (My Review of Captain America #1)