My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’d been wanting to read this since I first heard about it; Mark Waid (one of my favourites, who really looks at heroes in a different way – Incorruptible/Irredeemable is a fantastic mirror series for anyone who’s never read it), Indestructible!, and Agent of SHIELD!
Sadly, I rely on my local library (support your local library peeps, there’s all kinds of great stuff there, and I can’t tell you how many people are shocked when I tell them the library has comics! Current Movies! CDs! eBooks, you name it! I have saved SOOO much $$$ thanks to a library 1 block from my home) for most of my comic/graphic novel reads, and this has not shown up on their buying list as of yet (though, oddly, they already have Volumes 2 & 4…). However, I ended up with a gift card to a bookstore (yes, a store that sells books and it’s NOT Amazon!) and spent a good hour debating what to buy in the comic section, and since I’m writing this review…well you know what I got.
I am VERY glad I did. First off; the art is phenomenal. L. Francis Yu does amazing work here, and Hulk looks tremendous. There’s a 2 page spread early on in Issue #1, when Banner first Hulks out in this volume, and it’s just WOW. I could honestly stare at that page for a long time. If they sold that as a poster, I’m sure Yu would make a few bucks. It’s a great blend of hyper-real, if that makes sense as a style, but not so ridiculous that you forget it’s a comic.
Secondly, the concept behind the story is genius. Hulk is MIA and wanted, as per the usual, so Bruce Banner sets up a meeting with Maria Hill (Director of SHIELD) where he reveals to her that he’s done trying to find a cure for the Hulk. He’s decided instead to manage it, like an illness, and enjoy the good time he has left as Bruce Banner to better the world. He wants to do this for a couple main reasons: Hulk has done so much damage, that he feels he owes it to make reparations, but he also is sick and tired of Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym getting all the credit as the super brains that figure everything out.
It’s a great premise, and he elaborates by showing Hill that he’s invented a purification unit that will eliminate water-borne diseases from the Earth in 5 yrs. This shows just how valuable he can be, and how much he has to offer…he also suggests that when Hulk emerges, it’s best to have a strategy for where to aim his destruction, like a Canon instead of a Bomb going off.
What follows is a test run, with Hulk being “aimed” at the Mad-Thinker, and passing his ‘audition’ with SHIELD. However, Bruce isn’t entirely a naive man, and has put safeguards in place so that he has to check in with a friend to ensure he’s safe every day, or some serious dirt on SHIELD will be made public.
This is the kind of writing I love. Waid has taken a very simple idea, and made it into a great one by thinking of all the small little details (such as Banner wearing custom contact lenses that have him monitor his heart rate, adrenaline and other factors that lead to him Hulking Out) so that the action can move forward and we don’t spend too much time on stupid stuff.
The rest of the volume has Banner: assembling a team of top scientists to work as his assistants while he contributes his brilliance to humanity; fighting villains from the past, and working to stop an Atlantean terrorist. We also establish just how strong Hulk is (off the charts) how smart Banner is (Tony Stark is intimidated), How suspicious SHIELD remains (they create a robot to follow/monitor Banner/Hulk).
Oh, and there’s also a major throwdown between Hulk and Iron Man. Yup.
And while that’s awesome, the banter between Bruce and Tony is even better. Bruce pretty much shoots down Tony’s entire life with a few words and leaves him speechless, but in a great way that anyone who thinks Tony Stark needs an ego check will appreciate.
There’s a lot of pushing the boundaries of what this Hulk can do and take, and absorb and withstand, so the title change from Incredible to Indestructible is apt. I also like that it somewhat re-establishes Hulk right back among the top of Marvel Universe’s powerful/indestructible forces. He’s also the force working for the good guys for a change, instead of the loner, which is a cool idea. I also love how Banner is written here, not a meek scientist who doesn’t like getting angry. (Waid even throws in a funny little joke about “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, but twisted just a bit) Banner also mentioned to Maria Hill that he could just as easily give his services to anyone, including the baddies, so this Banner is a pragmatist, realist, who isn’t going to be bossed around by anyone, and I like it.
In many ways, this is a great Bruce Banner book. I haven’t read enough to know if there are others, but like another guy named Bruce in the comic world, a book that’s really great explores both halves of the man. (Banner/Hulk; Wayne/Batman). So yes, that is high praise, but I see similarities between Waid’s Hulk and Scott Snyder’s Batman (specifically: Batman, Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City). Check out my review here.
So, this is an awesome book, a great start for a new series, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is also a great place for newbies to start with Hulk. I haven’t read a ton of his stuff, and found that this was in no way holding back my enjoyment. I am giddy with excitement for Vol. 2 to arrive at my library soon! Don’t miss this one!