At the end of ‘Fear Itself,’ The Incredible Hulk somehow physically separated himself from Bruce Banner and took off for parts unknown. We now discover that he wound up living beneath the Earth’s surface with a group of Moloids, like the ones that The Mole Man employs. The Hulk functions as the tribe’s hunter, killing other bizarre behemoths for them to eat. Despite the Moloids totally embracing him, The Hulk remains aloof. When the tribe’s leader finally talks him into participating in their banquet, they are attacked by surface dwellers looking for The Hulk. The Hulk tries to make them leave, but they are persistent. Finally the leader, Amanda Von Doom (no relation) implores The Hulk to aid them… against Banner.
The final sequence reveals that Dr. Banner may very well have gone off the deep end and has holed himself up and gone all Dr. Moreau, using his gamma experiments to create green beast men!
The Hulk’s personality has been widely depicted, with some writers rendering him as a silent brute, others as an intelligent being. Writer Jason Aaron has chosen the latter. The first segment of the book is narrated by the character and he is thoughtful and insightful, despite his constant dread of being found by humans. Though he has everything he could ask for among the Moloids, he still refuses to drop his guard. The Hulk has always been a persecuted character and therefore he’s one that it is easy to feel sorry for, and that’s exactly how I felt when Von Doom and her forces attacked. God, just leave the poor bastard alone! But then again, that would be a pretty boring book. It’s not ‘The Content Hulk,’ after all. Still, I’m sad that The Hulk’s peaceful time in the subterranean society was cut so short.
In fact, I liked that Aaron used the Moloids, an existing concept within the Marvel Universe, as well as the subterranean monsters, likewise an existing concept. Too often, writers feel the urge to needlessly introduce brand new ideas. I love when instead, they dig around in the existing sandbox and fish out little semi-obscurities like these and give them a fresh spin. Kudos!
Marc Silvestri’s art has grown since his time at Image. The level of detailing here is intense, almost to the point of being fussy. But it’s hard to complain about too much detail work! His work is dynamic and rougher here than in the past, which perfectly fits the almost “horror” tone of the book. I don’t know if that is perhaps due to the “Pencil Assists” by Michael Broussard, as that is the first time I think I’ve seen such a thing credited, so I’m not sure what it means. At any rate, his monsters look fantastic, including Banner’s beast men! His work does do a little 90s flashback at one point though, as Amanda Von Doom looks like she sauntered over from the pages of ‘Cyber Force.’ She’s all hips and booty.
I do miss some of the trappings of the old Hulk. There are none of his past supporting players present. No desert. But with the Red Hulk and Red She-Hulk, the playing field was getting too crowded anyway, so I appreciate this clean do-over, making it more accessible to new readers. (Red Hulk’s adventures continue in the other ongoing ‘Hulk’ book.) Overall, this was a solid issue that succeeded in intriguing me enough to read more. If you like some of the more horror-skewing super books out there, like ‘Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.,’ this may appeal to you!
THE INCREDIBLE HULK #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Pencils by Marc Silvestri
Pencil Assists by Michael Broussard