Reading Hulk # 1 made me uncomfortable. Like I was watching one of those cringe inducing TV shows where you are waiting for something to go horribly wrong and someone gets scarred for life. But I think that is what Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon are going for this series.
Hulk stars Jennifer Walters. Bruce Banner’s famous lawyer/superhero/green rage monster cousin. Post Civil War II, Bruce Banner is dead, again. Hawkeye took him out and Jennifer was taken out and put in a coma by Thanos *eye roll* early on in Civil War II.
Hulk # 1 reads like a first person POV of a post traumatic event life for a woman, who used to be happy, smart and powerful. And the first most noticeable change is that the trademark She Hulk quips are missing. There is humor in this book, but the humor is tongue-in-cheek and subtle. The other thing is Jen spends the book in non Hulk mode. She is human. A human being, as she points out New York doesn’t give a crap about, as she goes on her day. This separation of identity is quite interesting, as this is a plot device usually reserved for Bruce. Which makes her struggle to contain the Hulk inside her even more high stakes, as Marvel is selling the permanence of Bruce’s death quite hard.
This feels like a slow burner. Its building up mystery and intrigue, with the creepy Ms. Brewn (like coffee) and her last panel reveal. We see Jenn struggle with herself and her alter ego with the help of baking videos on Youtube. And let’s be honest, who amongst us hasn’t done that at one point or another. Baking videos work dammit.
Another thing missing is the usual ensemble that Jenn rolls with. Patsy is seen via a text message. But Tamaki’s dialogue has an off putting quality in this issue. It’s awkward and hesitant, all in service to show that people really don’t really know how to deal with someone who has gone through a major traumatic event. It’s something I can personally attest to being a very hard job. And that awkward, throat drying uncomfortableness shows in the panels where Jenn goes back to work.
The art is Marvel house style, but with how the story is set up, it’s more of close up of faces – a few interiors here and there, and a pretty amazing panel of super powered clients for Jenn. The colors of Matt Milla are really really good though, especially on the scenes where Jenn almost loses control, with the light from the laptop and the relative darkness of the room, creates a claustrophobic sensation and we feel how hard this must be for Jen.
Overall, it was a setup issue. You felt like things will kick on from here on out, and that kind of has me excited.
For now 3 out of 5 Thwips.