This has to be one of the most clever titles to a comic book series in years; that’s because the “Totally Awesome” isn’t some kind of weird ’90s surfer lingo; it actually plays up the exact feeling that allows Amadeus Cho to Hulk-out: pride.
That’s right — unlike Bruce Banner, it’s not anger that makes Amadeus grow, but his pride is starting to prove to be a problem with a new foe who draws energy from emotion…
Totally Awesome HulK #12 (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The full summary reads:
CIVIL WAR II TIE-IN! WAKANDA HULKBUSTER IS THAT? Black Panther brings out the heavy artillery to take on Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk! When diplomacy fails two of the smartest guys on the planet, fists will just have to do!
Why does this book matter?
Look, if Greg Pak is writing a Hulk comic you should at least be paying attention to it. He’s the guy who brought us gladiator Hulk after all. Add in the unique idea of a young guy attempting to handle the powers of Hulk (as he takes on none other than the Black Panther!) and you have a winning formula.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Choke the bastard!
I went into this issue blind (having not read the previous issues) and had no trouble enjoying it. Totally Awesome Hulk #12 not only opens with a nice flashback scene that helps set up the narrative, but starts and stops with a nice story arc all on its own. Cho has some issues with his sister (and hasn’t pleased Black Panther) so he’s a guy down on his luck with the characters around him, which is saying something for a character who’s nearly always at the top of his game.
The key to this issue is the dynamic between Cho and his sister, which ends with a satisfying conclusion. The rest of the issue ain’t bad either. Pak has given Cho a formidable foe indeed, which plays into the idea of Hulk desperately attempting to master his own emotions. The villain is a clever one, and plays into Cho’s doubt about his own abilities. There’s some nice teamwork going on in this issue too, but it’s the conclusion that’ll have people talking. Pak clearly has a good sense of character and their dynamics, giving Cho the moment he’s been wanting forever, but dealing with it with mixed emotions as we all would. It’s a nice scene that reminds us nothing is simple, especially when it comes to the human psychosis.
Mahmud Asrar’s art works well with Pak’s script, building up characters emotions via expression so you’re always aware of what they’re thinking or feeling. This adds a resonance to scenes so they aren’t just fight sequences. I wouldn’t be surprised if Asrar get’s to draw a future Marvel event since he does so many things well; nothing looks off, emphasis and drama are always on point, and the action is easy to follow too. Great stuff.
It can’t be perfect can it?
My only gripe with this issue is that Black Panther doesn’t play too big a part. There was an opportunity there to have him do more, but it’s just not how it played out. Given the powerset of the villain it makes sense.
Is It Good?
Totally Awesome Hulk #12 is a fine conclusion to a story arc I wish I had been reading from the start. Pak reminds us he’s going to go down as one of the best Hulk writers ever because he captures the emotional turmoil of the characters so damn well.