If you’re new to the Hulk Marvel Comics had you covered in 2012 when they published Hulk: Season One. Their “Season One” line of books gave readers a slightly updated and new take on characters while also giving up and coming creators a platform to shine. Marvel has recently begun re-releasing these as “Incredible Origins,” along with recent issues of characters’ runs to get fans up to date with the current series. Now it’s Hulk’s turn.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
New York Times Best Seller Fred Van Lente and acclaimed artist Tom Fowler retell the gamma-spawned beginnings of the Green Goliath for a new generation! When Dr. Bruce Banner finds himself at the heart of a gamma bomb detonation, it unleashes something savage within him! Strap in for the explosive, definitive origin of the Incredible Hulk – and relive the debuts of Rick Jones, Betty Ross and the Hulk’s longtime nemesis, General “Thunderbolt” Ross! And don’t miss the introduction of a new villain who will soon haunt both the Hulk and Bruce Banner in the present day! Plus: The start of a new and decidedly different era in Hulk history, courtesy of Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri!
Why does this matter?
I really dug rereading the Fantastic Four “Incredible Origins” even if it was somewhat dated by the pop-culture references. It’s also cool to see a different interpretation of a classic hero like Hulk getting a new origin.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Fred Van Lente and Tom Fowler do a great job telling one consistent and extra-sized origin story here. One thing this series of remakes Marvel got right was giving the creators an entire book to tell the origin rather than splitting it up in episodic issues. The book reads better for it and while it certainly has its cliffhangers it allows the story to breathe a bit. That shows here as it weaves in two love interests for Bruce Banner, a complicated evil organization named Them, and the always interesting push and pull between Hulk and Bruce coming to a standstill near the end of the book.
It’s somewhat fascinating to read this now after reading Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s amazing work on Immortal Hulk since you can see similar themes and ideas at work. Immortal Hulk #1 is also collected here too, so if you haven’t jumped on board with that series this is a good place to start. This book is most similar to what the current series is doing in how there’s a lot of body horror and grotesque monstrous elements. The final villain Hulk must fight is living cancer that’s right out of The Thing.
A lot of the traditional themes of Hulk are present because they have to be to make this origin feel true to the character. There are of course small details and wrinkles that the creative team instills that make this its own though. I recommend checking it out just to see how they twist the origin here and there.
The art by Fowler, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, is quite good. There’s a cartoony nature to it that makes the monsters and grotesque elements a little subdued and less scary. The style holds up over time and it’s nice to see Fowler’s inks and work with shadow give the book a horror feel.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The romantic triangle (or is it a quadrangle with Betty’s potential lover) doesn’t quite work partly because the woman who is not Betty Ross ends up being a pretty awful person. I suppose it adds some tension between Bruce and Betty for a bit, but really it’s sort of just there doing little for the story and character dynamics. It does make Bruce feel a bit more rounded since he has another prospect and isn’t some sad sack, but it adds little.
Is it good?
I enjoyed reading a new take on the Hulk origin for its subtle differences and its ability to capture the horror angle of Hulk so well.