Friday, 20 March 2015

Hulk, Volume 1: Banner DOA Review (Mark Waid, Mark Bagley)


Like Mark Waid’s other Marvel series, Daredevil, Hulk gets a reboot as adjective-less Hulk for no particular reason. At least in Daredevil it was because Matt moved to the West Coast. Here? No clue, I didn’t read Indestructible Hulk Volume 4 so not sure what happened there. They told him his armour was crap so he took it off and Marvel said “new #1 time!”? From what I can tell anyway, that’s the only change from that series and this. 

So someone’s shot Bruce Banner in the head for some reason. Bruce might no longer be the brainy opposite of Hulk as his injury has reduced him to a simpleton, much like Hulk minus the strength! And here comes Abomination for the umpteenth time! Hulk (yawn) smash…

Considering he walks in the same circles as geniuses like Tony Stark and Reed Richards, reversing brain damage shouldn’t sound as impossible as it does in the real world - and, in the Marvel Universe, it isn’t! Tension: gone! But as Maria Hill tells him, if Banner keeps turning into the Hulk while he, Banner, is still recovering from his head injury, he won’t heal properly, like broken bones not set correctly. He can’t Hulk out and fight Abomination - he could get permanent brain damage and wind up a vegetable! Wasn’t this a plot from one of the Rocky movies?

The subtitle - Banner DOA - is just stupid because at no point is Banner dead, and the question posed on the cover - Who Shot Bruce Banner? - is barely explored. We are left unsatisfied as the motives for the shadowy organisation behind the shooting are never revealed, nor are they recognisable as characters when we do see them. 

And why would they want to create an Abomination anyway? It seemed like they wanted to harvest Banner’s DNA to create their own Hulks/Abominations, but they already had that - so why were they still chasing Banner? Because they wanted to see yet another fight between Hulk and an Abomination? Like Tony Stark and Extremis, Abomination gets used way too much in Hulk stories. 

There’s little substance to this volume as it seems to be a lame excuse for another lengthy Hulk/Abomination battle with some Avengers tossed in and little else. The whole Banner-as-simpleton storyline is presented and wrapped up in a couple of issues. The measly four-issue length underlines the disposable nature of the book (most Marvel trade paperbacks are five or six issues long). Waid’s Hulk, reboot or otherwise, remains unimpressive and increasingly tired and stale - no wonder he left the title after this!

Hulk, Volume 1: Banner DOA

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