Hulk suddenly develop heightened linguistic capabilities. Yes, everyone’s favourite big green ball of destruction is back and this time he is hosted by super genius Amadeus Cho in the new ongoing series ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’. That may be something of an over-billing but it is pretty good.
So the story here is that teen prodigy, and apparently eighth most intelligent person in the world, Amadeus Cho is now The Hulk. Only, unlike Banner’s version of the towering titan, Cho retains his personality whilst in Hulk form and is even capable of engaging in intelligent conversation. Well less intelligent and more just constant flirting but that’s what you get when you let a teenager loose in the world. In fact, Cho is a completely different character to Bruce Banner in every way. Banner was constantly at war with himself as he struggled internally with the pressure of being Hulk and Banner at the same time. Amadeus shows none of these issues as he confidently swaggers his way through life with something of a chip on his shoulder. This may be because he has developed a method of switching the gamma radiation that turns him into The Hulk on and off at will. Although it will be made immediately clear that this might not stay the case as the lure of The Hulk may be too strong to resist and threatens to change Cho in a similar way that it did to Banner.
Writer Greg Pak has made a more jovial book with his style of writing and it works brilliantly in this all-new Marvel setting. It is refreshing to read a genuinely enjoyable comic that doesn’t have an overly serious tone. Of course the darker tone often works exceptionally well but it is starting to get to the point where it is overdone so to have a book come out that works in humour and a more lighthearted atmosphere whilst remaining true to the character being portrayed is a very good thing. It is not just Cho who is written effectively here as the reader is also introduced to his sister Maddy, another teen genius. She is the more level headed of the two and works hard to keep her brother in check. Maddy, under any other writer, could run over the line of being too serious and a bit of a buzzkill but Pak manages to give her just enough softness to be an enjoyable addition. She should serve to stop Cho from becoming a total liability in his new heroic role as she accompanies him on missions by communicating with him through a small robot companion.
Hulk is not the only hero to show his face here as both She-Hulk and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man appear towards the books climax. Both are very well written and stay true to what one would expect from them. Spidey in particular is a great source of comedy despite his limited appearances and She-Hulk shows that she might join Maddy in leveling out Amadeus. The only poor thing to mention was the villain reveal that, incredibly predictability, took place at the very end. The villain herself doesn’t seem all that bad in the precious little you see of her but her name is just unforgivably poor. Lady Hellbender is just too corny even for comic books and is utterly impossible to take seriously.
Moving on from the script it has to be said that this book has perhaps the best art ever seen on any Hulk comic. Not since the days of Dale Keown has there been anything this impressive in the pages of Hulk but Frank Cho has managed to breathe life back into this area of the series. Be it in the two double-page splashes he uses or in the more panel heavy sections Frank brings an immersive experience to the reader through his use of negative space.
Frank is not solely to thank for the incredible work here though as colourist Sonia Oback creates the most visually stunning Hulk ever seen. Too often in the past he came across as very one dimensional and uninteresting but here he is at his colourful best, leaping off the page in fantastic detail.
Some fans may find themselves missing the surlier Banner but most will embrace this new, lighter turn in the Hulk franchise. It may not be totally awesome as the title suggests but it is leaps and bounds ahead of where many thought it would be. Should this continue then Marvel have yet another smash hit on their hands. Get it?
Score: 4.5 out of 5.