When ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ launched in December nobody was quite sure what to expect from the revamped title. The first issue turned out to be a fantastically enjoyable read and made some ‘true believers’ out of its audience. Could the second issue live up to this unexpected start?
This book follows immediately on from where the previous one left off as Hulk, Spider-Man, and She-Hulk do battle with Lady Hellbender. The first thing to notice is that Greg Pak keeps the book feeling fresh and fun with quick back and forth between the characters. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Pak’s past work and with the history of Amadeus Cho. Back in the days when he was playing the foil to Hercules it was clear that there would be no shortage of witty dialogue when he was around.
Cho, however, is not all smiles and this is where Pak introduces the more serious side to the book and it is in doing this that he provides the reader with a solid reason to invest in this series going forwards. Last month it was strongly teased that Amadeus might not be as in control of The Hulk as he thinks he is. That is touched upon again this time and it is shown that the point where he finally loses control may be coming sooner than anyone would have anticipated. This is good news as, whilst a jovial Hulk is something different and enjoyable for the time being, fans will be ecstatic to be given their beloved rage monster back even if it isn’t Banner under all that green.
Speaking of Banner, do not think that he is nowhere to be seen now that someone else has taken up the Hulk mantle as Pak has not neglected this fan favourite. Sure, he isn’t in the story proper but you do see his undoing unfold through a series of flashbacks that will be dotted throughout these books at least in the early stage of this run. This provides that oh-so-tantalising hope that the last might not have been seen of his big green mush. It seems very likely that he will pop up again a little way down the line and it will be extremely interesting to see what he does when next he is seen.
Once again Amadeus’ sister, Maddy, is a highlight of the piece as she serves to talk him down from the ledge as it were when he goes full Hulk and nearly rips Spidey’s head off. It is great to see her being given a key role in proceedings and not just relegated to a supporting character with little to do as has happened to non-powered females in the past. Pak manages to make sure that, despite the fact she is keeping fans from getting an out of control Hulk, she is not portrayed in an irritating manner but rather is a welcome and entertaining addition to the book. It is fair to assume that she will find herself in danger at some point in the future and that moment will push Amadeus to lose control and unleash Hulk as almost happened here.
With all that being said it should still be noted that the script is lacking that unmistakable flair of the first. Perhaps it is because the action is too hemmed in by being set in one location, or maybe it is because the villain of the piece is unremarkable in just about every way. Whatever the case you do not get the same level of enjoyment from reading this adventure as one would expect after finishing the first book and that is a crying shame.
Frank Cho gets to stretch his creative muscles as he fills pages with unbelievable monsters. He has always had a recognised knack for bringing such wondrous beings to life and this book certainly affords him the opportunity to cut loose and unleash his talents. There is an oddly gorgeous splash showing Lady Hellbender’s captured creatures and you can’t help but hope that they are all freed at some point so that they can crash across the page in all their glory. Of course this natural talent of Cho’s means that he is beyond reproach when it comes to his depiction of The Hulk. The titan looks as though he could smash through just about anything placed in front of him and it certainly aids in making this iteration a believable one.
Sonia Oback returns to the colouring role and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that she knocks it out of the park. If it weren’t for her this book wouldn’t be nearly the spectacle that it is. She brings the monstrous wonders of Frank’s imagination to life in an astounding way. Without her these characters wouldn’t be nearly as engaging.
This new Hulk title is still an enjoyable read but it doesn’t live up to the high expectations set out by the outstanding first issue. It is still one to add to the reading list and it is by no means time to abandon ship but you do have to hope that it doesn’t continue on this downward trend.
Score: 3.5 out of 5.
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