This series started off on a high in December and then dipped ever so slightly with the second issue in January. Would this be a continuation of that downward trend or a return to good form for Totally Awesome Hulk?
At the climax of issue two the world shattering villain, Fin Fang Foom, made his presence felt and looked set to do battle with the new Hulk and the shady Lady Hellbender. Such a battle would surely make for a great comic, no?
Due to the lighter tone of the book you would have been foolish to expect too destructive of a showdown between these big green titans but it would not have been too much to expect something a little more impactful that this.
Foom is a character that is best suited to battles on an epic scale. He is not the sort of creature that can be dispatched in a few short scenes and nor should he ever be portrayed in such a way but, for whatever reason, that is exactly as he appears here. He looks amazingly weak for a beast of such immense power and it does no favours to any part of this book.
With regards to Hulk, he doesn’t look stronger by having defeated a weak foe and nor is he going to be ingratiated to the fans with such a showing. The whole hook of this book was that Lady Hellbender was looking to capture the most fearsome creature on Earth and that was Foom. If, then, Foom is this weak what does it say about the rest of the super humans and monsters of the planet? Especially Hulk?
The problem seems to be that Greg Pak is focusing more on the fantastical nature of each monthly story than he is the implications of the action held within. He neglects to explore the deeper motivations of Amadeus Cho and instead settles for looking lightly at his more superficial characteristics. The issue with that is how unestablished a character this new Hulk is. With such a drastic switch as trading out Banner for Cho there is sure to be some fan backlash and to combat that you simply must give them a character that is impossible to reject, you cannot do that if they are so poorly developed.
Yes, this is only the third issue but most find their footing by this point and start to settle into a proper story but that still isn’t happening with this title. It is a shame too because the impetuous, witty, and slightly out of control Amadeus could make for a very interesting lead indeed if just given the proper attention.
Thankfully there is one element of this title that hasn’t taken a dive in quality and that is the continuing series of flashback sequences that tell the story of what happened to Bruce Banner. This month further explored those final moments before, presumably, disaster struck and it linked Amadeus into the story in a fitting way that makes his transition into The Hulk more understandable. This should continue for the foreseeable future and will tell a riveting story as it does.
To be completely fair to Pak the developments at the end of this book do leave some hope for the next issue to be more exciting and once again explore the unhinged side of Amadeus that was glimpsed in the first two issues.
Moving beyond the story you will find that the art, provided by the talented duo of Frank Cho and Sonia Oback, is at as high a level as ever. It would be easy to ramble on about the beauty of their work but this extract tells a greater story than words ever could.
If it were down to the art alone then Fin Fang Foom would have been just right. What a shame the shortsighted writing couldn’t keep up.
In the end this a very vibrant book that lacks any real punch. It is still one worth keeping up with for now but these early missteps do cause some concern for the future of this book, especially with how cancellation happy the two main companies are these days.
Score: 2.5 out of 5.
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