Hulkamania is running wild, brother! That may not be the right Hulk… Anyhow it is still true that this new series got out of the gates running when it debuted several months back. Despite the somewhat shaky premise, TA Hulk has proven to be thoroughly enjoyable affair. The best part of that ride was the story of Banner’s fall told through flashbacks. With that element now gone how would this latest issue stack up?
Amadeus Cho has, thus far, been a surprisingly weak character which is odd considering he is the main one. He is sold as being one of the smartest people on the planet but very little of that shines through in his everyday actions. Where he should be several steps ahead of an opponent he is instead lagging behind and being led by teenage hormones rather than anything remotely resembling common sense. Due to this it has become necessary for a different angle to be given to this new Hulk and that has been the question of whether or not he could control the monster he now played host to.
In previous issues that question has been explored a little bit as readers have gotten to see Amadeus lose control a little more each time as the beast within gains more ground over time. However, The Hulk feeds off of rage and negativity and until now Amadeus had been written as a fairly happy go lucky type of person with none of the personal problems of a man such as Bruce Banner. In this issue that was remedied and fans were shown a deeply traumatic event in Amadeus’ childhood as his parents were killed right in front of him. It is a ridiculously overused trope in comics but in this case it is forgivable as it provided a reasonable basis for Hulk to be gaining more control within Amadeus. It also gave the issue’s villain, Amora the Enchantress, something to exploit in her attempts to make The Hulk her champion.
Before moving on the story proper it seems worthwhile to take a moment to lament the lack of an adequate explanation as to how Amadeus managed to take The Hulk out of Banner and place it into himself. This was something that pretty much everyone balked at in the last issue and yet Greg Pak did nothing to elaborate on this confusing turn of events here. Hopefully he is just saving that juicy tidbit for a future instalment because at the moment it seems like he realised he had written himself into a corner, didn’t want to actually kill off Bruce Banner, and so just wrote the first asinine thing that came into his head in the hopes that fans would accept it and move on. Sorry Pak, your readers just aren’t that stupid.
Now onto the main narrative. The entire issue had to do with Amadeus’ loss of control and the increasing concern that his sister, Maddy, is having for him. In a move of questionable intelligence, she purposefully makes him mad to see if he can retain his composure, which he does for a long while before growing irate and taking off deep into the desert. There he encounters Amora, an Asgardian who wishes to use Hulk to help her overthrow Asgard. There isn’t really too much to be said for this encounter, it is brief and sets up something very interesting but it in and of itself is not inherently interesting. In truth this is a comic that does more to build interest in future issues than it does to excite audiences at this point in time. That’s fine though as every good story needs the proper build, this can be thought of the first part of act one.
One thing that was deeply disappointing was realising that Sonia Oback is no longer in charge of the colouring work on the book. She has been a constant high point for the series and thankfully her presence is still felt on the excellent cover art. Her replacement is no slouch though as Frank Martin wows with his superbly blended shades and hues. He has also retained much of the same look for long running characters in this book and such there is a very welcome sense of continuity despite the change in personnel. Mike Choi is also a fresh face on the title as he replaces Frank Cho, who has also landed on the cover art team. Choi will receive only praise too as his characters are just as bold and eye catching as his predecessors were. There is that sense of continuity in this area too which makes for a book that won’t alienate any fans who have grown accustomed to a certain standard of art.
It may not be the best book in terms of a must read story but Totally Awesome Hulk is still well worth picking up on a monthly basis. It is something a little different to the other Marvel fare and as such is deserving of a spot on your haul list.
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