Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Donny Cates
Artwork: Ryan Ottley
Colours: Frank Martin
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 24th November 2021
“What if the Hulk exists… to protect us from Banner?”
It’s safe to say that Donny Cates isn’t exactly scared of bringing new ideas to existing characters. We’ve seen it with Venom, we’ve seen it with Thor, and now Big Green is getting the treatment in this new Marvel Comics series, the first issue of which is on sale today.
Following some unspecified but seemingly tragic events in El Paso, Bruce Banner has decided enough is enough and that something finally needs to be done. I’m going to try to skirt around any major spoilers so as not to diminish the reading experience (although if you’ve read any of the solicitation info you’ll have an idea what to expect. Two words: “Starship Hulk”), but essentially what we have here is a frighteningly desperate Bruce Banner trying to rid himself of the Hulk once and for all, and who is willing to go to some fairly extreme measures to make it happen.
Big ideas, big action and big moments abound as Cates and Ottley turn Banner, if not into an out-and-out villain, then certainly into something fairly close. It’s impossible to not feel the enthusiasm of both creators leaping off the pages as Banner clashes with Hulkbuster Iron Man en route to his ultimate goal, and the dialogue absolutely sizzles as the pace and stakes continually escalate throughout the course of this 26-page issue.
Ottley, perhaps best known for his work alongside Robert Kirkman on Invincible, brings his well-established flair to the page here, blending immaculate detail with a kinetic dynamism that leaves the reader wincing from every impact. I’ve said before that Cates is the undisputed master of the page-turn reveal, and Ottley more than delivers on these frequent, jaw-dropping moments. There’s a violent, visceral fury to the Hulk’s rage that fits firmly into Ottley’s wheelhouse, and he delivers several squirm-inducing moments of violence along the way here.
Frank Martin also deserves some major credit for his colour work, particularly in the way he differentiates between the scenes happening in Banner’s mind and those in the outside world, and letterer Cory Petit delivers the goods throughout, keeping things flowing smoothly while perfectly capturing the emotional beats of Cates’ script on the page.
The final pages deliver an eyebrow-raising shattering of the status quo, promising to take us into some bold new territory as the story unfolds, and I am absolutely here for it.
In summary, Cates’ Midas touch continues here, working seamlessly alongside Ottley’s dynamic artwork to deliver what could be a Hulk story for the ages. Highly recommended, both for Hulk fans and those who love hard-hitting, high stakes comic books in general. Bring on issue two!
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]