Indestructible Hulk Volume 1: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Collecting Indestructible Hulk #1-5

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Leinil Yu

Marvel Comics, $24.99, color, 136 pages

At last, a Hulk I can love!

I've never been a Hulk fan. Being small and smart as a boy, I didn't want to be big and dumb -- those were the kind of kids who bullied me. And as I grew older, the character's primary attribute -- rage/stupidity -- seemed even less appealing. In short, I read Incredible Hulk out of a sense of obligation (and occasionally for the art, like when John Severin was involved) more than enjoyment.

But now here comes Mark Waid, who rejuvenated Daredevil without revamping, rebooting or relaunching a single thing. He made Daredevil a terrific read again by just stepping back, looking at the character and  trying to figure out what made the most sense for the character as he is today, not as he was originally conceived. And what made the most sense for Daredevil was for him to have fun again. After 30 years or more of death, death and more death, there's no reason to believe Matt Murdock would get out of bed in the morning unless he could find some shred of optimism to cling to. So that's what Waid did, and the result was a fantastic read.

At least that's what I imagine he did. Because that's what it looks like he did with the Hulk.

In the first issue, without changing a word of the Hulk's past, Waid turned the character completely around. Not by changing the Hulk ... but by changing Bruce Banner.

In this book, Banner has accepted that he cannot be cured by current science. So he has chosen to accept his "condition" -- like it was M.S. or something -- and manage it. Don't treat the Hulk like a bomb, he says to S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill, but like a cannon -- and aim it at America's enemies. "Then gather me when I'm spent. Rinse. Repeat."

Meanwhile, riffing off the movie, Banner is motivated to put his scientific mind to work like Tony Stark does. Because he's jealous of Tony Stark. He's chagrined that Stark will be remembered as a great inventor and humanitarian, but his own tombstone is likely to read "Hulk smash." And he wants to change that.

This is all in the first issue. And as a guy who's read every single Hulk story ever published, not a word of it struck me as false. This is not just a good idea, it's a GREAT idea. Suddenly the breadth and scope of Hulk stories has changed from "Hulk hits things" to ... well, almost anything. And as if to prove it, Hulk's first S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment has him helping out Lemurians (far too deep for even our strongest submarines), one of whom finds the big green lug sexy. Reallllly sexy. (But not Banner, who's a puny "pinkling.")

There's also some mystery; Banner has come up with some blackmail material in unrevealed ways to cement his deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. And he's got a mysterious contact -- Hill calls it "inspired" -- with whom he checks in periodically in case S.H.I.E.L.D. double-crosses him. Who is this guy? What will he do if Banner catches a bullet with his forehead? Dunno. And I'm darned curious!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific art of Leinil Yu. He has a tendency to over-complicate and over-render faces, which makes everyone look real old or tired. But that's OK, as everyone in this book IS tired! It's very busy! And his action scenes are terrific. Plus, his characters, tired as they are, are recognizable from panel to panel. That's not easy with someone like Maria Hill, whose entire description can be summed up as "has short black hair."

The one sour note for me was Hill assigning Banner supporting characters a five-man team to assist his scientific work. Yes, they are the cliched quirky scientists each with a specialty, and I'll bet greenbacks to green tea that one of them is a traitor. The scenes with Ham and Monk the Newsboy Legion the Teen Brigade Bruce's new assistants were the least interesting.

Oh well, I guess even Mark Waid has to bow to convention some of the time. But that's OK, because the rest of the book is amazingly fresh.

It took an Avengers movie to open the door, and for Mark Waid to walk through it. But I've finally got a Hulk I can love.

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Sounds like just the book I want to read! Thanks, Cap!

Rob: If you really want to read a few Marvel books, but not all, I would highly suggest any or all of the following: Captain America, Indestructible Hulk, Daredevil, and Hawkeye.

I'm reading Daredevil.. it's been my one Marvel indulgence. Hulk and Hawkeye are both things I plan to check out, likely in trades. I hadn't heard a rec for Cap before -- didn't realize it was so self-contained. Thanks!

Thus far, it's been extremely self-contained. All of the issues have taken place in another dimension. It's a return to the Kirby days of the title. Fantastic series.

Ooh, nice! This is the Remender run?

Yep!

Sounds interesting, but didn't the Hulk lead an army against New York and leveled a good portion of it not so long ago? And wasn't Hill one of the people who advised the Illuminati to send the Hulk into space to begin with?

Here's my Captain America review.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I'm reading Daredevil.. it's been my one Marvel indulgence. Hulk and Hawkeye are both things I plan to check out, likely in trades. I hadn't heard a rec for Cap before -- didn't realize it was so self-contained. Thanks!

Yeah, but those are yesterday's plot developments. They'll only rear their ugly head when someone has a good idea to use them again in a story.

In other news, Anthony Weiner is running for Mayor of New York, and Elliot Spitzer for city comptroller. Chris Brown is still making records. Michael Vick is quarterback for the Eagles. 

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Sounds interesting, but didn't the Hulk lead an army against New York and leveled a good portion of it not so long ago? And wasn't Hill one of the people who advised the Illuminati to send the Hulk into space to begin with?

Haha! Yes. Enjoy the Hulk for what it is. Don't hate it for what it was. It's a comic book.

I have picked up the 1st Hawkeye trade so many times in my LCS but it's the art or lack of it that puts me off that one - so it'll be DD for me ...and maybe a look at the Hulk.


Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I'm reading Daredevil.. it's been my one Marvel indulgence. Hulk and Hawkeye are both things I plan to check out, likely in trades. I hadn't heard a rec for Cap before -- didn't realize it was so self-contained. Thanks!

Cap, I've just checked 'Amazon uk' - (other retailers are available I'm sure) - and there is a 'Panini uk' paperback edition that contains issues # 1-5 - but only 112 pages - what's missing from the edition you quote would you know? - and would I miss anything?

Thankyou

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