176 pages $20 Hardcover
I was warned off this one. Several people said that there were piles of promise here for something special and it didn’t deliver. I decided to give it a try for myself. There is much here to like, and just as much to be disappointed in.
This volume reprints the first 7 issues of the newest volume of The Incredible Hulk’s eponymous title, and is everything I was told to expect, just a bit better than most had told me it would be. The story concerns Hulk and Banner, now separated into 2 beings, and the issues this causes for them both. Jason Aaron is a writer I have recently begun to enjoy and I had hopes for this book. Aaron is an economical writer. He tends not to waste dialog (like a Bendis), or just allow the art to do all the heavy lifting (Millar). In this book, like much of his other work, he gives us what is needed and not much else. Unfortunately that does not amount to much either. There is a lot happening here that does not pay off in this volume, and this book is the worse off for it. The book is noisy like a Hulk book should be, but there is not much story behind this. I think this would have been better served had they waited for a few more issues and done a larger collection, but the sales on this title have not been as strong as Marvel had hoped. There have been some unavoidable issues creeping into the production.
Without blaming anyone for issues beyond their control, Artist Marc Silverstri was unable to continue on the book and only contributed to most of the first 3 issues. This hurts the book. There is really no way to say it nicer. Silvestri and Aaron was a bankable team and when Marc was gone, fans started dropping the book despite Wilce Portacio doing a pretty good job of filling in. Portacio is good, but he is no Silversrti. My pet peeve with artists that choke the page with too much detail at the cost of the story does not extend to Marc Silverstri. Yes, his pages are FULL of detail, most of it superfluous, but he is a capable storyteller and his work on the printed page in the last several years has been really something to behold. Portacio simply cannot keep up.
The story of the conflict between Banner and the Hulk never really gets out of the gate. There is so much more they could have done here, but it feels a bit like something changed behind the scenes that caused a shift in the direction of the story. If this is NOT the case, then editorial dropped the ball. This is a good enough book that I want to try the next volume to see where it is heading. The Hulk is not an easy character to write and be interesting, and Aaron is giving it his best shot. I think it is worth more fan support.