At the end of “Fear Itself”, one of the story strands that came from the ending of that event was a tantalising glimpse at the new Hulk series Jason Aaron was putting together – Hulk and Banner literally separating into two different bodies and going their separate ways. How?! That brief strip is included in this book and serves as a prelude to the book.
So what do Hulk and Banner do now that they’re newly separated? Hulk, as you would expect, seeks peace from everything and heads deep beneath the Earth’s surface to live with an odd-looking but friendly race of strange monkey/frog creatures who worship him as their God.
Banner misses Hulk so much he tries to replicate the accident that brought him to life, the gamma explosion. But the experiments drive him mad and he begins trying out his various gamma serums on the local wildlife leading to some creepy looking green monsters. He reveals a dark and desperate side to his personality which he can no longer blame on the Hulk – in short, he goes all Dr Moreau on a small desert island.
Jason Aaron writes an interesting take on the Hulk, reversing the “man/monster” paradigm and creating an interesting version of Bruce Banner readers won’t have seen before, in the process giving him another dimension to his character. He also sets up a plausible (within the Marvel Universe) scenario for physically and mentally separating Hulk and Banner. Marc Silvestri does his usual bang-up job of high quality art to match Aaron’s ambitious story and even gives Hulk an awesome beard!
This is a pretty good Hulk book but, as always with the character, even the brilliant Jason Aaron can’t avoid where Hulk stories always wind up: in a big ol’ fisticuff showdown. The fighting dominates what is otherwise a thoughtful take on a seemingly one-note character and brings it back to the usual Hulk comic template. It’s a decent read which definitely has its moments but the constant fighting let it down (you’re never going to beat the Hulk in a straight fight) and made it a bit dull in places. The ending was interesting though it’s unlikely to stick.
Also included with this hardback is a code for a free digital copy of the book if you have the Marvel Comics app.