Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Colorist: Andy Troy
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Covers: Stonehouse; Ron Lim & Israel Silva; Pyeong-Jun Park
Release Date: February 5th, 2020
It’s another issue of MARVEL’S AVENGERS, and this time it’s the Hulk’s turn! What role will he play leading up to the game? Let’s tear into Jim Zub’s MARVEL’S AVENGERS: HULK #1 and find out!
The issue opens with the Hulk trapped in an enclosure before gas and classical music soothe the savage beast. He shrinks down to man size, but *gasp* keeps shrinking into a Bruce Banner that would make pre-Super Soldier Serum Steve Rogers look like Charles Atlas. Banner’s would-be girlfriend and S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist is running experiments to try to control the beast within, while Bruce just wants rid of it. The two have a fight, with Banner getting a little physical and almost Hulking out in some weird panel progression.
Next Bruce runs into smarmy scientist George Tarleton who is intent on solving the energy crisis with or without Banner’s help. Bruce bolts and the sulking Tarleton runs an experiment that creates an electric monster the likes of which hasn’t been seen since The Scooby-Doo Show. It kills a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and then it’s up to Mr. Green to beat it into submission. After a brief battle, the Hulk throws the monster into the drink, ultimately killing it.
Bruce wakes up in a hospital and gets a visit from Tony Stark, who is apparently paying for all the damage caused by the brouhaha. There’s some “don’t feel guilty” talk and some unfunny Tony one-liners before Stark leaves Banner to mend. In the hallway Tarleton shows up, pitching his energy plan to Stark, who surprisingly agrees to look it over. It seems out of character, but this may be setup for the game, which is what these issues are all about.
And therein lies the issue for this book. MARVEL’S AVENGERS: HULK #1 feels like generic filler, and a far cry from what Jim Zub gave us in MARVEL’S AVENGERS: IRON MAN #1. Even with the story possibly hindered by being setup, that doesn’t excuse some of the dialogue choices for Hulk, the monster, and Tony, which were pretty cringeworthy at times. Banner’s inner dialogue however is so spot on, and truly makes you feel his dread at transforming into the Hulk, that it’s puzzling other characters’ voices fall flat. Similarly, Ariel Olivetti’s art for the Hulk is terrific, but the electric monster is uninspired at best.
MARVEL’S AVENGERS: HULK #1 falls into the trap of a lot of video game setup or tie-in comics by not feeling necessary. Maybe it will connect nicely, but in the meantime there’s just not much story on its own here. Both the dialogue and art are hit-or-miss, and overall the result is an average book that ends up feeling more like filler than a key piece of MARVEL’S AVENGERS.