Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 15, 2021
Hulk #2 breaks through to the world between worlds when Bruce Banner and Starship Hulk find the pocket dimension they escaped to isn’t nearly as unpopulated as they thought. When Hulk encounters a force stronger than himself, Banner discovers he’s not the only one playing mind games.
Was It Good?
I gave high marks to issue #1 because the concept while needing a little imagination on the reader’s part to accept, was creative, and it looked like Cates was trying out something new… maybe. But, unfortunately, we left the first issue on a cliffhanger of sorts with Starship Hulk disappearing into the unknown.
Issue #2 is weirder than the first issue, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s for the better. A good litmus test for a reviewer is to examine your gut reaction after reading the issue thoroughly, and my gut says, “no, I don’t like it.” But that’s not good enough, and you, my fine readers, deserve better than that.
Why did my gut say “no” at the end of this issue? Well, it’s limb-tearingly violent, but that’s not the reason. Hulk smashes an eclectic collection of foes inside the mind chamber Banner’s trapped him in, including a giant-sized Wolverine wearing his OG costume, but that’s not it. There’s a subtle hint that a specific devilish character may be involved in whatever is happening, but that’s not it either.
The heart of the issue is that I don’t care about what’s happening. I don’t care because Cates hasn’t (yet) given me a reason to care. No stakes have been established. No threats have been defined. No central conflict has reared its ugly head. Banner is moving in a direction, and everything else is hidden from the reader. So far, the journey has nothing to invest in for the reader.
What happened in El Paso? Hidden. Did Banner make a deal, with whom did he make it, and why? Unknown. Where is Banner headed? Unknown. What does Banner fear Hulk is becoming? Unknown.
When all you have is a lot of noisy violence and questions, there’s nothing to hook the reader other than a mild curiosity. To be fair, this is only the second issue, so it’s too early to say the journey is worth the climb, but Cates needs to do more than show off some shiny spoon moments.
We will be talking more in-depth about Wastelanders: Wolverine #1 on this week’s Marvel Podcast, which comes out every Thursday Night. You can search “Weird Science Marvel Comics” on any podcast player to find us!
Hulk #2 has a lot of cool action set pieces and an unexpected twist ending… and not much else. It’s too early to say if this new take on Hulk is a winner or a loser after just two issues, but Cates needs to give readers something more to invest in beyond piles of questions and ultra-violence.