Hulk #3 picks up after the cliffhanger with the last issue with Bruce Banner meeting another Bruce Banner through a dimensional rift where he learns not all Gamma-based experiments had the same outcome.
Was It Good?
Hulk #3 is better than issue #2 in that Cates and Ottley steer away from superficial smashing to get to the meat of the story. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue. We get the reveal about what happened in El Paso, the mysterious event that triggered this arc, and we learn the backstory behind a new Bruce Banner from an alternate dimension where the original Gamma incident that spawned the Hulk on our world turned out much, much worse.
That said, the issue is almost all exposition is told through a healthy mix of narration and montage panels.
Is the alternate Bruce Banner’s predicament compelling? Yes, sure, I guess. It’s certainly a worst-case scenario.
Was the 2+ issue mystery surrounding the events of El Paso worth the final reveal. Nope. Not in the least little bit. Banner Hulks out during a convenience store holdup. Throughout Banner’s life since becoming the Hulk, it comes off as pretty small potatoes, and it’s unclear why this specific incident forces Banner to take drastic action.
“Well, was it good or wasn’t it good? Stop playing coy,” you lament. Overall, it’s just okay. I’m not wowed by the story, and now that you get a taste of where the plot’s headed, it’s a collective “meh.” The problem is the lack of weight or emotional impact. Banner is angry, sure, but Banner is always angry as the Hulk, so there’s a decided lack of emotional energy to counterbalance the ever-present anger or overshadow it with something important.
In short, Banner is angry so he runs away. He encounters another Banner that’s doing something that makes our Banner angrier. To be blunt, it’s not very interesting… yet. So it’s a wait-and-see for right now.
On the plus side, the art by Ottley, Rathburn, Martin, and Blee is very good in this issue. It’s nice to see a Hulk artist not shy away from the blood that must be a regular part of Hulk’s encounters to give the story a little edge. And there’s plenty of blood in this issue. If nothing else, it’s a good-looking comic.
Hulk #3 finally gets to the meat of the story about an encounter with an alternate dimension Banner who’s life since the Gamma experiment has taken a more cataclysmic turn. While the story has plenty of creative elements, there’s a decided lack of emotional hook or wow factor. It’s just okay, and perhaps that’s good enough for die-hard Hulk fans.