Thursday, 28 May 2015

Indestructible Hul Vol. 1: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D (Marvel NOW!) Review

Indestructible Hulk Vol. 1: Agent of Shield (Marvel NOW!)
Everything you need to know about
this book is one the cover.

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Leinil Francis Yu

Background information:

Firstly guys, Marvel NOW! was not done as some answer to the New 52.

Nope. Not at all.

Sure wasn't.

Sarcasm aside, the Marvel NOW! initiative was an interesting idea to say the least. Take familiar characters and put them in unfamiliar situations. When the initiative worked, we got great books like All-New X-Men, Superior Spider-Man, Captain America and Hawkeye. When it didn't, we got Uncanny Avengers, Avengers, Cable and the X-Force and Iron man.

What's that, I haven't mentioned the Hulk at all? That's because he's an overrated character who is the superhero equivalent to watching paint dry.

Review:

Yep, I called someone from the Avengers movie a boring character. I take no shame in that. Personally, I've always seen the Avengers as being greater than the sum of their parts. As a team, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk are amazing. When they go off on their own? Not so much.

Sadly, Indestructible Hulk does very little to change my mind about that. It's storyless, lacks character development, and fails to help me like the Hulk, or even his alter-ego Bruce Banner.

... There's nothing witty to say here.
And that's a pity, because the premise is pretty interesting. For years, Bruce has been trying to contain
the Hulk; to try and eliminate it. To him, the Hulk has been a bomb. But what if it wasn't? What if, in the right hands, the Hulk could be a cannon- something far more controllable. So Banner joins up with S.H.I.E.L.D, and in return for lab equipment and staff, S.H.I.E.L.D director Maria Hill gets the Hulk to go on missions where more firepower is needed.

That premise gets fully fleshed out in the first issue. After that, there's a whole lot of nothing; a bunch of stories that absolutely fail to grab attention; Bruce fights Iron Man to what has to be the most boring standstill ever, he trades places with a kidnapped scientist and he fights baddies under the sea. None of these stories are particularly engaging and there is, I think, one real reason for this;

Indestructible Hulk had a real opportunity to investigate power struggles between Bruce and S.H.I.E.L.D. We could have had an excellent political drama on our hands. Instead, what we get is scene after scene of Hulk smashing. It would be fine if it were particularly inventive smashing, but it isn't. Everything that gets smashed is made of metal, it's always the bad guys' stuff (just once, I would have liked to see this idea turn ugly for S.H.I.E.L.D.) and it's always at the height of battle. I get that the Hulk has his own set of tropes, and that writers need to fit within those tropes. But seriously, would it kill them to have Bruce Banner at the height of action instead? Show that he's just as important to the dynamic as the green dude is?

See? He smashes! This is a Hulk book, everybody!
The book's saving graces are the visuals. Yu's pencils have this great way of drawing Hulk transformations that genuinely feel different each time. It would be tempting to spam the same transformation to the nth degree and I'm glad that didn't happen here. Kudos also needs to go to the colourist for scenes that really just pop. Considering how bland a story we have here, it takes a monumental effort to make it look interesting and the art team here absolutely deliver.

Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D is one of the reasons that Marvel studios hasn't pursued another Hulk movie and honestly, I don't blame them. This book gets two and a half out of five buckets of paint to watch dry.

** 1/2

+ Artwok is wonderful.
- So many missed opportunities.
- Despite the new status-quo, it's the same old Hulk.

Alternate Option: Ummm...

Is there a good Hulk series? I mean, I know there's Planet Hulk, but is there anything that's like this, but good?