Generations: Banner Hulk and the Totally Awesome Hulk
The first of the Generations crossovers came out last week, teaming up the Totally Awesome Hulk (Amadeus Cho) with “Banner Hulk” (better known as the Hulk who was also Bruce Banner), who was killed in the Civil War II event last summer. The first thing that struck me was this panel, drawn by Matteo Buffagni.
Pop quiz! Looking at the art, are these people
A) eager to get to their neighborhood block party?
B) engaged in a neighborhood group walk for fitness?
C) fleeing for their lives as a giant monster attacks their neighborhood?
The answer is supposed to be C, but there is no sense of urgency, no vitality in this art.
I think I have a pretty good idea of why Marvel is doing these team-ups — they’re trying to get the old-school habitual comic-shop fan to view the new incarnations of their characters more favorably by giving them the “approval” of the ancient versions — but story-wise, I have no idea how this is supposed to work. Why are these two characters, one dead, appearing together?
There are a bunch of taglines on the opening page that made me more confused. They say
The Vanishing Point
An instant apart!
A moment beyond!
Loosed from the shackles of past, present, future — a place where time has no meaning!
But where true insight can be gained!
Make your choice! Select your destination!
This journey is a gift…
Makes the whole thing sound something like a magic eight-ball to me, or like someone had some fortune-cookie discards lying around. The ad copy from Marvel calls it “a time-bending tale that will finally answer the question on everyone’s minds: WHO IS THE STRONGEST ONE THERE IS?”
Now, I’ve never cared about who’d win stories, because they don’t mean anything but that one particular writer pulled strings to get to one particular ending… if they even bother to “settle” it. I was hoping writer Greg Pak would give us something like his earlier crossover issue, The Totally Awesome Hulk #8, which features Cho and his sister nursing Banner through the flu. It’s an amazing meditation on passing the torch and what it means to be a Hulk, plus it’s illustrated by the immensely talented team of Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. As a tie-in to the Civil War 2 event, it gave great focus to why Banner might be done with his role in the Marvel universe.
This comic, on the other hand… It opens with Amadeus — who, let’s remember, is a genius — wondering, like any sensible person would, where he is and what’s going on. These questions are never answered for him or the reader. Instead, we get lots of explosions and fighting from an artist who doesn’t sufficiently distinguish the two Hulks, which makes it even more pointless.
And then comes the immensely disappointing ending. Spoilers from this point on.
The wrap-up is two pages of Banner lecturing Cho on how he’s wrong about accepting his ability to transform. Which means that everything that made Cho an interesting new take on the hero is wiped away with him deciding being the Hulk “is a curse” and he’s “going to have to figure out how to end it”.
This is such a sloppy, tacked-on lack-of-conclusion that I really want to believe it was editorially driven, because I usually like Pak’s comics much more than this. I have no evidence for that, though, other than this being an over-priced ($4.99) forgettable event one-shot. Like most of that type, this is poorly done and dissatisfying.