On the Lack of Punching and Why it’s So Great in Hulk #1 by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Matt Milla, Cory Petit

Hulk is the newest release in the Marvel NOW 2.0 line of comics that have been launching for the last few months. The team behind the green hero now includes the writing by Mariko Tamaki, of Skim and This One Summer, art by Nico Leon, Matt Milla’s colours and Cory Petit’ lettering. Though I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk, I had to pick this one up simply based on Mariko Tamaki’s involvement. As was expected, I did not leave disappointed.

Jennifer Walters, previously known as She-Hulk now assumes the mantle, or the ripped pants, of the Hulk. She awakes from a coma, finds out Bruce Banner, her cousin and the original Hulk, was executed, and now has to put her life back together. Oh, and she also has to go back to her job as a lawyer. The newest Hulk is not a frolicking action-adventure quipfest and I loved it so much for that.

I find superheroes the most compelling when they can’t punch away their problems. This, I feel, is a huge part of why Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye was so successful. It told the story of people who are just trying to figure their lives out. Clint Barton and Kate Bishop also happen to be good at kicking butt via archery, but the bow and arrow-induced buttkicking wasn’t quite the main point there. You’d think it would be difficult to pull off something similar with a character like the Hulk. What would the Hulk be without HULK SMASH? Well, the team behind the newest Marvel title proves there’s a lot more to the character than smashing stuff.

Jennifer Walters has her hands full without involving the smashing part. The first issue deals with her coming back to work in the aftermath of Marvel’s recent Civil War events, the events that leave her with a severe case of PTSD. In fact, the only time Jennifer comes close to transforming into her green alter ego is during one of her PTSD episodes. A lot of the issue focuses on Jennifer when she is alone, be it at home, at the office, or on the subway, lost amongst the ocean of New York crowds.

The comic succeeds at not defining Jennifer by the creature she can transform into. She’s enough of a character without it. She’s a determined young professional who is damn good at what she does and will not let anything stop her. This is infinitely more interesting than her punching bad guys through brick walls. Which, to be fair, will eventually happen, it is a Hulk comic after all, but I deeply appreciate that it is not what the introductory issue is about.

The best part of the issue is just how emotionally intense but quiet it is. The comic certainly does justice to the mental issues a lot of us face on the daily basis, at least this anxiety riddled reviewer felt that way. I look forward to Jen slowly starting to figure her life out, and I’m ready to see her punch some bad guys while doing so.
If you’re looking for an appropriate launchpad into the Marvel universe, Hulk #1 is one you should give some thought to.