Hulk #1 is the start of a new series published by Marvel Comics, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Nic Klein, colors by Matthew Wilson, and letters by Cory Petit. As Bruce Banner has completely lost control of his other half, something ancient surfaces to hunt him down.
This comic is an out-and-out horror, building on the genre Al Ewing established the book in during the previous Hulk run. The opening is terrifying and reaches beyond simply mystical elements. The pace is quick, refusing to hesitate in bringing forth frightening elements. Despite the pace, the issue manages to juggle multiple storylines all of which move close to one another — practically following in the footsteps of prior plotlines. With Hulk’s horror, the fear derives from the anticipation, building up to an outburst of violence. Hulk #1 is startling, brutal, and unflinching from the get-go. Matching the sheer power of the Hulk, Johnson introduces a being not just powerful, but unsettling, verging on celestial, something beyond anything seen before.
The characters and their are fascinating in this opening issue and Banner is in a bad place from the start. Anxious and jittery, the true extent of what he’s going through is revealed only a few pages later. His control over The Hulk might be at its weakest. And the green guy is an imposing nightmare. He doesn’t say much in Hulk #1, but when he does it sends shudders down the spine. It’s always fascinating to see the protocols that are in place within agencies for dealing with Banner and the Hulk. He isn’t this unknown being, there are practices in place. But there is virtually nothing you can do when he turns green. Whilst there is the mystical, ancient element to the villain of the comic, the issue does deliver on a grounded undercurrent simultaneously. This subplot is raw and grizzly, but it puts something vulnerable in the mix with strength and savagery.
These elements are exemplified by intense artistry. The issue revels in body horror. Transformation appears to be a motif, with both the villain and Banner himself changing form. The shapeshifting is painful and revolting to witness, highlighting just how drastic the changes are, with bodies being ripped apart. There isn’t a character included that is designed to look comfortable, not even the protagonist. Banner is haggard and decrepit, about as bedraggled as he ever has. His sunken cheeks and long hair makes him almost unrecognizable. The Hulk is also terrifying, his hair length mimicking Banner’s when transformed. He’s incredibly muscular with abnormally long arms but he pales in comparison to the monsters. Their design is absolutely horrifying, strolling past Lovecraftian to nestle in the truly demonic.
The colors add to the creepiness at every opportunity, amplified by the shadows. The woods Banner finds himself in are unnatural and enveloping and the pages are inundated with a variety of shades. They do alternate though, with a base tone with splashes of other colors over the top. Before Hulk emerges fully, the green is used as a hallucination, a sign of something ominous. The lettering has some custom word balloons to create a particular voice, and the one used for the villains may be difficult to read.
Hulk #1 is delectably disturbing as we are immersed in a horror story of intoxicating proportions from page one, unearthing a completely new threat. Johnson uses what Ewing started to inform this story whilst unlocking a different brand of terror. The visuals are even more gruesome and terrifying than they were in the Immortal Hulk and there is no control or feeling of safety in the main character. In this new Hulk series, there is no such thing as a comfort zone.
Hulk #1 is available where comics are sold.
Hulk #1 is delectably disturbing as we are immersed in a horror story of intoxicating proportions from page one, unearthing a completely new threat.