Marvel Generations: Hulk #1
Amadeus Cho and Bruce Banner Meet Again!
Marvel Comics, in the wake of sales losses and a lukewarm reception (at best) to the recent Secret Empire event, has been pushing Marvel Generations every chance they get. On the surface, it seems like a last-ditch effort to appease the white male readership clamoring for their “classic” characters of yesteryear. After reading this first issue of Generations: Hulk, though, I can say it’s…exactly that.
There is nothing “Totally Awesome” or even ‘Incredible” about this idea or this comic. I did not expect to like this comic, but I also did not expect to absolutely hate it—which is what happened by the end of Issue #1. This is not a great start to the Marvel Legacy specials, and it is difficult to envision any vast improvement when it comes to the other generational Marvel super-pairs.
This comic “event” opens with a confusing, vague promise:
An instant apart!
A moment beyond!
Loosed from the shackles of the 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…
Besides some questionable grammatical choices, this comes off as a first draft intro to a choose your own adventure book. As far as describing anything that is actually going to help you understand what is happening in the comic—you are out of luck.
In a failed and lackluster cold open, our two Hulks meet in the desert for …some reason, and have to fight military forces and a sea monster for…some reason. The plot is nearly nonexistent and falls completely flat. This is likely some misguided attempt to rouse suspense or intrigue, but it reads as an incomplete idea with little direction or purpose. This does not feel like much of a “journey” at all, and certainly not a “gift”.
Greg Pak is an excellent writer, and handles The Hulk well, which is likely the source of the few poignant moments in this issue. It feels like Pak got shoehorned into a flat, directionless plot and his craft does not get the chance to shine through. This is unfortunate, because a meeting of Totally Awesome Hulk and Bruce Banner Hulk could have some cool implications (as their last meeting did not end well, to say the least…).
The art was not awful, but it needed to do a lot more work to make this story work. Unlike upcoming Generations titles, like Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, “The Archers“, both Hulks look pretty much the same. In Totally Awesome Hulk‘s solo series, he has a distinct look, but that seems to have been abandoned here. The similarities in artistic representation of both characters makes it difficult to tell what is happening and where the action is. At first, the more distinct “voices” of the characters helped tell them apart, but that mainly devolved into Amadeus saying “dude” a lot and Banner being a jerk.
The backgrounds and action were not striking or visually interesting. The weirdest part of the art was the lettering. Marvel loves the overuse of giant SFX, so the KRAKOOOOOM was not really a surprise, but the weird lettering choices end up taking away from what story and art there is, not enhancing it. Especially when the sea monster shows up, the lettering style just doesn’t fit with the book and takes away from the experience.
Marvel has been largely, and purposely, vague about what the goal or point of Generations really is. I was hoping that this meeting of Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho would shed some light on the goal of this project, but it’s still really unclear and ultimately, uninteresting. It’s hard to be compelled by an idea when the idea is not clear.
The hope I had for Generations, and the meeting of classic and revitalized versions of Marvel characters, was to see Marvel make an effort to continue pushing comics forward, and multiply the positive steps they have taken to engage in bringing their Universe into the modern age. Based on this first issue, it seems to be leaning in the opposite direction.
Amadeus Cho has brought a lot of individuality to to The Hulk, and made a sometimes-monster into a true Hero. Instead of running with that, it seems that Marvel chose to use Banner as a negative foil for Cho, bringing him down and forcing him to think of himself as a Monster instead of a Hero. With this motion set in place, it does not seem like Marvel is pushing the diverse choices and forward momentum they have previously achieved, but falling back on familiar characters in an attempt to force some sort of shock value. Unfortunately, because this book was boring overall and difficult to follow, it isn’t even enough to reach that goal.
Overall, Generations:Hulk feels like the second issue of a 90’s series I wouldn’t want to pull out of the dollar bin. Marvel promised that every Generations series would be an event— but so far, it’s just a disappointment. Generations: Hulk is a confusing concept with questionable execution and little to no suspense. It’s definitely not “The Strongest“, and unless Marvel has something really secret coming up, does not spell success for the rest of the Generations titles.