Hulk: Let The Battle Begin #1 Review

As faithfully and thoroughly documented by Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for comics fans hoping for a few very cheap Marvel TPBs from Amazon. As many of us discovered – yep, it was too good to be true. However, the beauty of being a loyal fanboy or girl is that every week holds the promise of some outstanding new comics, and this little puppy is one of them.

Jesse Blaze Snider continues to prove his skill as a scribe with his pulse on the core of the characters he writes. Dark romance with Vertigo’s Dead Romeo series, the playful cast in BOOM!’s Toy Story and now his great tale in this Hulk one-shot. The guy knows what he’s doing and obviously spends quality time thinking about the specific traits of the characters he’s writing. As anyone who’s enjoyed Toy Story (his 2nd issue is also out this week) already knows, Snider has quite the knack for bringing out the authentic personalities of each of the toys, even if they only utter a few sentences. Likewise, this standalone adventure starring the Green Goliath feels like a purpose built Hulk story, rather than just a bland tale featuring a brute who smashes tanks. Snider brings to play the humanity of Bruce Banner and the rampaging might of his emerald alter ego with equal aplomb.

In the first two pages of Let The Battle Begin, we are given one familiar Hulk element with his “stupid purple pants,” and a new element that makes perfect sense for a rational scientist (a small survival kit in those same pants) as Banner wakes up post-Hulk in the middle of a desert. I should point out that this tale is set sometime in the past, as Hulk’s simplistic threats, and Thor in his old duds reveals. As Banner hitchhikes to the nearest town as part of the post-Hulk routine he’s done many times before, we are given flashbacks to unveil just what went down the previous day. Basically – a massive brawl with The Wrecking Crew in the battleground of Mt. Rushmore. Snider paces it very well, and throws in some surprising humour so that it makes the kind of Hulk fight we’ve seen so many times before appear refreshing and wholeheartedly enjoyable. With hitting with sticks, jokes about haircuts and groin grabbing it’s a great sequence that never comes across as silly or irreverent. In fact Snider boils down the essence of Banner wonderfully, as the captions of his inner thoughts show, as Banner has conversations with the townspeople and just tries to live a normal life. He applies the same focused analysis of Banner’s other side (y’know, the green one) that makes this a superb entry level adventure for the Hulk curious. Within just a few pages Snider sums up the complexities of Banner/Hulk in a way I haven’t seen since Peter David wrestled with Ol’ Greenskin.

Snider isn’t alone on this tale though, and artist Steve Kurth matches the plot with some great images. A slightly sketchy style similar to Bryan Hitch’s, Kurth’s grasp of facial expressions is bordering on masterful. There are a few misshapen missteps, but generally he tackles the pages with ferocity and humanity. Banner’s messy hair, the enthusiasm of a Hulk fan/hotel clerk and the confidence that drips away from Thor’s bloodied face are all great touches in this hectic day-in-the-life-of Hulk tale. There are a few close ups that appear like snapshots, brimming with honest emotion.

Also included is a short story written by Mark Parsons and Tom Cohen that originally appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #9. With art by Ed McGuiness it of course looks brilliant, even if Kelsey Shannon’s colours take a while to get used to seeing over the monstrous McGuiness style. Excellently titled Gamaragnarok it focuses on the harsh world of the future Hulk, Maestro. It’s very different from the preceding pages, with its serious story of war, but it sure looks pretty.

2 Comments

  1. Another Thor beat down. It’s a tough time for Thor fans


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