SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “ Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk” #1 by Greg Pak and Matteo Buffagni, on sale now.
Greg Pak and Matteo Buffagni officially launch Marvel Comics’ Generations “event” with Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1, the first of ten one-shot issues that join together past and present incarnations of Marvel’s most iconic characters. Also known as Generations: The Strongest, the officially but awkwardly named leadoff issue does indeed introduce Amadeus Cho to a past incarnation of Bruce Banner, back in his days when The Incredible Hulk was relentlessly pursued across the southwest by General Thunderbolt Ross. The issue also establishes a potential new yet familiar direction for the younger Hulk, as well as giving a peek behind the veil of secrecy that has shrouded the Generations initiative.
The Totally Awful Hulk
A contrived but necessary opening paragraph provides a general sense of purpose for the issue, and conveniently dismisses other storytelling necessities like introduction and setup in order to immediately and mysteriously plop the Hulk who’s totally awesome into the past era of the incredible one. The pair of green goliaths come face to face on the second page, and spend the rest of the issue facing Ross’ robotic weaponry, each other, and a giant sea monster awakened by Ross’ attack. In between, the two have a more civil discourse about the disparities between their natures, and during the course of the discussion, and while observing Banner’s troubled state of mind, Amadeus comes to an equally troubling realization: that, like Banner, he too must work to keep his alter ego contained.
Amadeus’ abrupt about-face portends a significant and radical departure for his character – after willingly giving himself the powers of The Hulk and curing Banner in the process, he is now looking at those powers not as a gift, but as a curse, just as Banner long has. Amadeus’ original attitude towards The Hulk, ironically, was itself a shift from the one long held by Banner – although there have been notable, short-term exceptions, Banner’s Hulk has traditionally been one that he’s felt is far from incredible (much less totally awesome), doing anything he could to keep the creature caged within him. This dynamic has arguably also been the one most widely perceived – eras like Mr. Fixit and The Pantheon were a shot in the arm to the franchise, sure, but hardly had the same longevity, or staying power, as a Hulk whose emergence was rarely the desired outcome.
As the issue proceeds, Amadeus’ mindset regarding The Hulk evolves from totally awesome to totally awful, as he watches Banner steal drying laundry from clotheslines and eating discarded food from a dumpster. Banner laments over one of his longstanding fears – that it’s The Hulk in control of his life, not him – which seems to strike a chord in Amadeus regarding his own life, after admitting his own Hulk self-control problems. By issue’s end, Amadeus is convinced that his Hulk is anything but awesome, a moment that coincides with his sudden and unexplained removal from Banner’s era back to his own.
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