Mark Waid does not make life easy for Bruce Banner, forcing one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe to relearn even the simplest of tasks, like opening a Tupperware container, in the pages of “Hulk” #2. Mark Bagley joins Waid on the art side of things, providing the visuals for Banner’s new home in Highston, Kentucky.
Severely and seemingly irreparably brain-damaged following the events of “Hulk” #1, Banner now knows himself as Bobby and is under the care of his “grandma and grandpa.” Living a simple life of sweeping floors, eating ice cream and playing with his toy “earplane,” Banner has no idea of the power he once wielded. Waid cooks up yet another entertaining Hulk adventure as it appears most of Highston is S.H.I.E.L.D. undercover, maintaining the S.H.I.E.L.D. connections from the previous series. As he has done all along, Waid finds all the right angles and creates energetic plots to maximize the threat to the Hulk and make this series entertaining.
Bagley’s characters have always trended towards caricatures of humanity, bearing moments of great success as well as points of near absurdity. The absurdity is apparent in surveying characters’ foreheads throughout the issue, but the success shines through in the action and choreography. The caricatures hit their mark whenever Hulk is on panel and even moreso (think Robin Hood splitting his bull’s-eye arrow with another arrow) once the Abomination shows up. That makes Bagley a surprisingly sharp match for this series, despite some weak storytelling choices, such as when Hulk comes through a wall apparently inches from Maria Hill. The rubble alone, if not the Hulk himself, would have crushed her and provided a quick end to the story.
“Hulk” #2 is a decent continuation of the adventures of Bruce Banner and his green-skinned alter ego. Waid and Bagley have found an angle to present new challenges and growth opportunities for the Hulk, Bruce Banner, the relationship between the two and their relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. While this issue brings back one of Hulk’s most dangerous foes, the mystery remains behind who is responsible for the attack on Banner. Waid also leaves readers wondering just how severely Banner’s injury is going to affect the Hulk. Not readily apparent in the fight against Abomination, there is plenty of potential for the writer to forge new paths. “Hulk” #2 finds its stride just in time to wrap up, leaving readers with a cliffhanger until the next issue.