The sudden explosion of “Marvel Knights” mini-series has been a curious one. Unlike the original iteration of the “Marvel Knights” line — where they were titles produced by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti — the branding now seems to be little more than a flag for being outside of continuity. Still, if it means that Joe Keatinge and Piotr Kowalski are getting some work, then that’s reason enough to exist.
“Marvel Knights: Hulk” #2 feels a bit more standard than the first issue; while Bruce Banner is still amnesiac on the streets of Paris, the title’s lost a little bit of that dreamy, distant quality that made its debut stand out as a little different. Here it’s all about A.I.M. doing what they choose to a captive Bruce, as they harness the power of the Hulk for their own needs. And honestly, that’s a little bit of a shame, if only because I feel like we’re getting a book that suddenly could be any other “Hulk” comic. It’s still entertaining, but “Marvel Knights: Hulk” #2 just doesn’t stand out any more.
I don’t want you to think that this is a bad book, though, because it’s most definitely not. I like Keatinge’s plot as a standard superhero comic, and his idea on what A.I.M. would do with the gamma-powered formula works well. It’s dangerous and makes him feel a bit like the ticking time bomb that we’ve always been told the Hulk is. Now that we’ve transitioned Bruce from refugee to weapon, the remaining issues should certainly prove to be attention-grabbing.
Kowalski’s art is solid; it reminds me of a slightly toned-down version of the style that Kelley Jones uses. The form of the Hulk feels wonderfully massive and powerful under Kowalski’s pencil, and the scattering A.I.M. agents around his feet really sell the idea of the terror that’s burst into the area as their bodies are twisted into forms of panic and fear. Even background images like the blast crater from last issue’s cliffhanger are rendered well, and it’s given me a nice impression regarding Kowalski’s art. I’d definitely like to see more from him.
“Marvel Knights: Hulk” #2 might not be as instantly-grabbing as the first issue, but it’s still a solid comic. Hopefully Keatinge and Kowalski can get some more work based off of this; they’re doing a good enough job playing outside of continuity that I’d like to see someone give them a chance in the main sandbox with everyone else.