WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Incredible Hulk #712 by Greg Pak and Greg Land, in stores now.
The Incredible Hulk #711 ended with a twist on the now-famous “He’s a friend from work” scene from the Thor: Ragnarok movie. Back on planet Sakaar, the Hulk was poised to face off against the Odinson in an arena, for the entertainment of others. But there’s one very big difference between film and comic book; this time around, it’s not Bruce Banner underneath the Hulk’s green skin, but Amadeus Cho, aka the Totally Awesome Hulk.
Although the circumstances for the fight are different form the film’s, issue #712 gives us exactly what the previous issue’s final page promised: A clash between gamma-irradiated muscles and Asgardian lightning. But while Thor has faced off with the Hulk many times before, he’s never faced the Jade Giant with Amadeus Cho in the driver’s seat. And with this fight, Amadeus may have proven a new theory — he might be even stronger than Banner’s Hulk.
The Odinson might not be his former “worthy” self, but with Jarnbjorn in hand and lightning as his weapon, the God of Thunder is still a force to be reckoned with. He bears no ill-intent towards his friend Amadeus, but an alien Obedience Disk is attached to his chest, controlling him and forcing him to fight without holding back. Consequently, Amadeus has no choice but to engage in the battle.
Amadeus’ new alien friends beg him to unleash the Worldbreaker, to let the true Hulk take control so that they may survive. Even Thor, able to speak for himself even if he can’t control his actions, begs Amadeus not to hold back, to put him down for the count lest he kill him and endanger everyone else. In his head, Amadeus wrestles for control of the Hulk, intent on keeping his wits about him and doing things his way. But the beast inside of him fights for control, urging his host that the only way to survive is to cross the line, and unleash the monster.
Somehow, Amadeus manages to remain in control, proving himself the superior Hulk by pushing the monster down. Using his head, Amadeus strategizes and manages to deliver a knockout punch to the Odinson. Despite prodding from those around him,he doesn’t kill his opponent, of course — instead, he manages to defeat him long enough to get hold of the Obedience Disk and crush it in his hands, freeing Thor from the control of his oppressors.
By doing so, Amadeus proved himself not only the stronger Hulk, one who was able to defeat Thor with a single punch, but also the better Hulk. Even when facing overwhelming odds, when pressed by the monster inside to relinquish control, Amadeus found a way to win. He remained in control of the Hulk, and he managed to vanquish his opponent, emerging victorious in a fight he could have very easily lost.
While Thor and Banner-Hulk have exchanged both wins and losses in their long history of fighting one another in the comics, Amadeus chalks up an immediate win. At the end of the day, Amadeus succeeds in making the Hulk a true hero.
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