Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As Banner is urged by Doc Samson to reflect upon his past we see Banner's recollections take us back to the moment when he was exposed to a massive dose of gamma radiation, thus giving birth to the Hulk. After watching Banner's first transformation we see the creature's first foray into the world quickly leads to a run-in with the nearby military, and when the Hulk lashes out at these puny humans, we see he forever makes himself the hunted monster.
Unlike the Spider-Man and Daredevil miniseries I've yet to read the issues that this miniseries is set within, so thankfully most of this material is new ground. Now I was aware of the basic elements such as why Bruce went running out into the middle of the testing range, and I was even aware of the fact that the Hulk original coloring was gray. However, I didn't know that Rick Jones was present the first time that Banner made the change, or that General Thunderbolt Ross was dogging the Hulk trail right from the first rampage. Now I'm a little thrown by how quickly Rick adjusts to the ides that he's just watched a man turn into a massive monster, as his reaction was rather awkwardly handled and really should have been smoothed over if it was simply a case of their taking a story element that already existed and inserting it into their modernize retelling. The idea that the Hulk is already spouting off his standard lines was also a bit strange, but I can understand why they would be inclined to do so, and there is something inherently cool about the choice of Hulk's first line of dialogue. In the end though this issue is basically the story of Banner's accident, his first transformation, and his first run-in with the army, with very little beyond these initial trappings except for a brief little scene between Betty and her father, that gives an interesting look at their relationship.
As for the art, Tim Sale certainly took the title of this miniseries to heart as this is a very dark, and gloomy looking affair, with some fairly nightmarish visuals, starting with our first introduction to Banner in the past, as we see his exposure to the gamma rays. Now the initial transformation is a bit understated, but our first look at the Hulk certainly makes up for it, as that one-page shot of the character is a fantastic shot of the character, as he comes across as being so massive that even the entire comic page is too small to contain him. The scenes where the Hulk has his first encounter with the army was also nicely done, as the double-page spread that opens the action is a wonderful piece of art. A fairly solid cover to this issue as well, even if the Hulk does look a little too muscle bound in the visual.
If you enjoyed their previous efforts under the Marvel banner I see very little reason why you wouldn't enjoy this latest effort, as it looks to be a faithful retelling of the Hulk's first moments on this planet. Now I still remain a bit unconvinced that Jeph Loeb's creative muscles are really being used all that much on these projects, as essentially he's simply offering up a modernized accounting of material that has already been done, and in the case of Rick Jones' almost blasť reaction to that first transformation, I have to say that Jeph Loeb looks to have been asleep at the switch when he presumably decided to keep that moment the way it was. However, I did enjoy this first chapter far more that the other opening issues of these color-theme miniseries, as my general lack of knowledge about these early days of the Hulk results in a sense of discovery that I simply didn't have available of their previous efforts. I do hope that we get more scenes between Betty and her father, as their scene together is far and away the most engaging section of the issue.
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