indestructible_hulk_vol1Dr. Bruce Banner was a promising young scientist when an experimental bomb explosion changed his life forever. Afterwards, whenever Dr. Banner became angry, frightened, or otherwise over-stressed, a horrifying transformation occurred and he turned into the jade giant known as The Hulk.

For years, Bruce Banner and The Hulk have been hunted by the American government, vengeful super-villains, and other scientists who would use The Hulk for their own devious ends—and Banner is tired of it. Other scientists with heroic alter egos have accidentally created menaces that nearly destroyed the world and aren’t chased around the countryside with shoot-to-kill orders and bounties on their heads. Why should he be treated as a greater menace than Tony Stark or Hank Pym?

This leads Banner to come up with a plan — a business proposal, in truth — which he takes to S.H.I.E.L.D director, Maria Hill. Banner wants a state-of-the-art laboratory, a support staff of his own choosing, and an unlimited budget so he can begin to build a legacy beyond his status as the world’s most dangerous biological weapon. In exchange, and so long as S.H.I.E.L.D promises not to keep trying to kill him, Banner offers them the services of The Hulk. Whenever S.H.I.E.L.D needs an engine of destruction, he will be their cannon to point and shoot. It’s a risky venture, and it takes the threat of blackmail for Hill to go along with Banner’s idea. Even then, she agrees only because the idea of Bruce Banner working for them is much more attractive than having him work against them. And so it is that Bruce Banner begins an exciting new career: man of science by day and Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D by night.

Novel concepts like this one are Mark Waid’s bread and butter. Similar to his revolutionary take on Daredevil, forcing Matt Murdock to cheer up after decades of brooding and returning the character to his swashbuckling roots, Waid transforms Bruce Banner and The Hulk by taking what should be a logical step in the characters’ progression. Bruce Banner’s transformations are caused by negative emotional states, so why has nobody tried to keep him happy and make him feel safe in a controlled environment? It’s a good question, and one that Waid promises to have fun answering as this series continues.

The artwork of Leinil Francis Yu proves a perfect complement to Mark Waid’s writing. Yu created a unique look for each character, no matter how minor their role, allowing the reader to tell who is who, even in the heat of the action. Yu also fits an amazing amount of detail into every single panel. Sadly, inker Gerry Alanguilan obscures many of these fine details with his shading. Curiously, some characters are heavily inked, while the backgrounds on the same page barely seem to have an outline to define them.

Marvel Comics rated this volume as appropriate for readers ages 13 and up — this is a fair rating given some of its violent content. Moreover, the complexities of some of the issues discussed here—i.e. why Bruce Banner wishes to do something other than being The Hulk—may be beyond the grasp of some younger readers.

Indestructible Hulk: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D, vol. #1
by Mark Waid
Art by Leinil Francis Yu
ISBN: 9780785166474
Marvel, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: T+ (13 and up)

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

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