I've been trying to write a post on one of my favorite comic book heroes for quite some time. It's never coming out the way I want it and I'm still not even sure this is gona be up to the task.
Now he is not my favorite but he is No#2 on my list.
He's a former military scientist who's an expert in WMD's, energy systems, and other military technologies. When he went rogue they gave him a call sign. You use these words and the military or SHEILD will track you and investigate.
Because he is the most wanted man in Marvel Comics history.
He is the the Hulk.
Thanks to the Avengers Film he's finally gotten some of the press I think this full bodied character deserves.
Norton did the Hulk character justice in his flick that is part of the whole Marvel Phase 1 project. His predecessor Ruffalo also did well with the character. The Hulk is one of the easiest characters to use or tell stories about and yet he is also the easiest to fuck up. Look at large sections of Ang Lee's flick 'the Hulk' and you'll see what I mean.
On an aside here Ang's flick did some things well. The framed sections and transitions gave the film a comic book feel. The animation and action sequences were brilliant and the scenes with Bruce and Betty were feeling genuine. I even liked Talbot and Gen Ross. Where the film failed was in the attempt to over complicate the character with the whole 'Daddy Crazy' story arc and the reason for the creation of the Hulk. It was not needed. The character already has shown depth in found within the litany of his comic series.
Ang Lee did not understand the character to the extent that Norton did. Norton used the Hulk/Banner character dynamic and their relationship to make Hulk's first big screen hit. Norton is responsible for making and changing the story to make sure it had the quality that we all should have experienced with Ang's movie. He is the reason you found the Hulk in Avengers. Norton's fight and later expulsion from the Marvel films was big hubbub in the comic media. He was sticking to his guns, and should be rewarded.Alas as a fan of the Hulk, I'm sure Norton enjoyed the Hulk's showing in Avengers.
But that's the films...
When you look at the character of Banner, a super smart guy who made nothing but weapons of mass destruction and could do so much more, you find a man who is timid from abuse and scared of himself. Unlike Tony whose business was to make military hardware and weapons for profit. Tony changed because of an attack and first hand experience of the hardships that victims of his technology felt. Bruce was the only (kinda, at first) a victim of his own work. Bruce even saves Marvel Icon and POV, Rick Jones (he's getting his own post one day) from the effects of the weapon he created and in turn becoming the Hulk.
Simple Characters with depth are hard to write for. You can gloss over the depth and stay simple or you can go to deep ignoring what the character or getting lost somewhere in the story. History shows us that the Hulk comics were not doing well until Peter David took over the reigns of the comics for a record 12 + years. Yeah... that's a long time.
He told stories that made sense and some that were all sorts of fucked up that only comics can tell without breaking the scene. The Hulk in many years become a group book with a focus on the supporting characters of Rick Jones, Marlo, Betty Banner (nee Ross), and Bruce. It was no more about the monster but about the people around the monster.
After he left Hulk had another dark period before Greg Pak took over the book for another lengthy time. He started with Planet Hulk as the breakout story that brought the Green Goliath back to the front of comic store shelves. He carried on and even worked along Loeb who created the Red Hulk (Hulk's former chief hunter, Gen Ross) and Red She-Hulk. Pak took those new character and played with them and the book at one time was called the Incredible Hulks (note the plural).
Now last year there was a new Hulk comic that become a short lived dark period of time. Banner goes Dr. Moreau and Hulk is making deals with Dr. Doom. It was dumb, had problems selling even with Marc Silvestry doing the pencils.
It was bad... then Marvel did the Marvel NOW reboot (kinda, sorta) post Avengers vs X-Men and vola a new series with Mark Waid writing, and Yu (who did Ultimate Hulks vs Ultimate Wolverine) doing the pencils.
The story is simple. Bruce Banner is not asked to help when the world is in danger. Instead he is asked to be the Hulk to help save the world. Bruce is not happy about it, he's super smart and he wants to do more. The deal is he needs peace and the resources to do his work. Bruce will always be interrupted by the Green Mr. Hyde, but he want's to be able to get right back to work rather than start from fresh as he's back on the run again. He's proven to have outsmart Reed, Tony, Hank more then once. He even has his own tech, Bruce's BannerTech includes forcefields and teleporters. This guy is one of the smart cookies.
So he goes to SHIELD.
He wants everything to make his inventions, things that will help the world. The price is Hulk being aimed like a cannon when SHEILD needs a big mover, when damage is not the issue, and you need something indestructible. Waid starts off the whole book with some brilliant sci-fi establishing Banner's genius and pushing the deal slowly and carefully. Each mission Banner/Hulk has been on have been a good use of the idea. One of my favorite parts is Tony, after getting outsmarted by Bruce, taking a minute in Issue #2 to collect and remind himself that he's still rich.
I guess this post is not so much about why I like the big green machine but more about how he's currently being used.
The Hulk is part of Marvel. Be it The World Break, Professor, Grey, Savage, or whatever form the Hulk takes on next. The Hulk is here to stay.