I've been interested in what this one shot had to offer, considering that Jeff Parker didn't give many interviews nor did he really talk about this issue that much. Jeff Parker is a very talented writer, and having just finished reading this, I can safely say that I loved this small annual. It had everything one would expect for an one-shot to have. I've been slightly disappointed with Mark Waids last indestructible Hulk and his new inhumanity arc as merely just begun so it was nice to take a break from all of that and focus on one singular story.
The first things that you'll notice is how well Jeff Parker writes both Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. The dynamic was absolutely brilliant and I enjoyed every minute of it. What this issue has shown me is something I've never payed much attention too, Tony( when written like a human being and not a back stabbing despot) and Banner are actually quite similar and different in various and interesting ways. Banner is a product of his own failure whereas tony thrived on his success, however, if this is ignored one will see that both, in a way, have partially been absorbed by their own "work". Tony became a part of his weapons while Banner had become the Gamma Bomb he had created so long ago. This is where Zadian comes in. Zadian is an intriguing villain, because he is what eventually inspired both Bruce and Tony to become what they are today. Jaff Parker actually makes a pretty interesting point here. War and Crises played huge roles in the creation of new and advanced technology, sure they were for an unfavorable purpose, but they gained funds and scientist could work with their theories non stop. It's a terrible truth to be honest, and that's exactly what the main villain showcases here. But the greatest thing about Jeff Parkers new villain, was the simple fact that he was a foreshadowing. Zadian had been so absorbed by his own innovations that he had literally become a part of them, hence why he had lost his humanity in the end. This is what Banner and Tony could possible become one day, and it could be argued that to some degree they have already merged with their work and products. My only complaint with Zadian is that he was probably a one-off villain, who served a meaning and will probably never be used again, though considering that he played a major role in both Starks and Banners history, it would seem like a waste to get rid of such a cool and interesting villain. He also meets all of the components necessary for a cool antagonist: Power, intellect, personal connection with the hero, etc.
Which brings me to my next point, Jeff Parker really adds a lot of new things to the Hulks history which really makes me happy and eager for him to take over after Mark Waid has completed his run. The things unraveled here are directly tied to Banners origin and the New Indestructible series. First and foremost, we finally get a vivid answer as to why Hulk has been lacking in personality for some time. Tony notices that Hulk isn't quite himself these days, as if he has become more savage and mindless. Banner explains that this might not be the Same savage Hulk tony has known for years, nor the smart and brooding Gravage version. Bruce then analyses that it's possible that since he has changed in personality and has taken charge of his life, he had gained dominance over the Hulk, more so than he had before. This is a great filler and it makes total sense. Also, we finely answer a question that hadn't even occurred to me, why did Banner built the Gamma bomb? Zadian even remarks on how Bruce was a grade A pacifist as a kid. Truth is, the reason for Banner building a bomb is the same as to why he is working with Shield right now. Funding. Banner even admits that he never intended to use Gamma Radiation as a force of destruction, but the only way he could get a job was associating himself with the army, so that's what he did.
Mahmuds art is great here IMO, more so than it was in indestructible Hulk 16. The reason for this is that the colors for some reason work better , and Hulk looks more like a beast rather than a human, which is always great. The action is absolutely stellar and Jeff gives Ashar some freedom to elaborate with character designs.
Overall this was a great issue, I was a bit worried because Annuals and one-shots suffer due to the fact that they are limited in what they can accomplish, but Parker really proves that a great writer can take a small opportunity and do awesome things with it. This Annual had everything I could have asked for, the art was cool, the comedy was well-balanced, and it added new interesting notions to Hulks history. It's a great read.