It's no secret this is my favorite ongoing Marvel book. In this issue Banner and Hulk finally square off. I got into a conversation with someone this past weekend about this book. They said they hated the fact that Banner is painted the bad guy in this series. I love it. If you've been reading Hulk the past few years, then you know Banner has gone through some major life events, and on top of all of that, there is a raging beast within him trying to get out. There's only so much a man can take before he breaks. If you've also been wondering why Banner is nuts and need more than just my opinion of the book, to quote Amanda Von Doom within this issue: "Banner's completely lost it... considering everything he's been through over the years... Only surprise is that it didn't happen sooner."
This book delivers once again. Hulk is on a mission to kill Banner, and he actually gets the chance, but he has to fight through a gauntlet to get there. Even though Marc Silvestri did not pencil this issue, Whilce Portacio takes the reigns and does a wonderful job. I don't remember noticing Portacio's art in any other book, so to explain it best, his art style is a mixture between Leinil Yu and some Humberto Ramos-esque facial expressions. It works beautiful on the page and doesn't deviate so much from Silvestri's style to where you'll get annoyed with the art change.
Jason Aaron takes Bruce Banner to Crazytown (the actual town, not the "band." It's in Nebraska) in this issue. We get a full scope of just how bad Bruce has lost it as he talks to himself in the mirror, and by talks, I meant to say "screams." I love how this story pulls from the Island of Dr Moreau. The whole idea of the Hulk pulls so heavily from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde that taking elements from other classic literature feels very natural. But what happens when brains gets the power of brawn? We get to see a bit of this at the end of the issue. Very cool stuff.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again... and again. I love Bruce as the bad guy and Hulk as the good guy. We've seen Hulk as the good guy before (Planet Hulk), but the role reversal with Banner feels natural and pretty darn cool. Hulk needs a new enemy, and Banner is the perfect antagonist for this new series.
One minor problem. Ok... two. There were a few panels, in this issue, where faces were extremely distorted and it just looked bad. Literally two panels, and it stood out like a sore thumb. Aside from that, though, I really did love the art.
Amanda Von Doom just feels tossed into this issue. She's around the first few pages, then just hangs out in the background. She doesn't add anything to this issue.
So close to a five for me. I love Jason Aaron's take on this character and the direction this book is going. It stands out on its own and is not in the shadow of Greg Pak's run. Banner works so well as the antagonist in this book, and I love the ending of this issue, which I will not spoil here. Although Silvestri is not the artist on this issue, Whilce Portacio takes over and does a heck of a job. On the bad side of things, there were a few panels where I hated the art, mainly on facial expressions. They were distorted and ugly. Lastly, I have no clue why Amanda Von Doom is in this issue. She just doesn't help progress or do anything within the story. Overall, again, this is my favorite ongoing Marvel book, and I can't recommend this book enough.