Written by Greg Pak
Art by Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna, & Marc Deering.
Colors by Ian Herring & Rob Schwager
So far, Totally Awesome Hulk has been a return to form for the Hulk book, with Pak back on writing duties, and Amadeus Cho firmly cemented in the role of the Hulk. A book with Amadeus doing his thing as a younger and cockier Hulk, with Banner blazing off into the sunset to kick back, would be interesting enough of a premise, but given that this is comics: a fly in the ointment is always required. As anyone who’s read or heard of Civil War II at this point probably knows: the original Hawkeye Clint Barton killed the once-Hulk Bruce Banner, and as the title indicates The Fallen picks up on what happens in the hole that Bruce Banner has left. While Civil War II’s conceit with Hawkeye killing a former Avenger in cold blood was… oddly handled to put it charitably, Pak gives the aftermath all the gravitas it deserves.
One of the problems the Hulk book suffered in the last few years has been the fragmentation of the Hulk family; while it’s understandable that having multiple Hulks running around can make stories a bit difficult to write with so many powerful figures, it also ended up denying Bruce the unique family that built up under Pak’s reign. Bringing that family back one last time for the funeral does a great service to the issue. After all: funerals are a celebration of life, and given how much Pak’s run on the Hulk was dedicated towards building up that family one last hurrah was the way to go. Continuity can be a barrier, but in this case, it proves to be a boon giving us a view of Bruce Banner’s life from the people who loved him. It’s an antidote to the bizarre way Bruce was taken off the board, and moreover it goes to show that even something expected can have unexpected positives.
While Bagley hasn’t been on the Hulk book for a few years, he does a great job with revisiting that world. The conflicting emotions at play being demonstrated: anger, sadness, and happiness are all tools Bagley built up over books like Ultimate Spider-Man, and those emotional conflicts come to the fore yet again in a story filled with people filled with rage on a good day. While as always, the story is being set up for further continuance, that’s not such a bad thing. As The Fallen goes to show, while a life may end, old business doesn’t. And given that Banner’s killer is still on the loose, plenty of people aren’t done with the Hulk just yet.
4 out of 5 Hulks