Artist: Walter Simonson
I've really been enjoying this series, and it's been one of the better series to come out of the Marvel NOW! initiative. It's also continued to be a vast improvement over the previous Hulk series (Incredible Hulk), and Mark Waid has shown that like everything else he works on that he can produce great stories.
Bruce Banner and his team of scientists use the Uru that Thor donated to S.H.I.E.L.D. to create a portal, and travel to Jotunheim.
This was a brilliant issue, and although it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped it'd be, it was still very good, and a good start to this new story. Mark Waid has done a tremendous job throughout this series, and I've really been loving what he's been doing with the series, and the characters involved. When I first heard about this story I was really looking forward to it, as I love both Hulk, and Thor, so seeing them either team-up, or fight one another would be brilliant. Unfortunately I wasn't entirely happy with how Waid's used Thor, and although I expect that there'll be a reason for why he's writing Thor the way he is, I find it a bit weird, and slightly confusing (although I think that's what Waid's going for). The main thing that I've been enjoying about Waid's writing is how he's managed to involve Banner into the equation much more than other writers have in the past, and it's been a thing that Waid's been doing quite a bit recently, as he's shown more of Matt Murdock in Daredevil, and Britt Reid in The Green Hornet, which I've liked also. In saying that I still felt that Hulk wasn't used as much as he should have in this issue, but I'm sure he will in the rest of the story.
I wasn't too sure what too make of the art, as I liked it at times, but really disliked it other times. I've never really been a fan of Walter Simonson, and although I know he's been critically acclaimed, mainly for his work on Thor, I've never been a huge fan of his art, seeing it as too rough, and unrealistic, also looking awkward at times. I was however hopeful that I'd enjoy his art on this issue, as the preview pages that I saw looked amazing, and although they weren't as good as the artists I like, it was a vast improvement, and I actually thought his art would suit this story. I have however been slightly disappointed after reading the issue. I loved the way he drew Hulk outside of his new armour (during a news report), but felt that he looked very awkward, and less awesome, and powerful in his armour, whereas previous artist Leinil Francis Yu made him look very powerful. I did however like how he drew Thor, and although it was a retro style, it appears that this is for a reason (story wise). It was also a nice touch, as it gives long time fans the Thor that they'd know from his previous work. I also liked the way he drew the Frost Giants, as they looked like the brutal beast giants that I loved seeing in the few comics I read as a child. Besides these positive points, Simonson actually did a good job with the facial expressions, as although they looked a bit awkward, they showed plenty of emotion.
The start of this issue showed a news report that went on about the fact that Hulk's working for S.H.I.E.L.D. This was something I really liked as it was only a matter of time before someone started questioning whether it was the best thing having a Hulk working for S.H.I.E.L.D., as although it makes sense, as Hulk is a massive weapon, there are still people that will see him as a menace, and a monster, and will question S.H.I.E.L.D.'s morales, as a lot of civilians would feel afraid of S.H.I.E.L.D., and although this is a good effect on villains, I'm sure it's not how S.H.I.E.L.D. wants the public to see them. This didn't take up much of the issue, but I personally found it interesting, and look forward to seeing this develop.
This issue also showed more of Banner's science assistants, and although they were introduced a few issues ago, we haven't really seen much of them. What I found interesting about this was that Banner mentioned that they were chosen due to certain secrets they have, which I found interesting, as it lead to more questions, and I'm looking forward to finding out the answers. There was however one thing about there involvement that I found questionable, and that was Banner taking them with him to Jotunheim. Unless they're secret is that they all have superpowers this is a very stupid thing to do, as although he needs them to help collect samples, if any Frost Giants arrive there'd be a good chance of them getting killed, whereas at least Banner can change into the Hulk. Anyway this was only a minor thing, and I'm sure Waid has a good reason for this, and maybe even a surprising explanation.
I also found the idea of using a piece of Uru (same material that Thor's hammer Mjolnir's made from) to create a portal to the other realms is brilliant, and I'm surprised that no writers though of this before. Anyway, even though it hasn't been done before, I think that this is a good thing, as with Banner wanting to become a proper scientist again it gives something that hasn't been done before, and it also allows for the perfect reason to create a Hulk/Thor story.
As everyone probably knows, and as I mentioned before, Thor appeared in this issue, and as I said before I wasn't sure if I liked how he was used. Thor was in a retro style, not knowing who Banner was, which was confusing, as he clearly does. Also although Thor always talks in a funny manor, he was speaking in a fashion that I wouldn't relate to Thor, and this seems like a different Thor than the one I've enjoyed reading in the past. I personally think that Banner hasn't just went to Jotunheim, but a Jotunheim from a parallel universe, or time, and that this is the reason for the different look to Thor, as well as him not knowing who Banner is. I also think that this is the reason for the surprise that happens at the end of the issue (I won't spoil it but you may have guessed already). I'm sure however that Waid has a brilliant explanation to this, and that it will be something surprising, but either way I look forward to finding out.
Although not the best issue in the series, this was a brilliant start to the three part story that features the God of Thunder. It was also very interesting, and had a slightly shocking surprise, which is making me look forward to the next issue even more. I would really recommend this issue, as if you're a fan of either Thor, or Hulk you'll love it, and although I've personally not read Simonson's work on Thor, I'm sure that people who liked it will love this.