One thing I have learned over 36 years of reading comic book is that, for a character who has been a linchpin of Marvel Comics and who has had some of the greatest crossover success of any comic book character, appearing in cartoons, a prime time television show and three major motion pictures just in my lifetime… nobody ever seems to like The Hulk all that much at any given time.
There is no other major comic character that I can think of that has been rebooted, retrofitted and overhauled more often than The Hulk. Just off the top of my head, Hulk has been green and stupid, grey and stupid, grey and smart, grey and smart and a mafia enforcer, green again and a genius, green and stupid again, green and a gladiator, green and a world conqueror, and one time, green in white clown makeup getting his ass kicked by Batman. And when it comes to Bruce Banner, he has been Bruce Banner, David Banner, a wimpy genius, a tactical master, an abused child, a mad scientist, an itinerant wandering hobo, and the leader of government agencies. If a creator came into, say, Superman and said, “You know what would make Superman better? If Clark Kent was a street hustler, and if Superman wore doilies and shit napalm,” there would be nerd riots in the streets around every comic store… but when it comes to The Hulk, the attitude seems to be, “Fuck it. Can’t be any worse than what the last guy did.”
It seems that every time a new creator gets his hands on The Hulk, his or her first action is to look at what came before, boldly state, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and start slapping together a new current status quo. Just a month or so ago, Jason Aaron finished a run where Banner had been separated from Hulk, Banner went nuts and spent a while doing fruitless genetic experiments, a reasonably intelligent Hulk boned Red She-Hulk, Banner and Hulk reunited to fight Dr. Doom, all in a storyline that was packed with big, goofy action and fun. But that was a month and a creator ago, which in Hulk terms means it might as well have never happened.
So yes, the new creative team on Indestructible Hulk #1 has, indeed, looked at Aaron’s run and seemingly said, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and is taking Banner and Hulk in a different direction. Normally, this would be so much the norm it almost wouldn’t register; just another case of a new guy fucking around until he gets bored or sales tank and the next guy comes into to fuck around. However, this time around the writer is Mark Waid – you know, the guy who looked at 25 years of noir stories in Daredevil and said, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and turned the book in a direction that has generally been as entertaining as any Daredevil story since Frank Miller made Daredevil a noir character.
So while this is yet another reboot for Hulk, whether we needed it or not, Waid gives us an interesting new start, with a fresh take on Banner and some of his motivations, a good take on the tension that being around Banner can cause straight out of the Avengers movie, and a fresh “relationship” between Banner and The Hulk… not that it doesn’t have some problems.