From what I heard, after his success with “Daredevil” Marvel basically went to Mark Waid and asked, “Do we have anyone else that you could do that with?” Now we have his take on Bruce Banner and his big, green anger issue. This is also coming after Jason Aaron’s run which had its issues, but was generally enjoyable overall. Waid picks up from there as Banner has essentially made his peace with the Hulk and now wants to find a way to use his condition in a more productive manner. That means working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to create great scientific advances as Banner and being a living, breathing hand grenade they can throw into any situation as the Hulk. In this volume alone, we see that concept in action as he goes toe-to-toe with the Mad Thinker, the Quintronic Man, and Attuma as he leads the monsters of Lemuria in war against the surface world. All that, and he blows off some long-building steam with Tony Stark too.
It’s a good premise with good potential that can be expanded upon in numerous ways. The issues collected here are pretty straightforward villain/monster-of-the-month type affairs which give us some pretty decent superhero action. Waid’s take on Banner as someone who has come to an understanding with the defining problem of his life is fine, though the idea of the scientist using his genius to make world-changing scientific advancements is at odds with the fact that he’s not going to be able to change the Marvel Universe with these things. In fact, I’d say that the writer’s best contribution is in giving artist Lenil Yu plenty of crazy things to draw. Yu really cuts loose here, imbuing even the talking heads scenes with energy and serving up some excitingly detailed work on his fight scenes -- particularly against the Quintronic man and the undersea monsters of Lemuria. Unfortunately he won’t be back for the next volume -- but it’ll have Walt Simonson on for an arc -- but there’s enough fun in the action and intrigue with Banner’s new direction to make a convincing case for me to pick up vol. 2 when it comes out.