In the wake of every Marvel title being relaunched with a new #1 issue post-SECRET WARS, one of the most eagerly awaited titles has been TOTALLY AWESOME HULK. With fan-favorite character, Amadeus Cho, taking over as Hulk, fans have expected the title to have a lighter and more humorous tone compared to the previous volume of the series. On top of that, Amadeus’ creator, Greg Pak, is writing the title with art from Frank Cho. With an Asian-American creative team taking on a major Marvel title lead by an Asian American protagonist, this series is a major step forward for diversity in the comic book industry. But is the first issue any good? Let’s check it out.

TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #1 BY GREG PAK AND FRANK CHO

I don’t think a single creative team other than Greg Pak and Frank Cho could handle relaunching HULK. Pak, well known for his previous legendary work on the HULK with “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk”, has been sorely missed by fans of the jade giant. Cho, on the other hand, is one of the industry’s most in-demand artists for his beautifully styled, hyper-realistic anatomy. Okay, he draws very attractive ladies but everything else is just as gorgeous to look at. His Hulk is no exception- this is one of the prettiest books Marvel has published in their ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL line. Story-wise, this is a really fun, quick issue to read. The only issue readers may have with this issue is that it is not a Hulk book, it is an Amadeus Cho series.

BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Before I delve into all that, let’s get into the story. We open with a bikini bound mother trying to remove her son from the beach because a tidal wave with horns is coming at them. Cut to a robot named Kegger yelling at Cho for not hurrying to save the woman as he eats his weight in cheeseburgers with too many fancy ingredients and kale shakes.

WATCH: Our interview with Greg Pak at NYCC 2015!

Amadeus then changes to Hulk and does battle with a two-headed, fire-breathing turtle monster, all while flirting and subsequently getting rejected by aforementioned beach babe. Throwing a propane tank to the beast’s throat, Cho burns out the turtle and shrinks it to size giving our first clue to what this title will be about. Amadeus Cho and Co, monster hunters! Oh, and there’s a censored full-frontal panel of Hulk, ladies and gentleman. A little reminder to the reader that you are getting Cho at 100% in this book and that means that somewhere, Spider-Gwen is yelling “Outrage!”

Amadeus Cho as Hulk loses his pants

Amadeus reverts to his human form and returns to his flying food truck/Winebago where his fellow genius sister Maddy awaits him. (She’s the voice of Kegger) Maddy verbally berates Cho amid witty banter over his seeming lack of control of the Hulk. With a comparison to Banner, we see Cho get angry and in a series of panels, readers see him begin to Hulk out in response.

READ: Want more Marvel? Check Marius’ review of ALL-NEW X-MEN!

A flashback is then implemented where we see Banner being brought in to help Black Panther and Iron Man with a fusion reactor meltdown. The Hulk jumps in to absorb the radiation and save the Kenyan coast but it’s not Gamma radiation that he absorbs but Kiber. It is implied that this type of radiation made Hulk so much stronger and Cho’s anger implies that it’s possible that Banner/Hulk might have done something catastrophic in the missing eight months. Cho assures his sister that the Hulk is under control within him and in a dream sequence, we see Amadeus driving a car with a leering Hulk trapped in the trunk.

Amadeus Cho locks up Hulk in his trunk in a dream sequence

The next panel opens with She-Hulk and Miles Morales/Spider-Man battling more monsters. Hulk arrives, quickly beginning a banter with jokes surrounding She-Hulk’s age before the two goliaths knocks out the monsters. Spider-Man punches a knocked-out monster to feel included and yes, it’s hilarious. She-Hulk then proceeds to yell at Cho for running off on his monster hunt alone without contacting any means of authority. And suddenly, boom, our villain arrives via blue-scaled raptor, Lady Hellbender! The red-head clobbers Hulk with a mace and the issue ends with Amadeus saying “she’s kind of fine” with her boot pressed into her cheek.

Alright, as I said earlier, this isn’t a Hulk book. You’re not dealing with Banner’s inner demons and the Hulk’s rage, Amadeus Cho is a cocky, young genius with his own Hulk powers. This gets confusing as other Hulks: I.e. She-Hulk, Red Hulk, and Skaar, all have control of their powers and do not have the psychiatric issues that Banner does. Banner’s repressed emotions bore a new personality and that is the Hulk. Amadeus has Hulk powers now and reading this issue, it seemed that his only problem with control as the Hulk was his inability to not hit on women as Hulk. The dream sequence seemed to imply Cho himself has an uncontrollable Hulk personality trapped in his psyche and that will seemingly be dealt with later on in the series.

Frankly, as a long time Hulk and Amadeus Cho fan, I was a bit thrown off by how it played out. I loved the fun-loving Amadeus that I missed so much from THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES, but I’m not sure what aspects of himself need to be locked away beyond his ego. For me, the subconscious Hulk felt forced amidst a fun, monster hunting introduction. The series reads more like a comedic SHE-HULK title than a HULK book, but I have full faith in Pak that this is going to be a defining run for Cho and Hulk.

READ: Check Sean’s review of Mary Jane’s debut in issue four of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN!

I don’t know what to say about Frank Cho other than his art never ceases to get amaze. His pencils and inks are flawless in both passive and active scenes and he commands each and every page. Cho’s style of muscular, detail-heavy characters works extremely well with TOTALLY AWESOME HULK, but I wasn’t surprised to see the amount of bikini-clad women or the bodacious villain. His work may not be for all, as people have been vocal in the past about their distaste for his depiction of women, but I really do love it. Frank Cho has always been a distinct artist and I’ve always found his work enjoyable, especially when there’s dinosaurs, monsters, and/or muscular women, so I’m sticking with this.

Hulk gets knocked out by Lady Hellbender

TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #1 is a good issue, if a little rough around the edges. Like many of the Marvel #1s for ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL, the introductory issue has a lot packed into it with little explained. Unfortunately, I can’t even blame SECRET WARS at this point for being late- this time jump is just a struggle. Thankfully, Amadeus is as charming as ever and the creative team holds nothing back, I just hope Frank stays for more than six issues.

What did you think of the issue? I know I’m looking forward to finding more about Lady Hellbender as I’m sure many of you are as well. See you next month for a review of issue #2!

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