The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Writer – Greg Pak
Artist – Frank Cho
Colorist – Sonia Oback
Letterer – VC’s Cory Petit
Review by Joey Braccino
“I’M NOT BANNER!”
All-New All-Different Marvel finds a Jade Giant for the 21st Century in Amadeus Cho!!! In his debut issue, the brand new, totally awesome Hulk gets to fight a giant two-headed turtle, eat six (6) double-bacon cheeseburgers, and have a pretty bad@$$ team-up. Greg Pak and Frank Cho pull out all the stops here, giving us an incredibly entertaining, funny, and fresh interpretation of the Hulk character.
I don’t want to get into the plot of Totally Awesome Hulk #1 too much because, quite frankly, it’s so damn good that you really ought to read it yourself. Yeah, I can’t even wait until the verdict to tell you to go out and check it. So check it, and then come back and read the rest of the review!
Aside from the stellar creative team—Greg Pak is one of the definitive Hulk writers of the last 15 years—Totally Awesome Hulk #1 earned a spot on my pull-list when I learned it featured Amadeus Cho in the stretchy purple pants. For those unfamiliar with the character, Amadeus is a 19-year old Korean-American wunderkind who prides himself on being the 8th smartest person in the world. I’ve been a fan of Amadeus since his featured role back in Pak’s iconic World War Hulk storyline nearly a decade ago. He later showed up in the critically acclaimed Incredible Hercules and his own Heroic Age mini-series, The Prince of Power. In recent years, however, Amadeus has served primarily as a supporting player, showing up in some of Jonathan Hickman’s work on Avengers. Despite his increased visibility in other corners of the universe, the character has always been most associated with The Incredible Hulk and with Greg Pak, so it’s no wonder that a relaunched series with Amadeus in the lead would put Pak at the helm .
For the first issue, Pak lets Amadeus Cho kick butt and crack jokes in a way that reflects his self-assured, #YOLO, youthful energy. Amadeus is 19 and a genius; his faux-hawked Hulk is going to have a totally different focus than Bruce Banner’s anxiety-driven saga. The humor and the tenor of Totally Awesome Hulk feels fresh and energetic in a way that Banner stories never really hit as Amadeus Cho’s Hulk makes quips and tries to pick up girls. And yet, for all the (futile) passes at pretty ladies and junk food sessions, Amadeus still has to deal with the anger issues that Banner used to. In many ways, the Banner’s jade giant is a spectre that haunts the book and Amadeus himself; Greg Pak knows the canon and knows the core of the Hulk in a way that no other writer really does (outside of maybe Peter David).
Visually, Frank Cho and Sonia Oback are perfect for this book. Yes, Cho’s work can be divisive for some readers, but his cheesecake/beefcake aesthetic plays for both comedic and kinetic effect across the first issue. Given the humor of Amadeus Cho’s terrible flirting, Cho’s “sexy” imagery is undercut by Greg Pak’s narrative. On a more superheroic level, Cho’s aesthetic is simply dynamic and heightened in a way that is perfect for an action-packed Hulk book. Sonia Oback’s vibrant palette makes Cho’s panels pop off the page and take on a refreshing energy for the relaunch. Simply put, The Totally Awesome Hulk is a visual tour-de-force from cover-to-cover.
As a final thought, given the bold, progressive direction much of All-New All-Different Marvel seems to be taking, it’s no surprise that the bold, progressive direction for the Hulk canon would slot Amadeus Cho into the titular role, and I couldn’t be more excited. To read a story by a Korean-American writer and a Korean artist that features a Korean-American lead character (supported by his also-genius sister) is truly outstanding in mainstream comics on so many levels. Simply put, as a biracial Chinese-American myself (you can probably guess the other half from my last name!), I am thrilled to see creators who look like me telling stories with characters that look like my family. At one point, Amadeus and his sister make noodles with sesame oil and eat with chopsticks. And I smiled.
BUY. Bottom line? The Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is worthy of its hip new qualifier. Greg Pak and Company deliver a super fun, compelling introduction to a bold new take on the Hulk mythos. It’s #ChoTime. Check it!