“Try Something New.” That challenge is the whole reason for this feature’s existence. Month in and month out we buy the comics we know and love, the ones we look forward to every time but there are countless series that travel under our radar, ones that we just don’t give a chance and get passed by. That’s why I made a vow: every week I’d pick up an issue for a series that wasn’t on my pull-list in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Welcome to Off The Shelf where we’ll discover if my leap of faith paid dividends this week. Also, I should mention that there be SPOILERS in this review. You are warned!
Marvel Knights: Hulk #1Publisher
Joe Keatinge and Piotr Kowalski
Prior Experience With Title
I don’t have the largest wealth of knowledge in regards to the Hulk franchise but I know the basics and have picked up the majority of the current Indestructible Hulk series. I’m also familiar with him due to his various guest stints in other titles and his featured movie roles. A die-hard Hulk fan I am not though.
Why Did I Give It A Shot?
I enjoyed Marvel Knights: Spider-Man so I wanted to see if lightning would strike twice.
The issue opens up with Bruce Banner in Paris, facedown in the Seine River. A woman named Dyane, who had been following him since seeing Bruce on the Metro and feeling something was off, catches up to him and wakes him up. We see that Bruce is suffering from a gunshot wound and Dyane takes it upon herself to take this injured stranger to her uncle’s spare apartment to patch him up and let him rest. The next morning, Bruce awakens to Dyane’s uncle wanting him gone as soon as possible. Dyane reveals to Bruce that she took him here instead of a hospital because she sensed he was the type of person that didn’t want the scrutiny that a hospital would provide. She then gets ready to bid him adieu when Bruce asks her what city he is in. She finds this strange until he reveals that he has no memory including who he is. She proceeds to take him to where she helped him out of the water with the hope that it will jog his memory. The act doesn’t do anything for Bruce’s lack of memory but it is clear that Dyane is growing attracted to this mysterious man before her. Bruce, meanwhile, has a feeling that something is lurking inside of him, something that he doesn’t like one bit, but something he can’t quite describe. Meanwhile two mysterious suited individuals who had previously been following Bruce on the Metro arrive at Dyane’s uncle’s gallery. They ask about his niece and if she is with Banner and once they get confirmation they thank the uncle for his help and kill him. Later on, Bruce and Dyane are at a night club when he is approached by those same suited men. They pull out their guns and demand that Banner quit the playing dumb act he is giving them, not knowing that he has lost his memory. Bruce tries to fight them off and manages to snag one of their guns and shoots one of his attackers. The other agent phones AIM high command and their superior, Harrow, tells them to use the formula. The two villains comply and transform into hulking green monsters and continue their pursuit of Banner. They catch Banner on the Metro and toss the train clear across the city. The issue ends with Banner in their grasp and a giant explosion emanating from him…an explosion that could signify his transformation into Hulk.
George: You said he’d be gone by now, Dyane!
Dyane: I said he’d be gone when he was ready!
George: Well, I’m ready for him to be gone!
Dyane: You don’t recall anything else? Not the Metro? How you ended up in Seine?
Bruce Banner: Just waking up at your Uncle’s. And a nagging feeling.
Dyane: Of what?
Bruce Banner: Something inside me. Something I don’t like. Something I’m afraid of.
Dyane: Something I should worry about?
Bruce Banner: I’m thinking so, yes. Something tells me we both should.
Dyane: Just my luck. It figures the bullet-riddled American would be a total creep. And here I was going to ask you to get a drink after I get out of work.
Agent: Come now, Banner. Did I make you angry? You know what happens when I make you angry?
Harrow: Ever since we were born, we were told it was impossible. No one could break the Hulk. Our parents told us it couldn’t be done. A dream to never be realized. I begged to differ. I said it was our destiny
Harrow: We will do what they never could. They can’t break the Hulk? Fine…we’ll destroy him.
Final Verdict: The original Marvel Knights’ purpose was to be a “self-contained limited series that thinks outside the box, that challenges readers to re-think their favorite Marvel characters and re-evaluate the legends that surround them.” The line usually tried to focus on franchises and characters that needed that extra boost to re-establish them in the comic fan’s eyes. This latest batch of Marvel Knights titles eschewed that tradition to focus on already popular franchises while telling non-continuity heavy tales. Marvel Knights: Spider-Man blew my mind with its art and was a real pleasure to try to wrap my head around. It was unique and interesting while this series, besides Bruce losing his memory, was pretty generic. It felt like just another Hulk tale, nothing special, and certainly not worth the $3.99 price of admission. Thusly, I’m going to Pass On This Series Going Forward as I’m not willing to invest in three more issues of a series that I don’t see any promising future with.