It was quite a debut for Marvel's new Hulk series, as Hulk #1 delivered a massive shake-up to the status quo and a bold new course for the big green powerhouse, and somehow Hulk #2 already topped that impressive insanity. Writer Donny Cates continues to sow more seeds of internal conflict in Banner's psyche as he battles Hulk and even at times Betty Ross, while artist Ryan Ottley and colorist Frank Martin deliver dazzling visuals and sequences you absolutely won't see coming. Clearly, the team is not satisfied with the chaos so far, and Hulk #2 shows that there is no ceiling on where this series can go.
Hulk keeps things pushing forward at breakneck speed in issue #2, not even bothering to look back at the Avengers or other people he's already smashed through. That's a major reason the issue holds such an aura of excitement and mystery, as every time you expect it to bring things back to what is known it goes in the complete opposite direction – leaning into fresh ideas and possibilities. Granted, we are sure they will be back in the mix at some point, but right now it's refreshing that the series isn't revolving around them.
Cates doesn't forget to lean into the fun of everything either, as Cates, Ottley, and Martin will have you losing your mind at some of the scenarios that keep the Hulk Engine going. The move to Level 2 was pretty stellar on its own, but Level 3 is going to send Marvel fans into an absolute tizzy. It's perfect on pretty much every level, and not even remotely kidding, and this is far from the only stunner in the issue.
Ottley impressed during his run on Amazing Spider-Man and will always be loved for his work on Invincible, but it feels like he's truly found his marquee character in Hulk. It's a match made in heaven, and every punch feels as if it's landing with the force of a missile. When the Hulk turns up the level on the brutality, it lands with impact, and that goes for that Level 3 battle tenfold.
Now, the book isn't all about larger-than-life battles (though they do rule), as we also see not just the anger and arrogance of Banner but also a look at the growing fear. While he's ultimately confident about his abilities and his latest creation, he can't control everything, and you get just enough of a glimpse at that realization as the issue winds down.
That is, until the book throws a massive twist in your direction, setting up a third chapter that will only take us further away from the heroes Banner left behind while also presenting a perfect opportunity to get even more insight into what makes this current version of Banner tick and perhaps further towards the mystery of how things got this way in the first place.
I can't praise this new era of Hulk comics enough frankly, and Hulk #2 has only built upon the immense setup in the book's debut while also opening up a bevy of new possibilities for the series moving forward. So far Hulk is compelling, gorgeous, and completely fresh, and it embraces the fun of comic-style storytelling without losing the depth that recent Hulk stories have given to fans. It's a splendid mix that will appeal to both longtime fans and those new to the character, and I can't recommend it enough.
Published by Marvel Comics
On December 15, 2021
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn
Colors by Frank Martin
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Ryan Ottley and Frank Martin