(p) Lenil Yu
Almost two years after dragging Daredevil out of the darkness Frank Miller established for the character over a decade ago, Mark Waid has done it again. Indestructible Hulk #1 reaffirms Waid’s place as one of the comic book industry’s brightest talents by giving readers a fresh, relatable, and grounded approach to the Marvel’s Not-So-Jolly Green Giant. Basically since the inception of the character, Bruce Banner has been at war with his less tempered side. It’s a plot device that drops in and out of being the focus of Hulk stories, but that inner anguish is always present.
Bruce has discovered that his gamma radiation-induced condition is incurable. That might not seem like a big revelation at first read, but it means so, so much. Finding a cure for the Hulk has really been Bruce’s driving force for decades. He spends his time and resources constantly attempting to fix himself. It was a noble endeavor; the Hulk “has caused immeasurable damage and heartache over the years”. Bruce was basically attempting to eliminate a seemingly uncontrollable entity living inside him, and it never worked out. Like an alcoholic finally admitting to themselves that they have a problem and need help, Bruce approaches S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill (which seems to be the only way she’s referred to, line-wide) about a job.
Bruce explains that he needs to “use Banner time more productively. Invent things. Fix things. Improve things.” Waid evokes Avengers vs. X-Men — how it was Tony Stark that saved the day with his genius intellect, and how Hulk helped by smashing and causing a distraction. Bruce waxes poetic about how Stark and Reed Richards will be remembered as visionary master intellects. Bruce, on the other hand, “will be lucky if [his] tombstone doesn’t simply say ‘Hulk Smash.'” After years of running from his problems and trying to cure himself, Bruce is ready to accept who he is and start contributing to the scientific community in a far more hands-on role.
The final part of Bruce’s turn-around involves the Hulk. Bruce wants to work for Maria Hill because S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only entity that could effectively use the Hulk as an aimed weapon as opposed to a chaotic force of nature. “Stop thinking of Hulk as a bomb. Think of him as a canon,” Waid eloquently puts it, pretty much nailing it on the head.
Mark Waid’s Bruce Banner is far more reasonable and responsible than previous iterations. Even at his calmest, Bruce used to only have a one track mind. Under Waid’s hand, Bruce is more relatable and makes more sense on a logistical level — it always bothered me how a man of staunch science could work for decades to no avail without accepting a certain truth of things. Waid understands this principle, applies it liberally, and it works. Like Matt Fraction, Mark Waid is a phenomenal emotional writer. For scientists, though, emotion can often be expressed through their work, and Bruce hasn’t done any work outside himself for a long time. For too long, Bruce has been a tormented soul searching for something that isn’t there. That’s been done. In the ‘Marvel NOW!’ era, he’s is going to be a force of good, and a darn good one at that.