Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 Review

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is the first of the Generations gimmick titles that Marvel is rolling out in a desperate attempt to get long-time readers to buy their comic books. Totally Awesome Hulk, like most of the titles under the All New All Different and MarvelNOW banners, has been a sales failure. Totally Awesome Hulk #20 sold just 23,019 units in June, 2017. Will Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 turn the tide for Marvel? Let’s find out!

Words: Greg Pak
Art: Matteo Buffagni
Colors: Dono Sánchez-Almara

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk arriving in the desert. Cho wonders where he is. One-second ago he was in Washington, DC and now he is in the desert. We then see General Ross and the army battling the real Hulk.

Cho does not know what happened to him but he decides to try to save the lives of the soldiers. Unfortunately, Ross orders the Army to attack both Hulks. Cho tries to get Banner’s attention. Cho calls Banner “Dude.” (Dude #1) However, the savage Hulk is not listening to Cho at all.

Cho scans the Army tanks and confirms that they are unmanned. Therefore, Cho and the Hulk do not need to hold back. The two make short work of the tanks. Then the Army soldiers make their attack. Hulk immediately attacks the soldiers. Cho sucker punches Hulk to get him to stop attacking the soldiers.

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This causes the Hulk to start chasing Cho. Cho leads the Hulk away from the soldiers. They arrive at a secluded area. The Hulk immediately starts attacking Cho. The two start beating each other up. The two then stop to try to regain their breath. Cho suggests that they call this a draw.

The two sit down. The Hulk then transforms back into Bruce Banner. Cho transforms back into his normal human self. (These two characters look identical. The only way I can tell them apart is that one has brown hair and one has black hair.) Cho asks if Banner is okay. Banner says that he doesn’t know who Cho is. (So, Cho has officially travelled into the past.)

Bruce asks Cho how he is able to control transforming into a Hulk. Cho replies that he is just built different. (Well, that was a helpful and informative answer.) Cho thinks about how he cured Banner. And how he took the Hulk powers for himself and that Bruce ended up dead. (Yeah, Cho is kind of a dick like that.)

Suddenly, Army helicopters arrive on the scene. The two go and hide in a cave. Cho uses his wrist computer to create holograms of the two Hulks fighting each other. The helicopters immediately fire missiles at the hologram Hulks. There is a huge explosion. The holograms disappear and the soldiers in the helicopter radio General Ross that they are no longer detecting the Hulks.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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We cut to “one mile up the coast” with Banner and Cho in a small town. Cho suggests that they find a place to hide and then try and contact either Betty, Jen or Rick. Bruce says that they cannot contact anyone. Cho says, “Dude, they’ve gotta be worried.” (Dude #2.) Cho suggests that they go hack a bank machine and get something to eat at a diner. Bruce says that they cannot risk attention and that people know his face. So, Bruce tells Cho to keep his head down. Bruce hops into a dumpster and says that they can find something here to eat.

Because Cho is a soft wuss, he says “Banner. Dude. You…you can’t live like this.” (Dude #3.) Bruce says that he does not have any other option until he figures out how to control his transformations. Cho then admits that he is beginning to have trouble controlling his transformations lately.

Cho says that Bruce’s Hulk comes out when he is angry. So, to control the Hulk, Bruce has to control his anger. (Wow. Look at the fucking rocket scientist over here.) Bruce says that he has been trying to do that. But, his anger cannot be contained. That Bruce cannot stop remembering his father beating him. His father beating his mother. His father killing his mother. Bruce making a bomb. The worst bomb in the world.

Bruce says “My anger…is lethal.” (All right. That is a badass line.) Bruce says that he has to suppress his anger at all costs. Cho says that anger is not a crime. That they should be angry about some things. Cho points out that Hulk has done some good things.

Bruce counters that it doesn’t matter how many times Hulk has helped to save the world. That Hulk is always one heartbeat away from destroying everything. Bruce says that they cannot pretend everything is cool and bottle the Hulk up.

Cho replies “Dude. That’s my whole life.” (Dude #4.) Suddenly, a giant Kaiju appears on the scene. (Kind of a dorky looking Kaiju. Like a giant Creature from the Black Lagoon.) Cho says that all of the Army’s bombing woke the Kaiju up. (Huh, what? How would Cho know that? This is so random.) The army helicopters immediately appear on the scene and attack the Kaiju. (Well, that was convenient. How in the hell did they get there at the same time?)

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Cho tells Banner to evacuate the diner. Cho then transforms into the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk and attacks the Kaiju. (All right, this issue may have largely sucked up until this point, but I have to admit that I absolutely love a good old-fashioned Kaiju battle!)

Cho tries to direct the Kaiju’s attention away from the diner. Unfortunately, the Army soldiers set up RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DINER FULL OF INNOCENT BYSTANDERS and begin firing rockets at the Kaiju. (Of course. Makes perfect sense.)

Cho yells at the Army to stop firing at the Kaiju. But, it is too late. The Kaiju turns back toward the crowd of people exiting the diner. Bruce tries to clear the civilians out of the era. Cho continues to try and get the Kaiju to follow him toward the ocean. However, Ross orders the Army soldiers to fire all of their cannons at the Kaiju.

Cho yells for the soldiers to stop and proceeds to take out all of the Army helicopters and soldiers. Suddenly, the real Hulk appears and attacks Cho. The Hulk punches Cho around. Cho tells Bruce to calm down. Hulk tells Cho to shut up. (Ah, OK. Now Bruce has transformed into smart Hulk. Because? We have no idea why. Nothing is explained.)

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Hulk says that Cho thinks he is so great. But, Cho knows that he just has a monster in the trunk, too. Like Banner. And sometimes the monster gets into the back seat. Sometimes the monster grabs the wheel.

Cho reverts back to human form. Cho says that he is not like that. Hulk says that he thought Cho might have the secret. That Cho might be able to show him a way out. The Hulk transforms into Banner.

Banner tells Cho that Cho has a good heart. But, the Hulk is right. If the Hulk inside of Cho ever takes the wheel then he could kill his whole damn world. Bruce says that they are not heroes. That they are prison guards. That this is not a gift.

Suddenly, the Army helicopters are back and they attack the Hulks. (There is an endless supply of Army helicopters in this small town.) Bruce turns into the Hulk and bounds off into the air.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Cho thinks how he has to accept what Bruce just told him. Suddenly, Cho feels himself being transported back home. The pain of the transportation makes Cho turn into the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk. Cho thinks how he has to admit that this “gift” is in fact a curse. Cho swears to find out how to end it before it ends him. End of issue.

The Good: Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 was an average read. Having said that, there were definitely some positive aspects to this issue. First and foremost, Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 delivered exactly what any Hulk issue should deliver: Tons of action.

Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 presents the reader with 30 pages of content. A solid 22 of those pages are action scenes. That is fantastic. This is exactly what a reader wants to get when they pick up an issue of a Hulk comic.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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But, Pak does not stop there. What else besides brawling with the military does a quality Hulk comic need? That’s right. Kaiju. Pak doubles down on the classic Hulk action with the military and treats the reader to some sweet Kaiju action. I totally popped when I saw the Kaiju crashing into the scene. The Hulk battling Kaiju is instant entertainment.

Pak also delivers the action in a nice rhythm. The fight scenes are well laid out and have good psychology. The fight scenes not only serve to entertain the reader, but they also serve to highlight the differences between Cho and Banner. A talented writer knows that an action scene often offers an excellent opportunity to not only entertain the reader but to also deliver quality character work as well.

Pak is able to contrast Cho’s more positive and slightly naive view of the Hulk with Banner’s more grim and bleak view of the Hulk. Pak is also able to show how the real Hulk is fueled by mindless rage that lashes out at the military and the Kaiju with no regard for the safety of the soldiers or the innocent civilian bystanders. Cho, on the other hand, is highly conscious of trying to not injure any soldiers when battling the military and with trying to save innocent bystanders when battling the Kaiju.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Pak’s character work with Banner was excellent. Pak definitely accomplished the goal of making me miss Banner as the Hulk even more than I did before reading this issue. Pak also does a fantastic job introducing Banner to brand new readers who may not know his character. Pak The reader gets an excellent sense for Banner’s isolation and his grim view of his situation. Pak also nicely explains the root of Banner’s rage and why he has little control over it. This was an impressive demonstration on how to introduce a character to readers in an interesting and compressed manner. There was no need for decompressed scenes jammed full of dull and droning talking heads.

Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 was a Well paced and plotted issue. Pak had a clear direction in mind when writing this issue. Pak moves the story along with a clear purpose. At no point did the story meander or lose focus. Each scene nicely transitioned in the following. All in all, this issue had an excellent flow to it.

The Bad: Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 was an interesting read. I am not too sure what was Marvel’s goal with this issue. If the point of this issue was to make the reader miss Bruce Banner as the Hulk even more than before then mission accomplished. If the point of this issue was to remind the reader how much more engaging and compelling of a character Bruce Banner is over Amadeus Cho then mission accomplished. If the point of this issue was to get the reader to finally like and accept the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk then this issue was a spectacular failure.

This is the biggest problem with this issue. Because, given Marvel’s recent track record, the point of this issue had to be to get The Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk over with the reader. And the fact that this issue most definitely does not get the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk over shows just how out of touch with reality Marvel has been ever since they started with this All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One Legacy Generations initiative. Marvel is in complete denial over what the majority of their readership desires.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Generations – Banner Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is just a continuation of that disconnect between Marvel and the readers. While Marvel created this issue to get Cho over with the reader Marvel actually did the exact opposite. All Marvel did was remind the reader how fantastic Bruce Banner is as the Hulk.

Banner presents to the reader a far more compelling character than Cho does as the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk. Banner is a fully formed character that relies on a painful childhood that forms his rage. His later life experiences as a scientist who created the most feared bomb in the history of mankind serves to further sharpen his anger. Bruce’s tormented soul completely captivates the reader’s attention.

Bruce is such a fascinating dichotomy. On one hand, Bruce is a brilliant scientist. One of the brightest minds in the Marvel Universe. On the other hand, Bruce is just a regular schmuck who carries the scars of a traumatic childhood with him wherever he goes. Bruce is a hero who has saved the world, but he is also the world’s greatest villain who could destroy everything at a moment’s notice.

The reason that Bruce is a character that readers love is because he retains an every-man quality to his character despite being one of the greatest scientific minds in the Marvel Universe. That is hard to do and certainly does not apply to any of the other Marvel scientific geniuses like Reed Richards, Hank Pym, The Beast and Tony Stark. Also, Bruce has to live a much more spartan life than those other scientific geniuses.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Bruce also taps into our natural fascination of anger and how it can control us and influence how we behave. It is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aspect to Bruce’s character that makes him compelling. Anger is an emotion that civilized society has cast as unacceptable and is discouraged. The result is that anger turns into an emotion that is a forbidden fruit in modern civilized society. Anger and love remain the two most powerful and visceral emotions and are also the two most intoxicating emotions. Anger is the center of Banner’s character and part of what makes him so compelling to readers.

However, Bruce’s character is more than a mild-mannered scientist reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll. Bruce’s character is certainly part Dr. Jekyll. But, Bruce’s character is also part Dr. Frankenstein. Science and man’s desire to use science to influence nature in either a positive or negative manner is a main theme in both The Hulk and in Frankenstein. Bruce creates a horrific tool of science that births the Hulk. Thereby, adding another important layer to Bruce’s personality. He is not just Dr. Jekyll wrestling with an inner demon and the seductive pull of anger. Bruce is also Dr. Frankenstein living with the guilt of having used his scientific knowledge to create a monster that is the biggest threat to the world.

Bruce’s character is also appealing because of his status as a loner. Bruce being detached from the world and having to isolate himself from those that he loves and constantly be on the move makes him a tragic and engaging character. This gives Bruce’s character a haunting quality.

All of these aspects of Bruce’s character combine to make him an incredibly textured and compelling character. Unfortunately, this is contrasted with the shallowness of the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk that Marvel wants to give the reader.

Amadeus Cho was a great character. He was a unique and interesting character that was also highly entertaining. Cho’s character brought so much to the table in the pages of the Incredible Hulk. However, Cho was taken to new heights once he was teamed up with Hercules. The buddy team of Cho and Herc in the Incredible Hercules was nothing short of brilliant. Marvel had managed to succeed in creating some diversity while introducing a new, engaging and unique character with Amadeus Cho.

Generations - Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

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Then Marvel ruined it all with their poorly conceived and transparently pandering All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One Legacy Generations initiative. Cho was taken from a unique and interesting character and transformed into an incredibly annoying and pathetically shallow character as the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk. There is very little to find appealing with Cho’s character at this point. The Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk is the kind of character that most readers just want to see die. He is a toxic combination of being incredibly grating on the nerves while, at the same time, being completely generic and shallow.

Having the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hulk and Bruce Banner in the same issue simply served to highlight and stress the vacuousness of Cho’s Hulk. Much like the All New All Different MarvelNOW Point One Legacy Generations initiative, there is little substance or depth at all to Cho’s Hulk. Reading Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 only serves to make the reader miss Bruce Banner as the Hulk and to miss the unique and interesting Amadeus Cho that we used to get. This issue only emphasizes how much it sucks that readers lost two great characters in Amadeus Cho and Bruce Banner in exchange for such a one-dimensional character in the Totally Awesome Way Rad Dude Bro Hul

Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is a shallow read. There is not much substance to the story. The action is fun, but there is not that much to this story other than some monster fighting. This issue does a nice job introducing Bruce Banner’s character to new readers and gives the reader a nice feel for his character. But, that is about all you get with this issue. There is no real plot. It is just Cho randomly running across Bruce with a few mindless fight scenes and then Bruce ominously talking to Cho about how hard it is to control a Hulk and then the issue ends. Readers who like intricate plot lines and depth to their stories are not going to be impressed with the thin story that Pak offers in this issue.

Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1  reads like an issue that was slapped together quickly and published as a mere cash grab. Which is what I expect from most of these Generations titles. These issues are a desperate way for Marvel to try to rope in some lapsed readers with this Generations gimmick titles. It is normally the case that gimmick titles do not offer the best stories.

I was not a fan of Matteo Buffagni’s artwork. It simply is not my style of art at all. I found the art to be far too rough and sketchy. Buffagni’s artwork also lacked detail. There were moments where it was hard to tell Cho and Banner apart. I simply used the color of the hair. The generic looking man with black hair was Cho and the generic looking man with brown hair was Banner.

The inking gave the art a sloppy look. The colors were muddy and made this issue dull looking at points. I know that the goal of the art was to create a dark and grim vibe to the story. However, the execution of that goal was subpar and the result was an issue that just looked muddy and messy.

Overall: Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 was an enjoyable read that did not accomplish anything at all that Marvel was attempting to accomplish with this issue. Despite the various positive aspects of this issue, this is still a hard comic to recommend to readers. The main reason is the whopping $4.99 cover price. That is way too much to pay for any comic that does not deliver a superlative story. This issue was fun but it most definitely does not read like a $4.99 comic. I would only recommend Generations – Banner Hulk Totally Awesome Hulk #1 to die-hard Bruce Banner fans who miss his character and want to see the real Hulk in action once again.