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"Totally Awesome Hulk" Lives Up To Its Name

The premiere issue of Greg Pak and Frank Cho's Totally Awesome Hulk hit the shelves this week with much anticipation from fans. The team's reconstructed vision of the Green Goliath lived up to it's name of being just that, totally awesome. Marvel has been busy lately releasing new versions of old titles and characters, and as a life-long fan of the Hulk character, this was a title I had to check out for myself. I have to admit, I'm glad I did.

For past readers of the Hulk in his many incarnations, this title will read as something new. Something different. This is certainly not the Hulks of the past, and the main character, Amadeus Cho, is definitely not Bruce Banner. This Hulk is in control, intelligent, and mostly focused. You might even call him somewhat over-confident at times. Greg Pak created the Amadeus Cho character years ago, and Amadeus has served mostly as a side character making an occasional appearance here and there. It's interesting to see how Pak will develop him as a lead character. He has no super powers, other than being the 7th (or is it 8th?) smartest person on the planet, and is basically just your average Asian-American teen in a lot of ways. Which mostly consists of him being constantly hungry, and always horn...ahem "girl crazy".

The fact that I'm not describing him as a solemn and wise martial artist, or a subservient little man with broken English is a relief. Racial stereotypes in comics shouldn't even be an issue at this point, and it is nice to see that companies are finally breaking those old, outdated cycles. Comic books have always been a common ground for all races (and now genders) and I've always had a hard time understanding why comics stayed stuck in racial stereotypes for so long.

Greg Pak is an excellent writer, and continues impressing me his story-telling skills in this issue. It's only issue number one, and Pak has already established the personalities and relationship between Amadeus and his sister/sidekick Maddy, foreshadowed the story of how Amadeus ended up with the Hulk mantle, threw in guest appearances by Spider-Man and She-Hulk, and introduced a brand-spanking-new villain who's a hot, dinosaur-riding, Queen of the Monsters (?) badass named Lady Hellbender! All of that in just the first issue, and one extremely long sentence! Pak has the ability to keep the story flowing, while building believable characters with minimal dialogue. But what else would you expect from a Yale alumni and Rhodes Scholar?

The other half to this creative dynamic duo is Frank Cho. An amazing artist who's work everyone is familiar with since a little book known as Liberty Meadows was published back in 1999. While Cho is most noted for his female characters, his clean style and detailed facial expressions bring these characters to life. Also known for his huge, epic battle scenes, Frank Cho could have no better book for it than the Hulk. His detailed style makes scenes like that enjoyable, where a lesser artist would come across as wasting space. Cho flexes those muscles right out the gate with a huge battle between the Hulk and a giant, two-headed, fire breathing turtle. Can we say homage to the famous kaiju Gamera?

Marvel has packed a solid one-two punch with this creative team leading Hulk fans on a new journey, and paving the way for an Asian-American lead character, something that has been missing and long over due in the comic book industry. You can tell that it means something to this creative team, and that they enjoy working on this book together. Marvel is obviously adjusting their sights to a more modern and teenage audience. Some of us older readers can find that a bit annoying and off-putting, but that's not the case with Totally Awesome Hulk. The book is fun, but not dumb. The lead character is young, and comes across as somewhat immature, but is believable and likable. I'm looking forward to seeing how these characters are grown, and where the story will take us. I have a feeling we're in for some surprises along the way.

By Matt Knapp

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