Updated: Mar 9, 2020
When I heard that Amadeus Cho was to be the new Hulk, I was ecstatic! Turns out that Amadeus is just the smart guy for the job, and being that he doesn’t have any issues with uncontrolled emotions, he basically changes into the Hulk at will.
But that begged the question: What happened to Bruce Banner?
Greg Pak and Alan Davis take us back in time to when Banner, as the Incredible Hulk, had absorbed too much gamma radiation, and just as Iron Man was about to give up on him and send him to the Negative Zone, Amadeus Cho shows up and not only rids Banner of the gamma radiation, saving his life, but Cho also rids Banner…of the Hulk.
Yet, who is Bruce Banner without the “Other Guy”? We find out that he’s still an emotionally repressed man, and although he’s free of transforming into the ultimate manifestation of his repressed anger and anxiety, he isn’t free of the guilt of all the things he’s done, the lives put in jeopardy, and the destruction he’s wrought, so much so that he’s willing to put his life at risk to atone, somehow.
We see a man who, for being free of turning into the Hulk, Banner is still a man unable to really deal with his emotions. If he can’t control them via meditation, he runs away from them, doing things that count as ultimate risk-taking behavior, until being forced to deal with them in Las Vegas with an intervention of sorts via being confronted by Iron Man. Then we see something I don’t think Bruce has done in a long time: CRY. And that, in itself, is powerful. Even while being free of becoming the Hulk, Bruce was still repressing his emotions, something that seems to have been his problem LONG before becoming the Incredible Hulk.
This issue of Totally Awesome Hulk not only gets us caught up on where Bruce has been post Secret Wars, but, for me, as someone who ISN’T a regular “Hulk” reader, Pak humanizes Bruce Banner in a way I’m not sure has been seen in a while, but is much needed.
I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this arc, especially given that Ulysses has a vision that the Hulk was going to kill our heroes & Captain Marvel going to confront Bruce at the conclusion of "Civil War II" issue 2. But with Bruce not being the Incredible Hulk anymore, and Amadeus Cho being the Totally Awesome Hulk...is Captain Marvel targeting the wrong man? Does Bruce find a way to become the Hulk again in the interim? Only way to find out is to pick up Totally Awesome Hulk #8 next month!!