Fighting monsters like it’s a day at the beach… oh wait, it *IS* a day at the beach…
Amadeus Cho is the Hulk for some reason, and he and his similarly super-genius sister are capturing monsters using their flying food truck as a base of operations, because somehow. They also team up with She-Hulk and Spider-Man Jr. battling monsters in New Zealand until an alien queen named Lady Hellbender arrives for a cliffhanger.
And it all sounds so crazy it just might work.
Writer Greg Pak has written some amazing stories with Amadeus Cho in the past, most notably as a sidekick/supporting cast to Hercules, and Cho has quickly found his way into my top favorite character list. Obviously, Pak writes Cho with an energy and whimsy that’s befitting the cocky young fun-loving hero, but in this issue it’s far from charming. In fact, at times I began to wonder how much was really Cho in this issue. Has Pak missed the cadence of the character he created ten years ago? Has Amadeus grown and changed in the intervening years? Is it supposed to be out-of-character enough because there’s something going on with a Hulk persona and influence? The suggestion is the latter, but it’s hard to get a read on.
So, ultimately, while enjoyable and a solid first issue, I can’t shake the impression that it all feels like a Saturday morning cartoon. Part of it is the set-up, with quirky things like the Kegger android and the Korean taco food truck natural choices for action figures and accessories. Sidenote: I really love Korean-Mexican fusion. Well, and Saturday morning cartoons.
Mostly, though, it’s because of Cho himself, which is so broadly characterized I imagine he’s voiced by Seth Green and ready to call himself A-Bomb and spell things with Zs instead of S. ‘Cuz the coolz, bro. (See my point? It’s perfect for Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) Nearly every panel he’s in offers some drooling comment about “gurlz!” There’s also a lot of eating, so as I’ve said, I’m sure it’s all setting up some issue with the Hulk’s persona as a giant id, demanding constant carnal consumption and at war with Cho’s ego. With Greg Pak, I’m anticipating a deeper level of meaning to it all, but it’s all a bit too implicit now.
The cartoony feel is perfect for Frank Cho’s art, whose figure work remains excellent along with some prime facial expressions that add humor and pathos to key panels. His pencils do some wonderful acting; you can often read a scene perfectly even when skipping all the dialgoue balloons. The storytelling is paced well, with a funny sequence as Hulk is tossed against the ground back and forth, and there are two really beautiful page-turning splash pages, full of action. Some of the fight sequences are a bit jumbled, though, with the layouts very tight on the figures, and it would be nice to see the scene a bit more wide.
The colors, unfortunately, are a bit too overrendered on such a clean line as Frank Cho’s. It’s as if the colors are overcompensating to try to be “realistic” when clearly the art is meant to be more graphic and cartoon. It does work, at times, like in a flashback scene when the Hulk leaps into some flames that cast this eerie underlight to the figure that’s just beautiful. Most of the time, however, it’s just too much. Like when we first see Maddy Cho poking her head out of the food truck. There’s hightlights and deep cast shadows and texture on her glasses and glows… it’s all really quite nice of course, but it’s like swatting flies with a sledgehammer when a simple swatter would suffice.
Frank Cho as the seminal “monster artist” is an inspired choice. I’ve always liked the Hulk series to be played as a monster series, and we have a lot of that going on, from dinosaurs to kaiju to Marvel monsters to even basic Jekyll and Hyde stuff.
There’s a simple premise, with the Hulk as a monster hunter, and a simple set-up, with Amadeus Cho and his sister as our leads. The only danger here is that it all becomes a bit too over-simplified, especially if Amadeus continues his tiresome, let’s-call-it “flirting.” Frank Cho’s art helps keep things bright and filled with energy and emotion. Overall, it’s good, goofy, and daresay monstrous, fun.