The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Frank Cho and Sonia Oback
Even before the title released, “The Totally Awesome Hulk” scared me. Not because they cast Amadeus Cho to play the big green rage monster but because I’m always nervous everyone else won’t think Amadeus is as cool as I think he is. He’s leading his own book now—well I say leading but the name on the cover is Hulk so take that with a grain of salt. It’s like I brought him to class for show and tell but on the bus ride over I got scared that everyone would laugh me and by association him.
Don’t confuse the issue here, I don’t care what people think about me; I just want everyone to like Amadeus. He’s only managed to show up in a handful of things and every time he’s been just awesome. And yes I’m even including his brief cameo in The Incredible Hulk movie when he was portrayed by Martin Starr—who isn’t Korean, like at all so it’s a good thing that movie is treated as the ugly step child of the MCU. But that’s the thing about Amadeus, he either shows up briefly or as a sidekick. This is his first chance to strike out on his own and unfortunately around his neck is the anchor of the Hulk.
I’m not saying the Hulk action is bad in this book. There’s monster fighting and epic team ups that really rock the house. But Amadeus once took down Ares, the God of War with nothing but a Bic pen and his witty repartee. As a character he was so much cooler when he simply smothered his opposition with 200 IQ points. I get why they didn’t go that route though. It’s hard to fill a panel with calculus formulas and make it half as interesting as a giant fire turtle fight. So now Amadeus has the punching power of The Hulk which raises some interesting questions—first one being “Ahh! Run! Hulk smash!”
Characteristically, the Hulk has one thing he is known for. Well yes there is all the green but so does Kermit the frog. Hulk’s got the rage. He may be a hero with the Avengers but one slip and he’s Hurricane Banner with gusts up to 100 mph and a good chance of precipitation—like falling Hondas and street lights. So while Amadeus has picked up the muscles and the green he also picked up a simmering rage which looks to be a problem in the future. Honestly? This is the best chance this book has for relevance. Right now Amadeus is a cocky brain machine whose ego is bigger than the Hulk. The thing that will make this character interesting is a critical failure, a slip up of such magnitude that it plays out on a world scale. Writers seem to forget that’s what makes the Hulk compelling. Sure, you get to be stronger than a God but you’re balancing on a razor thin line and someone is going to come along and kick your legs right out from under you.
As a whole “The Totally Awesome Hulk” #1 is a great read. From the action to the dialogue, the script is on point and the art is humorous, gorgeous, and kick ass all at the same time. Really I wish Amadeus could just be Amadeus in his own book but this is a step forward. Honestly, the one who benefits from this arrangement most is The Hulk. It has been a good long time since I’ve cared about The Hulk and making his alter-ego Amadeus goes a long way towards making the character interesting once more.
Weirdly enough Amadeus bears no resemblance to the genius characters in “Invincible”. Robot has an ego to be sure, after all he does overthrow the world’s governments and takes over as the overlord. That takes a pretty high level of ego. But no, Amadeus shares more in common with Mark. Both are guys with immense power who delight in showing off. If you don’t think Mark likes to show off remember he once fought the Mauler twins without touching the ground. They can’t fly, he just wanted to float around them and shower them with snark before he pummeled them to bits. There are key differences between the two though. Mark shows off because he’s always trying to prove he’s worthy of being on the team or being the number one who’s there to save the world. Amadeus shows off to show he doesn’t need anyone because he’s kind of an asshole. Lovable but still an asshole.