Every so often, comic companies will re-do origins. DC just did a huge one with their 52 complete (kinda except for some characters) reboot. I tend to think that the Hulk has a classic origin with the geeky scientist saving the teenager from the bomb and getting created into a monster. The last time Marvel relooked at the Hulk origin was back in 1999 with the Hulk annual written by John Byrne and drawn by Lee Weeks. John wrote the Hulk’s origin so that skrulls were involved……… Besides the great Lee Weeks artwork, the less said about that book, the better.
In 2011, Marvel started releasing Season One books for the major characters which were 100 page, hard cover re-telling of the Marvel super hero origins for new fans. Not sure about the other books, but the Hulk’s Season One is a retelling in a more modern setting with some new twists and tweaks to it. The story is written by Fred Van Lente and artwork by Tom Fowler.
In this version, Betty Ross is actually in the military ( I think she was in the Ultimate version too) and the actual becoming the Hulk happens really quickly. Fred uses just enough of the original Lee-Kirby origin, pulls in some history that was revealed through the years, and adds some new bits here and there. Fred is smart enough to use the psychological aspect of Bruce Banner’s father’s abusive nature to him and the killing of his mother by this father and how it effected Bruce’s mind and helped form the Hulk years ago inside his id. Fred does a great job of using this internal battle of wills between Bruce and the Hulk in the story and shows how the Hulk started off relatively smart and how he would become the “Hulk smash” Hulk that we all grew up on in the 70’s and 80’s. The Gargoyle is there but is used in a rather forgettable role and Fred brings in a group of AIM scientists although they refer to themselves at “Them” instead of AIM. That makes me think of the old Them group that hounded the Hulk back in the early 200’s but this is not the same group. Monica Rappaccini is also a more modern character which is introduced as being back there on Gammabase and she inadvertently helps create a new villain. There is also a subplot dealing with the AIM group growing kids that create drugs internally. The story probably would have been a little tighter without that part involved. Given the changes to the origins, this story is not in continuity so we won’t be seeing the villain again but it was probably worth another visit it to him.
Tom Fowler provides the artwork. He has done some work for Marvel and DC and his art on the book has a little bit of a rough look to it but it fits the story well. He has a couple really cool close up shots of Bruce’s eye when he turns into the Hulk. His style really fits well with the villain, given how monstrous it looks.
I would give the story a solid 7 and the artwork a 7.5.