The Hulk is recruited by spy unit SHIELD as a WMD!

(Panini Books)

FOR years, the life of Doctor Robert Bruce Banner has been defined by his search for a cure to the ever-present threat of his green-skinned alter ego. Instead of focusing his remarkable intellect on game-changing inventions, he has instead been driven by the desire to rid himself of the gamma-spawned monster which lurks inside him.

But all that is about to change. Inspired by the remarkable achievements of his peers Reed (Mr Fantastic) Richards and Tony (Iron Man) Stark, Banner has decided that he too wants to change the world for the better, and contacts Maria Hill, of international peacekeeping organisation SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), with a view to achieving a legacy he can be proud of.

And the Hulk? Instead of looking at the creature as something to be scared of and avoid letting loose, Banner convinces Hill to treat the Hulk as a weapon of mass destruction, unleashing it at a key point in an operation to unleash the maximum amount of chaos. It is a tactic which proves remarkably successful in this initial collection of stories.

Writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Yu have done something new with a comics character who has been around since the early ‘60s, and injected the Hulk and Banner with a new impetus and vitality. Forget the old school stories which inspired the Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby TV series, as a fugitive Banner drifted from place-to-place, the Hulk emerging at times of crisis to wreak havoc, this is a whole new ball game.

This change in the status quo means that the Hulk is able to rejoin the Avengers for the first time in years, and is no longer treated as a menace by his peers, instead being recognised as the best option for a tactical strike.

These changes are long overdue, as is the realisation that the Hulk is actually pretty much indestructible, so there’s no point in trying to kill him as you’re unlikely to succeed. The drama, of course, comes from the increasingly more intense scenarios he finds himself in, as well as the risks to his very vulnerable Banner persona.

Another qualified hit from the Marvel Now! relaunch!