In the comics community, there are always debates about who beats who, and people get very passionate about defending their favorite heroes against someone else’s favorites. Usually, these arguments are hypothetical, but once in a blue moon, we get fights between fan-favorite characters, happening in the main continuity, for our entertainment. In that sense, welcome to my retrospective analysis of the exhibition boxing match between Logan Paul and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Just kidding. Today we’re talking about Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War Alpha.
Who is the strongest avenger? This question has transcended the page into the movies and, therefore, the masses. If we are talking about pure, raw strength, the contestants are clear: Thor, God of Thunder, and Hulk, the Jade Giant. This time the stars aligned because the same writer works on both series, right before the 60th anniversary of both characters. So we get the biggest, most badass clash of titans. Let’s get into Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War Alpha by Donny Cates, Martín Cóccolo, Matt Wilson, and Joe Sabino.
First of all, I must mention this book takes five pages to recount the events happening with each character before the battle. For me, as a reader of both series, this was redundant. But, for new readers, this recap is perfect. As this battle continues in each solo title, this introduction brings you up to speed. Moving forward, anyone can understand what’s been going on in both series.
Moving into the story, usually, when a whole issue focuses on characters fighting, the plot and dialogue is vague and concise. Nevertheless, because Donny Cates is writing the Thor and Hulk ongoing series, he continues with both characters’ development in an organic form. We start getting more information on the El Paso incident, which was mentioned back on Hulk #1 (November 2021), but there is a lot of mystery on how and why these two characters are fighting.
It is interesting to mention that Cates is the third writer to work with both characters simultaneously, so he planned when the encounter would happen and the physical and mental strength of the protagonists getting into it. Plus, he understands their similarities, differences, and motivations, so pitting them against each other has a deeper meaning, rather than just fighting to see who would prevail. For instance, we see parallelism with Hulk struggling with Bety’s voice in his head and Thor struggling with the voice in his hammer. We get hints that this fight is meaningful for both and their future in the Marvel Universe.
Getting into the meat, each page of this book shines. You can feel each punch, swing, and takedown as if you were in the arena watching the fight live. The power display for each character is perfect, with each one having their moment to shine. There are a couple of beautiful spread pages and a gruesome moment between Hulk and Mjolnir that will leave the fans of gory Immortal Hulk pleased. Coupled with an innovative moment inside the Starship Hulk, this character is the MVP of the issue. Although, watching Thor’s first fight with Odin’s soul inside Mjolnir was pretty awesome too.
All thanks to Martín Cóccolo’s astounding art, coupled with Matt Wilson’s colors. Even though it is Cóccolo’s first time drawing Thor and Hulk, he feels like he has drawn these characters for years. Also, sometimes we don’t notice the sound effects in comics, but here they were perfect in conveying the intensity of the fight.
As a first-round, this book was amazing. It starts slow, but the stakes rise quickly, becoming a manga-style battle (not in an artistic perspective, but the pace and epicness). It was a challenging task, but I believe both fans of Thor and Hulk will be pleased. Also, we need to remember this is the first of five rounds, so there is no one with an upper hand yet. Except for the fans, we are winning.