Incredible Hulk (2023) #2: “You Can’t Go Home”

Even monsters have beating hearts.

The oversized debut issue of this new Incredible Hulk series opened up quite a few doors, and with this followup it steps foot into one of them. Introduced last issue, the young girl, named Charlie, is the focal point of this issue and she is also where my heart is.

I see myself in her. A young, hurt person looking up to the giant Hulk, envious of his power, not to mention the validation of one’s anger. Hulk helped teach me that anger could be useful, that it wasn’t a problem. It didn’t mean I was a bad person. The book feels very concerned with reminding me of my love for the character. It’s this that makes Phillip Kennedy Johnson a writer worth paying attention to.

Johnson has a way with these comic characters that have long histories. He’s able to sneak in there and remind you, the reader, why you love these big colorful characters with your whole heart. He’s not playing around. He’s not telling stories just because it’s his job. He’s leading with his heart, and he knows intimately what makes people love these characters because he loves them too. I’m not very familiar with a lot of Johnson’s work but reading these two issues has really sold me on him because he managed to dig deep into my psyche and remind me that Hulk means the world to me.

Johnson writes comics that feel like hugs, and they are a joy to read.

But comics aren’t comics without art, and Nic Klein is flexing in this book. The comic can barely contain his art. This is one of those rare books where I’m leaning in on every panel just to see the line work. Even though this is a slower issue (don’t worry, it builds to a big moment at the end – it’s awesome!) Klein’s work keeps you locked on the pages. You can’t look away because the tension will not allow you to. This is a horror movie put to paper and there’s no looking away. There’s no getting up and doing something else. You’re here at the mercy of this brilliant creative team.

Klein colors himself for a few pages in this issue and I would say it’s a highlight, but there’s no low point here. But that sequence in particular is special. We are two issues in and I’m already dreaming of the possibilities of what they could be doing a year from now. This is exciting stuff!

In my previous review for issue 1, I made mention of the scene structure and once again, here there’s something equally as thrilling but different. It’s a slower burn that crescendos to a massive moment in the last few pages. I loved it. It made for a really remarkable and memorable reading experience. The panel where Banner looks into his reflection in a kitchen knife is going to live in my head forever.

As far as I’m concerned, Incredible Hulk is THE must read Marvel book, and we are only two issues in!

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