This week Marvel’s Generations one shot even kicks off with a tale of two Hulks, and Elsewhere reveals where Amelia Earhart went all those years ago (maybe).
Generations: Totally Awesome Hulk and Banner Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like everything Marvel publishes, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding Generations, which finds the contemporary versions of major Marvel characters meeting their “classic” versions. Marvel is presenting this as a way to go back to the roots of many of their characters, and is pitching this series of one-shots as the “next step” into Legacy, their “we promise we’re not trying to copy what DC did with Rebirth but yeah we kind of are” publishing initiative coming up next month. With the first of these titles being released this week with Generations: Totally Awesome Hulk and Banner Hulk, a lot of people are wondering just what these specials are. They’re not “time travel stories” according to Marvel, but deal with something called ’The Vanishing Point´ that’s somehow tied into Secret Empire. Well, unfortunately the Greg Pak and Matteo Buffagni special doesn’t have any insight into the greater workings of Generations, and honestly the special itself doesn’t offer anything all that interesting either.
Amadeus Cho’s Hulk (also known as the titular “Totally Awesome Hulk”) has found himself transported back into the past, and comes face to face with the classic, “incredible” Hulk. That’s really the whole point of this special. They meet, fight (because it’s a Marvel team-up), and then team up against a giant sea monster. That’s the whole issue, and while Greg Pak does offer some revelations into Amadeus Cho’s life as the Hulk as the two alter egos talk, it would definitely be lost on you if you’re just picking this book up cold and not also reading Cho’s monthly title.
That’s not to say that Pak’s characterizations are bad though. As the best Hulk writer since Peter David, Pak knows how to get into the mindset of both Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho, and he does have fun getting the two characters to talk to one another, but I’ll admit that seeing Banner and Cho talk was a lot cooler than Hulk and Totally Awesome Hulk together. For as much as Marvel has hyped up these two characters coming together, the two of them together as Hulks isn’t as cool as should have been, and seeing Banner and Cho together isn’t as special because we’ve seen them together plenty of times before this new take on Hulk.
Matteo Buffagni’s art is pretty great for this book, and fits well with what the script needs. Buffagni’s style is just loose and cartoony enough to evoke a style of comics past, but still has a modern feel to it. The two Hulks battling the sea monster looks pretty cool, but unfortunately it’s over much too soon.
That’s really what hurts Generations: Totally Awesome Hulk and Banner Hulk. For all the hype surrounding it, the events that happen here are over way too fast, and there’s no real explanation for why Cho has found himself in this situation. It almost seems like Marvel hasn’t really planned this idea out, as the big revelations in this feel a lot smaller than they should, and there’s nothing really necessary about this special to the larger Legacy or even Secret Empire events going on (in fact we haven’t even gotten to this point in Secret Empire, so the timing is already off). Aside from being a Hulk super fan, there’s not a lot here to really make any comic reader feel the need to pick this up, which doesn’t seem to be a good sign for the other Generations books coming our way in the next few months.
Elsewhere #1 (Image Comics)
The mystery of Amelia Earhart is still captivating, even today. I mean, just look at the media attention that the History Channel got when they claimed they had a picture of her a few weeks ago. With that attention, I’m surprised that it’s taken this long for a comic creator to attempt to tell her story. While Elsewhere isn’t an entirely factual depiction of what happened to the famous pilot, the Jay Faerber and Sumeyye Kessgin debut issue is an intriguing spin on the classic “Heroes Journey” story that we’ve seen time and time again.
Elsewhere finds Amelia Earhart arriving in Korvath, a mysterious world that seems like a cross between the Island of Doctor Moreau and medieval England. After meeting Cort and Tavel, Earhart is told of their history fighting the evil Lord Kragen, who may or may not have Earhart’s plane. Believing that Cort and Tavel can help her find her travel mate Fred, Amelia agrees to help the two try and stop Kragen, even if that means she needs to be kidnapped to get near him.
Jay Faerber made a big splash a few years ago with Copperhead, and his pitch for Elsewhere is pretty awesome. But, as strong as this premise is, Elsewhere doesn’t really go anywhere in this first issue. We’re introduced to Cort and Tavel, as well as Amelia, but aside from the initial set up for her story, there’s very little forward momentum with this issue. That being said, Faeber’s world and characters are really interesting, and it would be nice to see more of them.
Sumeyye Kessgin’s art is really vibrant and dynamic, which goes a long way towards making Elsewhere stand out. Kessgin’s character designs for the creatures of Korvath are pretty cool, and the cartoony style works well with Faerber’s script. The only thing lacking is that some of the backgrounds look a little bare, but then again, a lot of Elsewhere takes place in open fields and plains, so it’s possible that we’ll see more details in the world when the characters enter some more populated areas.
Elsewhere has a lot of a potential to be a pretty cool spin on the fantasy genre, and including Amelia Earhart is certainly a way to make it stand out. But there needed to be a little more forward momentum to keep the interest going. By the time I finished the issue, I really could’ve used at least a few more pages. As it stands right now, Elsewhere could be a pretty solid trade paperback story, but as a monthly it might be lacking.