THOR: RAGNAROK PRELUDE #1
Writer: Will Corona Pilgrim
Penciller: J.L. Giles
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 7/5/17
Before Ragnarok, there was… a bottling plant in Brazil? Learn the origin of the Incredible Hulk.
Plot: Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk, is on the run from the same government officials responsible for his transformation. After narrowly escaping them, he must put himself in danger in order to retrieve what could be his last hope for a cure.
Story: Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A meek scientist becomes a giant green monster… Those hoping Thor: Ragnarok Prelude #1 was going to hint at some juicy bits leading up to the film might want to take a few steps back. Way back, since this issue is all about the Hulk’s origin.
More specifically, the comic is based on the screenplay of the 2008 film and says so in the credits (full disclosure: I have never seen the film). However, having source material doesn’t help the story. Instead, it completely messes up the pacing. Because Will Corona Pilgrim is condensing the movie into a few issues (there are 4 in this series, and I imagine we’ll get to Thor eventually), the plot feels jumpy. If we’re doing a Hulk origin, why not start with the experiment anyway? It feels like there were cuts, but in all the wrong places. Bruce asks for stretchier pants at one point, but this issue leaves me asking for more plot.
However, Pilgrim does excellently capture Bruce’s essence through his thought bubbles. Bruce is constantly focused on controlling himself, and seeing how that comes through in his inner monologue adds more emotional context to the story. In most cases, these thought bubbles are more compelling than the contrived dialogue going on (General Ross to his soldiers, Bruce to Betty).
Art: J.L. Giles’ art is more memorable than the story of this book. While there are plenty of typical action and chase scenes, Giles plays around with form to capture Bruce’s inner conflict. Even in the calmest moments, like the meditation above, there is a hint of green and rage. Jay David Ramos does an excellent job incorporating those shades of green to give the Hulk his iconic look in this issue.
I do wish that the scenes where Bruce is interacting with other characters, versus just brooding on his own, had contained more emotion. His reunion with Betty lacks the emotion of a couple who has been separated by tragedy.
As much as Giles captures Bruce the man, he also captures the monster inside and out. In this almost black and white panel, you don’t need to see the green to know the Hulk is a nasty foe. It’s a delicate balance drawing a character that changes form, but Giles manages to make sure both sides get their due.
Verdict: Despite some redeeming qualities, as a whole, this issue adds nothing to the lead up of Thor: Ragnarok and as a comic offers nothing new to readers. Most readers are familiar with Hulk’s origin, movie version or otherwise, and don’t need this as a refresher.
Similar to the Spider-Man Homecoming comic, this book just rehashes old stories instead of offering new information for faithful fans. While it’s not the fault of the creative team, I’d like to see Marvel do more with these lead-up books.
If you’re a big fan of the 2008 film and want to see it drawn with some good art, that might be your only reason to buy this book.