The Hulk has had many strange incarnations through the years.
He's green. He's gray. With Bruce Banner, he's Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein. He's other people; he's red, he's a teen, etc. He's a childlike creature of rage and unstoppable strength. He's the green Hulk with Bruce Banner's genius mind. He's a growling beast. He's a fedora-wearing gangster type called Joe Fixit. He's a future dictator known as the Maestro. He's the gladiator king of Planet Hulk. He's the abused son of a domineering father.
"The Immortal Hulk" was a horror comic for the past several years. He could be killed but he could not stay dead.
But writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Ottley offer the strangest Hulk of all.
And so far, it's been a smash.
"Hulk: Smashtronaut" collects the first six issues of Cates' Hulk run.
Here's how it boils down: Genius scientist Bruce Banner is in charge of his many psyches. He has set his psyche up inside the physical Hulk's mind, engineering the Hulk's brain as a control center. He has engineered the physical, nearly indestructible Hulk's body as a mindless ship to carry them to other worlds and dimensions. The Hulk's psyche serves as the "ship's" fuel, controlled by Banner. If he needs the Hulk-ship to get them somewhere or battle something, Banner pushes up the anger level on the Hulk psyche – the madder the Hulk gets, the stronger the Hulk gets.
Confusing? Sure it sounds that way but Cates and Ottley work the story so it makes wonderful sense in "Smashtronaut."
Banner is using this system to transport him and the Hulk to some other place where they can find peace and Banner can become the creative scientist he's always wanted to become.
But can Banner or the Hulk find peace anywhere? Aye, there's the rub.
Not sure how long the conceit of this Hulk-ship can work but it works in interesting ways in this first collection of the Cates-Ottley run.