"Incredible Hulk" #7.1 unites the series' current writer Jason Aaron with new artist Jefte Palo for a lead-in to the forthcoming arc, "Stay Angry."
At the start of this issue, the status quo is that Bruce Banner is dead and the Hulk is finally free of him. Needless to say, this is an unusual situation -- typically we've seen the reverse, but since Aaron's series has cast Banner as the real monster in the relationship, it's entirely appropriate to see an inversion of the "Is Banner finally free of the Hulk?" story.
Interestingly, Aaron's take on the Hulk's freedom is that he's not quite sure what to do with it now that it's his. There's a fantastic montage of the Hulk "enjoying" his freedom, brilliant executed by the creative team such that it conveys the necessary emotion without any supporting captions or dialogue. Indeed, the question Aaron appears to be posing seems to ask just who the Hulk is when he's not angry?
Although more reflective than earlier issues, the book continues Aaron's tendency for over-the-top action while also bringing it back to more familiar climes. The indistinct landscapes of previous issues are swapped for a more urban setting, while the use of characters like the Red She-Hulk and The Orb (in one laugh-out-loud funny scene) makes the book feel a little more tied to the Marvel Universe than it has of late.
Palo's artwork is a fantastic complement to Aaron's writing and his bolder lines make much better work of the Hulk's current look than the scratchier art we've seen in previous issues, with the added bonus of much better storytelling fundamentals.
Appropriately enough for a Point One book, there's a cliffhanger that completely upends the status quo, but it's an intriguing one that further explores the book's themes and ideas. In that sense, it's a perfect example of a Point One issue: a mostly stand-alone story that satisfies in the telling, but urges you to buy the next issue so you can see what happens next.
With the Hulk receiving an unexpected boost from his appearance in "The Avengers," this book couldn't have come at a better time. As with the movie, this is a version of the Hulk you can root for. One who's the star in a world that's supposed to belong to someone else. Pick it up, and you won't be disappointed.