Amadeus Cho is one of my top ten favorite comic characters of all time.
From the first time I saw him, a spunky, sassy brat in the pages of Incredible Hulk, growing into a powerful young man alongside the Incredible Hercules, and even into the pages of the somewhat disappointing Prince of Power mini, his brief (slightly baffling) crossover with the Savage Wolverine, and the few issues of Hickman’s Avengers he appeared in (which, may I say, still hasn’t been clarified why Cho joined up with the Illuminati, aka the guys who sent his best friend into space because they were scared of him), I’ve been an avid, and verbal, fan of Cho.
And now Amadeus Cho is finally getting his own solo series; something I’ve been wanting for almost a decade.
But Amadeus Cho is also the Hulk now.
While the classic Hulk, Bruce Banner, and Amadeus Cho come from similar backgrounds (in that they are both skinny, non-brutes with big intellects), the Hulk traditional represents the “man versus self” struggle between the intellect and the animal. In a way, ascribing the physical power of the Hulk—along with the requisite “monster” status that comes with the transformation—potential negates all that makes Amadeus Cho a really incredible character.
See, part of what makes Amadeus so special is the fact that his power isn’t flashy. He doesn’t have wings, he can’t read minds, he’s not strong or fast or durable. Instead his powers are internal; he can visualize the patterns of the world, identify the variables and possibilities in any situation, and then twist them to his advantage. He’s even on the top ten list of smartest characters in the Marvel Universe (he was number 7, pre-All-New All-Different, and Axel Alonso says he’s now the 5th or 6th smartest—here’s hoping he knocked Hank Pym and Tony Stark down a peg).
His powers, although they were beautifully rendered in the Incredible Herc, are not something that anyone else in the pages can see. In a way, because of this, he becomes more relatable. He’s a smart guy, but he has to rely on those smarts, and only those smarts, to save him from brutal, rough, and scary situations.
Also, the way in which Cho’s view of the world is shown as starkly different from everyone else’s can be interpreted as an interesting analogy to the developmental spectrum, touching on the concept of how the brain works on a level that’s rarely seen in most popular media.
In an interview I did with Greg Pak last year at New York Comic Con, Pak admitted Cho, in theory, comes off as a bit of a cliché—the smart, Asian kid—but that he tries to write Amadeus as more than just a flat trope. And Pak has succeeded greatly at making Amadeus Cho into a fully fleshed out character, who feels like a real human, teenage boy.
I worry that a Cho suddenly being imbued with the strength of the Hulk will negate the presentation of how his intellect works. I worry that having to be angry to tap into his power will change Amadeus from a happy-go-lucky genius (despite the death of his parents and younger sister) into a raging monster driven by revenge.
The book is being sold as a Hulk that embraces his identity, and has fun being big and green. Does this mean that Amadeus Cho will be intellectually in control, like the Doc Green iteration of Hulk? Will anger not factor in to his strength level? Will we finally get to see a Hulk who is embraced as a hero, rather than shunned by citizens and supers alike?
I’m definitely going to read Totally Awesome Hulk, and with a team like Greg Pak and Frank Cho (an artist who, despite his “hey you feminists, get off my lawn” attitude online, I still deeply love and appreciate), I suspect I will enjoy the title. I hope that Cho’s tenure as the HulkH, however long or short it may be, will embrace what makes Amadeus unique as a character, not just in the Marvel Universe, but in modern comics in general.
Cause if Marvel does wrong by Amadeus Cho, that would make me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.