Bruce Banner has been the hulk for five decades, but this December he’s getting the boot. As part of its “all new, all different” initiative, Marvel is shelving the Banner storyline and giving his superpowers to a lesser-known character: Amadeus Cho. Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso and writer Greg Pak revealed that Cho, a Korean-American boy genius, will spearhead Totally Awesome Hulk, a new series that hits stores in December.
Cho, also known as Mastermind Excello, has been part of the Marvel universe since January 2006—his first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 #15. Cho doesn’t have any superpowers per se, but he does happen to be one of the smartest people on the planet. He can perform incredibly complex calculations in seconds, has perfect recall, and possesses Holmes-like powers of observation and deductive reasoning.
Cho’s parents, who have a thing for highbrow names (his sister is named Madame Curie and goes by Maddy), are awed by their son’s intellect and, in Amazing Fantasy, encourage him to enter a quiz show for brilliant teens. He easily wins, but the show turns out to be a trap set by evil supergenius Pythagoras Dupree to eliminate any intellectual competition. Pythagoras’ henchmen show up at the Cho residence, murder Amadeus’ parents, and force him to flee.
Part of the reason Cho is a natural choice for the next Hulk is because he and Bruce Banner go way back. When Pythagoras’ agents track Cho down, Banner protects him, and Cho considers them kindred spirits and friends—after all, they’re both brooding geniuses. Cho plays a key role in the 2007 World War Hulk series (a five-issue series in which Hulk is blasted into space by bad guys and returns to seek revenge) and acts as Hercules’ sidekick in The Incredible Hercules (2008-2010). He also briefly starred in his own series, Heroic Age: Prince of Power, in 2010.
Come December, Cho will be the first-ever Korean-American character written and drawn by a completely Korean-American team: Greg Pak and Frank Cho, respectively. Pak co-created Amadeus Cho, who he says will be a completely different Hulk from Banner’s somber version. “This is a kid who’s got a ridiculous amount of confidence,” Pak told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s determined to be the best Hulk there’s ever been. He loves being the Hulk. And that may cause massive trouble for everyone else in the Marvel Universe.”
We still don't know exactly how Cho got his powers or how Banner was stripped of his, but Pak promises that the mystery will be revealed in the first few issues of Totally Awesome Hulk. Banner and She-Hulk will join Cho in the new series along with several new characters who are yet to be revealed.
From his soft-serve K-Pop-inspired hairdo to his “Totally Awesome” title, Cho is clearly a departure from the traditional Hulk narrative. And for a brand that’s trying to push inclusivity, that’s a good thing.